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The world’s most exclusive luxury credit cards tend to be invite-only, strikingly designed, and exclusive to big spenders with millions of dollars in assets. But there are also several premium credit cards that look sharp and provide surprisingly valuable luxury benefits without such extreme restrictions.
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In movies about the other half — rockstars, mobsters, CEOs — there’s often a dinner scene at some low-lit restaurant with mahogany tables and white napkins. There are bottles of wine, massive steaks, and tuxedo-d waiters.
And then, at the end, there’s a credit card… Which one, though? Which pieces of plastic (or metal) do people with Rolls-Royces roll with?
In all likelihood, probably one of the cards below — the most exclusive credit cards available.
These prestigious credit cards provide an immediate signal of your status and wealth.
Most are available only by invitation, and only if you meet certain requirements (like, say, being ultra rich). They come with top-tier perks, including personal concierge services, and top-tier annual fees, some as high as $5,000.
While these cards might not be available to most of us, it’s still fun to imagine the lifestyles that go with them. If you’re looking for a baller rewards credit card you can actually apply for, jump down to that section below.
For now, we’ll focus on the most elite credit cards around.
The most famous of the bunch is the Centurion Card from American Express, commonly known as the Amex Black Card.
You won’t find details or an application online; instead, Amex must invite you to apply. To get noticed, according to online gossip, you’ll need to charge between $250,000 and $450,000 per year on your current Amex cards. (A mere $20,000 per month!)
But, as of April 2020, you can also get Amex’s attention by requesting an invite to apply, if you’re already an Amex cardholder.
After receiving your coveted invitation, you’ll pay an “initiation fee” of $10,000 in the U.S., plus an annual fee of $5,000.
Then you’ll qualify for a slew of benefits, including:
Wondering what that concierge can do? There are reports that an Amex employee traveled by motorcycle to the Dead Sea to snag a handful of sand, all because a cardholder’s child wanted it for a school project.
You might know this exclusive credit card as the Palladium card. Though it still includes palladium in its composition, the bank recently rebranded this card to the “Reserve.”
To snag an invite, you must allegedly have at least $10 million in holdings with J.P. Morgan’s private bank. (Being President Barack Obama doesn’t hurt either.) The card’s annual fee is $595.
As with most invite-only cards, we have few concrete details about this black piece of plastic. Most sources say you must use Citigroup’s private bank to be eligible. To be honest, it’s probably one of those things where if you have to ask, you don’t qualify.
Rumored perks include a $300,000 credit limit, access to members-only events, a 24/7 concierge (of course), and airport lounge access. Its annual fee is supposedly only $500 — a bargain compared to the others.
No list of the most exclusive credit cards would be complete without the Dubai First Royale Mastercard, which is trimmed in gold and has a .235-carat diamond on the front. According to the bank’s website, it’s “desired by many but attainable by only a select few.”
To get invited, you may need to live in the UAE, and you probably need a high net worth. You’re also welcome if you’re a member of the UAE royal family. While it touts its lack of a pre-set spending limit, the only listed benefit is a “lifestyle manager” who acts as your personal concierge, getting you, well, whatever you can think of.
As one of the bank’s executives promised: “You ask for the moon and we try and get it.” The initiation fee is reportedly 7,000 UAE Dirham, which equates to roughly $2,000 U.S.
If you don’t have your own private jet (you pauper!), this “white card” might be the one for you. It’s rumored you must spend at least $100,000 per year to nab an invite. Once you’re in, the annual fee is $1,500 — and you can redeem your rewards for flights on private jets or other charter flights.
Another interesting feature, according to rumor, is that you can pool your points with friends, meaning you could all chip in on a private jet ride together. (P.S. Where do we find friends like that?)
Still waiting for your invite to one of the cards above? (Don’t worry, so are we.)
In the meantime, consider applying for one of these luxury credit cards. While prestigious, they also welcome applications from the general public. Upon approval for your card of choice, you’ll enjoy a solid rewards program and a variety of helpful perks and travel benefits.
So it’s not quite black, but it’s still pretty shiny. The Amex Platinum card comes with a range of travel perks — and unlike the Black card, you don’t have to wait for an invitation.
It earns points at most hotels and airlines, and comes with a handy $200 in Uber credits per calendar year. It also has excellent airport lounge access: You’ll be able to use more than 1,000 lounges in 120 countries, including Centurion and Priority Pass, and Delta Sky Clubs when flying that airline. (This is almost as good as the lounge access provided by the Amex Black card!)
Deciding between this card and the next one? Here’s a head-to-head breakdown of the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum.
Not only will this metal travel card turn heads, it’ll also earn phenomenal rewards. It earns 3X points per dollar on travel and dining, which is one of the highest rates around. It also comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, and a $300 travel statement credit that will likely reduce your realized annual fee to just $250.
You can’t deny this is one of the prettiest cards available: It’s made of stainless steel and plated with 24-carat gold. Its looks, however, may not make up for its outrageous annual fee. If you’re looking for a luxury card that pulls its weight, we’d recommend one of the two cards mentioned above.
Still want to go for gold? Here’s what you need to know about this card:
The Mastercard® Gold Card™ is the highest-end card offered by Luxury Card, which offers three metal rewards cards. The other two are the Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review) and the Mastercard® Titanium Card™ (Review).
While the cards in the previous section aren’t only for the likes of Lady Gaga, they still have stringent application requirements.
To qualify, you’ll need excellent credit scores and a strong income. So, before applying, check your credit scores and credit reports to make sure you’re a good candidate. You can also see if you’re pre-approved for any credit card offers (you may find a luxury card waiting for you to apply!). If your scores aren’t yet up to par, build your credit with other credit cards first.
Since these luxury cards also come with high annual fees, run the numbers to ensure you’ll get enough value out of your chosen card.
And no matter which of the best credit cards you apply for, always use it responsibly. You’ll never get to Black-card status if you’re deep in Platinum-card debt.
Even more prestigious than your everyday premium cards, a select few credit cards are available only by invite to the richest of the rich.
The hardest-to-get credit cards include:
The Centurion® Card from American Express (Review) is generally considered the most expensive credit card; it charges a $10,000 initiation fee and a $5,000 annual fee. It’s only available by invitation.
The Mastercard® Gold Card™ (Review) is the priciest card that anyone can apply to thanks to an annual fee of $995. But while the Gold card catches the eye with its shiny metal surface and heavy weight, you’ll likely benefit more from a lower-priced premium card, like the feature-rich Chase Sapphire Reserve® (Review) or The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review).
Several notable figures known for their wealth avoid credit cards altogether. But, naturally, that doesn’t apply to every rich person. If you’re using your credit cards responsibly and paying them off monthly, why wouldn’t you jump at the chance to earn rewards for things you’re going to buy regardless?
It’s easy to assume that most rich folks stick to storied luxury cards, like the Amex Black Card. And in many cases, that’s true. Take billionaire investor Liu Yiqian for example. In 2015, he used his Centurion card to purchase a single painting — Amedeo Modigliani’s “Reclining Nude” — for the gargantuan price of $170.4 million.
It’s unlikely that you’d be able to charge a purchase of that caliber to a normal credit card, even if you’re fairly well off. So exclusive cards that cater to the world’s elite are particularly useful for individuals with millions to throw around at the drop of a hat.
But then there are people like social media expert Natalie Zfat, who opt for more attainable premium credit cards. While Zfat once had the Centurion card, she eventually dropped down to the American Express Platinum, noting how it had “all the benefits she needed” (its benefits include airport lounge access, free elite hotel statuses, and various statement credits) for a fraction of the price.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.
Susan is a freelance writer who specializes in turning complex financial topics into engaging and accessible articles. She's been writing about personal finance for six years, and was previously the senior writer at The Penny Hoarder and a staff writer at Student Loan Hero. Her personal finance writing has also appeared in publications like MarketWatch and Lifehacker.
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