To the best of my knowledge, I’m not a pretentious jerk-wad. Nor is my ego inflated by enticements of luxury and exclusivity. I’ve never owned a “Members-only” jacket, if that means anything at all.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I received an invitation to apply for the exclusive Black Card from VISA, which (according to the marketing mumbo-jumbo) is the world’s most prestigious and versatile credit card. The invitation exuded exclusivity and hubris. After all, why would I want to use a credit card that common people (riff-raff) use when I can show the world my elegant distinction with the swanky black card?
Um, I call bollocks!
Before I deconstruct the BS that is the mentality allowing the Black Card to exist, here are the card’s bullet points:
- Limited Membership
- 24-Hour Concierge Service
- Exclusive Rewards Program
- Luxury Gifts
- Patent Pending Carbon Card
- Annual Fee $495
You read that right – the annual fee, just for the so-called privilege of carrying the card, is $495 per year. And what does that staggering membership fee grant you, other than the privilege of looking like an idiot? Here’s the unedited text of the advert:
For those who demand only the best of what life has to offer, the exclusive VISA Black Card is for you. The Black Card is not just another piece of plastic. Made with carbon, it is the ultimate buying tool.
The Black Card is not just for everyone. In fact, it is limited to only 1% of U.S. residents to ensure the highest caliber of personal service is provided to every Cardmember. Made with carbon, the Visa Black Card is guaranteed to get you noticed.
Become a Black Card member today and enjoy our 24-hour world class Concierge Service ready to assist you with all your business, travel and leisure needs.
This, to me, is nothing more than PR spin. Why in the world does a credit card need to be prestigious anyway? That’s like food or beverages that need to be extreme. Are there really people out there who are so insecure that they feel the need to stroke their egos by plinking down a prestigious credit card on a store counter versus a normal one? I pity them.
The marketing-geniuses behind the Black Card want you to believe that you are a superior human being. You are so superior, in fact, that you deserve, nay, DEMAND only the best of what life has to offer. You shouldn’t be caught dead carrying an ordinary credit card. Common people use those! And you’re not common, are you?
As a new Black Card member, people will notice you. Women will throw themselves at you. Men will line up to give you high-fives. Peasants and other mere-mortals will make sweeping bows as you walk by.
In fact, here is how a typical scene will play out every time you make a purchase with your card:
Hot store clerk: The total is $29.50.
VISA Black Cardmember: Here you go (hands over Black card).
Hot store clerk: Nice card. I definitely notice you and feel an uncontrollable urge to sleep with you right now.
VISA Black Cardmember: That sounds great. It’s too bad I have such a small penis.
Yeah, I went there. This brings us to the crux of the matter. The creators of the VISA Black Card take advantage of the one thing that allows such a ridiculous card to exist: INSECURITY. It preys upon people’s feelings of not being good enough, smart enough, talented enough, successful enough, or satisfied enough with their bodily endowments. These feelings are natural. We are all humans, after all.
Insecurity drives people to attempt to make up for their perceived shortcomings in other ways: by flaunting wealth, by driving souped-up cars and revving engines annoyingly in public, by keeping up with the Jones’, and by paying exorbitant fees for an exclusive credit card.
Seriously, why in the world should one credit card be perceived as more elite than another? I don’t buy it. A credit card is a tool that serves a purpose. It’s not a status symbol. And people who pay $495 a year for a credit card that promises recognition, exclusivity, and the lure of luxury gifts lead insecure, pathetic lives. These people deserve pity, not the best of what life has to offer.
VISA’s slogan for the Black Card is: The World Awaits. Hey VISA, I propose a few slogans for your marketing team to consider.
VISA Black Card – Drowning in debt has never been more stylish!
VISA Black Card – THE card for people with more money than brains!
VISA Black Card – Show the world what a douche you are!