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 250,000 and the annual fee is Rs 200,000.
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 or Rs 20 million) and is given cover (up to Rs 500,000) 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.
The image is used for representational purpose only