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More banks issuing exclusive credit cards

As Singapore's status as a wealth management hub continues to grow, more private banks are coming up with exclusive by-invitation-only credit or charge cards to woo the ultra high net worth individuals.

SINGAPORE: As Singapore's status as a wealth management hub continues to grow, more private banks are coming up with exclusive by-invitation-only credit or charge cards to woo the ultra high net worth individuals.

Instead of plastic, these special cards are crafted out of titanium, steel or metal membrane, with the ultra wealthy in mind.

Besides having dedicated relationship managers who can help tailor memorable and unique lifestyle experiences, these super card holders are also pampered with complimentary first or business class airline tickets, and complimentary golfing privileges, to name a few.

One of the first companies to offer the super exclusive card to ultra high net worth individuals in Singapore was American Express. It launched the Centurion (charge) card here in 2005.

Besides a whole host of luxury privileges spanning from travel, fine dining to exclusive events, one can even pay for an expensive car with the Centurion card.

Since then, other companies and banks have also been keen to get a slice of that pie.

Citibank's Ultima Card, which is a credit card launched in 2003 and then revamped in 2010, is only offered to clients with minimum investible assets of more than S$5 million or income of more than S$1 million.

A large portion of these card-members are Singaporeans, although there has also been a growing number of expatriates from Indonesia, China and Taiwan.

Jacquelyn Tan, managing director of Credit Payment Products at Citibank Singapore, said: "For the Ultima Card, in the last two years, we've been seeing double-digit growth in our net client growth.

"And our acquisitions have been extremely strong because it's only by invitation. A lot of these are by referrals from our client base.

"Why do we see a need for this product? Because of the growing wealth in Asia and it's evident with the concentration and growth of assets under management of hubs like Singapore."

Singapore's biggest bank DBS has its own Insignia credit card. It is targeted at the top one per cent income earners in Singapore.

Launched in 2011, the Insignia may be a new player to the game but the bank said it all boils down to the human touch.

Anthony Seow, executive director of Consumer Banking Group's cards & unsecured loans at DBS Bank, said: "Across cards, it's not too difficult to copy one another.

"You talk about air miles, which is important; we all offer about the same earn rates. It's the highest earn rate possible in the market.

"What really differentiates is the level of service, the relationship we build with the customer. So what really makes us happy is that the cardholders really know the service ambassadors by name and that's the hardest part to copy."

Standard Chartered Bank also has its Visa Infinite card, where existing high net worth customers of the bank are invited to enjoy the card's privileges. These include hotel, dining, travel, lifestyle and rewards privileges.

One thing is for sure -- with so many banks vying for wallet space, the ultra wealthy in Singapore are simply spoilt for choice. 

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