Visa Black Card Comes With A Sense Of Self Importance, $495 Annual Fee

Two different readers recently received an application for the Visa Black Card from Barclays. With its “patent pending carbon” material and “exclusive rewards program,” it’s not for everyone. With its $495 annual fee (plus another $195 per each authorized user), it’s not for anyone, not even the supposed 1% of the population Barclays says they’re marketing it to. We take that back—if Gob Bluth could get his own credit card, this would be the one he’d sign up for. C’mon!

Surely such a luxurious card must have some kick-ass benefits, right? Here are the terms and conditions so you can decide for yourself:

Stephen notes,

It seems a bit like trying to sell those ‘Who’s Who in American High Schools’ to people- asking a lot of money for some meaningless bit of data. I can’t quite figure out what justifies such a high price tag, other than the thrill of conspicuous consumption or in being slightly more unique than the other hundreds of customized credit cards out there.

(Congratulations to Stephen and Todd for being in such an exclusive percentile!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Red_Eye says:

    Quick someone paste that image into a CapitolOne Card maker!

  2. icruise says:

    I also got offered one of these. I have no idea why, or why anyone would actually want such a card.

    • cpt.snerd says:

      @icruise: My mother received one and ripped it up almost immediately, haha. Guess you guys are elite!

    • IP says:

      @icruise: Yah, me too. I saw that annual fee and said “Wow, there must be some really great benefits to justify that fee!” Read a little further and then thought “Wow, who’d be stupid enough to get one of these cards!?!”

    • drmk says:

      @icruise: I got one too. Almost fell over when I saw the $495 annual fee! Told my husband about it, laughed, shredded it. Probably not the reaction they were looking for.

  3. eightfifteen says:

    I’m from Iowa, so the minimum finance charge is on 50¢. SIGN ME UP!!

  4. firestorm888 says:

    Sounds more like “elusive rewards program” to me…

  5. LegoMan322 says:

    They are trying to be similar if not complete with Amex Black. That card is “Not for everybody” and people kill to have it.

    • Yossarian says:

      @LegoMan322: This is more AMEX Platinum. It isn’t in the same ballpark as AMEX black.

      • hellinmyeyes says:

        @Yossarian: It’s not even quite that. I think I remember reading their rewards promo crap when it first came out, and it said it gives you two complimentary airline club visits; after that, you have to pay for the airline clubs.

        Gotta love cheap knock-offs…

    • xamarshahx says:

      @LegoMan322: whats funny is amex black didn’t even exist when rappers were rapping about it, amex created it after the buzz.

    • LostTurntable says:

      @LegoMan322: The Amex Black has some amazing perks, I can’t count the times that thing has helped me get a hotel room or change flights easily when in a jam. I’d tell you more about how awesome it is but then I’d have to kill you.

      • FLConsumer says:

        @Wuhao: That’s exactly what I thought when I first saw promos for Visa Black. My Wachovia Visa Signature card’s benefits are on-par or better than Visa Black for most things. 1.5% back on the Wachovia card vs. Barclay Black’s 1%.

        Re: concierge services, I’ve had hit-or-miss luck with concierge services with both Amex & Visa Sig. Sometimes good, sometimes not-so-good. I’ve not seen what I’d consider outstanding or the level of an upscale hotel concierge.

  6. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    It ain’t easy being white.

  7. RStui says:

    Am I the only one having an epileptic fit over the $195 per authorization charge??

  8. lpranal says:

    oh, snap! my citi diamond rewards card (I know, right? Diamond? it’s not even a great card… talk about card material inflation) that I’ve had for over a year looks a lot like this. Come to think of it, I have been noticing more people faint at the mere sight of it lately.

    I have a feeling anyone who can afford this now would have their full-time mail screenerl throw it out before it ever reaches their mid-morning tea office.

    Now, a Colbert Platinum card, on the other hand…

    • bnelson333 says:


      Is it the black one? I got the card a few years ago when it was silver and they just sent me a new, black variant. I thought it of too when I saw this story because I remember thinking it was sorta neat. But the rewards are crap so I took out a different one.

      • lpranal says:

        @bnelson333: yeah, that’s the one. I kept mine despite the craptastic rewards (they don’t even have the $100 wal mart card anymore) because it’s my longest-standing line of revolving credit.

        • bnelson333 says:


          Oh I still have it, just don’t use it. :)

          I used to get the $100 Target gift cards but they nerfed that a long time ago. Now I just have a cash back card instead of fussing with redeeming points for gift cards, this way I can spend it anyway I like.

  9. ironchef says:


    You get a free tshirt with a Southwest Airlines Visa Card.

  10. DaBull says:

    It seems as though they’re marketing this card at the wrong time. Maybe they should spend money on better things, like non-outsourced customer service…

  11. ajlei says:

    I really think it’d be more of a Lindsay thing.. I mean, come on, diamond cream? It has a million f*cking diamonds!

  12. backbroken says:

    Can I put “Owner of Visa Back Card” on my resume?

    • backbroken says:

      @backbroken: Maybe even, Visa “Black” Card?

    • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

      @backbroken: I see no reason why not. Unless, of course, such an action is prohibited in the fine print of the card’s terms and conditions. Presumably Barclay’s might claim that you do not actually “own” the credit card, but in the grand scheme of things, I doubt they’d really be too terribly concerned.

      My question is: do you believe adding this information to your resume would improve your career prospects? I’d be leery of hiring anyone to manage my company’s books who felt that paying $495 for a run of the mill credit card with “patent pending carbon material” was a sign of prestige.

      On the other hand, if I needed a lackey who I felt I could convince to work lots of unpaid overtime, simply by offering him an “executive level salary.” which might or might not be the same the average hourly base rate in the a given field, then sure, telling me about your Black VISA card might be just the ticket to landing you the job!

  13. veg-o-matic says:

    As long as the limit is high enough for the 18 grand needed for the Aztec Tomb, I don’t see how it’s a bad option.

  14. MrGutts says:

    Just about everyone is getting these Black card invites. Not so exclusive anymore.

    Are the tax payers paying via the bailout for that marketing?

  15. Anonymous says:

    My husband just got a Black Card invitation and now I’m wondering why. We have good credit but are far from wealthy. Part of the reason we have good credit is that we don’t jump at random credit card offers no matter how fancy the packaging…and this packaging is fancy.

    Black envelope with the words BLACK CARD in all caps across the flap. Impressive. But not impressive enough for us to bite.

    Try again, Visa!

  16. Jesse says:

    I’ve received more random compliments for my AMEX Blue Cash card than possibly anything else I’ve ever owned.

    • hills says:

      @Jesse: Me too – people love that card!

    • karmaghost says:

      @Jesse: Me too, but I also used to have people go nuts over my bright orange PNC Bank Debit card, so people just like shiny things.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @Jesse: It’s totally because it’s clear, clerks are always like, “oooh, it’s clear!”

      Which I don’t mock because I spent the first week I had it going, “ooooh …. it’s clear!”

    • JeffM says:

      @Jesse: I still love my Blue Sky card most too for that reason. So I totally understand being enamored with a credit card because of the style- but um, Blue Sky gives you 1.33% cash back and doesn’t cost anything to own- which makes me like it even more!

    • GildaKorn says:

      @Jesse: On that note I get comments about my credit card all the time too. People hate it. It’s an Amazon Chase card, and it’s black. So sometimes people have trouble figuring out where the black magstripe is. Heh.

  17. Trai_Dep says:

    Wow, the terms are insanely uncompetitive, across the board. Looks like Visa Black is for the elite all right: Elite suckers!

    • Trai_Dep says:

      @Trai_Dep: Does the poly-carbonate, resin fiber reinforced, gritty black scheme suggest it’s especially manly, or simply the card to take while on a week-long coke/crystal meth binge?

    • lpranal says:

      @Trai_Dep: looks kind of like carbon fiber. you know, so when you add it to your other 46 cards, it doesn’t weigh down your wallet, it won’t overheat from excessive use, and when you try to cut it up, it breaks your scissors.

    • MaytagRepairman says:

      @Trai_Dep: I think I will save myself $493 and buy a permanent black marker instead.

    • Blueskylaw says:


      In 2007, the annual fee in the United States was $2,500, with a one-time $5,000 initiation fee for the first year.

      Also, as of August 1, 2007, in the United States, stated requirements to become a card holder included minimum spending of $250,000 in a 12 month period, and exceptional credit history.

  18. Scarficus Rex says:

    Is it just me, or do you get every single one of these benefits with a Visa Signature card, without the annual fee? Their site suggests that they have some travel insurance coverage available for free, but I have an REI Signature card which gives me that. Even better, I have a Schwab Visa which has double the cash back, and no foreign transaction fees. Both have a concierge service, although I’ve never put it to the test.

    Visa is getting beat out by their own product.

    • themicah says:

      @Wuhao: The travel insurance benefits on the Visa Black card are a joke. My $50/year Citi AAdvantage card has far better insurance benefits (4x the travel accident insurance, 5x the lost luggage insurance). And my Schwab Visa Signature (which I think has similar if not identical travel insurance benefits to the Black Card) has 2x the cash back rewards with no annual fee at all.

      The one thing this card has that a standard Visa Signature or World Mastercard doesn’t have is Priority Pass, which gets you into certain airline lounges. That’s what lets them charge the annual fee and what makes it competitive with Amex Platinum (not Amex Centurion). I’m not sure what level of Priority Pass this includes, but you may actually be able to buy a Priority Pass membership directly for less than the cost of the annual fee on this card.

    • craptastico says:

      @Wuhao: i don’t think it’s a Visa product as much as a Barclay’s bank product. they’re the bank actually issuing the card.

  19. trlstanc says:

    What’s the limit? For those kind of fees I better be able to buy a new yacht with one.

    • Ayleron says:

      @trlstanc: Here is what is said about the Amex Centurion:
      Spending limits

      Centurion holders have made purchases well in excess of $1 million USD without a credit check. A popular myth is that the card has no limit; the largest purchase supposedly ever made on it exceeded $52 million for a private jet by Victor Shvetsky. However the Centurion Card does have limits, but these limits are not pre-set at a certain level. Like any other American Express charge card, the limits are based on the spending history of card holder, as well as their personal credit profile and financial resources. A card holder spending $250,000 in the previous year could not just purchase a jet with a swipe of his or her card unless he or she had the resources to make good on the transaction. Each year spending habits are reviewed by the credit department in order to determine the spending limit for the next year. The limit can be increased after providing new financial data.

      American Express reports account activity for this card under the credit bureau trade line classification of Open (charge card) vs. Revolving (credit card). Since there is no pre-set credit limit associated with this card product, the High Credit amount reported represents the largest monthly balance that was closed in the past 18 months of card activity. Some card members who charge a significant amount each month have complained that there is always an unpaid balance reflected on their credit reports which can have a negative impact on their FICO score even though they pay off their balance each month per the card member agreement.

  20. bohemian says:

    It is so exclusive everyone is getting one! Be in the in crowd uh just like everyone else. Plus a 13% apr? I would hope anyone who actually has money could get a better rate than that. I think there are still some cards running under 10% apr if you can obtain them.

  21. Unsolicited Advice says:

    The competitive advantage of most of the upper-tier cards like the AMEX Platinum are concierge customer service, event invitations, and the like. Visa isn’t offering anything like that here, just an artificial status totem to whip out of one’s wallet.

    But the larger problem is that status is afforded to one’s credit card’s appearance and terms. Perhaps I don’t understand the social pressures of being rich that well, but it strikes me that people this foolish with their money won’t understand those pressures for long either. The day the right to pay 14% interest becomes worthy of $495 a year is the day that aspirational luxury has completely dominated the American psyche.

    • craptastico says:

      @Unsolicited Advice:i received an offer for one of these and i believe it did offer concierge service. the terms are still ridiculous otherwise, but i was wondering what exactly concierge service entailed to try to charge 495/year

    • Kamidari says:

      @Unsolicited Advice: I received an app for one of these as well… It does include 24/7 concierge service, access to certain airport lounges, and apparently some random gifts throughout the year.

      For what it’s worth, I googled it a bit, and people seem to indicate that the concierge server is pretty good, and some of the gifts are as well.

      It’s not something that really interests me, since I don’t really travel or go to all that many shows/sporting events, but the article above is strangely leaving out all the perks, so of course it looks worthless.

      Supposedly the 1% criteria means people who charge at least $50k/yr. Sadly, I’m probably in that ballpark, but no, I don’t carry a balance, so put away your flamethrowers. :p

      • Anonymous says:

        @Kamidari: I received one of these offers quite a while ago. It clearly said that the 1% meant that they would only issue the card to 1% of the US population. Not the top 1% or anything like that. So, it just means that they won’t give more than about 3 million cards out. If they ever hit 3 million cards, at $500/yr/card, then they’d be in pretty good shape.

        • Kamidari says:

          @HilliardRhesus: Ahh, okay – I didn’t read it all that closely, but stumbled across the $50k in my googling of it. It thought it made sense, though, if they were trying to do something like a Amex Centurian-lite. ;)

      • Unsolicited Advice says:


        If those features are part of the card, consumerist has done a bad job of setting up a feature comparison. Concierge service and airport lounges might seem like random nonsense to the layman, but if you’ve ever traveled or tried to get customer service you learn to appreciate them quickly.

        • Michael Belisle says:

          @Unsolicited Advice: Ja, you have to use your x-ray vision to read the text behind the pompous jackass’s head, where the benefits are listed to include “mbership”, “oncierge Servi”, “Rewards Progr”, and “g Carbon C”.

          Or you can just go to the Black Card website.

  22. Nighthawke says:

    So whats the big racket over Vias Black, save for their swanky color job (I’ll take a can of Krylon plastic paint and do mine white, nyah!) and semi attractive APR.

  23. Urgleglurk says:

    Remember what P.T. Barnum said, folks…

  24. s25843 says:

    I pay $450 a year for my Amex Platinum, but, atleast I get airport club access,,, NO Finance charges,, and concierge and the like behind it… Granted my Plat isnt made out of carbon fiber, but, thats another issue for another day!

    • craigkay says:


      Ditto; and up until a year ago, 2-for-1 tickets on domestic airline travel.

      • FLConsumer says:

        @craigkay: 2-for-1 international makes more sense. With domestic flights, you could do better booking on your own with the airlines vs. using Amex’s travel service.

  25. CaffiendCA says:

    I got the offer too, and laughed when I saw the fee plus the interest rate. Stupid.

    I can’t imagine many takers.

  26. thomas_callahan says:

    I saw the web site for this a few weeks ago and made a fool of myself laughing out loud at work before I got angry about how stupid it is, but then I thought about it more — I hope they fleece people self-important enough to sign up for one of these for everything they can get. I’m usually all for protecting people from their own stupidity, but if someone really thinks they’re “special” because they pay more to have a fancy credit card, it serves them right. “Oh, I’m special, I have a carbon credit card — it even has my very own name on it!”.

    Damn, now I’m angry about it again.

  27. valen says:

    Does this card come with a complimentary kick in the groin? With a $500 annual fee, it should at least come with a complementary punch in the face.

  28. egoods says:

    I have to say, the perks offered by cards like the Amex Plat. or Black outweigh this card ten fold. If you travel alot then the Amex Platinum is actually a big time money saver, since you then don’t have to pay for the world clubs in airports (trust me, it’s a necessity to keep your sanity). My dad had one when I was younger, between the world clubs and the concierge service, it’s worth the money. This card on the other hand…

  29. zibby says:

    @LegoMan322: Haha, you’re right. I worked with a guy who was pretty rich, but “not-quite-there” as far as AMEX Black went. He got on the horn with them and basically ended up begging for the thing. In front of everybody in the office. And got negged. In front of everybody. We made sure that the humbling nature of this event was fully understood by him.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @zibby: That is sad. Begging for a piece of plastic so that you can look rich. Come on, people, he who dies with the most toys still dies.

      • LegoMan322 says:

        @GuinevereRucker: yeah but reality is a bitch. It’s a status symbol, just like a group of guys comparing who has more horse power in their car or motorcycle. No difference.

      • karmaghost says:

        @GuinevereRucker: Actually, AmEx Black is made out of some sort of metal… :P

        My friend has one and the look on bar tenders’ faces when he hands it to them is priceless. Strong drinks all night!

  30. mrgenius says:

    I’ll stick with my Citibank cards. 3.25% APR plus 1% cash back ain’t too bad. Unfortunately, it’s sort of silvery and plastic. Waaaaah!

  31. trrwilson says:

    I threw away all my platinum cards. I got a Uranium card.

  32. crichton007 says:

    I saw someone use one of these at the airport a month ago.

  33. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Fuck carbon or platinum, my card’s Kryptonite!

  34. discounteggroll says:

    “Illusions, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money…”

    god I love arrested development

    • varro says:

      @discounteggroll: Yeah, the guy using the $495/year credit card is going to bus his own table at Burger King.

      Tobias: “It’s a wonderful restaurant, though.”
      Narrator: “It sure is!”

  35. Anonymous says:

    Actually, where this card is useful is if you own a company and have a large sales staff that travels extensively. 100 people spending $1000 per ticket travelling a conservative 10 times a year with 1% cash back towards travel comes to a ciool $10,000 in cash/travel rewards. Suddenly that $495 annual fee doesn’t seems like much. But wait there’s more, these cards don’t have a limit…
    So, you can spend the cash OR you can spend the cash AND get 1%. No it’s not a lot, but if you spend millions a year using such a card it adds up. I could go on, but I won’t.

  36. rtac5b says:

    Doesn’t GOB stand for George Oscar Bluth?

  37. almightytora says:

    Wow… $495 annual fee? You sure it isn’t $4.95? I guess most congressman saw that and signed up immediately.

  38. Tankueray says:

    I think this card is way behind the times. They should have intro’d it years ago when everyone was living way beyond their means. It seems as though it’s geared toward the AMEX platinum/black crowd that can’t afford to pay off the balance monthly. I’m sure it will do just fine, but they could’ve made a lot more money a few years ago.

    And I got one of these applications too. I believe “Santos L. Halper” did as well.

  39. Corporate_guy says:

    What is the point of the fee? The interest rate is worse than most regular credit cards(if you are rich you probably have good credit), and it’s only going to be accepted at places VISA is already accepted. What are the benefits? Showing off?

  40. spankyshay says:

    Does anyone actually know the benefits of the card? The negatives are obvious but if it was a 2% rebate on every purchase plus concierge etc. it would probably be worth it.

  41. nucwin83 says:

    I’ve already got a black Visa from Barclays. It’s the Juniper card that I got when I financed a Mac at 0% for 12 months.

    I should hope that the black card they send out for these folks is a little more sturdy feeling (thing feels lighter and cheaper than every other card I’ve got…)

  42. humphrmi says:

    The article didn’t really list the benefits, just the terms & conditions page. Most of these high end card benefits aren’t about charging and borrowing money, it’s about the services they offer. To someone who travels a lot, or entertains clients, those benefits might be valuable. Like, for instance, 24/7 concierge service.

    The Visa Black benefits (as opposed to terms), are compared to the Centurion card here:


  43. gnubian says:

    I’m one of the 1% .. I received one of those last week. I saw the 13.24% interest rate and laughed .. currently, my rate is at about 5% less than that on mastercard.

    • spankyshay says:

      @gnubian: I don’t believe you. I can’t imagine that someone who makes 7 figures a year worries about the interest rate on a credit card as they wouldn’t carry a balance for it to matter. If they do carry a balance, they are dumb enough to not care about 13.24% interest.

      I also don’t imagine someone who makes 7 figures a year would waste their time reading the consumerist…

  44. richcreamerybutter says:

    Not unlike my reaction to some automobile drivers’ behavior, I say, “he must have a REALLY big penis.”

  45. zarex42 says:

    Once again, Consumerist skews (or omits) the facts.

    The Black card is the same price as the AMEX Platinum card, and carries pretty much the same benefits, including the 24-hour concierge (handy for some folks) and free passes to travel lounges (awfully nice).

    I have an AMEX Platinum for business, and it’s worth it for me. I’ve easily gotten more from promos (how about 3 days at the Wynn 100% free?) than I spend in annual fees.

    No, it’s not a card for the masses. They don’t claim it is. But it looks like it’s just as good as AMEX Platinum. What’s the problem?

  46. mefinney says:

    I think the “I am Rich” iPhone app has more value than the Visa Black Card.

  47. Eukaryote says:

    It appears that the reason it is so good is that it’s a fixed APR card, rather than a variable rate.

    • tripnman says:

      @Eukaryote: Actually, it is variable. Per the terms posted above, 0% fixed for six months, after that it is 9.99% plus prime for purchases.

      I too am a member of that elite 1% that received this offer, and promptly round-filed it. I have a wallet full of VISA cards with much better terms already, thank you.

  48. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    @drftjgoj: STEVE HOLT!

  49. bearymore says:

    This just confirms that whatever needs to be said about American society has already been said by Thorstein Veblen in “Theory of the Leisure Class”.

  50. NotATool says:

    Here’s the offer I got. They also have a web site: []

    The Black Card (issued by Barclays Bank) is quite possibly the worst credit card offer ever. Who are they trying to market to? Vain fools with lots of money to burn? Check out the “features:”
    – Limited Membership (ooohh it’s an exclusive status symbol so everyone will know how great I am. Limited to only 1% of U.S. residents.)
    – 24-hour concierge service (I’m too good for Expedia.)
    – Luxury Gifts (i.e. overpriced crap that I could buy via SkyMall with any major credit card)
    – Patent Pending Carbon Card (WTF is that? Check out the copy on the picture. “Made with carbon, it is the ultimate buying tool.” Isn’t ALL PLASTIC made with carbon???)

    And the punch line:
    – $495 ANNUAL FEE. (Additional $195 annual fee for each additional cardholder). O-M-F-G.

    This card SCREAMS “I’m a rich idiot.”

    For more laughs, check out their TV commercial on their web site. How do these people deliver their lines with a straight face??? []

  51. CarlIguana says:

    My Fidelity Retirement Rewards card has no fee, 2% cashback (when directly deposited into a Fidelity account) and a concierge service. Bonus rebate points if you shop through their online mall.

  52. FLConsumer says:

    0% balance transfer. Aren’t balance transfers from one credit card something you do when you DON’T have money? Not something I’d expect to see on an elite card.