We all know why they exist: they look prestigious. And for a lot of cards the benefits stop there, offering you nothing more than a bling accessory. However for those willing to wade through the fool’s gold, there are a handful of cards which offer real benefits.
Should I get one?
You have to be really honest with yourself; prestige cards are suited to big spenders (translation: big earners). You need to be spending more than $20,000 annually in order to really benefit from a good value gold or platinum card. You should also be planning on making use of the extra services that usually come with the cards.
Initial benefits you should look for in a card
Look for at least three ‘extra’ benefits, such as:
Ensure it has competitive points conversion for domestic travel and cash rewards. Compare how many points you receive for each dollar spent.
More upfront value than it costs in annual fees.
Narrowing down the choices
You should go with the card that offers you the most value on services that you actually want and will indeed use. For example, some cards are more suited to frequent travellers. Others are suited to someone who buys a lot of big ticket items such as TVs and computers, and can therefore take advantage of the warranty extensions. Think carefully about the services and benefits you can truly see yourself using.
Separate the wheat from the chaff
A lot of the prestige cards use colour as a marketing exercise, and you would be better off sticking to a regular rewards or low-rate card. Terms like ‘gold’ and ‘platinum’ sometimes translate into little more than higher annual fees and an increased credit limit.
Interest rates are often pretty ordinary or even extremely poor. Most cards charge around the 20% mark, and cash advance rates are always sky high. Be sure to check the interest rate before signing up, and as always, pay off the card balance at the end of every month.
The real sting in the tail for most prestige cards is the annual fee, with fees ranging from $0-$900. Usually the cards with high annual fees require a minimum annual spend to break even on the annual fee through cash rewards.
Some gold cards are actually better value for money than their platinum counterparts. In a lot of cases the only extra benefit offered by platinum cards is 24/7 concierge services, and some minor additional benefits. Not a big sacrifice if you’re willing to book your own theatre tickets!
#1 tip to remember
Assume nothing! Always check the details of what you’re entitled to before you start spending.
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