Review: Visa Black Card

Photo (cc) by alui0000

For some consumers, credit cards are status symbols. The right card can provide admission to sold-out events, access to airport lounges, and even a personal concierge service. But as every fan of superhero movies knows, with great power comes great responsibilities.

In the case of Barclays Bank’s Visa Black Card, responsibilities include paying a $495 annual fee. Let’s take a closer look:

Advantages

  • Earn rewards: Card members earn 1 percent on their purchases. This credit can be used for cash back or airfare on any airline with no blackout dates.
  • Airport lounge membership: Cardholders receive unlimited visits to more than 350 airport lounges around the world.
  • Luxury gifts: This card offers “luxury gifts” sent to you throughout the year. No specifics on what those gifts might include, however.
  • Carbon card: Account members receive a card made out of carbon that looks and feels different from other cards.
  • 24-hour concierge service: Call and they’ll give you directions, make dinner reservations, or purchase travel services on your behalf.

Disadvantages

  • Huge annual fee: A $495 annual fee is one of the highest out there. Since 1 percent cash back isn’t a great deal, that means the additional services would have to be worth the fee.
  • Marginal rewards: 1 percent cash back is the bare minimum that reward card holders should expect – and they can find it in cards with no annual fee. Given Visa Black’s fee, I would expect a higher reward or at least some opportunities for bonus cash back.
  • Foreign transaction fees: Charges processed outside of the U.S. incur a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. This really makes no sense on such a high-end card, especially as so many other cards are dropping this unnecessary charge.
  • Limited airport lounges: It is great that they offer unlimited airport lounge visits, but this is just membership in the Lounge Club program, which may have hundreds of locations worldwide, but has only about 15 in the U.S.
  • High interest rate: While those able to afford this card shouldn’t be carrying a balance, the interest rate currently listed is 14.99 percent – pretty high considering you have to have great credit to get this card.

Bottom line

Get it if: It is that important to you to have an exclusive-looking card that sends you undefined luxury gifts from time to time and offers concierge service.

Forget it if: You realize that there are other high-end cards, like the American Express Platinum, that offer more value for their annual fee.

Note: While we attempt to be completely objective when reporting on credit cards, this site may be compensated by issuers when a reader applies for a credit card through the links within credit card stories or on our credit card search page.

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