15 Best Premium Credit Cards of 2019

15 Best Premium Credit Cards of 2019

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Updated: May 30, 2019
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines and are updated regularly.

People like premium — and we’ll happily pay extra for a premium experience. This applies to everything from the food we eat to our trusty mobile devices to the credit cards we use to pay for it all.

Indeed, despite charging annual fees in the hundreds of dollars, the best premium credit cards still boast cardholders in the millions. Of course, a look at the field of premium card options reveals how these perk-packed payment cards attract cardholders who want a little something extra from their credit and charge cards.

Want elite hotel status without staying a night? Want to earn an obscene amount of points on those requisition business trips? Want a travel concierge who can make your next trip extra special? There’s a premium card designed to meet — and exceed — your expectations.

Overall | Travel | Airline Miles | Hotel | Low Fee | Business | Business Airline & Hotel | FAQs

The Overall Top Premium Card

Although finding the best card will mostly depend on your individual needs and wants, one card really does stand out from the premium crowd as being a great pick for nearly any premium cardholder: the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. To start, this card has two broad bonus rewards categories — dining and travel — that can be very valuable for myriad cardholder types and spending habits.

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.24% - 26.24% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

Of course, while this card’s rewards are great, all of the premium cards on this list also come with some pretty compelling rewards. And most premium cards offer the basic perks of airport lounge access and Global Entry credit. So, what makes this card better than the competition?

For one thing, this card earns Ultimate Rewards® points, a currency that is often rated as the best among transferable points. The Ultimate Rewards® program has over a dozen hotel and airline loyalty program partners, and the points transfer at a 1:1 ratio for most partners. This has the potential to unlock significant value.

Even if transferring isn’t your thing, Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders can redeem points directly through the Chase booking portal for a flat rate of 1.5¢ per point. This allows cardholders to use points for everything from hotels to rental cars to theme park tickets — with a base value higher than is offered by other premium cards.

Screenshot of Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a premium credit card bursting with benefits.

Additionally, this card has statement credit that is actually useful to nearly every cardholder. Where other cards offer barely useful airline fee credits, this card comes with a flexible $300 travel credit that can apply to a huge range of travel-related expenses, including airfare and hotel stays. This brings the effective annual fee of this card down to a pretty manageable level (for a premium card).

And even the cardholder benefits offered by this card take it a little bit further than much of the competition. Cardholders receive multiple travel insurances, including trip delay or cancellation coverage, as well as primary rental car insurance (pro tip: most cards offer secondary insurance, which is not the same).

Top Premium Travel Cards

The type of travel you do will have a huge impact on which premium travel credit card will offer you the most value. For example, frequent travelers may value certain perks, like airport lounge access, higher than would the casual traveler. As such, we’ve compared the three top premium travel cards to provide options for travelers of all types.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.24% - 26.24% Variable
$450
Good/Excellent

We waxed poetic about this card in the previous section, and now here it is in the prime spot again. That’s because this card is the most accessible of the premium travel cards, offering good value to nearly any kind of traveler, from the daily flyer to the twice-a-year vacationer.

Users receive 3X Ultimate Rewards® per dollar on travel and dining — both in the U.S. and abroad — and those points can be transferred to tons of partners at good ratios, or redeemed directly for travel a comparatively high flat rate.

The card’s statement credit can be used toward a range of travel expenses, including rental cars and parking fees, making it useful to most cardholders and making the card’s high annual fee seem a lot less insurmountable. Plus, get Priority Pass airport lounge access, multiple types of travel insurance, primary rental car insurance, and access to exclusive Chase offers.

3. Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most iconic of the premium travel rewards cards, and for good reason. Frequent travelers can get a lot out of this card, and not just because of its 5X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on flights booked with the airlines and on flights or hotels booked through amextravel.com.

Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points per $1 on eligible flights and hotel stays booked through amextravel.com
  • Receive up to $200 annual airline fee credit
  • Pay a $550 annual fee

Amex Platinum cardholders don’t get a blanket travel credit, but they do receive an annual $200 airline fee credit, a monthly Uber credit, and the standard Global Entry credit. Of course, many of this card’s followers actually love the Amex Platinum as much for its secondary benefits as they do for its rewards and credits.

For example, Amex Platinum cardholders have the most comprehensive airport lounge access, including the commonly offered Priority Pass lounges plus Amex’s popular Centurion lounges and Delta’s Sky Club® lounges. Cardholders also receive free Gold status with both the Hilton Honors and the Marriott Bonvoy rewards programs.

4. Citi Prestige® Credit Card

The Citi Prestige® Credit Card got a makeover in early 2019 that makes it a great pick for family vacations. The card’s updated rewards include 5X ThankYou® Points per dollar on air travel and an industry-highest 5X points per dollar at restaurants, plus 3X points on hotel and cruise line purchases.

Citi Prestige® Credit Card

  • Earn 5X ThankYou® points per $1 spent on dining and air travel, 3X points on cruise line purchases
  • Receive annual $250 travel credit
  • Pay $495 annual fee

While the Prestige’s rewards certainly help it stand out, the card’s truly unique feature is its Fourth Night Free benefit. Twice a year, cardholders can book a hotel stay through Citi of four nights or longer and receive the fourth night free, automatically. And save even more on that vacation by taking advantage of the card’s $250 annual travel credit, which, like the credit for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, can be used for a wide range of travel-related expenses.

The Fourth Night Free benefit is obviously the main cardholder perk, but the Prestige also has a full range of premium card benefits, including some of the better travel insurance coverage available from a credit card. Additionally, Citi is one of the few issuers to still offer price protection coverage, which it makes simple through its Price Rewind program.

Honorable Mentions: The Amex Gold Card is a good pick for the vacation traveler who wants to earn Membership Rewards® points with everyday purchases like dining and groceries, plus 3X points per dollar on flights. Customers who already have an account with U.S. Bank may find the U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Credit Card an interesting travel pick, and consumers in range of a City National Bank may find the Crystal® Visa Infinite® Credit Card with Rewards worth investigating.

Top Premium Airline Miles Cards

Frequent flyer programs have long been designed to offer a premium travel experience for the airlines’ most frequent guests, but you no longer need to spend the bulk of your time on a plane to get a top-tier travel experience with your favorite airline. Co-branded airline credit cards not only allow cardholders to earn frequent flyer miles, but can also unlock extra perks and benefits.

This is especially true for the premium co-branded airline credit cards. These cards all offer branded lounge access — a perk that by itself can make up for their annual fees — free checked bags, and other useful perks that can make your travel experience more luxurious.

5. Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

American Airlines loyalists should explore the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®, a premium card that offers basic rewards — 2X AAdvantage miles per dollar on American Airlines purchases, and 1X miles on everything else — but lots of perks, including a signup bonus worth 10,000 Elite Qualifying Miles.

 Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®

  • Admirals Club membership with lounge access
  • Priority boarding, early priority check-in, free checked bag, inflight food and beverage discount
  • Pay $450 annual fee

The marquee feature of the AAdvantage® Executive card is the lounge access through membership in the Admirals Club, which American Airlines values at $650 a year. Cardholders also receive Global Entry credit, a free checked bag on domestic American Airlines flights, priority boarding, VIP check-in and airport screening (where available), and a 25% in-flight discount.

6. Delta Reserve® Credit Card

Regular Delta flyers can use the Delta Reserve® Credit Card to upgrade their experience, including by using the card to earn 2X SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1X miles on everything else. The signup bonus can give you enough miles for a flight, plus get you on your way to elite status with Medallion® Qualification Miles.

Delta Reserve® Credit Card

  • Delta Sky Club® lounge access
  • Annual companion certificate, priority boarding, free checked bag, inflight food and beverage discount
  • Pay $450 annual fee

Lounge access can turn a layover into a premium experience, and the Delta Reserve card comes complete with Delta Sky Club® membership for access to dozens of exclusive lounges around the world. Additionally, users can get their first checked bag free on Delta flights, enjoy priority boarding, and take advantage of in-flight savings.

7. United MileagePlus® Club Card

Frequent United flyers may find the United MileagePlus® Club Card worth adding to their wallets, and for more than the 2X United miles per dollar on United purchases and 1.5X miles per dollar on everything else. The signup bonus — worth up to 50,000 miles — is also just icing on the cake for some cardholders.

 United MileagePlus® Club Card

  • United Club membership with lounge access
  • Priority check-in, priority boarding, first two checked bags free
  • Pay $450 annual fee

As with the other premium co-branded airline cards, the key feature of the United MileagePlus® Club Card is the free membership to the United Club branded lounge network, which has a $550 value according to United. Other potentially valuable features include Premier Access® travel services for priority check-in and boarding, Premier upgrades on eligible award tickets, and elite status with Hertz.

Honorable Mentions: All the major airlines — and a number of smaller airlines — have co-branded credit cards, so choose the airline you fly the most to ensure you get full value out of the card’s offerings. If you’re not loyal to a specific airline but still want a premium travel experience, try the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or any of our other premium travel cards.

Top Premium Hotel Cards

Just as way frequent flyer programs reward loyal airline travelers, hotel loyalty programs can offer valuable benefits for regular visitors. Co-branded hotel credit cards provide ways to not only earn extra hotel points — which can be redeemed for free stays — but they can also offer extra perks that can enhance your stay.

Of course, the very best perks and benefits come from the premium co-branded cards. These perks can include elite status with the brand’s loyalty program, annual statement credits, and free stays just for being a cardholder.

8. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Despite its high annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card can be a very lucrative card for regular Hilton visitors. This starts with an impressive 14X Hilton Honors bonus points per dollar spent on Hilton purchases, 7X points per dollar on flights, car rentals, and dining, and 3X points per dollar on everything else. And don’t forget about that huge six-figure signup bonus.

. Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

  • Diamond Status with Hilton Honors
  • Annual free weekend night reward, $250 Hilton Resort credit, $100 Hilton on-property credit & $250 airline fee credit
  • Pay $450 annual fee

Arguably the most valuable perk of holding a Hilton Honors Aspire card is the automatic Diamond elite status — the highest tier possible in the Hilton Honors program, and one that unlocks free breakfast at most properties. Cardholders also receive several annual statement credits, including a $100 on-property credit, a $250 Hilton Resort credit, and a $250 credit for airline fees.

9. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

The Marriott loyalty program has undergone a lot of changes since the incorporation of the Starwood program, including a new name and new co-branded cards. The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is the new top-tier card, offering the best perks of the bunch, beginning with offering 6X Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar on Marriott purchases, 3X points on restaurants and flights, and 2X points on everything else. Plus, new cardholders can find signup bonuses worth up to 100,000 points.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card

  • Gold Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy
  • Annual free night reward worth up to 50,000 points & annual $300 Marriott statement credit
  • Pay $450 annual fee

The highlight for many cardholders will be the automatic Gold Elite status that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card. Status doesn’t include breakfast, but it does provide late checkout when available and room-available upgrades. The $300 annual Marriott statement credit can cover that on-site breakfast, and the annual free night award can be redeemed at any property up to 50,000 points.

Honorable Mentions: All of the major hotel chains offer co-branded credit cards, but few are quite as premium as our picks above. However, the lower-fee Hilton Honors Ascend Card from American Express and the status-granting IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card from Chase are both worth a look if you like those brands.

Top Premium Cards with Low(er) Annual Fees

As their cardholders can likely attest, the top-tier premium cards pack in a lot of value — and they need to, considering that these premium cards have an average annual fee in the $450 to $550 range. But, do you really need to fork over hundreds in fees just to feel like you’re getting a premium credit card experience?

Not necessarily.

The cards in this section offer a number of great cardholder benefits, from valuable rewards to travel insurance, but they do so while charging annual fees under the $100 mark, making them much more affordable for the typical cardholder. You won’t get some of the more exclusive perks at this price point — there’s no lounge access, for instance — but the perks you do get can easily make up for these lower annual fees.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

One of the best rewards cards on the market, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card has a manageable annual fee while still offering lots of benefits, including 2X Ultimate Rewards® points on a wide variety of travel and dining purchases.

Points can be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to many hotel and airline partners, or redeemed for a flat 1.25¢ per point value toward travel through Chase. Cardholders also get trip delay and cancellation coverage, extended warranty protection, and primary rental car insurance.

11. Citi Premier Card

The Citi Premier Card is a mid-tier card with rewards that can compete with even some premium cards, offering 3X ThankYou® points per dollar on travel purchases — including gas, which few travel cards do — as well as double points on dining and entertainment.

Citi Premier Card

  • Earn 3X points per $1 spent on eligible travel purchases, including gas stations
  • Earn 2X points per $1 spent on dining out and entertainment
  • Pay no annual fee the first year, then $95

ThankYou® points are transferable to a number of loyalty program partners, including more than a dozen airlines. Additionally, cardholders can enjoy a range of secondary benefits like price protection through Citi Price Rewind, trip cancellation and delay insurance, and baggage delay coverage.

Honorable Mentions: The rewards card market is pretty well saturated with modestly priced cards that are worth a look. Some of the best options include the redesigned Amex Gold Card, which offers 4X points per dollar on dining and groceries, the cash back earning Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card, and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card with unlimited miles and a Global Entry credit.

Top Premium Business Cards

When chosen wisely, a quality business credit card is both good business — keeping your business expenses separate from personal expenses help with clean accounting — as well as a way to earn valuable perks and rewards. The field of premium business cards is limited, but we’ve found a couple of top-quality cards that offer highly competitive purchase rewards in useful categories, as well as providing valuable cardholder benefits.

BUSINESS CARD RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Earn 3 points per $1 on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year
  • Earn 1 point per $1 on all other purchases - with no limit to the amount you can earn
  • Points are worth 25% more when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • Redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards and more - your points don't expire as long as your account is open
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.24% - 23.24% Variable
$95
Good/Excellent

This card is on many a list of the best business cards for many reasons, not the least of which is its broad bonus rewards categories that offer 3X Ultimate Rewards® points per dollar on travel, shipping, internet, and advertising purchases. Plus, cardholders enjoy travel and purchase benefits such as trip cancellation and interruption insurance and primary rental car insurance.

13. American Express Business Platinum Card®

The American Express Business Platinum Card® is much like its consumer counterpart, such as earning 5X Membership Rewards® points per dollar on hotel and airline purchases made through amextravel.com. The Business Platinum also offers an additional 50% points bonus on purchases of $5,000 or more.

American Express Business Platinum Card®

  • Earn 5X points per $1 spent on flights and hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • Earn 1.5X points per $1 on purchases $5,000 and up
  • Pay $595 annual fee

Cardholders receive access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes entry to Delta Sky Clubs, Priority Pass lounges, and Amex Centurion lounges around the world. Users also get Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors elite status, an annual airline fee credit, up to $200 in annual Dell credits, and access to the Business Platinum Travel Service.

Honorable Mentions: Other than the cards above — and the high-earning Amex Business Gold Rewards Card — few truly premium business credit cards are currently offered. You can still get a lot of perks from the mid-tier cards, however, including Chase’s no-fee Ink Business Cash℠ Credit Card, the flexible Amex Blue Business Plus Credit Card, and the U.S. Bank Business Select Rewards Card.

Top Premium Business Airline & Hotel Cards

Frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs were tailor-made for business travelers, and it can be quite simple to earn elite status with these programs simply from your regular business travel. However, a number of the largest hotel and airline brands offer co-branded credit cards that can help you unlock extra perks without needing to spend months in a plane or hotel room.

As is the case with premium business cards in general, there are fewer premium co-branded business cards than there are co-branded consumer cards. However, a few of the most popular brands do offer benefit-laden co-branded cards that can provide perks like elite status and free upgrades.

14. Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express

The high-priced Delta Reserve® for Business Credit Card from American Express has many of the same features as its consumer counterpart, such as offering 2X SkyMiles per dollar on Delta purchases and providing a signup bonus that includes both SkyMiles and Medallion Qualification Miles to help you reach elite status faster.

Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card

  • Delta Sky Club® lounge access
  • Annual companion certificate, priority boarding, free checked bag, inflight food and beverage discount
  • Pay $450 annual fee

Likely the most coveted perk of the Delta Reserve Business card is the included Delta Sky Club® membership, which allows access to Delta Sky Club lounges across the globe. For cardholders who would otherwise buy Sky Club membership on their own, this perk can be worth hundreds of dollars. The annual companion certificate, free checked bag, and inflight discounts can also help this card earn its (expensive) keep.

15. Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card

After incorporating the Starwood brand into its portfolio, Marriott has over 5,700 properties around the globe, making it one of the largest hotel brands in the world. The Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card is ideal for business travelers who enjoy Marriott properties, offering an easy way to earn loyalty points with 6X Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar on Marriott purchases.

Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express® Card

  • Silver Elite Status with Marriott Bonvoy
  • Annual free night reward worth up to 35,000 points & annual $300 Marriott statement credit
  • Pay $125 annual fee

Although it doesn’t come with free breakfast, the complimentary Silver Elite status offered to cardholders still comes with perks like room-available upgrades. Cardholders can also take advantage of free premium on-property internet access and receive elite night credits each year.

Honorable Mentions: The field of premium co-branded airline and hotel cards are fairly limited — mostly to the cards above, plus, perhaps, the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express with its $195 annual fee. Other less expensive co-branded cards to consider include the Hilton Honors Business Card with its complimentary Gold Elite status, and the CitiBusiness® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Mastercard® for free checked bags.

Which Credit Card is the Hardest to Get?

This question has two types of answer, one that’s very generalized, and one that’s fairly specific. Right off the bat, the hardest credit cards for anyone to get will be those that require an invitation just to apply.

The cards that fall into this elite category are also some of the most talked-about picks, including the American Express Centurion card, better known as The Black Card, which has long been the poster-card for exclusivity. Invite-only cards typically require extremely high — think six figures — income and spending levels just to get the invite, and they tend to charge annual fees in the thousands of dollars.

So, that’s the general answer. More specifically, the hardest cards to get will depend on your personal credit history. That’s because the primary factor in whether you’re approved for a given credit card will come down to your credit profile; the better your credit scores, the easier it will be to get nearly any credit card.

In this respect, the hardest credit cards to get will be cards targeted toward a higher credit demographic than you currently fit. If you have a poor or limited credit history, this means most prime unsecured credit cards.

On the other hand, if you have excellent credit, then few cards will be hard to get. The only exceptions here will be cards from issuers with specific restrictions on the number or frequency of new credit cards. For example, Chase has in place its 5/24 Rule, which can mean automatic rejection for a new Chase card if you’ve opened more than five new cards in the last 24 months.

Which Travel Card Has the Most Rewards?

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or a casual traveler, maximizing the rewards you earn for your travel purchases can go a long way toward paying for your next trip. Below, we’ve compared the rewards rates for four popular types of travel expenses to give you a broad overview of which card offers the most travel rewards.

Travel Credit Card Rewards

Of course, it’s not quite as simple as choosing the card with the highest rewards rate. One of the most challenging aspects of picking the best credit card is that there is no standard value for points and miles. Each rewards program has its own structure, and the value of any given rewards currency can vary based on how you redeem the points or miles.

As a result, purely looking at the rate at which you will earn rewards for your purchases doesn’t give you a fair comparison of the various programs. You also need to look at the redemption options you’re most likely to use to assign a realistic value to the different rewards currencies.

For example, some rewards currencies can be redeemed at a flat rate directly for travel without worrying about transfers; that rate can vary widely between programs — and even between cards. Similarly, each of the main transferable points programs has its own list of transfer partners; if you prefer a certain partner more than others, you may value that particular currency higher than other rewards points.

Are High-End Cards Worth the Annual Fee?

Browsing the selection of premium credit cards, it becomes very apparent that cardholders who want a premium card experience are expected to pay — a lot — for that privilege. For the typical cardholder, the idea of paying an annual fee of $400 or more can seem downright ridiculous — but, can it be worthwhile?

The answer is, demonstrably, yes. For the millions of premium cardholders out there, a big annual fee is a small price to pay for the benefits of their favorite premium card. And we’re talking about more than simple rewards (though the best premium cards certainly have plenty of those to offer).

Indeed, while most premium cards certainly offer higher-than-average rewards rates, particularly on travel expenses, what really separates premium credit cards from the rest of the market are the secondary perks and cardholder benefits that those high fees provide. For users who can make the most of them, those benefits can easily make up for a pricey annual fee.

For example, a very common feature of premium travel cards is airport lounge access — a perk that typically costs $20 to $60 a visit. If you travel just once a month and use an airport lounge each trip, you could be looking at $240 to $720 a year in savings with the right premium travel card’s lounge perks.

Premium Card Perks & Benefits

Other cardholder benefits can be even more valuable when used wisely. The primary rental car insurance offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can save you up to $50 a day, depending on the vehicle and the rental agency. And, trip delay and cancellation coverage, a common premium card benefit, can be worth thousands of dollars in what would otherwise be unreimbursed travel expenses (and the peace of mind can be downright priceless).

And, of course, most premium credit cards have savings built right in — in the form of annual or monthly statement credits. These credits can be broad, applying to any travel purchase, or they can be very narrow, such as the common airline fee credit that applies to things like baggage fees and inflight purchases.

To see this from a mathematical perspective, let’s look at the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, which charges a $450 annual fee. Without much work, any cardholder who travels enough to be interested in the Chase Sapphire Reserve® should have no trouble using up the entire $300 travel statement credit.

This drops the effective annual cost down to $150. The rest can be made up with just two trips that include airport lounge visits — say, worth $40 each — and rental cars — for which you don’t need the optional $35 insurance. With just three card perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® essentially pays for itself — and that’s before you start adding up the rewards from 3X points on travel and dining.

Which Credit Card is the Most Prestigious or Exclusive?

While most of this article has focused on premium credit cards that are available to the actual public, there’s actually a whole world of ultra-premium credit cards that are reserved for the richest — and spendiest — cardholders in the world.

These prestigious, exclusive cards are often invitation-only charge cards that have no pre-set spending limits. They also tend to sport precious-metal compositions, dedicated concierges — and annual fees that make even the Amex Platinum look affordable.

Centurion® Card from American Express

The Centurion® Card — better known to the world as The Black Card — has long been the go-to standard for exclusive credit cards thanks to its invitation-only application policy that reportedly requires an annual American Express credit card spend of at least $450,000.

American Express Centurion Card

As one might expect from this top-tier card, nothing about getting — or keeping — the card comes cheap. The one-time initiation fee is supposed to be a whopping $7,500, a figure that almost makes the $2,500 annual fee seem reasonable in comparison.

While other cards with impressive annual fees offer equally impressive rewards, this card isn’t about the purchase rewards (you only earn 1X point per dollar on most purchases and 1.5X points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more). No, it’s the perks that make this card a keeper for most users, including benefits like elite status with a number of hotel and airline brands, extensive airport lounge access, and special event invites.

Dubai First Royale Card

The Dubai First Royale Card is a card has the same disdain for understatement as the city from which it is issued, instead opting to wear its prestige on its proverbial sleeve — its gold-trimmed, 0.235-carat diamond-encrusted sleeve. (Because what else would UAE royalty use to make purchases?)

Dubai First Royale Card

This invite-only card is not for the faint of heart — or wallet. It’s reserved for the ultra-high-worth sect that is too rich to even care about regular credit card benefits. While it’s been suggested that the Dubai First Royale Card earns cash back purchase rewards, the advertised card perks focus on service, rather than rewards.

Instead of lounge access and airline fee waivers — as if Dubai First Royale cardholders would be caught flying commercial — Dubai First Royale Card users enjoy personalized service from a dedicated relationship manager (no waiting on hold here), as well as a Royale Lifestyle Manager, who is basically the ultimate concierge. Not bad for a card that charges an annual fee of only $2,000.

J.P. Morgan Reserve Card

The J.P. Morgan Reserve Card, previously called the Palladium Card, is perhaps one of the most affordable of the invite-only cards, available to the high-net-worth denizens of the Chase Private Bank program. Unlike the four-figure annual fees charged by most cards that require an invite, the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card has a modest annual fee of just $595.

J.P. Morgan Reserve

While the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card’s annual fee is significantly lower than that charged by its invite-only brethren — there may be a reason for that. For all practical intents and purposes, the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card shares the same exact rewards and benefits as the lower-priced — and available to everyone — Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

So, what makes the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card stand out? Besides the application limitations, the marquee feature of the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card is its composition. The card is made out of palladium, a rare chemical element typically used in catalytic converters. (For everyone keeping score at home, palladium has a higher price, per ounce, than either platinum or gold.)

Get a Card That Stands Out From the Crowd

When given a choice, most of us simply prefer the premium experience — and we’re willing to pay for it. This applies as much to up-sizing our popcorn for 50¢ more as it does to paying $450 a year for a premium credit card. After all, what’s the point of working so hard if you can’t splurge a little to make your life more premium?

For some folks, premium credit cards may be about the prestige — let’s face it, we’re all going to look twice when you swipe that diamond-studded Dubai First Royale Card. But having a fancy card in your wallet isn’t the only reason to get a premium credit card.

These top-tier cards are often full of premier perks and valuable benefits that can more than make up for their ginormous annual fees — assuming you make use of them. You should perform an annual inventory of your credit cards to make sure every card is pulling its own weight — and this goes double for beefy premium cards with high-dollar annual fees.