Elite Credit Card Comes With Artistic Perks

Sotheby's MasterCard offers luxury for the wealthy.

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Corrected on 2/28/08: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the sponsor of the exhibit at the Corcoran Gallery. MasterCard is the sponsor.

If you earn over $250,000 a year and hold more than $2 million in investable assets, MasterCard has just the card for you.

The Sotheby's MasterCard, designed for affluent consumers with a predilection for the arts, gives cardholders free access to 30 museums in the United States (plus three guests), allows them to cut to the heads of lines, and provides exclusive experiences, such as access to private exhibitions at Sotheby's.

Like other rewards credit cards catering to the wealthy, MasterCard is focusing on experiences over material goods. "What they want is not necessarily more stuff," says Gayle Bock, head of product management for premium products at MasterCard. "They really want unique, personalized experiences."

The Sotheby's MasterCard, which is available through issuing financial institutions such as banks, comes with an annual fee of $85 for the World Card and $395 for the World Elite card. The latter comes with complimentary upgrades to business class on international flights as well as access to airport lounges. It also provides luxury concierge services, ready to help travelers in, say, Champagne, France, track down where Dom Perignon created his signature drink.

Users also earn rewards points, redeemable for a helicopter tour of California wine country along with the expertise of a Sotheby's sommelier, three days in Italy driving a different Ferrari each day, and a variety of other, equally exotic experiences.

Bock outlined the card benefits at a press preview of an MasterCard-sponsored exhibit, American Evolution: A History Through Art, at the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. It features Andy Warhol's portrait of Mao along with John Singer Sargent's striking portraits of wealthy individuals. The good news for those without the Sotheby's MasterCard in their wallet: Starting Saturday, the exhibit will be open to the public.