Here’s a glimpse of the higher-end of the credit card market.
There is a tremendous amount of variety in the credit card market, with products ranging from simple no-annual-fee credit cards with few frills, to credit cards with annual fees of several hundred dollars or more and the perks to justify the price tags. Here’s an overview of three of the higher-end credit cards in the market today — is one of them the right credit card for you?
The most exclusive credit card in the world
Known informally as the American Express “black card,” the Centurion® Card from American Express is considered by many to be the most exclusive and most feature-rich credit card in the world.
Available by invitation only and made out of anodized titanium, the Centurion® Card from American Express has a $2,500 annual fee per card, so if you want an additional card for your spouse, your annual fee is doubled. There is also a $7,500 one-time initiation fee. While the exact criteria to receive an invitation for the card aren’t made public, the consensus seems to be that you’ll need to spend and pay off at least $250,000 on other American Express credit cards annually.
The Centurion® card has no pre-set spending limit (like several other American Express charge cards), and there are reports of cardholders charging expensive purchases such as artwork, homes, and yachts to their accounts.
While the cardholder perks of the Centurion® Card from American Express are not officially made public, we do know a few. Cardholders get automatic status at several major airlines and hotel chains, such as Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion and Hilton HHonors Diamond status. Perhaps the most appealing benefit to cardholders is the Centurion® concierge service, which assists cardholders with requests ranging from the typical (dinner reservations, travel arrangements, and so on) to the bizarre.
The “junior black card” is more than enough for many wealthy individuals
Even if they can qualify for it, many wealthy consumers simply can’t justify the cost of the Centurion® card. This is especially true since the Platinum Card® from American Express offers many of the same benefits at a fraction of the cost.
With a $550 annual fee, the Platinum Card® from American Express offers benefits such as a $200 annual statement credit for airline incidentals, airport lounge access (including the Centurion® lounges), and elite status at certain hotel chains. Cardholders also get $200 in annual credits for Uber rides, given as a monthly credit, as well as a credit of up to $100 to reimburse the Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee. There’s also a concierge service, although they aren’t likely to jump through quite as many hoops as they would for Centurion® members.
Although a $550 annual fee is still expensive, it can be a justifiable cost for frequent travelers who use the benefits. For example, an individual membership to the Delta Sky Club airport lounges costs $495, so this benefit alone almost financially justifies the cost of the card — if you use it. When you add in the airline incidental credit, Uber credit, and global entry credit, it’s easy to see how some cardholders could get more than $550 of value out of the card.
Excellent perks at the finest hotels
For affluent consumers who frequently stay at luxury hotels, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card, which is issued by Chase, could be worth a look.
Cardholders receive automatic Gold Elite status for the first account year and can maintain their status by spending $10,000 on the card annually. Hotel benefits also include complementary upgrades to the Ritz-Carlton Club level three times per year, as well as a $100 hotel credit on paid stays of two nights or more. You’ll also earn five points per dollar on qualifying hotel stays, and two points per dollar on travel and restaurant charges.
Other benefits include a $300 annual travel credit, $100 savings on multi-passenger ticket purchases, access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, and Global Entry application fee reimbursement. With a $450 annual fee, the card is actually priced rather reasonably for a high-end credit card.
If none of these cards is right for you
Not everyone needs a high-end credit card like these — not even all wealthy consumers. For many people, a more moderately priced travel credit card or cash-back rewards credit card is more than sufficient for their needs.
It’s also worth mentioning that competition among credit card issuers has never been higher, and that situation has produced some of the best sign-up bonus offers in history. So if you’re in the market for a new credit card, you might be surprised at the generous offers you can find.
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