Black credit cards are at the top rung of the status ladder for credit cards, offering even more premium features and services than platinum or standard options. These cards are designed for the highest earners and spenders, with features ranging from generous rewards programs to dedicated concierge services, superb travel extras and more.
Use this guide to understand the key points on black credit cards, along with other options to consider.
A black credit card is a super-premium credit card that offers more status and benefits than other types of card. The use of the term “black” for these invitation-only credit cards refer to the level of the account, similar to the way frequent flyer and other rewards programs have different status levels.
There are a number of major credit card companies in Singapore that offer “black” level credit cards, including Citibank, UOB, DBS and OCBC.
These cards offer a range of exclusive features that vary between cards. Some of the most exciting black credit card features you can get include:
- Higher credit limits (more than 4x monthly income)
- More rewards points per dollar
- More flexible reward programs (i.e. high or no rewards caps and more ways to use points)
- Travel vouchers or free flights
- Greater financial coverage for insurance and/or lower excess payment requirements
- Complimentary status upgrades for loyalty programs such as Starwood Preferred Guests (hotels)
- Complimentary stays at premium hotels every year
- Access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world (through complimentary membership to a program such as PriorityPass)
- Complimentary airport transfers
- Flight upgrades
- Dedicated travel booking services
- A personal concierge service
- A personal shopper
- Invitations to exclusive events or promotions
These features give you some idea of the status that comes from having a black credit card, but the specific details do vary between accounts. So when you’re looking for a black card, it’s a good idea to go through all the features listed or even ask the credit card company for more information about specific benefits you want from a black credit card.
The high status of a black credit card is designed for big earners (and spenders), so these cards often have higher annual fees and interest rates than other credit cards. For example, black credit card annual fees range from around S$300 to S$700 and most cards offer standard interest rates of between 25% p.a. and 28% p.a. (EIR).
Both of these costs are on the higher end of the scale when you’re comparing different types of credit cards. The theory is that all the features and benefits that come with a black credit card justify these costs – but that does depend on how you use the card.
Black credit cards are designed for people with high incomes who also spend a lot on credit cards each month. You can see this in the application requirements, which include minimum incomes of around S$120,000 or more. You will also need to have a good or excellent credit rating.
But meeting the application requirements doesn’t necessarily mean you should get a black credit card. If you rarely use credit, for example, you won’t be able to make the most of the benefits. This could mean that the annual fee costs you more than any value you get from the card. On the other hand, if you’re a big spender, frequent flyer or someone who will take advantage of multiple features, the benefits could help offset the costs of getting a black credit card.
Figuring out whether or not you should get this type of card can be hard, so we’ve come up with some questions to consider when you’re comparing your options.
Do you use credit a lot? If you regularly pay with credit cards, the higher credit limit of a black credit card could help you avoid maxing out your account. It will also help you get the most out of features such as rewards.
Do you regularly pay off your credit card? Black credit cards often have high interest rates that could make them expensive if you’re used to carrying a balance. If you regularly pay off your card, then you will get more value out of a black card without adding too much to your credit costs.
How many of the features will you actually use? It’s great to have access to the wide range of features that black credit cards offer but the value comes from actually using them.
Is there a black credit card you actually want? It’s important to find a credit card that ticks as many of your boxes as possible. Comparing a range of cards before applying will help make sure you choose the right one for your circumstances.
Black credit cards may have high flying features and rewards but they are essentially the same as any other credit card with a high credit limit. This means comparing them is incredibly important for finding the right card for you. So, here are the major factors you’ll want to consider:
Some black credit cards have their own rewards program. Others are linked to frequent flyer programs such as Krisflyer. There are also cards that let you choose between a credit card rewards program or a frequent flyer program.
For example, the UOB Visa Infinite Card can earn UNI$ and you have the option of converting into Krisflyer miles. Take some time to look at the different reward program options, and particularly the number of points you’ll earn per S$1, so you can tell which one will give you the best bang for your buck.
Compare complimentary extras based on what’s practical and valuable to you. For example, someone who frequently pays for entry to airport lounges might want a black card that has complimentary PriorityPass membership, while someone else might place a higher value on a card that offers a complimentary night’s stay in a hotel.
Quality of extras and customer service
The terms and conditions for complimentary extras, as well as the level of service you get with a black credit card, impact its overall value. The quality of customer service offered, for example, could be very different depending on the credit card company and the way it’s set up. Likewise, the coverage available with complimentary insurance could be more or less limited depending on the partnering insurance company, so be sure to read the Terms and Conditions carefully.
When you’re looking at several credit cards, make sure you check the annual fees and other potential costs so that you can work out how much each card will cost you. Remember that the benefits should outweigh the costs of the card that you choose.
Interest rates and interest-free days
Even a difference of 1% p.a. could save you a lot of money if you carry a balance, so it’s always important to check the standard interest rates when comparing cards. Interest-free days, on the other hand, offer greater convenience and value if you regularly pay your balance off in full. You could get a lot more flexibility if a card offers up to 30 days interest-free compared to one that offers up to 20, for instance.
What about introductory offers for these types of cards?
If you want to get a new black credit card, you could also enjoy bonus points, a low or 0% interest rate or a reduced or S$0 annual fee for the first year. Some cards may offer a combination of introductory card offers, which all have the potential to add value to the card you choose in the short term. Make sure you check the details of introductory offers and look at the ongoing or standard costs to determine the long-term value of each black card you compare.
There’s a selection of black credit cards available in the Singapore market for those looking for the ultimate level of prestige and the features that come with it. These cards may seem like the perfect balance of rewards and features, but remember most of them come with high fees. In terms of features, be sure you’ll be able to use what is offered. If you intend to take advantage of the concierge service and other benefits that cards like the American Express Centurion Card offer, then a black credit card may work for you.
Remember, even though these cards are definitely at the pinnacle of premium options, the most important thing is always finding the right card for your circumstances so that it really works for you (and not the other way around). If you don’t think a black card is for you, start comparing other cards down the ladder to find an option that suits your needs.
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What sort of rewards points will I earn?
This depends on the type of black card. For example, the UOB Visa Infinite Card allows you to earn UNI$, which may be converted to Krisflyer miles. Similarly, the Citi Prestige will give you a choice of either Citi’s own rewards program or the Krisflyer program.
What income do I typically need for these cards?
Understandably a “black” level credit card is marketed to those with high incomes. As a point of reference, the OCBC Voyage Card and DBS Insignia Visa Infinite Card have a minimum income of S$120,000 per year.
What’s the difference between a black credit card and a platinum credit card?
A black credit card is one step up from a platinum card. If you look at the platinum and black credit cards offered by the same issuer, you’ll usually find that the black card offers more complimentary extras, more points per S$1 spent, no points cap (or a higher points cap) or even priority services. Typically, black credit cards will also have higher annual fees, higher credit limits and higher minimum income requirements than platinum credit cards.
Should I get a black credit card or a platinum credit card?
This depends on your individual circumstances. In some cases, you might find a platinum credit card offers all the benefits you need and has an annual fee that suits your budget. In others, you might find that a black credit card has more privileges and perks that you can use to get even more value from your credit card.
The simplest way to decide between a black credit card and a platinum one is to compare them side-by-side, based on the features you’re interested in. Factor in your spending habits and budget, as well as your eligibility for both cards, and you’ll be able to decide which card is right for you.
Where can I find a list of what benefits Centurion cardholders receive in Singapore?
Unfortunately, because this is an invite-only program, details about exactly what discounts and offers these cardholders receive are hard to come by. We do know that, on invitation, you’ll receive a booklet outlining all of the benefits offered through this card, in addition to details of the account fees.