Who Should Get A Black Card? Probably Not You!

Visa Black Card CommercialThere once was a time I was rich, but never famous as I traveled internationally four times a year for business. Each destination hosted loads of other folks who wanted to learn about the next money making idea in the global financial markets. With me was an American Express corporate card where I could expense relatively freely to the tune of ~$50,000 a year. The card provided travel insurance, access to airport lounges, concierge services, and more. 50K may sound like a lot, but that’s nothing compared to the hundreds of thousands in expenses I hear from some Black Card spenders!

I don’t have as much coming in anymore given I’m just a personal finance blogger, but I do have a lot of freedom. It’s a tradeoff many will take at some point in their lives. Given my desire to simplify things, I’ve only got one personal credit card, which is the Citi ThankYou Card. There’s no annual fee and all my spending is concentrated here to maximize my rewards points.

Since we live in the land of consumerism where we want things and we want them now, I thought it’d be a good idea to do a post for all you Black Card aspirees out there. Some get Black Cards just for its status symbol. Meanwhile, other people are a little less vain and use their Black Card for better access and service. Whatever the case, I’d like to introduce my guidelines for those who can and should not get a Black Card.


* High income individuals. Given the official definition of a middle class income is up to $200,000 per individual, only people with income of $200,001 and above are allowed to have a Black Card according to the powers that be. In fact, anybody with income of less than $200,000 should probably not have any card with an annual fee of greater than a couple hundred dollars a year!

* Responsible people. When you have a Black Card, you will have an urge to use your Black Card. You can very easily blow a whole in your finances given the naturally larger line of credit that comes with such a card. Responsibility can be measured by a credit score of 760 or higher. After all, the average credit score of a rejected mortgage applicant is 729. Those who demonstrate the historical ability to pay their bills on time are target candidates.

* People who aren’t in consumer debt. If you are already in consumer debt, then you are acting foolishly if you are even considering apply for a Black Card. Potentially adding even more debt is not a smart thing to do because credit card interest rates are some of the highest debt rates around. Even if you don’t plan to add on more consumer debt, it’s a good idea to resolve current debt problems first.

* People who pay a premium for convenience. When you are rich, you are willing to pay someone to mow your lawn, clean your house, and change your oil. Funny enough, middle income people do this already! But, that’s why they will stay middle income because the time not spent mowing a lawn is used to sit on the coach and watch TV. Rich people are better at utilizing their time to generate more income. They appreciate services that lead to better lifestyles. Black Cards almost always come with annual fees which can be a hurdle to cross if you don’t utilize the card enough. A $500 annual fee means you need to roughly get at least 50,000 in rewards points to just break even.

* People who expect to be saved. Here’s an interesting one. Let’s say you make less than $100,000 and have a net worth of less than $200,000. You have no business owning a Black Card with a large annual fee. But, let’s say you expect to be taken care of by your parents, the government, or spouse, then maybe you’ve got an argument! Your saviors might drop you in the future, but for now, you can milk them for all they’re worth.

* People who look as good as the models in the picture above. Let’s be real. If you are hot, life is good. People will treat you better. They’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, let you make more mistakes than the average person, and want to take care of you as long as you stay hot. Good looking people get away with murder, so why not enjoy spending a little more?

* High net worth individuals. Having a high income is not impressive if you can’t match it with a robust net worth. If you don’t have a net worth at least 3X your income, then please reconsider getting a Black Card. In this scenario, the definition of robust is at least $600,000 based off a $200,000 annual income. Higher the better obviously. See: The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person.

If you qualify for at least six out of the seven items above, you are ready to get yourself a shiny new Black Card! But, let’s be honest, you probably don’t qualify.


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Updated for 2015 and beyond.



Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship. Sam focuses on helping readers build more income in real estate, investing, entrepreneurship, and alternative investments in order to achieve financial independence sooner, rather than later.

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  1. Benjamin says

    I know a 28 year old woman who only makes around $70,000 a year who has a Black Card. She loves to spend money on electronics and travel. Guess what her net worth is? Less than half her income at around $33,000! She needs to literally spend 100% of her after tax income every year on the card just to cover the annual fee!

    Unless she finds “a savior” as you call it, she’s going to be working for a very looong time.

  2. says

    I could see if you were at a point in your life where time was far more scarce than money than the $500 annual fee could be worth it if it really did save you time. If I ever get there I think my cheapness will prevent me from paying for something ($500 annual fee) that I can get for free (credit card accepted in all the same places with no fee).

  3. says

    Ha wow a $495 annual fee?! Now that’s steep. That’s actually more than what I spend on my credit card some months combined. All of my current credit cards are 0 annual fee right now which is nice. I suppose for those who are making big bank and are responsible it’d be fun to have a black card and see what the luxury gifts are, but I’m sure they aren’t really “free” gifts with the fee so high. I didn’t realize that black cards are made from carbon too. Next time I’m in a high end store (which is practically never) I’ll have to look and see what types of cards people are paying with. It’d be fun to say I’d seen someone pay for a purchase with one.

  4. Jacob says

    I have a Visa Black Card because I travel about 100k miles a year and like the service and extra travel insurance. My income is over $350,000 so the $495 annual fee doesn’t bother me bc I get probably $2,000+ in benefits.

    I agree with you the income and NW requirements. Probably not worth it if you don’t travel much and make less than $100,000.

  5. says

    I’ve always wondered about the elusive black card. Aside from the luxury gifts, how much different is it than the Chase Sapphire? I just got one, and it’s heavier than any card I’ve ever had. I’ll have to check and see what it’s made from.

  6. says

    Unless this card is gonna help you get laid, there’s no way in hell it makes sense for anyone. You can get all these services and more from a Chase Sapphire or an AMEX Gold for way less money. I don’t see any benefits listed above that are that special. If I’m rich, I’ll just tip everyone a $20 :)

  7. says

    Although I qualify (5 out of 7), I would never pay the $500 fee. Perhaps it would be beneficial for American Express to just give it to me. I will do fine without it though and I am okay with that.

  8. says

    Yeah. Doesn’t sound appealing to me, either. I guess it’s just one of those things that fits the montra, “when you have money, spend money.” I would figure that someone who earns more than $200,000 a year can simple abstain from using credit cards altogether, regardless of the insignificant rewards that are given to black card users.

    • says

      Someone who makes $200,000+ a year is not much different from someone who makes $50,000 a year given most people don’t save more than 20% of their after tax income.

      $200,000 is also not that much in big cities such as SF and NYC. It really is about convenience when you have such a card.

  9. says

    The Visa Black doesn’t seem appealing at all even if I made enough to justify. I could put my spending on other cards and get more benefits from it. And it has a foreign transaction fee? Not cool.

    Also they try to make it exclusive. Well by sending out promos to talk about it (I’ve gotten it in the mail before) it makes it not as exclusive as they try to make it.

  10. says

    What exactly is the “Internet Marketing Circles”? For example, I’m ont he internet and I market several recommended products, including my book. Does that make me an internet marketer? Just wondering what the definition is. Thx.

  11. Krista says

    Got an offer for a Visa Black card in the mail… I assume it’s my credit rating that did it. Still, I got that credit rating because I’m not stupid about my finances. I’m not going to waste a $495 annual fee on a credit card. I don’t travel that much so the travel benefits are pretty much useless to me. I’ll stick with my Discover IT card, or my American express Fidelity card, neither of which have annual fees, and continue raking in the cash back.

  12. SWMRN5 says

    I just have a phenomenal credit score due to never missing a payment on anything over the past 8 years: paid off two cars, multiple small personal loans, faithful credit card payments, no debt collectors. I got an invitation for the Visa BC and laughed at the annual fee, knowing that meeting my bills every month isn’t going to continue happening if I actually accepted said invitation… especially with less than 30k gross income annually.

  13. John says

    My brother(24) has the visa black card, i make twice what he makes and he uses it all the time. To get the card they look at the credit score and the ability to pay the debt- not how much you make! He can spend 20K a month and he pays it off from his business of buying and selling flipped homes. Again he only makes 30K a year. On top of all that with every 1000$ spent they give you a credit of 250$ back on your card! That 500$ fee doesn’t mean a thing!

  14. Bob says

    I just got an invite by mail. I was surprised at first but it looks like I put over $30K last year on my AMEX gold… which might have been the trigger. I might go for it since I was aiming for the Amex Platinum not a while ago… I just don’t feel the need of having two AMEX cards in my wallet, one gold, one platinum… Why? It’s pretty much the same thing. The only difference (24h concierge, lounges, more points) are also offered with the BC. If I extend my wallet with a Visa card, I will also avoid getting stuck at a random store overseas “we do not accept AMEX!”. It happened many times… then you pull out your BoA credit card but guess what… they automatically freeze all your accounts thinking it’s fraud coming from overseas. You end up stuck like an idiot.

    So, it makes sense to me… regarding the $500/year = $40/month. Not that big of a deal right? It will be covered by travelling every year anyway, which is what I do. Last but not least, the spending limit. I’ve you ever tried to pull out $10’000 or $15’000 on a single purchase at a store. You either have to go to the bank to get the cash, or you have to sign a check and look shady. So you never know, I’m not rich, I don’t own a private jet, but it happened to me! So, I think it would be a good addition to my wallet. The marketing around it makes people angry thinking it’s only for the wealthiest. I don’t think so, it’s just a credit card which is a tool. You can have hundreds of millions in your bank account, if you don’t have the proper tools to get your money out of your account, you might end up stuck at store looking like an idiot with your cart full of Rolex and gucci stuff… Sorry Sir, looks like your card got denied…

  15. Richard says

    As a Black Card member , I can honestly say that the $495 yearly fee is small
    potatoes compared to the benefits of the card. My FICO is 849 , and it took a lot of hard work to achieve this score. There are a lot of reasons people like these so-called ego cards (ie, ego ,benefits , limits , and a sense of success. Personally , I love my metal credit cards.Life is so much easier with higher credit limits .

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