Archive | December, 2008

Credit Laws Change Against Unfair and Deceptive Credit Card Practices

Steps have been taken by the Federal Reserve, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the National Credit Union Administration to change behaviors and practices by Credit Card companies by July 1, 2010;

The net result will prohibit:

  • Raising interest rates on existing balances unless payments are greater than 30 days late
  • Charging Late Fees if borrower has not been given at least 21 days to pay
  • Applying payments in a way that results in higher interest rates getting paid last
Banks and Credit Card Companies in this $970 Billion Dollar industry exclaim that this will result in higher interest rates and fees for the sub prime credit market, however, consumers welcome the changes in practices. The changes come in line with the latest Fitch Retail Credit Index, showing current 60-day deliquencies increasing by nearly 24% from August to 4.8%. This may make those luxury credit card consumers even more attractive to credit card companies, as they have less leeway to charge the sub prime credit borrowers going forward.

Posted in General0 Comments

Visa Black Card and American Express Centurion – No Comparison

The more information that is gathered about the new Visa Black Card, the more it seems that the card is not as high end as the American Express Centurion card. So the whole theory of, you get what you pay for ($495/year vs $2500/year) holds true. Here’s some photos our reader sent in showing the card side by side to the Centurion Card, our reader tells us card itself feels like a normal credit card — nothing special. You can check out our review/unboxing page for more photos, and our comparison chart for card benefits comparison. American Express doesn’t have an online application for their Black Card, but Visa allows you to apply directly for the card here

visa_black_card_vs_amex_centurion_card_front

visa_black_card_vs_amex_centurion_card_back

Posted in General, Visa Black Card2 Comments

Visa Black Card – Hands on Review and Unboxing

We were fortunate enough to have one of our readers who recently received the Visa Black Card and send us photos of the unboxing as well as photos side-by-side to their Centurion Card. Without even diving deep into the benefits you can see right off that this card is more appropriately competing with the American Express Platinum Card, and you will see will see further from the photos and even the unboxing that the card does not “feel” that luxurious.

Here’s the box as it arrives to your house:

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And our reader opening the box:

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The World Awaits

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Open box including card terms and conditions, as well as Visa Black Card box.

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Black Card Concierge and Benefits Guide cover.

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Details on The Concierge and Visa Black Card Benefits

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Details on the Visa Black Card Rewards Program

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Here’s an image of the front of the Visa Black Card in person.

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This is somewhat interesting as our reader expected the card to be stiff or special in some form since it is allegedly made from Carbon Graphite (Carbon Fiber), but apparently it feels and bends just like plastic.

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Our reader says they even felt weird putting the cards side by side, as the more they learn (and we learn too), they don’t really compare.

visa_black_card_vs_amex_centurion_card_front

visa_black_card_vs_amex_centurion_card_back

Posted in Visa Black Card28 Comments

www.blackcard.com Exclusive Visa Black Card TV AD

The TV ad is also posted on Barclay’s official Visa Black Card Site.

Posted in General, Visa Black Card

The Visa Black Card vs American Express Centurion Card (in depth comparison/review)

History of the Black Cards, and the Visa Black Card

Visa Black Card

On October 2, 2007, ThinkTank Holdings LLC (founded by Scott Blum, located in Jackson, Wyoming.) announced a new Patent Pending (filed 2007) Credit Card Venture titled “Next Card“. The concept for “Next Card” was simply for a high-end/luxury credit card made from a special carbon/carbon based material. Concept from inception was that this card would be available to corporations and individuals for an annual fee of $495, it was also anticipated that the card would launch with typical luxury card services such as 24-hour concierge, points and rewards program, as well as other benefits.

After Black Cards and the Black Card Brand (that is, American Express)

Chasing the American Express Black Card brand was no doubt a goal of Scott Blum with this concept. The American Express Centurion Card started out as an urban myth (see history) that American Express ultimately decided to capitalize on October 14, 1999. “There had been rumors going around that we had this ultra-exclusive black card for elite customers,” says Doug Smith, director of American Express Europe. “It wasn’t true, but we decided to capitalize on the idea anyway. So far we’ve had a customer buy a Bentley and another charter a jet.”

Visa after having launched it’s “signature” series of cards in 1999, launched a higher tier of “signature preferred” cards in May of 2007 targeted at customers who spend $50,000 a year or more on their cards (Visa Signature average spend is approximately $27,600 a year). Merchants actually pay 14% more per transaction vs a regular Visa or Signature card.

The whole purpose of this card is to take share from American Express,” said James McCarthy, Visa senior vice president for consumer-credit products. They may be a ways away, according to a 2007 survey in Europe, Centurion cardholders spend 11.5 times more (see demographics) than the typical American Express card member, and on average have income in excess of 1M a year.

Combine urban myth and Black Card allure with Visa salivating over American Express and Centurion Card premiums and what do you get? The Visa Black Card.

Visa Black Benefits vs American Express Centurion Card Benefits

In our initial comparison of the Visa Black Card and American Express Centurion Card we observed that luxury plastic is no longer, well, plastic (although it sure seems that way); The question still remains how truly exclusive the Visa Black Card is? Time (and our readers) will tell, but as stands, 1% of the population is somewhat “undefined” other than by credit record, and other private information (Barclay’s has yet to clarify what this actually means), while American Express has some hard limits, e.g. you have to spend $250,000 on a Platinum Card to qualify, no getting around that. Outside of exclusivity, luxury credit cards aim to offer “new levels of service” for their “elite clientele”  while providing “unique experiences” and unusual “discounts and amenities“. Below, we’ve put together a detailed comparison chart of the Visa Black Card compared to American Express Centurion Benefits. What stands out most is the automatic membership and hotel/airline elite access gained with the Centurion Card, which is nonexistent on the Visa Black Card; Of course, the Visa Black Card only runs $495 a year, compared to the $2500 a yearfor the Centurion Card. At current it appears the Barclay’s Black Card is sorely lacking in many areas where American Express is not, and the card itself is more comparable to the American Express Platinum Card ($450/year membership).

American Express Platinum Card

VISA Black Card vs AMEX Centurion Benefits

BENEFIT CENTURION VISA BLACK
No Pre-Set Spending Limit (Limit Based on Individual) N Y
CONCIERGE (24/7/365) Y Y
Personal Assigned Concierge Y N
Full service, 24/365 travel agency and concierge Y Y
Centurion Destinations Vacations Bonus points and credits for booking Y NA
AIR/AIRLINE TRAVEL
Frequent Flier Programs Y N
Continental Airlines Gold Y N
Delta Airlines Gold Y N
Virgin Atlantic Airways Gold Y N
US Airways Platinum Y N
International Airline Program (complimentary companion tickets) Y N
Private Jet Services Program Y N
Airport Lounge Programs Y N
American Airlines Admirals Club lounges Y N
Continental Airlines Presidents Club Y N
Delta Crown Room Club Y N
Northwest Airlines WorldClubs Y N
Priority Pass (access to over 450 airport lounges) Y Y
Virgin Atlantic Clubhouses Y N
Automatic Baggage Insurance Coverage
Up to 3,000 loss or damaged carry-on Y N
Up to 2,000 beyond Common Carrier coverage for checked bags Y N
Travel Accident Insurance (Death and Dismemberment) Y N
AUTO/CAR PRIVILEGES
Car Rental Elite Status Membership Y N
Avis Presidents Club Y N
Hertz Gold Y N
Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance Plan Y N
Limousine Program Y N
BOAT/YACHT/CRUISE BENEFITS
Centurion Cruise Credits
$500 shipboard credits for cruises booked through Centurion Travel Service Y N
Receive additional upgrades and amenities (cruise partner specific) Y N
Annual Reward $100 credit to book a cruise or land vacation via CTS. Y NA
Private Yacht Program Access and Special Amenities ($750 or more) Y N
Fraser Yachts Y N
International Yacht Collection Y N
HOTELS/RESORTS/VILLAS
Fine Hotels & Resorts Y NA
Centurion Hotel Privileges Y N
Peninsula Y N
Aman Y N
Orient Express Y N
Mandarin Oriental Y N
Ritz-Carlton Club Y N
Centurion Villas Y NA
Exclusive Resorts (25 destinations worldwide) Y NA
Abercrombie & Kent Villas Y N
Beautiful Places Y NA
Four Seasons Residence Clubs Y N
LaCURE Y N
The Mansion at MGM Grand Y N
Villas of Distinction Y NA
Centurion Destination Vacations Y NA
Hotel Elite Status Y N
Hilton Family of Hotels (HHonors Gold) Y N
InterContinental® Hotels and Resorts (Priority Club – Platinum) Y N
Starwood® Hotels & Resorts Worldwide (SPG) Y N
Club 5C Relais & Châteaux Y N
EMERGENCY TRAVEL SERVICES
24/7 Medical, Legal, Financial, and other Emergency Assistance. Y Y
Arrange Transfer to Medical Facility by Air or Ambulance Y N
Prescription Replacements Y N
Emergency Hotel Check-in Y N
Immediate Cash Access Y N
Lost Luggage Recovery and Tracking Y Y
Stolen passport assistance Y N
Emergency cancellation and Replacement Y N
Emergency Translation Services ? Y
Foreign Protocol information ? Y
Message Service ? Y
Computer rental, audio/visual rental equipment ? Y
Check Cashing Privileges up to 10k/month Y N
Order foreign currency and fee-free Travelers Cheques by phone Y NA
DINING/LIFESTYLE/EXPERIENCES
Access to special seats Y Y
Special invitations to exclusive events Y Y
Reservations at remarkable restaurants Y Y
Services of Professional Concierge Y Y
By Invitation Only (sports, performing arts, business symposiums, etc) Y N
Centurion Dining Reservations (tables held at restaurants for cardholders) Y Equivalent
Premium Seats (reserved seats)
Sports Events Y Y
Entertainment Events Y Y
Live Concerts at venues in LA/NY Y Y
Platinum Lounge Access at Staples center in LA Y NA
Access to American Express Gold Card Events Y NA
COMPLIMENTARY MEMBERSHIP PROGRAMS
Space Adventures’ Spaceflight Club Membership Y N
Magazine Subscriptions
Black Ink Y N
Departures Y N
Equinox Fitness Clubs
Centurion member rate Y N
Complimentary Personal Training Sessions Y N
Spa Treatments Y N
Guest passes Y N
Kids’ club Y N
SHOPPING PRIVILEGES
General Escalated Shopping Privileges Y Y
Assistance with finding speciality items, rare, research Y Y
Bergdorf Goodman (close store for private shopping) Y N
Gucci Y N
Neiman Marcus Y N
Sony Cierge Y N
Extended Warranty Y N
Fraud Protection Guarantee Y Y
Purchase Protection Plan Y N
Points Programs Y Y
Membership Rewards First Program Y Equivalent
Tour GCX13 Membership with benefits ($150 credit) Y NA
Special Free Luxury Gifts Y Y

*We are not fully aware of all Visa Black Card services offered quite yet, and will update as we learn more as our readers get the card and submit info.

Posted in Centurion Card, Visa Black Card15 Comments

Getting A Black Card for Dummies Book (yes, we are scared too)

What does $199 get you? A semi-decent hotel room, probably a good dinner, plenty of drinks for a night (so long as you’re not drinking a really nice wine), or some crazy book on how to get a Centurion card? Our guess is that the only thing this book “Getting A Black Card For Dummies” gets you, is $199 closer to your $250,000 required annual spend (in a rolling 12 month period) with American Express. Ever hear the expression if it is too good to be true it probably is? Well, if you could get the card by spending $199 everyone would have it, and it wouldn’t be worth anything anymore would it? Worried about Madoff Ponzi schemes of late? If yes, steer clear, if not, hey, buy this book that alleges “no need to increase your spending”! Although hey, we don’t know first hand, since we haven’t read the book, but it does remind us a lot of our previous post on the “black card kit” that you too can buy for $75 or $29.99 (is it even metal??). So now you can look like you have money, even though you really don’t, but paid $29 to look like you do? We think it would be best if to focus on actually making money, and if you do want a Centurion Card, then you should read our guide, which many of our readers and (Centurion card holders) helped write.

If you don’t believe us regarding the “Black Card for Dummies Book“, feel free to prove us wrong (prove that the books truly are meant for dummies), and buy the book (good luck).

We welcome you to submit your stories and comments to us when you get your Centurion Card, or if you’d rather waste a little less (it is the time to save) spend $29.99 and get the black card kit?

Don’t worry, we have nothing to do with either of these schemes!

Centurion Card for Dummies Book

Posted in General4 Comments

Visa CEO Loses Wallet

Wonder what other plastic he’s got in there? Think Centurion/Black AmEx Card and a MasterCard World Elite! Keep in mind, if he did have the Centurion Card, he could have had all of his cards replaced through the card replacement program, although, I’m sure he’s got enough personal assistants to take care of that.

“I’m supposed to start off, and say that I’m very happy to be here, and I guess I am. But it’s 4:15 in the morning as far as I’m concerned, and I lost my wallet on the way here,” Saunders said. “It’s rather embarrassing when somebody steals my credit cards.” The comment prompted laughter.
Saunders began his presentation at 7:15 a.m EST.

via Reuters

Posted in General0 Comments

Visa Black Card Concierge

In our initial comparison of the Visa Black Card and American Express Centurion Card we noted material types; Outside of card types the things that stand out are, how hard is this card to get (e.g. is it truly exclusive?) , and what real benefits does it offer? The the main things that stands out is the concierge service, but we have yet to see what this can deliver. Visa lists the following, but as with any concierge it’s defendant on the actual service, both American Express tout. American Express Centurion Concierge has been in business since 1999, over 9 years.

You can go to the American Express Concierge Travel Insights Site for more detail on the black card, such as where Centurion Cardholders like to eat when they are in New York.

Or you can go to Visa’s Black Card Site with the details below.

Here’s what Visa cites as examples of Concierge abilities.

Entertainment Planning (Information, Referrals, Reservations, Ticketing)
  • Recommended Restaurants
  • Health clubs
  • Sports entertainment events
  • Golf Tee Time
  • Shopping locations
Business Services (Referrals & Arrangements)
  • Conference service
  • Emergency translation services via phone
  • Computer rental, audio/visual equipment
  • Message service
  • Foreign protocol information
Travel Information and Assistance (Referrals/Recommendations, Reservations)
  • Weather forecasts/ATM locations
  • VISA passport locations
  • Customs, duties and information
  • Mass transportation information and schedules
  • Hotel information
  • Mail/fax destination package
  • Car rentals, limousine & car service information
  • Flight information and ticketing
Country and City Information
  • Highlights/sights/exhibitions/shows
  • Festivals/museum/music entertainment information
  • Time/hours/holidays information
  • Tourist information
  • Shopping information
Gift Arrangements
  • Gift baskets
  • Floral arrangements
  • Specific gifts (as requested)
  • Special occasion gift recommendations
Specialty Services
  • Assistance with location and purchase of specialty items.
  • For example:
    • Rare books or records;
    • Unusual household items;
    • And referrals to specialty services such as dog groomers, tailors and doll makers
  • Hard to find items; special research; specialty shopping


Posted in Visa Black Card Concierge1 Comment

Black Card Visa – Original Press Release – ThinkTank Holdings LLC Announces New Patent Pending Credit Card Venture

ThinkTank Holdings LLC Announces New Patent Pending Credit Card Venture
Oct 2, 2007

JACKSON, Wyo. — ThinkTank Holdings LLC today announced that they will be entering the high-end credit card business with their new patent pending credit card that includes carbon and/or carbon based material. The code name for the company is “Next Card” and should be available to the public soon. The name of the company will not be announced until its release date.

ThinkTank filed its provisional patent application during 2007 based on previously performed research. The original design was invented by ThinkTank’s founder, Scott Blum. This high-tech credit card will be available to individuals and corporations for an estimated annual fee of $495. It is expected to come with a 24-hour concierge service, a points and rewards incentive package as well as many other benefits.

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About ThinkTank Holdings:

Founded in October 1999 by Scott Blum, ThinkTank provides technology infrastructure, financing and management expertise to its companies. At ThinkTank, ideas are created around solutions that change or improve the way business is conducted.

ThinkTank is focused on technology, commerce, and media related industries and currently has the following companies in its portfolio: Buy.com, Yub.com, Sell.com, TechSpace, Thinkbig Media, and YogaToday. Revelocity was sold to NeoForma (NASDAQ: NEOF) in December 2002, ChannelWave was sold to ClickCommerce (NASDAQ: CKCM) in January 2005, and Commerce5 was acquired by Digital River (NASDAQ: DRIV) in December 2005.

ThinkTank is a holding company that has significant investment or control in each of its companies. The partners provide expertise in the form of capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, strategic business partnerships, legal support, business development, marketing expertise and financial management and analytics.

ThinkTank Holdings LLC is located in Jackson, Wyoming.

Visa Black

Posted in Original Press Release4 Comments

The Visa Black Card, Plastic Is No Longer

The luxury credit card market is heating up, and they’ve moved over from plastic to carbon graphite and titanium (maybe so the cards won’t melt from over use); Visa wants their share of the premium space American Express holds, especially with it’s Centurion Card aka the Black Card.

Visa after having launched it’s “signature” series of cards in 1999, launched a higher tier of “signature preferred” cards in May of 2007 targeted at customers who spend $50,000 a year or more on their cards (Visa Signature average spend is approximately $27,600 a year). Merchants actually pay 14% more per transaction vs a regular Visa or Signature card.

The whole purpose of this card is to take share from American Express,” said James McCarthy, Visa senior vice president for consumer-credit products. They may be a ways away, according to a 2007 survey in Europe, Centurion cardholders spend 11.5 times more than the typical American Express card member, and on average have income in excess of 1M a year.

Seemingly it’s not enough to be a plastic card and different or luxurious, it needs to be made from some other material.  American Express figured it out first: Starting in 2004 in parts of Europe, and in the US in early 2006 changed it’s exclusive Centurion Card aka Black Card from standard credit card fare plastic, to titanium.

Well, Scott Blum (Buy.com founder) wants part of it too, ThinkTank Holdings LLC, announced in 2007 they would be launching a high-end credit card business with patent pending credit card that would be made out of carbon fiber code named “Next Card” now launched this month (just a few days ago) as The Visa Black Card. This high-tech credit card is aimed at both individuals and corporates for an annual fee of $495. The card has been launched including 24-hour concierge service, points, rewards, and other benefits. Here’s a side by side view of the Visa Black Card and the American Express Centurion card, carbon graphite or titanium? I’ll take titanium. Apply Online for the Visa Black Card Here.

If you want to see for yourself, you can Apply Online for the Visa Black Card Here.

To see the rest of the luxury plastic, or I should now say cards, please see Alternate Cards.

Posted in Visa Black Card16 Comments

Brody Jenner’s Entourage and the “Godfather”

“He’s the only 24-year-old kid I know who has a Black Card,” Jenner told Details in 2007.

Hills MTV show star Brody Jenner, Spencer Pratt have  close ties to Jared Najjar the third member of their entourage known as “Godfather”. Jared, heir to a real estate fortune believes in the Brody Jenner brand, now futher being built by MTVs upcoming series Bromance (where guys compete for Brody’s friendship). Brody and Spencer have an impressive list of cars including the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Bentley Turbo, and a Mercedes G55 (MSRP: $105,275), all funded by Jared Najjar. Further, Jared, invests in Brody’s brand Archangel, featuring high-end punky pieces such as a $92,000 skull-and-diamond wallet chain.

Jenner and Pratt also manage a rapper, Ya Boy, who is “blowing up on MySpace.” Neither of these endeavors is generating any real income, but they are turning Jenner and Pratt into obscenely TV-worthy entities—and this, Pratt hopes, will be the income generator. They recently sold a show about Jenner’s love life to MTV.

Posted in Brody Jenner, Celebrities, Jared Najjar6 Comments

Harrison Gevirtz, 16 year old Black Card Holder

Sorry Bow Wow, Harrison Gevirtz likes the Black Card Travel Benefits the best, see these interviews with him.

Posted in General0 Comments

Visa Signature

Visa Signature Card

The Visa Signature card is Visa’s highest offering. It’s a lot more complicated to figure out which program as the best, when compared to American Express for both Visa and MasterCard, because each handles it’s details through the bank which issues the card. At a high level the card includes standard travel benefits (packages, discounts, upgrades), concierge (travel, dining reservations, vacation planning, help with general research and recommendations), access to special tickets and events (entertainment, sporting, fine dining/culinary), special shopping discounts and privileges, as well as dining reservations and restaurant reviews from Zagat.

Posted in Visa Signature6 Comments

Visa Black Card, The Black Card Made of Carbon Graphite

Barclay’s launches their Visa Black Card competing directly with the American Express Centurion card. The Visa Black Card which is made out of carbon graphite, and includes similar benefits to the Centurion Card such as Priority Pass. Currently “Limited to 1% of US Residents” but criteria is currently yet to be clarified (when I called 12/2).

*1% cash back on purchases or $1 = 1 points that can redeemed for travel anytime
* 24-Hour Concierge Service
* Exclusive Rewards Program
* Luxury Gifts
* Patent Pending Carbon Graphite
* Annual Fee $495

Apply for the Visa Black Card Online

Update:
Introductory 0% Balance Transfer for 6 months
Standard APR = Prime + 9.99 =  Currently 13.99%
Cash Advances = Prime + 15.99 % = Currently 19.99%

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*The Exclusivity/Limited to 1% of US Residents according to Barclay’s rests heavily on a Credit Score amongst other “personal financial information”.
If you wish to know if you fit Barclay’s criteria, e.g. limited to 1% you can Apply Online with Visa Here

For additional details, articles, reviews, hands on photos and more, go to our main Visa Black Card page.

Posted in Visa Black Card

Residence Superieur Black Card (Membership)

Want a luxury lifestyle, but don’t want to pay for it all of the time?

Richard Nilsson, an international lifestyle designer has launched a new Black Card as part of his “Residence Superieur” club, allowing members access to luxury lifestyle residences, dining, travel, and experiences at fractional cost.

Sample card benefits include:

  • Access to Residence Superieur mansions (updated annually)
  • Access to Private Jet Service.
  • Invitations to the Residence Superieur events.
  • Access to the Residence Superieur Connoisseur Collection and shop
  • Yearly giveaways from the Connoisseur Collection
  • Access to the exclusive printed version of Superieur magazine.
  • Access to the Residence Superieur network.

All of this will cost you 200,000 euros per year.

Posted in Residence Superieur1 Comment

MasterCard World Elite

MasterCard World EliteThe World Elite MasterCard is MasterCard’s highest card offering, providing travel benefits, reservation programs, special rewrads programs, Concierge, etc. World Elite cardholders get access to Virtuoso travel consultant services, including special upgrades, amenities, and rare travel experiences provided through the Virtuoso international luxury travel network. Cardholders also have access to a concierge service that provides personalized recommendations, help with reservations with dining, travel, entertainment, and other services on a 24/7/365 basis. The World Elite MasterCard program holds table at restaurants, tickets at sporting events, special shopping access, as well as tailored spa/salon experiences. Finally as with any card, the World Elite MasterCard provides access to savings and goods with retail, dining, and personal care services.

Posted in MasterCard World Elite4 Comments

Centurion Concierge Site: Travel Insights

You can see where the American Express Concierge’s are sending Centurion Cardholders when they need to book a dinner, vacation, or just something fun to do!

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Here’s a link to the site TRAVEL INSIGHTS from American Express Centurion:
http://www.amexpub.com/travelinsights/flash/index.html

Posted in Concierge, Experiences, Featured3 Comments