Thailand Privilege Card plc (TPC), operator of Thailand Elite Card, expects to generate revenues of 400 million baht this year–up 40 percent over 2016.
The agency has introduced several changes in recent months hoping to put new life into the flagging enterprise created 11 years ago by then-premier Thaksin Shinawatra. The concept was designed to provide foreigners with a long-term and multiple-entry visa in return for an initial cash fee.
Henley and Partners Holdings, with 28 offices worldwide, has been named international sales agents. Some 4,500 Elite Cars have been sold so far to Britons, Americans, Russians, Chinese and several other nationalities. The fee varies from 500,000 baht to 2 million baht depending on the buyer’s desired length of stay. While membership precludes the need to make visa runs or enforced trips abroad, foreigners nevertheless must report to their local Immigration Office every 90 days.
The elite card, open to all who can afford it, is particularly advantageous for individuals who might not otherwise qualify for a one-year visa—such as those under 50 years of age, and farang on work, student or marriage visas.
Holders also benefit from discounts and privileges on a wide range of services including golfing, wellness-spas, restaurants, hotels and medical services at some hospitals.
And now, elite card categories have now been expanded to include the Elite Family Premium–a supplementary card for near relatives of the holder. A wife may join her husband, who is already a full member, by paying a further one million baht to cover the entire 20-year program.
Another choice is the Elite Family Excursion, 800,000 baht for a five-year, multiple-entry visa. This program targets business people and international visitors whose children are studying in Thailand.
Of particular interest to many retirees is the Elite Easy Access which costs 500,000 baht and allows multiple-entry travel for five years without the requirement to leave the country. However, there is a requirement to attend an immigration office to extend the visa every three months if the holder does not choose to leave the country. This visa variant has been chosen by some elderly expats who prefer not to tangle themselves in the increasingly complex bureaucracy of the traditional one-year retirement visa which may — or may not — be under substantial review by the Interior Ministry.
“There are now a number of options for individuals and families,” noted an elite card spokesperson. “They pay between 500,000 baht and 2 million baht for long-term visas and benefits, lasting from 5 to 20 years, with discounts on offer for close relatives and dependent children. The full details are on our website and the application procedure is straightforward.”
The elite card over the years has had a chequered history. It was originally suggested that one benefit might be to allow card holders to purchase land in their own name; this never happened. It was also promoted as providing such benefits as hassle-free departure and arrival at airports and free limousine services. Another disappointment. However, the recent diversification of the membership categories to include families and the introduction of proper marketing policies abroad have assured a future.
But, as the name suggests, the Elite Card appeals to international tourists and expats with a high measure of independent finances.