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.
The 5 Most Exclusive Credit Cards
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:
- 1X Membership Rewards point per dollar spent; 1.5X on purchases over $5,000
- 24/7 personal concierge program, which can get you tickets, reservations, and who knows what else
- Elite status at Delta Airlines and several hotel and car rental chains
- Access to Centurion and Priority Pass lounges, along with several other lounge brands
- Complimentary Equinox and CLEAR memberships
- Private Suite membership at LAX
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.
- 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides; 3X points per dollar spent on travel and dining; 1X on everything else
- $300 annual travel credit
- High-quality travel protections and insurance
- Visa Infinite benefits, which include 24/7 concierge services, hotel and car rental upgrades, Priority Pass access, and a $100 Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) application fee credit
As with most invite-only cards, we have few concrete details about this black piece of plastic from Citi. 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.
Dubai First Royale Mastercard
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.
Stratus Rewards Visa
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?)
The 3 Most Exclusive Credit Cards You Can Actually Apply For
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!)
- Introductory bonus: 100,000 bonus points for spending $6,000 in the first 6 months; 10X points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during the first 6 months
- Rewards: 5X points per dollar on flights booked through the airline and flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel (starting 1/1/21, on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year) ; 2X on other Amex Travel purchases; 1X on everything else
- Global Lounge Collection: Enroll for complimentary access to Priority Pass, Centurion, American Express International, Delta Sky Club, Escape, Airspace, Lufthansa, and Plaza Premium Lounges.
- Up to $200 in annual Uber Cash: Add your Platinum card to the Uber App to get up to $15 in Uber Cash per month, plus a bonus $20 in December; U.S. Eats orders and rides only.
- $200 hotel credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits each year for prepaid hotels booked through The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels & Resorts; must pay with the Platinum card.
- $300 Equinox credit: Pay with your Platinum card to get up to $300 in statement credits annually with Equinox (up to $25 per month), for Equinox All Access, Destination, E by Equinox, or Equinox+ membership fees.
- $240 digital entertainment credit: Pay with your Platinum card to get up to $240 in statement credits annually for digital entertainment (up to $20 per month), only for eligible purchases from Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times.
- CLEAR credit: Up to $179 in statement credits annually for CLEAR biometric security, enough for a membership.
- Uber Eats Pass: Get unlimited $0 delivery fees and 5% off orders at eligible restaurants for 12 months; must enroll by 12/31/21. Taxes and service fees may apply and do not count toward the order minimum. Eats Pass will start auto-billing 12 months from enrollment, at then-current monthly rate. Learn more.
- Uber VIP status: Add your Platinum card to the Uber App to get Uber VIP status where available.
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit: A statement credit for the application fee of either Global Entry ($100 every four years) or TSA PreCheck ($85 once every four and a half years)
- Complimentary elite hotel statuses: Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
- The Hotel Collection: A $100 hotel credit and room upgrades when available for every eligible two-night stay
- Fine Hotels & Resorts Program: Daily breakfast for two, room upgrades when available, amenities valued at $100, and more at eligible properties
- $100 annual Saks credit: Up to $100 in statement credits each year for Saks Fifth Avenue: $50 from January through June, and $50 from July through December
- Global Dining Access by Resy: Resy provides access to exclusive reservations and dining experiences.
- Point transfer: To a selection of airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Shopping and travel protections: Purchase Protection; Extended Warranty; Return Protection; Baggage Insurance Plan; Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance; Trip Delay Insurance; Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
- No foreign transaction fee
- Annual fee: $695
Enrollment required for select benefits; terms and limitations apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees)
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.
- Annual fee: $550
- Introductory bonus: 60,000 bonus points for spending $4,000 in the first 3 months after account opening
- Rewards: 10X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on Lyft rides, 3X points per dollar on travel (after using the full $300 travel credit) and dining; 1X on everything else
- Perks: $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass access, 50% bonus when redeeming through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal, transfer points to partner airlines and hotels, primary car rental insurance; $60 annual DoorDash credit and membership
- Purchase APR: 16.99%-23.99% Variable
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:
- Annual fee: $995
- Introductory bonus: N/A
- Rewards: 1 point per dollar spent, redeemable for $0.02 each for cash back or airfare
- Perks: 100% point bonus when redeemed for airfare or cash back, $200 annual airline credit, $100 Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) application fee credit, concierge service, Priority Pass access, luxury gifts and subscription to LUXURY MAGAZINE
- Purchase APR: 14.99% Variable
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).
Are You Ready for an Elite Credit Card?
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What credit cards are the hardest to get?
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:
- Centurion® Card from American Express (Review): Invite-only (but you can request an invite), no clear financial requirements, $10,000 initiation fee, $5,000 annual fee; perks include a meager rewards program, airport lounge access, and a legendary concierge
- J.P. Morgan Reserve Card (Review): Invite-only, must reportedly have at least $10 million managed by J.P. Morgan Private Bank to receive an invite, $595 annual fee; perks include travel and dining rewards, a $300 travel credit, and Visa Infinite benefits
- Citi Chairman: Invite-only, must reportedly use Citigroup’s private bank to qualify, reported $500 annual fee; rumored perks may include a $300,000 credit limit, airport lounge access, and concierge service
- Dubai First Royale Mastercard: Invite-only, must reportedly live in the UAE and have a high net worth, reported 7000 UAE Dirham (roughly $2,000 or so) annual fee; perks include no preset spending limit and a “lifestyle manager”
- Stratus Rewards Visa: Invite-only, requires an invitation from a current cardholder or a Stratus Rewards partner, reportedly requires $100,000+ per year in annual spending, $1,500 annual fee; perks include rewards that can be redeemed for private flights and the rumored ability to pool rewards with other cardholders
What’s the most expensive credit card?
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).
What credit cards do millionaires and billionaires use?
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.