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Visa Black Card Review


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The Visa® Black Card by Barclays Bank was introduced in the beginning of the year. But I was hesitant to really review this card because I do not have the card. I thought about getting the card but given the fact that every one is coming up with new cards after the CARD Act, I thought I’d save some bullets. The main reason I was hesitant to review it is that they did not include their airline reward program on their website. In fact, they still do not put their rewards on their site so I do not know how their merchant partners are for their gift cards. But for folks looking at high end cards like this, gift card rewards are the least of my worries. But finally, they have now explained how their airline program works on their FAQ page. Armed with this information, I think I’m equipped with enough to form an informed opinion of this card.

I will first list their rewards and compare them with other high end cards and finally write my views on the card and who it is suitable for.


Airfare – In my opinion, this is the most interesting aspect of the rewards program. Cardholders can redeem points for airfares with no restrictions or blackout dates. But the key question is what is the exchange ratio?

The minimum points required in $300 and that is good for a ticket costing up to $500 – making the ratio 1.67:1. There after, in the ticket cost exceeds $500, you have to use (a minimum) of 5,000 points that is worth $50 (1:1 ratio). I’ll elaborate more on this in my verdict.

Hotels – You can exchange points for hotel stays.

Car Rentals – You can redeem points for certificates at Alamo, National and Hertz.

Other Features

24 hour Concierge Service – Cardholders get access to a 24 hour concierge service.

Cash Back – You can choose to redeem points for cash on an 1 for 1 basis (that means you earn 1% cash back). You can earn unlimited cash back.

Priority Pass – Visa Black Card holders will receive a Priority Pass Membership which allows for two complimentary lounge visits each year.

Gift Cards – Like most reward programs, you can also exchange rewards for gift cards.

Other Benefits

  • 24 hour concierge service
  • $250,000 travel accident insurance
  • $300 baggage delay insurance – $100 a day for 3 days
  • Auto Rental Damage Collision Waiver
  • $1,500 trip interruption and cancellation insurance
  • Purchase Protection – where your goods will be replaced or repaired if you return within 90 days – up to $500 a year
  • Warranty Service – you can double your warranty period for up to 1 additional year
  • Fees – Let’s get this out of the way as well. As a high end, prestige credit card, The Visa Black Card has a $495 annual fee. Each additional cardholder will cost $195. You can even a 0% balance transfer offer and teaser (you would think that anyone who applies for this card will pay in full).

    Comparison vs other cards – So how does the Visa Black Card stack up versus other high end cards and who is this card most suitable for?

    In my opinion, the best comparable would be the Amex Platinum Card because of the annual fee. Other cards in a similar annual fee range include the Citi Chairman Club. Let’s start with the non-reward features first. The features that the Visa Black Card offers are quite standard among elite credit cards these days. Things like 24 hour concierge service, warranty extension, purchase protection, auto rental collision waiver are all common features in many good credit card.

    The Amex Platinum has more features like their international airline program, their private jet membership program, automatic starwood preferred guest gold membership. Amex Platinum also have their own shopping mall where you can earn extra points by shopping through their online portal. And because Amex sponsors lots of sports and musical events, card members get early notifications of the best seats in town. The Citi Chairman Card has international airline partners where you can get discounts on their airlines.

    So in terms of common features, I find the Visa Black Card slightly lacking compared to the Amex Platinum and the Citi Chairman Card. But whether it affects you depends on whether you use those features. If you do not travel internationally, then it does not matter!

    In terms of rewards, this is a harder call simply because the reward program and how you redeem points for travel are different. In the case of Amex and their membership reward program, you have two choices on how to redeem points for airline travel. You can either transfer points to frequent miles of their partner program or use points to book flights directly with the Amex Travel site which is powered by Travelocity. The Citi Chairman Card reward program (ThankYou) requires that you book with their travel site (which is actually expedia.com) and redeem points that way (1:1 ratio – as in 100 points is worth $1). Chase’s new Ultimate Rewards program allows you to either book with their travel site (much like Amex or Citi) or you can also book with any other travel agent online or offline and redeem points for a statement credit.

    The Visa Black Card travel rewards is a throw back to the good old days of rewards where a certain number of points gets you a ticket of up to a certain value. So in this example, if your ticket prices normally costs $400-500 dollars, then you will only use 30,000 points. If you have booked your tickets with Amex, Citi or Chase, you would have needed at least 40,000 to 50,000 points. But if your ticket normally costs only $150, then you would still need to use 30,000 points. In this case, this is not a good proposition.

    Verdict – When I look at high end cards, the most important thing to me are the travel rewards (especially airline rewards). I doubt any serious cardholder exchange points for gift cards and other merchandise stuff! The Visa® Black Card has a travel reward system that is different from other high end cards and will suit travelers who travel frequently on flights that cost between $400 to $500. It is in this range that you get the most bang for the buck on your reward points. If you fly southwest and your ticket costs around $200, then this card is not for you.

    If you are the sort of person that has multiple frequent flier programs and like to use airline alliance to get the most bang for the buck, then this card is not for you. Perhaps an Amex Platinum or Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card is a better bet. If you only fly one airline, then perhaps, getting that particular airline credit card is better.

    In terms of other features, I think that the cards like the Amex Platinum has got more features although you may not necessarily use it. For example, I have not yet used their international airline companion ticket program. Neither am I going to use their private jet program anytime soon. I have taken advantage of events they have sponsored and got great seats for those though. But like I said, only you can decide which features are important to you.

    One thing that this card has going for it is simply that it is a Visa and you will be assured it will be accepted in more places than an American Express or a Diners Club. The Visa Black Card also has a very cool black titanium card design. One cannot understate the value of the prestige a high end card carries. For those working in industries where image is very important, the Visa® Black Card is a card to consider.

    November 18, 2009 @ 1:31 am

    As far as appeal goes you hit the nail the head in the last paragraph. While I personally would not trade my American Express TrueEarnings card with 1% to 3% cash back for the Visa Black Card (although if I didn’t have another 1% cash back Visa card and I could only choose one then I just might) I certainly can see the appeal of slapping this very cool card made of patent pending black carbon down on the table to pay for a client dinner. Certainly a nice flashy card to impress but under the hood the rewards program is average at best as far as rewards programs go.

    November 18, 2009 @ 2:31 am

    Yeah I would pass on this if I wanted an elite card.

    February 13, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

    This card is horrible. I just cancelled mine.

    I had a nice limit, but it was not worth keeping to me for the annual fee. If the annual fee was $150 or less I would have kept it however it was not worth the $495. Before I cancelled I offered to stay on for half of the annual fee but they declined. I am glad they did anyways.

    The customer service in itself was MISERABLE. I only had one Customer Service Rep who was ever polite. I am happy with my AMEXs and will be getting the CitiAdvantage Mastercard for my non-Amex needs. Very disappointed with my black card experience…

    March 4, 2010 @ 8:18 pm

    They say that it is an “elite” card for only 1% of the population, but my credit has seen better days and here I am getting pre-approval emails from them to apply….two in one day actually!

    March 19, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    The card – I got the offer in the mail, filled out the application and received the card about a week later. Its packaging was very nice and card looks and feels amazing.

    The limit – My limit was $10,000 which is hilarious for a card where you’re supposed to have the power to make very large purchases.

    The gifts – About a month later I received an engraved multipurpose pen, pencil and stylus.

    The concierge service – I called inquire about hotel room reservations in Miami, FL. About 28 hours later I received an email with my options. Thats a long time to wait. I could’ve went on any internet based travel site and got the results in a fraction of the time.

    The winner – Barclay’s. Think about it…Barclay’s states only 1% of the U.S. residents (308,899) will be approved for the card, which equates to $152,905,005 (308,899 x $495) in annual fees!

    The verdict – The value of this card isn’t worth $495 a year and I will be canceling before the next membership fee is due. Save your money get a basic rewards card with no annual fee and comparable interest rate because the Visa Black Card isn’t worth the money.

    Don Griffin
    March 1, 2011 @ 10:45 pm

    I got my card today so will give it a try. At first blush I feel foolish to plop down the cost of a refrigerator for the right to buy things and pay interest. I am hoping that with the above comments Visa will feel pressure to enhance the rewards…after all, aren’t we a competitive society?

    Howard A
    March 22, 2011 @ 7:59 pm

    This is my second annual invitation to apply for this card, but I just don’t understand the $495 annual fee. I’ve not paid a credit card fee since I was a teenager! If it is for rich people, do rich people really need airline reward points; all of the work tracking and applying the points for a couple free flights? If it is for financially savy people with high credit ratings, then this is a test, because all of the people who should really be elligible should be too smart to waste $495 for another card in their wallet. In my opinion, anyone who pays for this card doesn’t deserve to be in the 1% elite category. They should pay us $495 to use their silly carbon fiber card!

    April 1, 2011 @ 1:43 pm

    is it true that the BLACK card has an unlimited credit line

    April 6, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

    No Mine has a 50k limit but I will not be renewing it 2nd year above posters said it all. they all have a limit…

    January 22, 2012 @ 6:47 pm

    I have been trying out this card for the last 6 months because I wanted a premium card with the flexibility of USE. Visa is accepted everywhere and that convenience, I thought, would be a winner. AmEx Platinum is great, but it is an AmEx… meaning it isnt accepted in as many places as Visa. However, in the places that matter, AmEx is always accepted.

    The better rewards (and $50 less yearly fee) of the AmEx Plat is a better deal overall, even factoring in when I cannot use it. I’ve decided to cancel my Visa Black and I signed up for a simple no annual fee Visa Cash Rewards card instead. For 90% of my purchases I can use the AmEx Plat and enjoy the better rewards vs the Visa Black, and for places where AmEx is not accepted I use my Visa Cash Rewards card that accumulates points that never expire. Over time, I can simply get cash back from the forced Visa purchases. For my mostly domestic purchases plus a few trips a year, this combination of 2 card use (AmEx Plat/Visa Cash Rewards vs Visa Black) is superior over just having the one Visa Black… I crunched the numbers. For both cards, though, I made use of the annual fee just by taking a few vacations a year. Both travel programs got great rates and hotel amenities that more than make up for the measly ~$500 a year. If you’ve never had a premium credit card and claim things like, “I can book this myself”, “I can get that deal for no money at all” obviously have never had a credit card that come with concierge and travel services. The things are freaking great and worth the money.

    Also, for those where prestige matters, the Visa Black card was not looked on as a ‘baller’ card. It got a few eye brow raising looks, but more often than not people know it is not at elite card status just yet. The AmEx Plat is looked upon with more respect. In the few places that dont take AmEx, you still get people treating you better because I always slap the Plat card down first. They then tell me AmEx isnt accepted and i’ll switch it out for the Visa Cash Rewards (which through USAA looks very high class and tasteful in itself), but they still are impressed by the AmEx Plat attempt.

    If you qualify for both, want to be a ‘pimp daddy’, and can cover the annual fee in perks. Go for the AmEx Plat and some other regular Visa. I recommend the USAA Visa Cash Rewards card if you are a USAA member.

    D Seif
    June 7, 2012 @ 4:10 pm


    I applied for and paid the $495 fee for this card back in April 2012 as a replacement for a Costco Amex card. I use this card for all purchases and business travel, so it’s important that it not only be reliable and work, but that the credit limit be sufficient to support my travel. While Barclay’s has tried to portray this card as a premium card with premium services – equivalent or better than those offered by Amex – I must wholeheartedly disagree.

    Here are some of the less than ‘premium’ services with the card:

    1) The credit limit was less than half of what we use with our Amex card. We use the card for all expenses every month and pay it off each month. But, by cutting the limit in less than half, we have to switch cards mid-month, making it more complex and harder to manage each month.
    2) When attempting to increase the credit limit to something more reasonable, we were instructed that we’d have to wait six months before they could consider an increase.
    3) We had both of our cards compromised at merchant retailers within a three week period – it took more than seven days to receive replacement cards via regular mail. Shouldn’t ‘black card’ service come with an expedited replacement card service for free?!?
    4) The Airport Lounge perk that they so prominently advertise is nothing less than a joke – the only lounges that are supported are primarily international, unless you fly to Alaska as Alaska Airlines lounges are supported.
    5) We paid the extra $195 for a companion card for my wife – but beware, as companions DON’T receive the premium Airport Lounge perk which is a separate card that has to be mailed to you.
    6) The website to manage the card is one of the least sophisticated I’ve every seen – granted, it’s all black and gold, but the user interface is antiquated and archaic.
    7) When we tried to close the account due to the lack of ‘premium’ service – we were instructed that because it was past the 60 day window, we could not get a refund, even pro-rated, of the membership fee for either card….$700 down the drain for the premium experience of working with Barclay’s Black Card.

    If you want a card that actually lives up to its name – get an Amex Platinum card and skip the imitations. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way.


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