|by Mr Credit Card|
Over the last two weeks, I just finishing reviewing a bunch of so called “luxury credit cards”, those with a “high end” touch to it. Mos of these had special extra perks that are not commonly found in the run of the mill credit cards. Today, I am going to list the cards I have reviewed, make a brief summary and air my thoughts.
The American Express Centurion Card is probably considered the king of all luxury cards today. With a $2,500 annual fee and a $5,000 “activation fee”, the price tag is high. It used to be by invitation only. Then, there was a period where folks who have spent $250,000 on their American Express Cards could request for one and actually got it. Rumors are not swirling around that American is going back to pure invitation only, and may even have upped the annual spending requirements to $500,000.
The Platinum Card from American Express is probably the “luxury card” with the most value for money in terms of the annual fee price tag. You get a host of excellent benefits that is just a notch below what the Centurion Card offers. I personally have this card and could not have been happier with their excellent service (in my experience anyway).
The Visa Black Card is the latest kid on the block. Issued by Barclays Bank, the card (like the Centurion) is made of “titanium”. Compared to the Platinum or Centurion Card, the perks are much less. But the main attraction is the travel rewards program that that is a throw back to the old style system. For airline tickets up to $500, you only need 30,000 points. Depending on the price of the ticket, that is a more than 1% value. The thing that this card has going for it is that it is a Visa, so it is accepted at more places than an Amex Card. This card is used by folks as a backup to the Platinum Card in case Amex is not accepted. I have also heard of folks who have been badly treated by Amex who have switched over to this card.
The Diners Club Carte Blanche is quite similar to the Amex Cards in that their reward programs are pretty similar in the way they are structured. For travel rewards, you can transfer points to frequent flier miles or frequent guest programs. Along with the Membership Rewards program, the Diners Club Rewards is probably the best program. Diners Club is now owned by Citi and it is now actually a MasterCard. Hence, it is pretty much universally accepted.
The Status Rewards Visa (more commonly know as the white card) is supposedly even more exclusive than the Black Card. It is by invitation only by existing card members or by their “high end” merchant partners. The card is issued by US bank and caters to the ultra wealthy (specifically aimed at those that fly with private jets and not commercial airlines). There is no partnerships with any of the regular airlines frequent flier programs, only high end luxury goods providers. The annual fee comes up to $1,500.
The Citi Chairman Card is Citi’s elite credit card, which comes with a $450 annual fee. The reward program is based on Citi’s ThankYou Network Reward Program. What the Chairman Card has going for it is that you get companion tickets with British Airways (though you have to be aware of their fuel surcharge tax!), and an international airline program where you can get discounts when you book through their partner international airlines. Like the Citi PremierPass Card, you also earn points for the miles you fly!
The Merrill Lynch Visa Signature Rewards is Merrill Lynch’s high end card. The annual fee is $90, which is pretty low for a high end card. Like the Citi Chairman Card and the Carte Blanche, it has British Airways companion ticket feature. The rewards, in my opinion, is nowhere near the Membership Rewards. But it has several unique features that are not present in other high end cards. For example, you get discounts when you Delta Airline tickets or book a room with the Hyatt hotel. It also has a tier feature in that once you reach certain spending level, your benefits actually increase. This would make a good compliment to say an Amex Platinum Card.
The Bank of America Accolades Card is BOA’s premier card that they have created to target their wealthy clients in their private client services. I honestly do not think they are up to scratch with the very best cards. One of the main reasons is that the World Points program (which BOA inherited when they acquired MBNA) is nowhere near the Membership Rewards or Diners Club Rewards. The annual fee is $295 though this is waived for folks with $200,000 in assets under management for their private wealth clients.
Final Thoughts – In my opinion, I think the Platinum Card from American Express offers the most value for any luxury card. The annual fee is nowhere near what the Centurion Card charges, but yet it’s benefits are quite close to what you would get (I doubt most folks use all the benefits anyway!). BTW – I do have the Amex Platinum Card. For those looking for a Visa alternative, the Visa Black Card sure looks cool, has a card that is made of titanium!
As as in any credit card, there are some features in the other cards that might appeal to you. You should thoroughly research them before decide which card works for you. Yes, there is probably an ego component to this whole exercise. But value for money is very important as well. I hope this roundup, with links to my reviews, will help you make the right decision if you are in the market for a luxury credit card.
Very soon, I’ll do a write up on companion cards to go with your “luxury cards”.