Treats for the Elite; Holiday Traumas-Invites to Art Exhibitions - Even Broken Toilets, All Can Be Sorted out by Your Bank, but Only If You Have One of Their Expensive Credit Cards

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), February 4, 2007 | Go to article overview

Treats for the Elite; Holiday Traumas-Invites to Art Exhibitions - Even Broken Toilets, All Can Be Sorted out by Your Bank, but Only If You Have One of Their Expensive Credit Cards


Byline: JO THORNHILL

An invitation to a viewing of a private Getty art collection was probably one of the most fruitful perks Gareth Lloyd has enjoyed in the two years he has held a prestigious NatWest Black credit card.

Some of the pictures of athletics stars in last August's exhibition at a gallery off Oxford Street in central London caught his eye because at the time, Gareth, 34, was preparing to open his new business, running equipment shop Apex Sports.

The gallery's staff showed him some archive pictures and printed an image from the original glass negative of Roger Bannister breaking the four-minute mile in Oxford in 1954.

When Gareth opened his shop in west London the following month, he proudly put up the framed photograph.

'When Bannister broke the record, he was a junior doctor at St Mary's Hospital, Paddington, which is next door to my shop,' says Gareth.

'He took the train from here to Oxford that day. I love the fact that the picture highlights the historic links Paddington has with running and it has been a big talking point among customers. I might not have had the idea if it wasn't for my credit card and the Getty visit.' Gareth, who lives with his girlfriend Fiona, 34, a marketing manager, in Windsor, Berkshire, is one of an elite group of consumers regularly making use of the perks available from ultra-premium credit cards.

As well as NatWest's Black credit card, there is Morgan Stanley's i24 card, the American Express Centurion, Barclaycard's Infinite and the Coutts World card. Some cards, including Coutts World and Centurion, are invitation only while oththeers are for those with a salary of at least [pounds sterling]70,000.

NatWest Black carries a steep [pounds sterling]250 annual fee, but the bank says the card's many benefits more than offset this charge. These include comprehensive annual travel insurance, including ski cover, for the whole family, travel offers and executive airport lounge access.

Other benefits include European car breakdown cover and invitations to events such as art exhibitions and sports matches. But perhaps the most valuable perk is services of a 'concierge', who is available at the end of the phone round the clock to sort out all manner of requests. …

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Treats for the Elite; Holiday Traumas-Invites to Art Exhibitions - Even Broken Toilets, All Can Be Sorted out by Your Bank, but Only If You Have One of Their Expensive Credit Cards
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