“ Credit Card / A new credit card from Morgan Stanley: 'ultra-premium' i24. „
6 months ago, I was really happy with this card. Barclaycard have now taken it over. For the last few months, they have charged me £15 a month for the FREE airport Priority Pass. Each month, I have a long (20 minute) phone call with them. They eventually agree the Priority Pass is free, and reimburse it. This month, they also took £5 (Direct Debit min payment), even though it has had a zero balance and no purchases for over 6 months, and also charged £1 interest.As they are unable to fix this £15 monthly problem, I asked for the account to be closed. However I was told that their team for closing accounts was too busy to deal with it.Keen to know if anyone else has this problem. It feels as though other customers will be affected in the same way.
NB I received a letter 10/04/08 to say that Goldfish has sold the i24 card to Barclays Bank, so I imagine there will shortly be rebranding at the very least. So far as I know, the information below is still correct today 10/04/08, with the exception of the name Goldfish.
The Goldfish i24 card is an example of the new breed of ultra-premium credit cards. Even though the subscription is expensive it can make sense for some people, for whom it works out to be free of charge.
The idea of the card is that it works like a regular Mastercard, but there are significant differences:
1. The income threshold for a successful application is higher than for most other cards. It is somewhere round the £50,000 per annum mark.
2. Users have to pay a £275 annual fee up front for the card.
3. Only one additional cardholder is permitted.
4. The interest rate is none too special. This is not a card for those who do not pay their balance off in full each month.
This does not sound too promising so there had better be some significant benefits for all this. Needless to say, there are, but as with all benefits they are only of interest if they are what the customer actually wants. Here are some of them. Go to the i24card website to see the full list:
1. The card comes with a limitless 1% cashback. This means that as soon as you have spent £27500 on the card in a year the cashback has paid for the card, and all you spend over that is profit. In my case, when you have paid your children's university hall of residence fees on the card that's a cool £5000 just as your starter.
2. There is a higher than average credit limit.
3. The card comes with free travel insurance for the cardholder, spouse and dependant children aged under 25 even if the children or spouse are travelling independently of the cardholder. Many banks and cards offer this, but there is a difference in that the cover offered with this card is truly superb. For example, the luggage delay payments and food payments are permitted after a 4 hour delay, while many other policies only allow a claim under this heading after 12 hours. There are similarly generous benefits under all the headings. The policy covers winter sports. The medical expenses cover is for up to £5m.
4. There is no loading for using the card abroad. So far as I know, Nationwide is the only other bank to offer this - and it means you can use your card abroad just as you would at home without fretting about the 2 or 3% foreign use rip-off most banks get away with.
5. The policy covers the collision damage waiver on hire cars. Anyone who has been stung at a foreign airport for this pretty important insurance knows that this can be worth tens of pounds on even a short stint of car hire.
6. The card comes with a couple of "Priority Pass" cards. These get you into the private lounges at airports, where there is no noise, no crowds, just complimentary drinks and snacks and a feeling of being a bit pampered. You are limited to 2 priority pass cards, so if you were travelling with others they would have to pay to go in (generally £15 each).
7. A comprehensive concierge service. This can be thought of as a kind of fixer and problem solver, though it is clearly aimed at people with considerable amounts of money. The information services are free, on such topics as rail and ferries, travel advice, golf courses, but others are likely to come with a substantial price tag. These include the chauffeur driven car service, the international apartment reservation service or even the international yacht charter service, starting at 30 metre yachts. I have to say that I cannot comment on any of these services from personal experience!
8. Lost key insurance, to cover replacement of lost car or house keys
9. Purchase protection insurance for loss or damage to goods bought with the card within 90 days of the date of purchase.
So, does it make sense?
Well, it is promoted as being a kind of prestige item that will make shopkeepers treat you as a demi-god. Be sure that that does not happen: it looks and works just like any other Mastercard.
On the other hand, if you spend a lot on your credit card, and go abroad even say, twice a year or have offspring that travel a lot it can rapidly become the card of choice. If you hire cars abroad then that can clinch the deal.
There is one other, priceless advantage and this is it: When you phone with any kind of enquiry you never have to wait more than a few rings, there is no convoluted menu system and you are treated like a real customer. Now that may not be worth £275 a year but, what price sanity?