The 5 Best Premium Credit Cards

By Jason Steele. Last updated 17 March 2014. 10 comments

Your credit card doesn't just have to be a card; it can also be the key to unlocking a hidden world of priority access and premium service. At one time, these services were reserved for the truly wealthy people that some now refer to as “the 1%”. Today, banks are eager to offer their most exclusive products to customers with good credit, if not extraordinary spending power.

While these cards do provide some pretty excellent perks, you should never get them just for the sake of prestige. But if you use credit cards responsibly and are already paying out of pocket for the free services they provide, they can be financially worthwhile. (See also: Best Credit Cards for People With Excellent Credit)

1. The Platinum Card® from American Express

credit cardIn my opinion, American Express has made a name for itself by offering premium products in conjunction with unsurpassed customer service. While their secretive, top-of-the line Centurion Card is only offered by invitation to select high-net-worth individuals, the rest of us can apply for their Platinum Card (review here), which costs a fraction of the price and may be almost as good. Platinum Card holders will enjoy an impressive array of benefits too long to list here, but the highlights are:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
     
  • With the Platinum Card, you can receive up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees like checked bags fees, flight-change fees, and snacks.
     
  • To receive the statement credit, you need to enroll and select a qualifying airline.
     
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your Platinum Card.
     
  • Platinum Card Concierge is your personal resource to help secure a last minute restaurant reservation, or shop for a hard-to-find gift.
     
  • Terms & restrictions apply.

Finally, American Express continually tries to surpass itself with its personal concierge service that provides a variety of services, including the arrangement of travel, dining, and other purchases. Like other American Express products, cardholders will earn Membership Rewards points that can be used for cash back, gift cards, or exchanged for airline miles. On the downside, there is a $450 annual fee for this card, and American Express is less commonly accepted than Visa or Mastercard. Also, American Express recently went through a sort of a breakup with United Airlines, which is now going steady with Chase. As a result, Membership Rewards points cannot be exchanged for United miles, and their card no longer grants access to any United lounge.

Click here to apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express

2. United MilegePlus Presidential Plus Visa From Chase

Customers of United (and the former Continental) are being forced to pick sides after their airline fell out of favor with American Express. If you want to earn United miles and enjoy their lounges, you could do a lot worse than to receive the United Airlines MileagePlus Presidential Plus Card. When traveling on United, cardholders enjoy priority check-in, express security screening, priority boarding privileges, priority baggage handling, and two free checked bags. In addition, card members receive access to all United Clubs and over 200 other affiliated lounges such as the ones operated by US Airways. As with other premium credit cards, members receive several different purchase protection and travel insurance policies, as well as a dedicated concierge service. There is a $395 annual fee and no foreign transaction fees for this card. Finally, you know this is a great card because its name contains the word “Plus” twice.

3. J.P. Morgan Select

Like American Express, Chase offers a super-exclusive card called the Palladium that is only available to select clients of their personal banking service. Fortunately, they offer a slightly less glorified version called the J.P. Morgan Select, which leads these luxury cards in value. Like its competitors, it offers personalized service 24 hours a day, and cardholders will receive Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be transferred to frequent flier miles or used for booking travel directly through Chase. Members also receive complimentary primary auto rental coverage, trip delay or cancelation insurance, and baggage delay or lost luggage coverage when they travel. Finally, international travelers will love the fact that this card has an EMV Smart Chip and no foreign transaction fees. Even better, Chase offers this product for a mere $95 a year, and even that is waived the first year.

4. Citi ExecutiveSM / AAdvantage® World EliteTM MasterCard®

Citi offers its ThankYou Prestige card with a $500 annual fee that is meant to compete with the other products on this list, but I don’t think that it is the best card they offer. Instead, cardholders would be wise to select their premium card co-branded with American Airlines. Like their ThankYou Prestige card, the Executive AAdvantage card offers an expert concierge service and all of the same purchase protection and travel insurance policies. In addition, travelers will receive full Admiral’s Club membership for them and their immediate family along priority check-in, airport screening, and boarding privileges plus with waived checked bag fees. The annual fee is $450, $50 less than the Prestige card and about the same as the Admiral’s Club pass, and there are no foreign transaction fees.

5. Visa® Black Card™

credit cardDon’t tell anyone, but Barclay’s Bank offers the Visa Black card in order to compete with other premium products on the market. Barclay’s apparently wants to keep this a secret because it is extremely difficult to find their name attached to the card. They do prominently boast that this product offers holders a limited membership, a 24-hour concierge service, and even a card made out of carbon (patent pending).

Cardholders earn points that can be worth 1% cash back or airfare on any airline with no blackout dates or restrictions. Other perks include unlimited VIP airport lounge visits in over 200 cities and the occasional luxury gift delivered to your door. This card does have $495 annual fee and, sadly, a 3% foreign transaction fee on all charges processed outside of the United States.

So despite their upscale marketing, it might be worthwhile to take a look at some of the premium credit cards and their long lists of perks. While these cards come with a heavy price tag, their benefits can actually be worth more than their costs.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program.

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Guest's picture
Brian

I'm loving my Chase Freedom card. 5% cash back on gas this quarter - cant be beat.

Guest's picture
Guest Muhammad Jahid Hasan

It is a nice deal. Thanks for sharing.

Guest's picture

For Canadians- I've had a lot of success with the PC Mastercard and blogged about how it works for us here: http://preservingpennies.com/how-we-save-money-by-using-our-credit-cards/

Guest's picture

Have people had a lot of issues with their MasterCard getting accepted? I think that would prevent that card from being #1 anywhere. The J.P. Morgan Select card looks pretty good though, especially with the first year's fee waived.

Guest's picture

None of these credit cards are worth it! If you want to get the best rewards, then do some research into credit card arbitrage. Basically, you sign up for credit card promotions when they are giving away bonuses of $500 or more. I've done this with 5 credit cards in the past year, made over $4,000 and my credit score has actually gone up!

Guest's picture
Carl Lassegue

The American Express Platinum Card looks great, especially for people who travel a lot. I'm always envious of people with a Global Entry membership as I watch them walk through immigration in a 2 mins after I've been standing in line for immigration for about 45 minutes.

Guest's picture

I'm thinking of obtaining another CC just for emergency purchases. Those premium cards listed are mostly good for those that do alot of travelling to rack up flight benefits e.t.c.

I have been living consumer debt free for the last few years, see post.
http://financiallyeliteblog.com/1380/live-without-credit-cards/

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog dot com

Guest's picture

There's a very specific market for these cards. If you are traveling a lot and want to feel like a king, it might be worth it. For the rest of us, regular rewards card that doesn't carry that type of annual price tag is definitely better.

Guest's picture
mmmbuzz

This statment from the article says it all, "...you know this is a great card because its name contains the word “Plus” twice." You've got to be kidding me! Cards with $495 annual fees are "premium"? I'm sure that's the word the issuing banks are using while they gloat over the premium fees, premium interest and premium bunch of suckers that own/use these cards. Carrying a credit card balance is stupid, no matter what you make, and paying a $495 fee to have it in your wallet/purse is one notch dumber!

Guest's picture
Brian

I think you missed a card of very significant value. Wells Fargo offers a Mortgage Rebate Visa card. Instead of giving you "perks" that half of the population won't use, your earned points are credited towards the principal on your mortgage.