In the world of premium credit cards it's fairly common to see "gold cards" and "platinum cards." At the most exclusive levels, Barclays' Visa Black Card is available to the highest-earning 1% of the U.S. population. And even more select is the American Express Centurion Card (also called the "black card"), which occupies the wallets of only 17,000 people. What all these so-called "luxury" cards have in common is that they're made of plastic. How inappropriate...
Stepping out of the box and getting very literal with its ultimate "gold" card is Russia's largest bank. Sberbank is inviting its top-100 customers in oil-rich Kazakhstan to purchase a solid-gold Visa Infinite card embedded with 26 diamonds totaling 0.17 carats, and inlaid with mother of pearl, according to The Wall Street Journal.
This ultimate status symbol does not come cheaply. Each card has an initial cost of $100,000 – $65,000 for the card itself and $35,000 to be held on account. The annual fee starting in year two is $2,000. Because the real gold card does not have a magnetic stripe and cannot be swiped, it actually serves as a "blingy" companion card to a standard plastic one.
“We constantly strive to provide clients with unique and innovative cards," said James Lim, head of consumer products for Visa Asia Pacific, Central Europe, Middle East and Africa. "We are excited to launch the first jewel-encrusted solid gold companion card."
Each gilded credit card weighs about 50 grams (about 1.76 ounces) and is handmade in Russia by a company called Rosan Diamond. If the offering is successful, the precious-metal-and-diamond cards will be rolled out to Visa's most affluent clients in other Asian countries. There are already 400,000 Infinite cardholders in the Asia-Pacific region, with 2,000 in Kazakhstan.
Among the perks that come with the card are luxury vacations, access to the world's top golf courses, fast-track immigration at 280 airports, a 24-hour concierge phone service, purchase protection, health insurance, travel insurance, complimentary iPhone 5 and a Montblanc bankcard holder, according to reports.