Desired by many but attainable only by a select few, ultra-premium credit cards carry many benefits.
But how do you know if your card can trump all others at business dinners? Since they give cardmembers extraordinary perks and all kinds of special treatment wherever they shop, most of these cards are available only to an elite group of high spenders. Unlike the average classic or silver credit card, they are also rarely heavily advertised.
GN Prime looks at some of the benefits offered by the world’s best credit cards. So the next time you are cold-called by a bank executive, ask for these benefits.
No spending limit
The most exclusive cards, such as the diamond-embedded Dubai First Royale Card, do not have a preset credit limit. Customers are carefully evaluated and only those who would be able to pay off their bills easily are offered such cards.
Those who miss a few payments or are judged to be high-credit risks may soon find limits placed on their spending. In fact, they may even have their cards withdrawn.
No annual fees
Typical high-value credit-card customers are businessmen or independently wealthy socialites. Also referred to as high-net-worth individuals, they are people with investable assets worth $1 million (about Dh3.67 million) or more. These exclude the primary residence, collectibles, consumables and consumer durables, according to The World Wealth Report by Capgemini.
Customers with such profiles may not be asked to pay annual credit-card fees. The bank makes enough money off their purchases, so it doesn’t charge them for the card.
Join the concierge club
From last-minute Broadway tickets and travel bookings to customised gift deliveries, concierge services tend to get the same results as extremely efficient digital assistants. If you don’t have a corporate membership in programmes such as Quintessentially Lifestyle or T’Rouge Concierge, you can choose a credit card that offers one.
The first brands to offer concierge services were the American Express Centurion and Platinum cards and Diners Club Carte Blanche. Visa Signature and MasterCard World Elite cards also offer these services now.
Get some money back
Most credit cards offer rewards in one form or another. For customers, the best reward is a cash credit. In the UK, for example, the American Express Platinum Cashback card pays new cardholders 5 per cent introductory cashback for the first three months on spends up to £2,500 (about Dh15,000), reports popular consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com.
After this, all spending attracts 1.25 per cent cashback. Moreover, those who spend more than £10,000 in a year get unlimited 2.5 per cent cashback in their anniversary month.
Gold is the new black
Black was once the ultimate status symbol, which has now been superseded by the gold standard. In oil-rich Kazakhstan, SB Sberbank created the Visa Infinite Gold Card for its top 100 customers. What’s special about this card, you ask? Well, it is actually made of solid gold and is set with 26 diamonds. It costs $100,000, with $65,000 covering the expenses for the card and $35,000 credited to the customer’s account, according to Forbes.com.
Another offering is JPMorgan Chase’s Palladium card, which is made from an alloy of palladium and 23-karat gold. It is designed for clients with holdings in excess of $25 million in liquid assets.
All transfers are free
Expatriates have their own set of requirements. One of these is sending money to their home country (or to family elsewhere) regularly.
Since international money transfers can often attract extremely expensive fees, banks such as First Gulf Bank offer free money transfer facility on some products. Its Abu Dhabi Platinum card allows accountholders to transfer money to any place in the world without any charges, and repay either through monthly instalments or a daily rate plan.
Businessmen who travel a lot do not usually require lounge access at airports or even free air miles — unless their company is cutting costs. In such cases, travel benefits offered by credit cards are invaluable.
Many cards in the UAE, such as Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank’s Excellency Infinite and Islamic Banking Platinum cards, offer fixed free VIP lounge access at airports around the world, even for those travelling economy class. Other card issuers also award frequent flyer miles on financial transactions, such as the Citibank’s tie-up with Emirates Airline’s Skywards programme.
With so many cards offering similar rewards, some institutions distinguish themselves with niche features. The much sought-after Silk card from private bank Coutts offers preferential deals on private jets and helicopter transfers, personal shoppers at luxury retailers, exclusive benefits on cruises and free experiences on luxury holidays.
On a more local level, First Gulf Bank’s Ferrari Infinite card offers exclusive privileges such as an all-expense-paid holiday to Italy including a tour of the iconic brand’s factory and museum in Maranello for a select bunch of customers. But the lifestyle experience on exclusive credit cards aren’t just limited to the usual perks — they can be highly personalised as well.
Take for instance Sotheby’s World Elite MasterCard, which caters to art collectors who regularly buy works of art from the auction house. Benefits include attendance at special Sotheby’s events such as jewellery trunk shows and art tours, the opportunity to host events at select museums, the ability to convert rewards points into cash donations at select charities and luxury deals such as villa rentals in the south of France or Mediterranean yacht cruises. Try that for size.