The Credit Card for the 1 Percent of the 1 Percent: The Ticker
We all know economic times have been tough. But if you happen to have an extra $25 million that you are willing to let JPMorgan Chase manage for you, there is at least one perk you can expect to receive that you won't find anywhere else: The J.P. Morgan Palladium Card.
The card has been around for three years -- although us hoi polloi wouldn't know it -- and a couple thousand have been issued. The card itself is actually made with palladium and 23-karat gold -- reportedly putting its cost in materials alone at about $1,000 -- giving it real heft when you hold it in your hand. It was also the first U.S. card with a smart chip on the front, making it a breeze for international travel (swipe technology is so passé abroad), along with some form of J.P. Morgan's (the man's) signature embossed on the front and your own signature embossed on the back.
Then there are the benefits (aside from being able to show it off at your local Tiffany's or Wal-Mart). After the annual fee of $595 -- less than the precious materials used to make it -- there are no foreign exchange fees, no late fees, no cash advance fees, no overdraft fees. Then there are the services: concierges, airport lounge privileges, access to luxury hotels. The user will never be turned down for a purchase at the point of sale -- how embarrassing! -- unless there is strong evidence of obvious fraud. There is a team of actual human beings that answer the phone when you dial the special number looking for help. No automated, computerized loop for Palladium Card holders.
JPMorgan has tried very hard to keep the card low-profile. There has been no advertising. There is a Web page that mentions the Palladium Card and shows a picture of it, but all other information -- like how to get one -- requires a call to the inner sanctum of the bank.
Of course, what everyone wants to know is, can you get your hands on one of these cards if you don't have $25 million with JPMorgan? The firm isn't talking, but word is that if you know Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or another senior executive, or happen to be a prime client of the investment bank, or a potential client of the investment bank or of the private bank, you have a good shot at getting one. "We have probably half of the world's billionaires as clients," I was told by someone in a position to know. "They needed something special -- and we gave it to them."
(William D. Cohan, a former investment banker and the author of “Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. Read his columns.)
For more quick commentary from Bloomberg View, go to The Ticker.