Loyalty Programmes Luxury Marketing Retail

What’s the most exclusive loyalty card?

What's the ultimate loyalty card to own? What's the most exclusive loyalty program?

I have been speaking at a few events over the last couple of weeks, sharing experiences from running loyalty programmes. When I ask the audience if there are any questions, I can almost guarantee that someone will say, “What’s the most exclusive loyalty card in the UK?” or “What’s the most generous loyalty programme?” Other regular questions revolve around the most prestigious credit card to have in your wallet and what my favourite loyalty programme is. My answers to nearly all these questions have changed over the seven years I’ve been involved in developing programmes, so I thought it was time to share my thoughts and write a small series of articles that address each of these questions.

Today, I’ll discuss the most exclusive loyalty card.

Airline Frequent Flyer Programmes

There are two candidates for me:

1. The British Airways Premier Card.

This card is only available by invitation and membership is determined by the British Airways Board. It is possible to hold a Gold BA Executive Club card and never graduate to this ultimate level. Holders of this card are responsible for over £1m of expenditure on BA flights per annum and, according to The Times, include Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP, Paul Walsh of Diageo and John Connolly, Chief Executive of Deloitte. Benefits include:

  • Getting a seat on a full flight (yes, soneone else is bumped off)
  • Your flight may be held if your connection is late
  • Cardholders are met at the door of the plane to be fast-tracked through immigration
  • Upgrades from Business to First

2. The Marquis Card, from NetJets.

This card is arguably more exclusive than the British Airways card.

The Marquis Jet Card

Once you have purchased a Marquis Jet Card, you are entitled to book a guaranteed private jet, anywhere in the world with less than ten hours notice. You can choose between 9 different aircraft types, according to the size of your party.

Pricing starts at $115,900 for 25 hours flying time…

Hotel Programmes

1. Hilton Hhonors Diamond VIP Membership

Hhonors Diamond VIP

The main benefit of this programme is a guaranteed room in any Hilton hotel with only 48 hours notice. Other benefits include instant upgrades of your room type on every booking.

Also, access to Executive Lounges on the top floors of some of their large city hotels can be handy too.

If you have one of these cards, then you’ll know Hilton very well, either having stayed 28 times in a year, or a total of 60 nights in a year.

Retail Programmes

Many luxury retailers have tended to shy away from loyalty, even though they could use a loyalty programme to develop a longer lasting and more personal relationship with their customer base. Loyalty is not just about points and discounts; it can be simply an enhanced, preferential experience that demonstrates a retailer is willing to take the time to understand their customer better.

It could be argued that some of the luxury goods manufacturers, like Vertu (phones) do run their own ‘invisible’ loyalty programme through their CRM activities, made public in 2009. As a customer, you might not get a card to show off or any definitive benefits, but the more you spend, the more you’ll find you’ll be rewarded.

So my ‘Most Exclusive Loyalty Card in the World Right Now until I find a more Exclusive one’ is the:

Harrods Rewards Black Card.

This card is available for customers spending over £10,000 per annum at Harrods.

The main benefits are:

  • Priority service at ‘By Appointment’, the personal shopping service at Harrods
  • More reward points when you spend than in lower tiers
  • Free alterations
  • Free car parking
  • Free tea and coffee in the cafes
  • Points redemption at any time, even when their sale is on
  • A choice of 10% discount day, twice a year

As far as I know, there isn’t a different card for each tier; I signed up when I spent £20 and was given a black-coloured card. Surely that’s a missed opportunity, isn’t it?


  1. This is a nice list, thanks.

    I have to say it did remind me of the time I spent £1m with BA on a single promotion and they wouldn’t even give me a silver card! Perhaps they are more enlightened now 🙂

    I guess some of the best loyalty programmes don’t even involve cards or membership numbers. Perhaps the beneficiaries aren’t even aware they are being looked after?

    1. I think Mr Johannsen is totally right. I have had a HON card with LH for the last 8 years and their service in Frankfurt, Munich (and now also Vienna) is absolutely unbeatable. Not only do they pick you up by a Mercedes or Porsche form any outside position, but you will virtually never mis a connection as they take you off pad and drive you to the next aircraft. I have now moved to the UK so BA is a more logical airline choice. The main difference between these two cards it that Lufthansa award theirs to the people that really fly a lot themselves – so I would say the people that really benefit from it. But as someone recently reminded me this is a “luxury” problem. Regards from very frequent flyer Dan Pitulia

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