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The Skinny on the Visa Black Card
 

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I recently learned about Visa's new Black Card, which comes with a bevy of benefits and a $495 annual fee, from the (very entertaining) blog Upgrade: Travel Better. But the details in the official announcements were a little vague, so I talked with the p.r. staff of Barclay Bank (the card's issuer) to fill in the gaps.

Concierge service. The card comes with 24/7 concierge service. According to the p.r. folks I talked to, you can use it any time you want, as many times as you want, all for free. So if you think of the card as a $495/year concierge service, it's actually not a bad deal. For more details about what the concierge service can actually do for you, click here. Verdict (on a scale of one to five planes, five being the best): 4 planes.

Membership in Priority Pass. This is a club that gets you access to 500 VIP lounges around the world (the usual fee is $99). But that doesn't mean you get to use the lounges for free; you simply get the privilege of paying to use them. The credit card comes with two free passes, and after that you can use the lounges for $27 each. Verdict: 1 plane

Luxury Gifts: I was unable to get any more details about this. The luxury gifts are mailed throughout the year, on no set schedule. I'm anticipating a lot of luxury flash drives and maybe a pair of earbuds. Verdict: zero planes

Trip Interruption Insurance: If you book travel with your Visa Black Card, you get up to $1,500 of trip interruption insurance, which kicks in if you or an immediate family member gets sick or injured. Or if your airline goes bankrupt in the middle of your trip. Nice to have, but chances are you won't have to use it. Verdict: 1 plane.

Rewards. 1 percent cash back. Pretty standard. If you're not getting 1 percent cash back already from your current card, what are you waiting for? Make the switch. I'm sure you can find a card with no annual fee that gives you the same amount of cash back. (In fact, you can find one here.) Verdict: 1 plane.

Exclusivity and a patent-pending carbon card. No, I'm not kidding. Nor am I giving this perk any planes.

Last updated: Jan 30, 2009




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