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There 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.
SHOULD YOU GET A BLACK CARD? LET’S SEE IF YOU QUALIFY
* 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 hole 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 couch 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.
WEALTH BUILDING RECOMMENDATION
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- Earn 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s a ~$650 value right there.
- Named a ‘Best Credit Card’ for Travel Rewards by MONEY Magazine.
- You get 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Sign up for the Chase Sapphire Preferred card here.
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Updated for 2020 and beyond.
I’m sort of surprised by these comments. I thought you guise and gals would have been smarter than this. I’m a black card holder and if you use it right, the fees pay for itself, along with the perks you get. If you use this card for most purchases you make, the cash back rewards are enough by the end of year to pay for your annual fee of $495. Not only that, you get concierge service 24/7 to book for travel, hotels, tickets to events, etc. You also can get a free night stay at hotels when you book 4 or more nights, along with free hotel upgrades for rooms, free spa services at the hotel. Come on people, this isn’t a card you want to hold a balance on and charge your groceries with. It’s a card you want to pay all your bills with and misc charges. The cash back alone (if you save it) pays for the annual fee at the end of the year. You guys need to learn how to use credit cards before you leave comments about something you are using incorrectly. It’s simple, use the card for the majority of your purchases and pay it in full at the end of the month. The perks far exceed the $495 fee, which, when used correctly is basically FREE by the end of the year. BTW, my annual income is $60K, not including my spouses income and the Citi Preferred card is amazing, you just have to know how to use them responsibly to get the most out of your perks.
I get tired of having to call and have a new card sent cause the plastic doesn’t hold up. I have chase sapphire preferred and I dirt track race and every couple months it comes apart. The lack of having it is a huge down fall. Customer service is very poor when comes to reporting authroize users, even after you given them info 4 times. I told the amex platinum card and didn’t have a single problem getting it. Score is 850. 36 years of on time payments never missed on auto home and credit cards. Before the platinum card i tried for the luxury card and was denied. Called about reconsideration and said since I added a new card to my profile they would like to wait 6 months and the they would approve it. Never have I carried a balance. I felt it was a slap in the face. Talked to my american express rep. Had the platinum card instantly. Was expedited next day for free. I spent 20 k trough it a month. I believe the luxury card didn’t look at the entire picture. And still to this day not a balance on anything. Everything paid full before statements. I found the fee was worth it not having to call not replace a card every so many months. The convenience was worth the fee to me. Yes I get rewards for using. But the major thing was not having to call them again for a replacement card. My thoughts about chase.
Jon Bartender says
I googled to see if a black card made sense for me…answer “no”.
My Fidelity card gives me 2% back on everything. No annual fee. Yes, I pay it of monthly. No, I’m not looking to get laid based on a card (lol, grow up).
My credit limit and annual spending is more then most of these “black card” holders make in a year…maybe there is a correlation?
Why I own the MasterCard Black Card. Offers unlimited access and unlimited guests to priority lounges while American Express Platinum charges you $27 per guest per lounge visit. While it a luxury travel card – it’s accepted world wide. Can American Express Platinum say that. The card is not for everyday purchases for collecting points, but you’re entitled to more redeem options as well. 2% for travel 1.5% cash statement credit or 1% everything else. A Great combination among other perks. Some people are willing to pay $150-$190 monthly on cable bill, gym membership or handbags that they nevertheless used. The MasterCard Black is a good luxury travel card for $40 a month. It’s connected to over 3,000 hotels with free upgrades and $50 per stay dining credit. Prestige – no question about it. They even waived my first year annual fee. The complaints are from people whom either don’t have excellent credit, low income, or have a hign debt to income ratios. Bottom line: they don’t travel, so they don’t understand the perks. If you have high consumer debt forget about it.
Why I own the MasterCard Black Card. Offers unlimited access and unlimited guests to priority lounges while American Express Platinum charges you $27 per guest per lounge visit. While it a luxury travel card it’s accepted world wide. Can American Express Platinum say that. The card is not for everyday purchases to collect points, but you’re welcome to more redeem options as well. 2% for travel 1.5% cash statement credit or 1% everything else. Get combination among other perks. Some people are willing to pay $150-$190 monthly on cable bill or gym membership that nevertheless used. The MasterCard Black is a good luxury travel card for $40 a month. It’s connected to over 3,000 hotels with free upgrades and $50 per stay dining credit. Prestige no question about it. They even waived my first year annual fee. The complaints are from people whom either don’t have excellent credit, low income but pay for cable, or have a hign debt to income ratios. Bottom line: they don’t travel, so they don’t understand the perks.
I can’t seem to understand the big deal of a $500 annual. It’s only about $40xmonth. That’s what’s spent on a dinner and a couple drinks.
The visa black card (now luxury card mastercard) is a total joke. It’s all about the looks, and the benefits are lacking.
The citi prestige, amex platinum, and ritz carlton credit card all beat this by a longshot.
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 .
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 $15’000 on a single purchase at a store. You either have to go to the bank to get the cash, or you have to sign a check and look shady. So you never know, I’m not rich, I don’t own a private jet, but it happened to me! So, I think it would be a good addition to my wallet. The marketing around it makes people angry thinking it’s only for the wealthiest. I don’t think so, it’s just a credit card which is a tool. You can have hundreds of millions in your bank account, if you don’t have the proper tools to get your money out of your account, you might end up stuck at store looking like an idiot with your cart full of Rolex and gucci stuff… Sorry Sir, looks like your card got denied…
My brother(24) has the visa black card, i make twice what he makes and he uses it all the time. To get the card they look at the credit score and the ability to pay the debt- not how much you make! He can spend 20K a month and he pays it off from his business of buying and selling flipped homes. Again he only makes 30K a year. On top of all that with every 1000$ spent they give you a credit of 250$ back on your card! That 500$ fee doesn’t mean a thing!
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.
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.
Financial Samurai 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.
Eric Shun says
Jacob said it…”thanks to my Visa Black Card! It’s gotten me hard”
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.
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.
Financial Samurai 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.
I used to feel the same way and would pay cash for everything, but I spend around 40k a month so I got one of these cards a few years ago and it’s nice, everything is autobilled and it gets auto paid off every month. The points stack up after awhile. Basically it’s just for the points lol.
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.
Financial Advice for Young Professionals 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 :)
Actually, I’ve gotten laid probably over a dozen times thanks to my Visa Black Card! It’s gotten me hard to get concert tickets and restaurant reservations for two for example that have led to a lot of fun after!
It’s all about convenience and service once you make a certain amount of money.
I tip 100.00 bills no 20’s come on now. That is a cheap rich bastard tiping 20 dollars. That does not really help no one.
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.
Chase Sapphire is a dime a dozen card. Anybody can get it, and the services they provide their customers isn’t as good by any means.
I love my Chase Sapphire. The bonuses for signing up are great. And the points transfer to many airlines and hotels instantly.
Financial Samurai says
Yeah, but can it get you laid, as Jacob above has said?
Ah nevermind, you’re married.
Yes!! You pull out the unlimited line of credit the made of full carbon titanium,black card, that provides full concierge service and will provide a G650 Gulf Stream jet to anywhere in the world for you when you’re entourage what to go just for a change up the scenery. If you cant get laid under these circumstances! The card is the least of your problems…. Just saying… Hahahahaha
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.
Financial Samurai says
Makes a lot of sense to me. Getting $500 in benefits doesn’t make the card worth it. Getting $2,000+ does!
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.
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).
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.
Financial Samurai says
Hmmm, concerning on so many accounts. $70,000 is around $50,000 after tax. You’ve got to spend that amount to make the fees worth it.