credit card advice
Long gone are the days when having a gold card was the sign of elite credit-worthiness. Nowadays, the “Black Card” is the card of choice for elite card carriers. With its strict application requirements and most VIP of perks, the Black Card is one of the most elusive cards on the market.
Then in January 2016, Barclaycard rebranded its coveted Visa Black Card to the MasterCard “Luxury Card” with new and enhanced features. We’ll take a look at these features and what it takes to get the new MasterCard Luxury Card, as well as show you five elite alternatives without the hefty annual fee.
About the Visa® Black Card
Aside from its visual appeal, the card offers perks like 24/7 concierge service and random luxury gifts delivered to your doorstep — needless to say, it’s not the easiest card to get your hands on.
Rebranded as the MasterCard® Luxury Card™ in 2016
Early this year, Barclays reintroduced the “Black” card under its new name: The Luxury Card. Serviced by MasterCard, it has three levels of service and perks, all with various annual fees and “precious metal” associations.
The Black Card can be applied for on the website, although your creditworthiness and spending ability may cause you to be approved for one of the lesser accounts.
Receive an Initial Credit Limit of $20,000 to $25,000
Because cardholders generally have a much higher income (or at least the ability to pay back their cards), MasterCard Black customers are usually given a very high initial credit limit. Spending allowances average between $20,000 – $25,000, with increases given over time for responsible account usage.
Like any other card, you can improve the likelihood of getting an increase beyond your initial amount by keeping an on-time payment history, paying a large average monthly payment amount, maintaining your credit bureau information and credit score, and using your card regularly for both everyday and large purchases.
Equipped with a Hefty $495 Annual Fee
Along with the status that comes with this card, however, there’s also a hefty $495 annual fee. It would be expected that the perks of owning a Black Card would be many, and plush. Only personal preference can determine if the fee is worth it, but here are some of the most promising benefits:
- cash-back bonuses, usually 1-2% on purchases
- worldwide acceptance
- 24-hour concierge service for help with travel, event planning, and shopping
- periodic luxury gifts, some as pens and magazines
- enrollment in the VIP airport lounge program
- travel insurance, warranty extensions, and purchase protections
Cardholders will also receive 15 months 0% APR financing on all purchases and balance transfers when the transfer is completed within 45 days of opening the account.
Barclays doesn’t openly publicize its requirements for obtaining a Black Card, but it’s safe to assume based on what we do know about the card that the following requirements are a must.
1. Excellent FICO Score (720+)
Naturally, the MasterCard Black Card requires an excellent credit score, usually 720 or higher on the FICO index. When being trusted with a high spending limit, you have to have exemplified responsible borrowing behavior in the past, which a strong FICO Score will reflect.
2. Big Spending (and Paying) on Your Cards
While the card doesn’t require some of the spending thresholds as other cards (like the AMEX Black Card), you can safely assume that you will need to be an avid user of credit and are very good at paying back thousands in purchases every month to even be considered.
3. High Income Necessary
Of course, to spend big, you have to earn big. To be able to charge and spend as needed to for this prestigious card, a solid job history, adequate proof of income, and a record of making on-time payments is a must. It probably also won’t hurt to be a Barclays’ customer.
5 Elite Credit Cards Without a $495 Annual Fee
As “elite” as the card may seem, the 1.5% cash back is a little underwhelming, while the $495 annual fee is a little overwhelming. If a higher cash-back bonus, lower annual fees, and more widely accepted perks are of interest to you, the following cards may be more appealing.
- Enjoy a one-time bonus of 40,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $400 in travel
- Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
- Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
- Travel when you want with no blackout dates
- Miles don't expire and there’s no limit to how many you can earn
- No foreign transaction fees
13.49% - 23.49% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good Credit
- Earn 30,000 bonus miles after you make $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within your first 3 months.
- Plus, earn a $50 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Terms and conditions apply.
- Earn 2 Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta. Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
- Check your first bag free on every Delta flight - that's a savings of up to $200 per round trip for a family of four.
- Settle in sooner with Priority Boarding.
16.24% - 25.24% Variable
$0 for the first year, then $95
at Chase'ssecure website
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
16.49% - 23.49% Variable
Introductory Annual Fee of $0 the first year, then $95
- Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases.
- No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
- Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
Pay Balance In Full Each Month
$0 for first year, then $195
at Barclaycard'ssecure website
- Earn 50,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 90 days — that's enough to redeem for a $500 travel statement credit
- Earn 2X miles on all purchases
- Redeem for travel or cash back statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. Redemption values vary
- Get 5% miles back to use toward your next redemption, every time you redeem
- Miles don't expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
- No foreign transaction fees on anything you buy while in another country
12 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
16.49%, 20.49% or 23.49% Variable
$89 - Waived first year
Here are some additional high-limit credit cards an excellent credit rating can get you.
So, is the Black Card Right for You?
The jury is out on whether the MasterCard Black Card is one that you should be carrying around in your pocket, assuming you meet its strict application requirements. Only you can decide whether the $495 annual cost of carrying one is worth the benefits, but the right card for you is out there, and it may have an annual fee you can feel better about — year after year!