The Visa Black Card is one of the latest entrants in the status credit card market category and has created a lot of buzz in the industry. Is it just another luxury card with prohibitively high annual fees? Or do the benefits of the new Visa Black Card justify its expense? Read this review to find out whether or not you should get a Black Card of your own!
First, let’s debunk some of the hype surrounding this card:
This should not be confused with the AmEx Centurion “black” card. That one requires $7,500 in fees just for the first year ($5,000 initiation fee and $2,500 annual fee) and is invite only for AmEx’s biggest spenders (you have to spend several hundred thousand annually on another AmEx card in order to be invited).
In a nutshell, Visa Black Card is just the issuer’s trademarked name for the card… reportedly there is no such thing as a “black card” tier for Visa cards. The Black Card is reportedly only the “Platinum Plus” tier (however I have personally not confirmed this, so it may or may not be true).
If true, that is usually the tier people get when they aren’t approved for a Visa Signature Card, so that in itself is far from prestigious. However in their defense, they might have structured it to intentionally not be a Visa Signature, because they wanted to offer the concierge and other benefits in-house (and I suspect that is the reasoning, which is understandable).
Limited to 1% of U.S. residents?
Many people out there assume this means the Visa Black credit card is only for the wealthiest 1% of the population…. nothing could be further from the truth. Reportedly it only means they are limiting the total enrollment to 1% of Americans.
Truth be told, 1% equals around 3 million Americans… that’s a lot of people. In all honesty, probably not more than 1% would ever want the Visa Black, so saying this really doesn’t mean much. Probably far less than 1% of Americans have the AmEx Platinum Card (a card this site advertises) but you don’t hear American Express saying that as a marketing gimmick, do you?
Update: As of 2013 I no longer see the “limited to 1%” talk on their website. Did all the rhetoric from the Wall Street protests about “the 1%” place a bad connotation on using that tagline? Even though the card’s marketing of 1% was in a different context (1% of total population vs. top 1% of earners), my guess is the polarizing feelings surrounding “1%” is why they’re not using it. Or maybe they’re still using it, but to the best of my knowledge I no longer see it mentioned on their website.
It’s marketed as something that is highly exclusive, but what are the Visa Black card requirements? According to numerous sources across the net, it sounds like they are not much different than most credit cards (for example, be a U.S. resident, have a qualifying credit score, etc).
If indeed this card doesn’t have any extra special requirements (like the AmEx Centurion with its $250k annual spending requirement to qualify) then it appears that a large number of Americans would easily qualify if they truly wanted the card. In fact, there are stories out there of people from many walks of life reportedly getting a Visa Black Card application in the mail, including rumors of college students with limited income, etc. (however I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt that those were sent by accident).
Carbon black card?
One of their selling points is that the Visa Black credit card is made of carbon. However after finally examining the card in person, it looks and feels similar to plastic. I don’t think that many people would consider the carbon material much different than normal plastic.
First-Class Airport Lounge Access?
This credit card comes with Priority Pass, the largest airport VIP lounge program, which gives complimentary access to more than 350 airport lounges across the world.
For the first couples years or so after the card launched, they only gave cardholders 4 free lounge visits per year (you would have to pay per visit after that). I highly criticized this, because the AmEx Platinum gives unlimited visits for free. However sometime in 2011, Black Card changed it for the better and they now also give unlimited visits.
I do commend them for doing that, but it still falls short of the AmEx Platinum’s lounge program, because that gives you unlimited Priority Pass PLUS access to first-class lounges with partner airlines like Delta and US Airways.
The card touts various “luxury gifts” as perks that Visa Black Card members get. When the card first launched, it did sound like there were some decent gifts that some members got. However sometime after that, a first gift that was mentioned frequently in the blogosphere is a Cross pen set… most of us couldn’t care less about a pen and for $495 annual fee, we expect a heck of a lot more.
As far as the current gifts they offer, that I don’t know… maybe they’re better or maybe they’re worse.
What the Black card really is…
Just do the math: 3,000,000 (1% of Americans) x $495.00 annual fee = $1.48 billion dollars every year! The issuing bank, Barclays, is the real winner with this one. It’s hard to justify the annual fee when you consider the competition.
Skip the Visa Black Card application and go for…
…the AmEx Platinum. The annual fee is slightly less and the benefits are MANY TIMES BETTER than the Visa Black Card. As a sponsored affiliate of American Express, we also have a special signup offer for our readers. Check out the American Express Platinum Card benefits to see for yourself why it blows Visa Black out of the water!
Written or last updated April 17, 2013