Editor's pick: Credit cards that will make you feel like a VIP
By Emma Lunn
If you're cash-rich but time-poor, a VIP credit card might be the card for you. This type of credit card typically offers special treatment to cardholders, with perks such as personal assistant or concierge services, travel lounge access, and exclusive offers and discounts.
Not everyone will qualify for these cards -- big rewards come with high standards. Yet if you have excellent credit (and enough money), here are some ways your card could make you feel like VIP.
past the velvet rope
For affluent cardholders, a card that offers benefits like concierge services can be a helpful luxury, says David Black, banking specialist at analyst financial research firm Defaqto.
"They will arrange flights, hotels, restaurants, theatre tickets, plumbers and flowers, et cetera, with one phone call or message from the account holder setting the wheels in motion," he says.
You'll pay extra for such privileges, as perk-heavy cards tend to come with hefty annual fees. This means you'll have to make good use of the services the card offers to make it worthwhile.
Premium credit cards also tend to have stringent eligibility requirements. Many will be "invitation only," Black says -- and will therefore be restricted to those with high annual incomes. Or, the cardholder might need to have a lot of money invested with the bank that issues the card -- as much as £250,000.
a card that matches your lifestyle
If a card with exclusive benefits is within your reach, here are four to consider.
The annual fee for this card is steep -- £450. Cardholders receive a range of benefits, including unlimited access to more than 700 airport and Eurostar lounges (special train lounges that have bars, armchairs and complimentary Wi-Fi). Cardholders also get elite tier membership with Hilton, Starwood, Hertz and Avis, and comprehensive worldwide travel insurance.
The card also offers a concierge service that can book tickets and restaurants on your behalf -- as well as access to AmEx's Preferred Seating program, which lets cardholders snag tickets to theatre and concert events early.
The AmEx Platinum card has no pre-set spending limit and no interest charges. However, cardholders need to pay off their balance in full each month or face a £12 late payment fee.
To qualify: To be eligible, you'll need an excellent credit record and earnings of at least £40,000 a year.
NatWest Black card
This card will cost you £250 a year and offers a minimum credit limit of £15,000.
Card perks include travel insurance and other bonuses for frequent travellers, such as airport lounge access and roadside assistance. It also includes a benefit for those who would rather stay home -- a 24-hour home emergency hotline. Cardholders can call the number and get repair services (up to £750) for leaks, faulty heating and electrical issues.
The card also offers a personal assistant service to help secure gifts, book trips and reserve restaurant tables.
To qualify: To be eligible you'll need to be over 25 years of age and earn at least £75,000 a year.
Private Banking AmEx card
Lloyds has partnered with TenUK, a lifestyle and home management concierge service, to provide cardholders with concierge support via a "lifestyle assistant." That lifestyle assistant service can help you with shopping, hiring a top chef to cook for you, arranging trips or booking tickets to shows. The card also offers VIP airport lounge access to the cardholder and a companion.
To qualify: You'll need to bank with Lloyds Private Banking to qualify for this card. And to qualify for Lloyds Private Banking, you'll need to have at least £250,000 of savings and investments with the bank. On top of that, the card itself has a £250 annual fee.
Barclays Infinite credit
At £150, Barclays Infinite has the lowest annual fee of the VIP cards examined for this article. It has a minimum £10,000 credit limit, with the maximum limit subject to credit standing.
Designed for clients who regularly travel the world for business or pleasure, the card offers priority access to more than 500 airport lounges and a 24-hour lifestyle management service for anything from booking restaurants to getting tickets to sold-out events. It also offers family travel insurance and access to exclusive offers, upgrades and invitations to VISA-sponsored events, including the Olympic Games.
To qualify: You must deposit and maintain a balance of £50,000 or more in cash or investments with Barclays. If don't live in the UK, that amount goes up to £150,000, which must be kept in a Barclays international bank account.
Published: 21 May 2012
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