It’s natural to want finer things, including premium credit cards. But not all that glitters is gold, and not all gold earns you the best rewards. An expensive credit card product may very well be worth it for you – but only if it fits your lifestyle and spending.
Never before have so many luxury credit cards been available to the masses.
More and more credit card issuers offer high-end cards, often with annual fees of $450 or more. And, despite the high price tag, some of these cards can often make sense for customers with excellent credit but who don’t employ live-in butlers or park Rolls-Royces in the garage. Others, on the other hand, are by-invitation-only and are an option for consumers who can spend thousands of dollars on annual fees.
The perks that come with prestigious credit cards often include travel rebates, airport lounge access and huge caches of frequent flyer miles and can be worth far more than even the heftiest annual fees. At the same time, some of these cards can be more of a status symbol, charging astounding fees but not offering much more than the privilege of having a luxurious credit card product.
If you’re curious about premium credit cards or considering one, read on to learn what they offer and if they’re worth the price.
The most prestigious credit cards in 2021
Best luxury credit cards
|Card||Rewards||Perks and benefits||Fees|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||$550 annual fee|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||$695 annual fee|
|Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®||$450 annual fee|
|Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card||$450 annual fee|
|Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card||$550 annual fee|
|Mastercard® Black Card™||1 point per dollar on general purchases (1.5% bonus for cash back redemptions, 2% bonus for airfare redemptions)||$495 annual fee ($195 for each authorized user added to the account)|
|Citi Prestige® Card*||$495 annual fee|
|J.P. Morgan Reserve Card||$595 annual fee|
|Mastercard® Gold Card™||1 point per dollar on every purchase (2% bonus for cash back redemptions, 2% bonus for airfare redemptions)||$995 annual fee ($295 for each authorized user added to the account)|
|Centurion® Card from American Express|
Luxury credit cards for avid travelers
Premium credit cards may come at a hefty price, but they also offer high rewards and excellent benefits that can make every trip you take a much more comfortable and pleasant experience.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express are two of the most popular credit cards in this category. At $550 and $695 per year, respectively, both offer outstanding rewards and perks that make for luxurious travel. Numerous annual credits allow these cards to all but pay for themselves, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve offering a flexible $300 travel credit each year, and the Amex Platinum offering a $179 Clear membership credit, up to a $200 Uber credit, a $200 hotel credit and more. A frequent traveler has plenty of opportunities to save big with these cards.
Further, there are a few co-branded luxury credit cards for hotel and airline loyalists.
The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card comes with a range of valuable perks, including up to a $300 hotel statement credit, up to a $100 property credit for purchases at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton hotels on stays of two nights or longer and up to $100 credit for Global Entry/TSA Precheck, as well as free night awards, complimentary elite statuses, memberships and more – all for $450 per year.
The Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card costs $550 and can be a good card to have if you travel a lot with Delta. It offers one companion ticket each year (subject to taxes and fees, terms apply), Delta SkyClub access for the cardholder and two guests and benefits such as a free checked bag, priority boarding and in-flight promotions.
Of course, cards in the $500+ range aren’t for everybody. Surveys consistently show that most cardholders, even wealthy ones, prefer cash back to travel as a reward. Plus, people with average credit or who don’t spend much money might not qualify, and spending minimums could be hard to meet. Those accustomed to carrying monthly balances will find that interest charges will eat into any rewards.
Still, to the right cardholder, these credit cards can be excellent money-saving tools that also enhance their traveling experience. Their purpose is to offer value rather than convey status. If you’re looking for the latter, the next credit cards on our list might be of interest to you.
Prestigious credit cards that convey status
Not all luxury credit cards offer a good deal, and annual fees can get even higher.
This kind of credit card product serves more as a status symbol rather than a tool to earn rewards. For example, the Mastercard® Black Card™ costs $495 a year, only earns 1 point per dollar and offers modest travel perks. You can double your points if you redeem them through the Luxury Card travel site for travel rewards, but the value still doesn’t hold up to that of other travel rewards cards.
However, the card does make you feel like elite: With its heavy metal design and laser engraving, it showers you with luxury treatment, including airport meet-and-greets, global luggage delivery, chauffeured services and access to curated, invitation-only experiences.
On top of that, the card grants you access to 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge that can assist you with travel bookings and various personal requests. Examples of such requests include getting information on the type of shoes worn by actors in the Men in Black movies to arranging a private meet-and-greet after a hockey game with a cardmember’s all-time favorite player.
The Black card also makes you a part of its VIP travel program that promises spa treatments, room upgrades, complimentary breakfast and early check-in and checkout at over 3,000 luxury hotels. If you want a credit card to make you feel like a royal, the Mastercard Black Card will do just that.
If you’d like to take this level of prestige even further, there’s another version of this card – the Mastercard® Gold Card™. The rewards rate is underwhelming, and the annual fee is jaw-dropping at $995, but this product is pure credit card-shaped luxury. Made with a 24K-gold-plated stainless-steel front and carbon back, the Gold Card adds to the Black card’s benefits with private jet and yacht charter services, extra perks on cruises and private golf club access.
One might think it doesn’t get more high-end than this – but it does.
Enter exclusive credit cards that you can apply to only if you get invited.
Invitation-only exclusive credit cards
As expensive as the Black and Gold Mastercard cards are, they’re not even the most prestigious out there.
There’s nothing more elite than a private club veiled in secrecy. Credit cards that are available by invitation only can certainly make you feel like the crème de la crème of the high society. Such products don’t advertise their terms and are available only to private banking clients of major banks.
One such product is the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card, available to some Chase private bank customers. The card is very similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve – offering the same perks, credits and rewards rates – but at a higher $595 annual fee. So if you don’t mind not having the same card former President Barack Obama may have carried, the Sapphire Reserve may be an excellent alternative for you.
Finally, no list of luxury credit cards is complete without the infamous Centurion Card from American Express, also known as the Amex Black Card. The card isn’t open to the public, and there are rumors you need to spend at least $350,000 per year across your current Amex cards to qualify. If you meet that requirement but haven’t received an invitation, you can now request to be considered. Once you’re invited, expect to pay an initiation fee of $10,000 and an annual fee of $5,000.
For that cost, you’ll get multiple automatic hotel and airline elite statuses, meet-and-greets at airports, access to Centurion lounges, exclusive wining and dining experiences and much, much more. And of course, you’ll be able to use a personal Centurion concierge that acts more like a personal assistant – making your life more comfortable and convenient.
It really doesn’t get more luxurious than that.
Is a luxury credit card worth it?
To determine if moving up to the next credit card level is a good idea, first decide whether an inexpensive rewards account will suffice. Many banks issue cards with no annual fee that also come with excellent customer service, heightened insurance and warranty protection and a decent load of enticing travel and shopping rewards.
Still want or need the extras only associated with elite accounts? Review the best fee-based rewards credit cards on the market, analyze the perks of each and compare them to their annual costs. Choose right and you’ll realize it’s possible to come out ahead if you maximize the benefits.
*All information about the Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by CreditCards.com and has not been reviewed by the issuer.