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If you’re into credit card points, then you know that sometimes the fanciest cards aren’t the most valuable. This includes some of the most exclusive credit cards offered by issuers. So you might be wondering, “why would someone get an exclusive card, and what are the benefits that come with them?”
Invite only or high annual fees
As many of you know, now is a tough time to apply for a credit card, so it seems fitting to do a fun and informative post and video on exclusive credit cards. These exclusive cards have a lot of allure on social media and are usually invite-only and/or have an annual fee of around $1,000 or higher. We’ll go through each card and then wrap up with my thoughts on exclusive cards and whether they are even worth it.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list of all exclusive cards out there. These are just some of the ones that seem to get the most attention or have interesting features.
Most exclusive credit cards
1. American Express Centurion:
This is probably the first exclusive card that comes to mind for many people. It’s also known as the American Express Black Card. While the exact requirements for getting the Centurion card aren’t official, there are several data points that a person would need to spend at least $250,000 to $450,000 per year across their American Express accounts to get invited for the card. The card itself is made of anodized titanium.
High annual fee
In terms of fees, there is an initiation fee along with an annual fee. When researching the topic, I found that people were reporting an initiation fee between $7,500 and $10,000 and an annual fee of $5,000. In addition, there is a personal and business version of the card. Though details on the business version are scarce.
Amex Centurion benefits
Most of the benefits fall under the category of non-spending benefits or perks. That means that this card isn’t going to reward you bonus points for purchases. Instead, you’re paying for certain luxury and premium benefits. For example, the Centurion card offers its cardmembers Delta Platinum Medallion, Hilton Diamond, and Marriott Gold status. Other notable perks are access to exclusive member events and expensive gifts.
However, probably the most important perk is access to the Centurion concierge. Cardmembers get assigned a concierge manager who can handle all sorts of complex scenarios and bookings. I did a review a while back on my experience using the Visa Infinite concierge and how I was able to get a better dinner reservation with the service. I am assuming that using the Centurion concierge gives you even more access to exclusive bookings and more personalized services.
Getting one may be easier now
In the past, anyone wanting to obtain this card would have to wait for American Express to extend an offer. Interestingly, while that’s still the case, there is now an option to express interest on the Centurion website. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll get an offer, but it is a way to nudge American Express if you feel you meet the status.
Who would want this card?
In my opinion, it’s almost as if you’re contracting American Express to be your personal assistant when you get this card, which could be appealing for those who want personalized services. Though for most people, the value proposition of such a high annual fee would be hard to stomach, especially when you can get most of the same valuable card perks with the American Express Platinum card.
2. Dubai First Royale Mastercard:
This is another invite-only credit card. Dubai First, which is part of the First Abu Dhabi Bank group, claims to only have approximately 200 cardmembers. This makes it potentially the most exclusive credit card out there. Details on how to get the card are fairly limited, though we know that the card has no credit limit and a guaranteed approval on all charges. The card is marketed to those who want to buy expensive luxury items like cars or yachts on their card without having to worry about getting approval. You know, things that most of us worry about on a daily basis!
Ironically, the annual fee on the card is $2,000. While that’s still a lot of money, it’s less than the Centurion card. The card itself is plated in real gold, with a .325 carat diamond in the middle crest.
Dubai First Royale Mastercard benefits
Like the Centurion card, you’re not earning extra points on travel or dining. Instead, you’re paying for the soft perks and benefits. In this case, you’re getting a dedicated relationship manager who is available 24 hours a day. Dubai First claims that it offers “royal lifestyle management.” I imagine that means having someone who can get you into exclusives places and arrange VIP treatment.
Unlike the Centurion, you can’t really inform Dubai First if you have an interest in being a member. And I imagine that since their clientele tends to literally be royal family members, this might actually be the most exclusive card out there.
3. Mastercard Gold:
While there seems to be more hype around the Mastercard Black card, it’s not actually the most exclusive credit card from Luxury Card. Their Mastercard Gold happens to have the highest annual fee, which is $995. The card is stainless steel but plated with 24-carat gold.
Mastercard Gold benefits
The Mastercard Gold has some credits that can be used toward airline purchases and Global Entry applications. They even tout that points earned on the card can be redeemed at 2% for airfare redemptions and cashback. While that may sound interesting, keep in mind that you’re not earning points at an increased rate. That means you’re only gaining on the backside of the equation.
The Mastercard Gold also includes access to concierge services and Priority Pass lounges. They also list luxury gifts as one of its perks. Lastly, you also get a subscription to Luxury Magazine. They claim every issue is a “limited-edition collector’s item.”
Different variations of the Luxury Card
As I mentioned earlier, Luxury Card does offer several variations, including the Mastercard Black and Titanium cards. However, their Mastercard Gold is still their most premium version.
4. JP Morgan Reserve:
The JP Morgan Reserve was formerly known as the Chase Palladium card. It is an invite-only card for Chase private bank customers. To get invited, you’ll need to have $10 million in assets at Chase.
The card has an annual fee of $595, which is surprising since the Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee of $550.
Perhaps the most interesting feature of this card is that it’s made of palladium and brass, which isn’t found in other cards that I’ve seen.
JP Morgan Reserve benefits
In terms of benefits, the card does earn Ultimate Rewards points. In fact, the rewards are very similar to the Sapphire Reserve with some additional luxury perks mixed in, like elite hotel benefits. It does seem as if it is an exclusive version of the Sapphire Reserve that is made of unique materials. I guess for those with a “trifecta” or “quadfecta” set-up, this card could be the next-level version of it. Maybe the “blingfecta” (ok, that was super cheesy!).
5. Citi Chairman American Express:
This card intrigues me since it’s a collaboration between two issuers, Citi and American Express. The details on the card are hard to find, though we know that it is invite-only, and you have to have significant assets with Citigroup’s private bank.
Like the JP Morgan Reserve, the Citi Chairman Amex’s annual fee is much lower than you would expect at $500.
The benefits include all the usual perks like member-only events, concierge, and airport lounge access. The card is also rumored to have a $300,000 credit limit.
6. Stratus Rewards Visa:
The card pops up on a lot of exclusive card lists, but to be honest, there isn’t much information out there on it. Stratus Rewards is a part of Stratus Media Group, which is an invitation-only lifestyle club that is meant to support and enhance the affluent lifestyle. The card is sometimes referred to as the “white card,” which I think is meant to piggyback off the “black card” branding used by Mastercard and American Express.
The annual fee for the card is listed as $1,500. To get the card, it’s rumored that you have to spend upwards of $100,000 annually on your Citi cards. The card isn’t made with any interesting or unique materials.
Stratus Media Group
I couldn’t find much information on the Stratus Media Group. It looks like the organization was merged or acquired in 2014, so it’s unclear whether this card even exists anymore.
Pooling points with other cardmembers toward luxury redemptions
The one interesting aspect of the card is that you can supposedly pool points with other cardmembers to book private jets and yachts. Assuming you can find anyone else that actually has the card.
7. Coutts World Silk Card:
This is an invite-only card and features the British Royal family as some of their clients. The card does require an account at Coutts Bank, a British bank that caters to high net worth individuals. The exact requirements to get the card are not public.
The card doesn’t appear to be made of any special materials. The biggest selling point is the high credit limit and access to Coutt’s concierge service, which is known to have access to some of the most exclusive travel and dining experiences in the world. The card does have its own rewards system called Coutts Crowns that can be used for travel and shopping redemptions.
Surprisingly, the card has no annual fee. Cardmembers have reported receiving luxury gifts as well as part of their membership.
Are exclusive cards worth it?
For most people, the answer is likely no. Though there are two scenarios where they might be valuable.
Scenario 1: Ability to purchase high-cost luxury goods
Unless you’re planning to purchase extremely expensive luxury items with your credit card, like boats or sports cars, or needing a 24/7 personalized concierge service, then you’re unlikely to find value in these cards.
Scenario 2: Projecting an image of wealth or success
There is, of course, the appeal and allure of exclusivity, which I suspect is the reason people want to get these cards. And there are probably certain industries or professions where projecting wealth or success is a consideration.
Not worth it for the rest of us
However, since most of us in the hobby are focused on tangible value, it doesn’t make sense to get these cards when you can get most of the same benefits on other premium cards at a lower annual fee. For example, the American Express Platinum provides most of the same benefits as the Centurion card, including access to the Centurion lounges. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also has the exact same earning and redemption value as the JP Morgan Reserve card, though without the $10 million asset requirement.
While these cards may be what the rich and famous use, it doesn’t mean that they are better. Yes, the cards might be made of exotic or interesting materials, but at the end of the day, an exclusive credit card is unlikely to get you any closer to your goal of traveling for less.
What do you think of these exclusive credit cards? Do you happen to have one, or would you ever consider one?
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