There is little doubt that the relatively new Visa Black Card campaign is modeled on trying to take advantage of the mystique and desirability caused by the exclusivity of the American Express super-card known as the Amex Centurion. People who are familiar with both cards will likely look at the title and chuckle; there is no comparison between the two; the Amex can’t even be held by mere mortals who charge less than $250,000 annually on their credit cards, whereas the Visa Black could be handled by a middle-class person. In any case, we asked a close friend who runs a company and has both cards for the details of his experience, even though he’s had his Amex for many years and his Visa Black for just about two.
The first thing to notice is the difference in annual fees. The Amex Centurion costs about $210 per month – an annual fee of $2,500 – just to have it in your wallet. Sound like a lot? Well that’s because you (nor we) can afford it! Our friend Bill takes home over $40,000 per month after taxes, has no children, and dates occasionally. The Visa card’s $495 annual fee breaks down to $40 per month, which is what Bill tips the guy who parks his Benz whenever he eats out, which is quite a lot for a single, nearly-middle-aged bachelor. Besides, with what he spends in a year, the cash-back easily covers the insignificant annual fee anyway.
The respective concierge services appear very good; Bill related a story to us about deciding on a split-second trip with a friend; he used the Amex – this was before he’d applied for the Black Card – Centurion and called the concierge desk, who had not only booked the flight first-class for two, but also secured a limousine, hotel, dinner reservations at an exclusive restaurant, and concert tickets in less than half-an-hour. He stated they must’ve had several people behind the scenes catering to his wishes, to get it done so quickly. He would later use the Visa Black Card for a somewhat similar purpose, and got the same service and results, with the concierge desk at Visa even arranging for a personal shopper at the hotel to bring up a few things from various stores around an unfamiliar city, all accomplished by the end of a (long) day. The Black Card clearly doesn’t carry as much heft as the Amex, but then its not meant to; the personal-assistant-equivalent, all manner of insurance protection, and mostly prestige it carries makes it, in his opinion, a worthwhile card to have. But then, he makes half-a-million dollars a year, so go figure.