Monday, March 10, 2014

Amex's elusive black card now in Indian pockets

 B S  :Somasroy Chakraborty  |  Kolkata  March 9, 2014 
There is a one-time joining fee of Rs 2.5 lakh and 
the annual fee is Rs 2 lakh

It’s the ultimate credit card — one that American Express(Amex) has 
been grandiosely describing as “rarely seen but always recognised”. 
Very rich Indians are finally going beyond just seeing and recognising
 Amex’s fabled black card— they are getting to keep the card in their
 pockets as well.

According to sources, a few hundred have been issued to Indian
 businessmen, celebrities and brand experts. Amex is tight-lipped 
and declined to give out any names but Business Standard has 
access to a copy of the invitation sent by Amex to its Indian clients.

The black card is not something anybody can aspire to hold because 
it is issued only by invitation. Sources say there is a one-time joining 
fee of Rs 2.5 lakh and the annual fee is Rs 2 lakh. Amex did not disclose
 the eligibility criteria but it is widely believed annual income, spending 
habits and credit rating are the key determinants.

Sources also say an individual will probably need to use Amex’s platinum
 card for at least a few years before getting an invitation for the black card.

The black card is made of titanium (one of the most precious metals) 
and weighs about 12g or about three times more than standard plastic cards.

There is no spending limit, which means a cardholder can practically
 buy anything just by swiping it. But it is also a charge card. In other
 words, the cardholder has to fully repay the balance every month and 
cannot roll over the dues.

Amex, it is learnt, does not list in detail the facilities offered through a
 dedicated concierge because these are vast. According to media reports,
 the concierge service has even gathered sand from the Dead Sea and 
had it couriered to London for a child’s school project on the Holy Land.

So, if you have the black card, don’t hesitate to request Amex to arrange
 for the exclusive box in a sold-out concert. And, don’t be surprised if you
 also get an invitation to attend the sound check, meeting the band at the
 backstage or even rehearse a duet with the lead singer.

The known benefits, as mentioned in the invitation letter, include airline 
and hotel upgrades and access to almost any airport lounge across the
 globe. In addition, a cardholder is also offered medical insurance (sometimes
 up to Rs 2 crore) and is given cover (up to Rs 5 lakh) for tangible 
goods bought with the card against loss or damage.

However, the real benefit is probably the 24-hour concierge service that 
ensures the cardholder can get almost anything anywhere — securing 
tickets of sporting events to shopping to reminding birthdays and
 anniversaries. The service also helps cardholders find limited edition 
collector’s items.

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