The pinnacle of premium credit cards, black credit cards offer plenty of rewards and perks, and guarantees cardholders a little extra luxury with their spending. These cards are all about status, prestige and VIP treatment.
The cards are provided by either VISA, MasterCard or AMEX, depending on the bank and what package you opt for, and give you a sky-high credit limit, uncapped rewards points and access to plenty of exclusive services. But they also have higher fees and interest rates, not to mention some pretty strict eligibility criteria.
A quick google search will tell you that black credit cards are shrouded in mystery - on purpose. It all adds to the allure of the luxe, high end credit card. But Mozo have cut through the smoke and mirrors to bring you the details of what a black credit card is all about.
Who should choose a black credit card?
While the appeal of a black credit card may be strong, they’re not for everyone. You might be suited to this high end card if you:
Travel frequently - There are a couple of perks to having a black credit card if you’re a frequent traveller. First off, most black credit cards these days will come equipped with complimentary travel insurance. If you travel regularly and don’t need the stringent cover of a really good standalone travel insurance policy, your black credit card may be enough for your peace of mind. The other perk for travellers is that black credit cards have massive earning power when it comes to rewards programs for various airlines.
Shop ’til you drop - Black cards come with higher credit limits, earn more rewards points, and usually have no limit on how many rewards you can earn. So if you like to shop - a lot - a black credit card might be for you, especially if you’re buying high end or pricey items regularly. On the other hand, if you only plan to use your card for purchases every now and then, the hefty annual fees that black credit cards pack may not be worth it.
Pay your bill in full each month - With massive spending power, comes massive interest. Black credit cards have some of the highest interest rates around - which is why if you’re someone who tends to carry a balance from month to month, a black card may not be for you.
Love a freebie - In it for the rewards? Your black credit card comes jam-packed with all the usual goodies offered by rewards cards, and then supersizes them. Not only will you have access to the usual frequent flyer points, retail products and gift vouchers, but your black credit card also opens the door to other cool promotions like free hotel rooms, exclusive airport lounges and VIP memberships.
How do black credit cards compare with standard rewards credit cards?
Fees - Unsurprisingly, black credit cards pack some of the highest annual fees around, usually coming in around the $400 mark, although rumour has it the creme de la creme of black cards packs a huge $2,500 annual fee. On top of that, some providers charge an initial joining fee and some pretty hefty charges for adding additional cardholders. Plus, don’t forget all the regular old credit card fees that might apply like cash advance, or foreign transaction.
Interest rate - Have we mentioned the high interest rates yet? Well, with a black credit card, you’ll certainly pay for all the luxury, through purchase rates that often hover around the 20% mark. The cash advance rate is even higher, so hands off the ATM! The best strategy to combat these super high interest rates is to faithfully pay your balance off each month.
Interest free days - This is one area in which black credit cards are more or less the same as their less well to-do cousins. You’ll usually get an interest free period of 45 or 55 days in which to pay off your balance before being charged interest.
Complimentary insurance - A lot of premium credit cards offer a range of complimentary insurances, including purchase security, extended warranty, travel insurance and cover for travel inconvenience. Black cards take this to the max. Cover limits and periods are extended with a black card, sometimes by up to twice as much as other credits cards.
Balance transfer options - A balance transfer is a great way to manage credit card debt - but if that’s your aim, a black credit card may not be the way to do it. While some offer reasonable balance transfer periods, many are as short as 6 months. And with any unpaid balance reverting to the uber high cash rate after that - well, you do the math. If you’re after a credit card to help manage debt, take a look at our balance transfer comparison to find a competitive deal.
Rewards - If you’re flashing around a black credit card, chances are you’re spending big, and in that case, why not earn big rewards? On average, you’ll earn around anywhere from 1.5 to 3 rewards points for every dollar you spend on a black credit card - which is pretty good compared to the usual 1 point to $1 scheme. You can then cash in your stack of rewards points for things like high end products, gift cards, cash back, event tickets and free flights.
Concierge services - Feel like an A-list celebrity with your very own concierge, courtesy of your black credit card. Through this service you can get your hands on exclusive memberships, hard-to get event tickets and VIP shopping trips. You can even secure the services of your very own personal shopping assistant to help you make all the big purchases and whittle down all those rewards points you’ve got stacked up.
How do I make the most of a black credit card?
Pay off your balance in full. This is a good rule to have with any of your credit cards, but with a black credit card most of all. If you’re using a black credit card, chances are you’re making expensive purchases to begin with, and you don’t want to be stuck paying hefty interest charges on top of that.
Know your rewards program. If you’re interested in a black credit card, chances are you’re in it for one of two things - the prestige, or the rewards. If it’s the latter, then make that hefty annual fee worth it by knowing what goodies your rewards program entitles you to and taking full advantage. Whether this means keeping up to date on events you may be able to snag tickets to or being well-versed in promotional rewards points offers, you should know your rewards program like the back of your hand.
Travellers, keep an eye out for points promotions. When the name of the game is racking up frequent flyer points, a big bonus might be just the boost you’re looking for. Often, black credit cards will come with introductory bonus point offers, ranging from around 40-75,000 points. Many of these require a minimum spend before you can claim the bonus points, so keep an eye on the fine print.
Remember to activate complimentary services. As one of the perks of holding a black credit card, you’ll be entitled to a bunch of free services and insurance covers on your credit card. While most of most of the insurance is automatically be applied, some - like complimentary travel insurance - may have activation or eligibility requirements you’ll need to meet. You can read all about how to activate complimentary credit card insurance here. Other things like complimentary airport lounge passes may also have activation requirements or at least require you to sign up before cashing in.
What traps should I avoid with a black credit card?
Damaging future borrowing power. High or unlimited credit card limits can damage your chances of getting a home loan or personal loan in the future. Why? Potential lenders look at the total amount of credit available to you, not just what you use, and high limits can make you look like a financial liability, even if you’re prompt in paying off debts.
Required monthly payments. All credit cards have a minimum monthly payment, but with a black credit card you may be required to pay the whole balance each month. This may be a great strategy to save on interest, but if your monthly budget won’t handle it, then a black credit card may not be the best idea.
Spending only for rewards. One of the big draws of a black credit card - besides the prestige - is all the rewards and complimentary services that come with it. But point based systems encourage extra spending, as do perks like free membership into exclusive high end programs. If you would have been spending the money or using the services anyway then good for you! Your black credit card is pulling its weight and is probably worth the annual fee. But otherwise, it’s important to stick to your budget and not spend more than you normally would, just on the promise of rewards.
Debt. This is true of all credit cards: once you’re in debt, it’s an uphill battle to get back out. The best solution? Use your credit card wisely and don’t build any debt up in the first place. We know, easier said than done. So, if you have racked up a credit card debt, check out our credit card debt calculator to see how long it will take you to pay it off. And if you don’t like those results, take a look at some balance transfer offers, and start managing your debt with a 0% interest period.
What’s the difference between black vs platinum credit cards?
So you’re sure a high end premium card is for you, but here’s the real kicker: black or platinum?
If you want the short version, then black cards will earn you more rewards and give you access to more VIP freebies, but they’ll cost you more in interest and annual fees. Platinum cards offer slightly less rewards, but you can snag one with a much lower annual fee and interest rate.
One of the main differences is that black credit card reward points are nearly always uncapped and don’t expire. You can find platinum cards that offer the same, but many have both a cap and lifespans, though they tend to be much higher and longer than your average rewards credit card.
In the end, it’s a toss up between saving money on fees and interest and adding that little bit of luxury to your spending. And it’s your choice to make.
How do I best compare black credit cards?
If you’ve decided you’re sticking with a black credit card, then the most important thing to do is compare your options and find the card that suits your budget and lifestyle.
We’ve made it easy for you with our handy comparison table above, showing interest rates, annual fees and rewards point power, or you can search for your credit card match using our credit card search tool.
On the other hand, if you’re in it for the rewards, but not convinced a black credit card is for you, then there are heaps of other rewards cards on offer that might be a better fit. Check out our rewards card comparison table, or search for the rewards card of your dreams with our rewards revealer.
What will I need to apply for a black card?
Requirements to apply for a black credit card will differ between providers, but there are a few things that are common to pretty much all of them. Like any other credit card, you’ll need to show I.D., usually in the form of a driver’s license or passport, plus financial details that prove you have a regular income.
The difference is that if you want to get your hands on a black credit card, you’ve got to earn more and spend more than the average credit card holder. Most black credit cards will come with minimum income requirements, reportedly anywhere between $50,000 and $120,000 p.a. Plus, you’ll need a flawless credit rating to even be considered.
If that doesn’t sound exclusive enough, then guess what? There are a number of high end black credit cards that you can’t even apply for - they’re available by invitation only.