Black credit cards are top-of-the-range credit cards for personal and business use. Being able to bring one out of your wallet lets you make a statement about your financial status as well as enjoy higher earning rates for rewards points and better complimentary perks.
Black has higher status than a standard, gold or platinum card
There was a time when a gold card was aspirational, only to be kicked of its perch by the platinum card. But a black card is now the ultimate personal card.
Top card issuers use black cards to woo well-heeled customers
If you have a comfortable income and a high credit rating, you should be able to shop around to choose the most suitable black credit card from those issued by the Big Four banks plus American Express, Bankwest, Citi, HSBC and Macquarie. Some issuers may not use the word ‘Black’ in the card’s name, preferring terms like Premium, Diamond, Prestige, Premier, and more recently, Signature, but the card’s distinctive black livery is always an indication of its status and likely benefits.
Black card eligibility requirements
In order to apply for a black credit card you’re likely to need a regular income of $75,000 or more, plus a credit rating which is good or excellent. Get a free credit score check to find out if you qualify.
Black cards don’t come cheap
You’ll need to be prepared to pay a much higher than average annual fee for a black credit card. The current median fee lies in the range $300 to $400 p.a., although HSBC issues a black card with a much lower fee, while the fee for the Citi Prestige card is much higher.
You get what you pay for – and more
Although the annual fee for a black card is high, astute cardholders will be able to derive benefits whose value is far in excess of the fee charged. You don’t need to be a particularly big spender to recover the value of the annual fee in rewards points alone, provided you channel most of your spending through your card rather than using cash or other methods. And regular travellers will know the value of complimentary benefits like travel insurance and other insurance policies plus airport lounge passes, which in total can be worth around $1,500 p.a.
Standard black card benefits
Benefits vary significantly between cards. But you can expect to get the following advantages with nearly every black card:
- Access to higher credit limits
- Higher earning rate per dollar for rewards points
- No points cap, or a generous cap
- Complimentary travel insurance
- Complimentary shopper’s insurance (extended warranty, purchase protection, price guarantee scheme)
- Personal concierge service
High end black card benefits
Black credit cards with annual fees at the top of the range will usually come with some of the following additional perks:
- Airport lounge full membership, or two single-visit passes annually
- Free domestic return flight annually
- Free airport transfers
- Annual travel credit voucher
- Better insurance cover
- Luxury hotel group membership, free nights, room upgrades
- Access to prestige shopping, golf, and other experiences
- Other invitation-only events
- Priority service for account queries, travel, concierge
It’s important to choose your black card carefully to make sure it comes with features you’ll use, rather than paying for benefits that are worthless because they don’t match your lifestyle.
Black credit card interest rates
Don’t expect a low interest rate to accompany your black credit card. The interest charged on overdue purchase balances is likely to be at least 20% p.a., with the cash advance rate being even higher.
In fact, it doesn’t make sense to choose a black credit card if you don’t plan to use it for every possible item of expenditure, and then pay off the balance in full at the end of each month. So the interest rate is only going to be an issue if you hit a temporary liquidity problem, or miss the payment due date by accident.
It’s simple: card issuers don’t market their black cards to people looking for low interest rates.
Derive more benefit with bonus points or a balance transfer
If you’re going to switch to a black credit card, you may as well derive every possible ounce of advantage from the changeover. Switching to a new bank or issuer for your black card could allow you to gain in two ways. You could:
- Score a swag of sign-up loyalty points – possibly as many as 100,000 points if the offers are there
- Bring your old card balance across to the new card and pay no interest on the balance for an extended period, perhaps as long as 20 months
In practice you’re more likely to be offered bonus points than a balance transfer with a black card, but it’s also worth watching out for introductory low or zero interest rates on purchases, or reduced first-year annual fees, both of which are offered from time to time.