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Visa Black. Pay too much, and set off metal detectors, too!


Permalink 05:49:30 am, by Paul ROBINSON, 754 words   English (US)
Categories: Announcements [A]

Visa Black. Pay too much, and set off metal detectors, too!

Barclay's Bank Delaware has started running web ads for their Visa Black card. ("Visa Black" is a product offered by Visa International, it's not exclusive to Barclay's the way Bank Americard is exclusive to the bank that started what became Visa back in 1969, Bank of America.) It's supposed to be equivalent to American Express' Platinum, in that the annual fee is a whopping $495 a year. I mean, I have an American Express Gold Card which, the first year is free and after that it's $125, and at that I think it's a bit overpriced. (What's interesting is American Express remembered when I had one for six months back in 1994 and on my card it says "Member since 1994.") Now, I suspect that Visa Black is a credit card rather than a charge card, meaning you can pay over time. (With AMEX's Gold Card you have to pay the bill in full at the end of the billing month.)

This credit card offer still seems ridiculous to have a card that the annual fee is more than some people have in credit, but in some cases it can be useful. For example, if I do keep this card after the first year, for the $125 fee, if I needed the feature, it allows up to 50 additional cards to be issued at no additional charge, so for a company that has people who are authorized to be issued a company charge card it is a good financial tool, since each user is issued a different card number and on the monthly report it itemizes each user's purchases by card number. (And different cards tied to the master account can have different spending limits).

When I was staying over at my sister's place and managing her affairs back in 2006, she had a Chase Ink Visa credit card with a 5-figure limit, which I had them issue myself and my brother Bill specific cards (with lower limits), so that when she wanted something at the store, instead of him using his own card and I have to pay him in cash, he would simply pay for it with his card issued through her account. Same thing when I ordered stuff on line for her, I'd use the card in my name that was charged to her account, then at the end of the billing month all three cards were shown on the bill as to specific purchases made for each card. Now, I'm not stupid; I got the Chase Ink card for my sister because it has no annual fee.

Obviously this sort of card like Barclay's Visa Black and American Express Platinum are for the very high spending customer, probably people running 6 figure bills a year or high 5 figures every month. Now, part of the $495 fee includes "handholding" in which you get concierge service and -possibly special access to certain features, for example, there are a number of events around the country (like concerts) where only American Express cardholders can buy advance tickets. But this isn't just for AMEX Platinum Members, even if you have one of American Express' prepaid cards you can buy tickets at these events.

This is, of course, no where near as ridiculous as American Express' Centurion card, for which the application fee is $2,500 and the annual fee is an additional 5 grand. (Also, you can't "apply" for a Centurian card, AMEX has to invite you to do so.) This is the sort of card a multimillionaire carries, because I'm sure if you're paying that kind of green just for a credit/charge card, you're a spoiled brat who expects lots of handholding and asskissing (Consider Richard Gere's character in Pretty Woman, or some real-life publicly known spoiled brats like Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber.) And, for that kind of money, I'm sure, American Express is very willing to pucker up when requested.

But going back to Visa Black, Barclays' is adding a new twist. The card isn't made out of plastic with a mag stripe. It's made of stainless steel with a carbon insert on the back so the mag stripe stays in place. So, I guess since most people have to dump their wallet into the x-ray machine, it won't really set off the metal detectors because you won't be carrying it when walking through, but I still think the idea of a card that is made of steel seems kind of silly. Of course, I think a credit card with a $495 annual fee is even sillier, but that's my opinion.

And I'm sticking to it.

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