When credit cards were first developed for multi-use purposes in the 1950s, there was a stigma attached to using them. The Great Depression was not yet considered ‘history’ and folks were hesitant to trust the concept of buying now and paying later.
Fast forward a few decades and credit cards have become a way of life, with Australians having over $45 billion in credit card debt alone.
Today, the industry is attempting to make credit card use prestigious, a sign of affluence and social standing. And there are a few select credit cards on the market that can provide that elite status to their users.
What makes a credit card elite?
What’s worth more – a handful of change or a special, limited edition coin? Pennies are everywhere and there’s nothing special about them, but the rare, first edition penny is considered a treasure. Any old Visa or MasterCard in hand doesn’t feel special, but having a card that only a few select people ever see – that’s elite.
What makes a person feel more important – receiving a mass invite to a party or receiving a personalised invitation?
The best of the best credit cards out there are not available to just anyone. In fact, they’re not available at all! You won’t be getting any generic ‘pre-approval’ notices and you can’t fill in an online application. These prestigious VIP cards are given out by invitation only.
Which vehicle gives you greater status – the standard SUV with a load of features or the luxury brand SUV with the exact same features?
Prestige is in the name, and having the name comes with a cost. A high cost. The secret credit cards that are only to be found in the wallets of the wealthy don’t come with no fee or a low fee. A VIP card costs top dollar.
Things that are considered elite, including credit cards, are given out sparingly, by invitation only, and at a high cost.
What do these mysterious, elite credit cards have to offer?
Imagine credit limits in the six-figure range, your own personal customer service agent, unbelievable rewards 10 times better than the best rewards cards, concierge service, advance tickets and VIP seating for events, personal travel agents, and even free airline tickets.
If you’re not a celebrity, but want to be treated like one, having a VIP card is one way to get it.
THE VIP LINE UP
Westpac Altitude Black
The Westpac Altitude Black is a premium offering only available to those who meet some strict income criteria. Receive 40,000 bonus Altitude points after you make your first purchase with either of your cards. These will be added to your Altitude points balance within three business days after the first purchase transaction being debited to your account.
This card is linked to both American Express and MasterCard so you can earn Altitude points on whichever card you spend on. It is important to note that you will earn uncapped points on both the American Express and MasterCard.
You’ll also get exclusive Black Card access to a dedicated concierge via the telephone and the dedicated Westpac iPhone Concierge app. Whether you need to book seats for a concert or organise a private car for an airport pickup, the concierge service can help.
In addition to this, when you stay one night in an eligible hotel in the Asia Pacific region at Starwood Hotels, you’ll get fast tracked to Gold Status – it usually takes 25 nights to reach this status. Other benefits include:
• Priority service hotline.
• Altitude Black travel service.
• Personal shopper.
• Priority pass access at over 600 VIP airport lounges.
• Discounts at Globaleshop.
• Uncapped rewards point earning.
Westpac Earth Black
The Westpac Earth Black could be the credit card for those who want exclusivity and the ability to earn Qantas Points as part of the Qantas Frequent Flyer program.
You’ll earn 1.50 Qantas Points per dollar spent. You’ll also get access to these VIP benefits with the Westpac Earth Black credit card.
• Two complimentary Qantas Lounge passes each year once you reach a required spend on selected Qantas products and services.
• Earth Black concierge via phone and exclusive iPhone app.
• 40,000 bonus Qantas Points on signup.
• Discounts at Globaleshop.
• A fast-tracked Gold Starwood status.
• Complimentary travel insurances.
• No Qantas Points earning cap.
American Express Centurion Card
This is a high-end VIP credit card that offers some great rewards and the ability to earn Qantas Points on MasterCard and American Express.
American Express Centurion Card The Centurion Card is renowned as the most exclusive card in the world. It is the most distinguished level of American Express Card membership.
The Centurion Card is not for everyone. Membership is reserved for existing American Express card members who have shown the highest level of commitment. Access to Centurion membership is only available to a select circle of people around the world and is by invitation only. Benefits include:
• Guaranteed reservations at some the most prestigious restaurants in Australia.
• Complimentary limousine transport when you book a private air charter.
• Incomparable rewards redeemable worldwide, in addition to 1.5 miles earned for each dollar spent.
• Advance tickets for the event of your choice.
• In order to attain the exclusive Centurion membership, those invited will pay an annual fee of roughly $5,000. VIP cards generally have income requirements, as well as minimum spending requirements.
OTHER ELITE CARDS
The benefits of the Visa Infinite card include:
• Up to 75% off at more than 55,000 hotels worldwide.
• Up to four complimentary nights at one of 58 vacation villas.
• Fly away on a unique Visa Escape, tailored to your needs.
• Elite concierge services, from bookings to emergency assistance.
• Among other endless possibilities.
While the invitation-only cards are the epitome of high society, there are a few other cards available that speak ‘class’ of those who use them.
The Citibank Select card has strict eligibility criteria, such as an annual income of $120,000 or more. Your fee, should you be approved, would be a mere $700 per year – peanuts when compared alongside the Centurion and Infinite.
The American Express Platinum card boasts an annual fee of $1,200 and is reserved for those earning a minimum of $100,000 per annum.
The Commonwealth Bank Diamond Awards credit card sets the standard for prestige cards offered by the Big Four banks. It offers a low interest rate of 5.99% for five months on balance transfers with an annual fee of $425.
If you are one of the lucky few to receive an exclusive invitation to hold one of the most prestigious credit cards in Australia, you’ll have to decide if it’s worth it. For many in that income bracket, given the amount of time spent travelling the world for business and pleasure, the answer is yes…
This article is reprinted with the kind permission of finder.com.au. For more great credit card information, including comparisons, go to www.finder.com.au.
Excerpted from an article originally published in the February/March 2014 issue of Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine. If you are a subscriber to Think & Grow Rich Inc. magazine, you will receive this article in your February/March 2014 issue of TGR. If you are not a subscriber, click here to subscribe.