ideal investisseur
A French perspective on investing
ideal investisseur

🏠 Home   ➤    Professionnal / personal life

Black Card: Getting the Perks of a VIP Bank Card

Accompanied by its high-end services, the black card symbolizes substantial purchasing power. While it remains reserved for the wealthiest clients of traditional banks, some online banks are making it more accessible.

Reading Time : 8 minut(s) - | Updated on 13-02-2024 23:30 | Published on 21-06-2023 12:55 

The black card: a high-end card

In the collective imagination, black represents luxury and elegance. The image is no exception in the banking sector: the "black card" is the most high-end payment card. It comes with a high level of insurance coverage (especially for travel), concierge service, and access to a catalog of premium products and services with discounts. Generally, its possession is only possible from a certain income threshold or monthly spending. It also has a very high cost compared to that of standard credit cards. But even though this card remains a social marker in the collective imagination, it has become more accessible since the spectacular advent of online banks. With the development of mobile payments, some banks have even given up on offering real "black cards" in favor of black CBs with improved service offerings (like N26 or Hello Bank for instance).

N26's black Metal card thus offers a Mastercard with no overseas fees, complete with a set of insurance coverages (overseas and mountain travel coverage, mobile insurance, car rental). The pricing is quite attractive, at 16.90€/month in 2023. Without any income or monthly spending conditions, the card does have some limitations compared to other high-end cards: no authorized overdraft, a limit of 8 free withdrawals in the eurozone, and no standard authorization... VIP services that most customers, however, seem not to need, since according to N26 reviews, the card remains a favorite among the neo-bank's customers.

See banks offering black cards

Assurance Vie

Black card: a high level of services

The black bank card traditionally comes with premium services, the most emblematic of which is a concierge available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This personalized bservice allows you to delegate the execution of reservations, as one might do with an assistant: airline or train tickets, access to a stadium or a show, booking hotel rooms, a taxi, car rental, finding childcare, and providers to order various items...

Black cards also provide access to high-level insurance services to cover travel-related contingencies. This could include the delivery of medications, glasses, or hearing aids, the repatriation of pets, and coverage in case of accident or death. Assistance in case of legal persecution abroad, provision of a hospitalization cost advance, coverage for the return of companions are all services that are also integrated. More guarantees are added, such as reimbursement of expenses in case of travel modification or cancellation and transport delay. The same goes for coverage of mountain search and rescue costs in case of injury and reimbursement of repairs for material damages suffered by a rental car.

The withdrawal and payment limits offered by the black card exceed those of all other bank cards. They are set by each banking institution and are on average:
- 5000 euros per day and 15000 euros per week from the bank's ATMs,
- 5000 euros per week for withdrawals from other banks' ATMs,
- 20000 euros per month for card payments. Depending on the bank, cardholders also benefit from a dedicated bank advisor. On paper, this option may seem appealing. But it must not be forgotten that these professionals have, most of the time, goals on their own bank's financial products. They are therefore not necessarily the best suited to provide true advice on investments or asset placements.

The black cards from American Express, Visa and Mastercard

All banks offer a debit card service. However, it should be known that they do not manage these payment systems. Three major companies share this market: Visa, Mastercard, and American Express. French banking institutions generally have a partnership with Visa or Mastercard, less often with American Express. The way these cards operate is indeed less suited to the French payment network, and some merchants do not accept it. Each of these brands develops its own range of cards, from the simplest to the most high-end. Each type of card includes a more or less extensive array of services. Their annual fee and accessibility conditions vary according to the establishment.

The American Express Centurion: the only true luxury black card

The black card universe is undeniably dominated by the American Express Centurion, the only card exclusively reserved for wealthy clientele. According to Amex, it's "more than a card, it's a lifestyle". Made from genuine titanium, it is issued sparingly and by invitation only to individuals meeting ultra-selective criteria, such as spending a minimum of 20,000 euros per month with their credit card. Secrecy surrounds the American Express Centurion. The exact number of cards in circulation is unknown. Those who have the privilege of becoming a cardholder (for an annual fee of 3000 €) enjoy true VIP privileges: private boxes at sporting events, an ultra-responsive concierge service that can (almost) fulfill any request, tables perpetually reserved in the finest restaurants in case one of the cardholders wishes to visit... With this luxury credit card, the slogan is similar to "ask, you shall receive".

The American Express Platinum card: the equivalent of the Visa or Mastercard black card

Since the American Express Centurion is reserved for wealthy customers, the equivalent of the high-end card at Amex is the American Express Platinum. Few banks offer it. To obtain it, you must go directly to Amex or the airline company Air France KLM, with whom they have a partnership. The sums paid using this card are then debited deferred, once a month from the holder's bank account. The American Express Platinum is available for a monthly fee of 55 euros (53€ for the version in partnership with Air France - KLM). It comes with a series of upscale services, including:
- Insurances and assistance during travel,
- A customer service accessible 24/7,
- Free and unlimited access to partner airport lounges,
- Up to 400 € refunded at more than 1,400 restaurants, both in France and abroad,
- A pre-reserved table in a list of restaurants,
- Access to sporting events and shows (concerts...),
- "Miles" with every purchase, which are added to the account of the Flying Blue loyalty program of Air France - KLM, in the version in partnership with the company.

The Visa Infinite card, Visa's black card

At Visa, the leader in payments in France, the high-end cards are the Visa Premier (gold color), the Visa Platinum (gray color), and the Visa Infinite (black bank card). To obtain the Visa Infinite, most banks require a net monthly income of 5000 euros. It provides access to:
- High-level insurance coverage, notably in terms of travel: flight delay or cancellation, luggage loss, repatriation, medical expense reimbursement, legal assistance,
- A private concierge that is accessible 24/7. A simple call allows a personal assistant to decode a product or a service quickly (booking airline tickets, travel, taxi, flower delivery, organizing a dinner with a chef at home, child care...),
- Private events, like "24h in the life of a champion" organized with former soccer player Bixente Lizzarazu,
- Access to a catalog of offers at negotiated rates (Interflora, Spring, Barrière hotels, car rental at Sixt...) and privilege offers from major brands,
- A high withdrawal and spending limit...

The Mastercard World Elite, Mastercard's black card

Mastercard's black card is the Mastercard World Elite, typically available through partner banks to customers with a net income of 4000 euros per month. It comes with a range of premium services:
- A private concierge service available 24/7 to meet customer product and service needs: such as finding childcare, arranging travels or events,
- An assistance service in case of any problem, especially during travel (repatriation, death/disability assurance during transport, mountain insurance, etc.),
- A cashback program on travels and foreign payments,
- Access to partner airport lounges at preferential rates,
- Access to a catalog of discounted premium partner products and services offers such as gastronomy, luxury hotels, leisure activities, fashion, VIP tours, named "Priceless",
- The organization of special events,
- A high withdrawal and spending limit.

The black card: conditions for obtaining

The black card is generally reserved by banks for their wealthy clientele, who have specific needs. These could be a high spending or withdrawal limit, premium concierge service, provision of a special bank advisor, etc. This type of credit card is not offered by all institutions. Its acquisition is also subject to certain conditions. However, these conditions are much more flexible for online banks than traditional establishments or wealth banks. Among the most common conditions is the justification of income ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 euros per year minimum. In addition, most banks require the domiciliation of income, which protects them against the risk of major overdrafts linked to the high payment and withdrawal limits that the black card offers. Finally, a contribution of around 200 to 340 euros annually is deducted.

What bank can I get a black card from?

Visa and Mastercard black cards are available in many banking institutions. Their price largely depends on the brand. Online banks offer them at more affordable prices, and sometimes for free under certain conditions. American Express cards must be requested directly from Amex. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the establishments that offer this type of credit card:

BankType of cardAnnual rateSome characteristicsTraditional bank black cards
CIC | Mastercard World Elite | $290 | Withdrawal limit up to $3000 per week and up to $15000 expenditure,
Travel: upgrades, priority check-in, car rental rates, travel insurance, delay, luggage loss, transportation accident.
special partners at preferential rates (gastronomy...)
Crédit Agricole | Mastercard World Elite or Visa Infinite | $300 | Deferred debit, customizable limits, travel guarantees, purchase security, concierge, access to "thank you for the info", press kiosk access...
BNP Paribas | Visa Infinite | $330 | Concierge (search for experts, coaches, academic support, movers), travel insurance...
Société Générale | Visa Infinite | $330 | Almost unlimited ceilings, immediate or deferred debit, special events (haute couture workshops, regatta weekends, private exhibitions...)
Wealth bank black cards
Neuflize OBC | Visa Infinite | $360 | High ceilings, travel insurance, access to the catalog of offers at preferential rates...
Palatine Bank | Visa Infinite | $335 | Deferred debit, concierge, travel insurance, partnership offers, invitations to shows or rare events...
Louvre Private Bank | World Elite MasterCard or Visa Infinite | $330 | Concierge, travel insurance, preferential rates...
Milleis | Visa Infinite | $342 | 24/7 concierge service, travel guarantees and insurance, privileged events and Club Infinite services.
Online bank black cards
Hello Bank! | Visa Infinite / black credit card | $240 | Concierge service (hotel reservation, travel, 24/7, benefits at preferential prices (home chef, flower delivery, tourist sites...), customizable withdrawal limit. The card is no longer available for first subscription, and does not have a like-for-like replacement. The Hello Prime offer includes a black credit card, accessible from €1000 net income.
Fortuneo | World Elite Mastercard | Free | 24/7 concierge, free 24/7 medical consultation, withdrawal limit at, access to partner airport lounges at preferential rate, Mastercard flight delay Pass if delay of more than one hour, free lounge, fast track access at airports: 1 free per year then preferential rate, immediate or deferred debit
BforBank | Visa Infinite | $200 | 24/7 concierge (flower delivery, taxi, seats for events), travel insurance, show cancellation, deferred debit (deductions take place on the 26th of the month)...
Boursorama Bank | Visa Ultim (black card with limited benefits) | Free and without conditions | Customizable ceilings, travel insurance, cashback...
N26 | Mastercard, premium black metal card | $118.80 ($9.90 per month) | Free payment withdrawal abroad, phone insurance, exclusive partner offers (hotels, lime, adidas, babbel, audible), emergency medical insurance abroad, medical assistance, delay and cancellation, lost baggage, purchase protection

Alternatives to the black card

If you want to obtain a premium card, the black card is not the only option. The range of its possibilities is sometimes much too large compared to its use (especially for people who travel little), making it expensive. The Visa Premier, Visa Platinum, and Mastercard World cards offer a wide range of services: high withdrawal and payment limits, strengthened insurance, and assistance during trips, premium offers catalog on certain brands and in certain stores... They can also help their users in their financial strategy with a wide range of banking products and sometimes the provision of a personal advisor. Finally, the insurance coverage is already very extensive.

Related contents :

High Yield (HY) Bonds: High Returns, High Risk

FOMO: The pitfalls of investing too swiftly