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Some credit cards are just a tool for managing your credit. Others offer rewards. And the best credit cards do both — but this list of the most elite credit cards goes beyond them all, offering perks like 24/7 concierge service, access to private jets, and even gold-plated cards. If it’s style points you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
On this page:
- Exclusive credit cards that are invite-only
- Exclusive credit cards you can apply for
- Recap of the most exclusive credit cards
- What makes a credit card exclusive?
- How to get an exclusive credit card
Exclusive credit cards that are invite-only
These invite-only credit cards are only offered to the highest net worth individuals. Check out invite requirements, rumored rewards, and more.
Centurion Card from American Express (aka Amex Black Card)
- Annual fee: $5,000; plus an initiation fee of $10,000
- Rewards: 1x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent
- Invite Requirements: Reports say that you must charge at least $250,000 annually on your Amex card
Our list of the most exclusive credit cards starts with the famed Centurion Card from American Express. In 1999, American Express became the first U.S. credit card company to use exclusivity to draw in customers when it rolled out the Amex Black Card.
Part of its appeal is the mystery behind the card. This card isn’t open to the public, and American Express has to reach out to you first to qualify. It’s rumored that only those who spend (and pay off) at least $250,000 per year across all of their American Express accounts receive an invite to become Centurion Cardholders.
If invited, be prepared to pay a high premium to join this exclusive club. The initiation fee alone is $10,000, with a recurring annual fee of around $5,000, plus $5,000 for each additional Centurion Card you wish to add.
Cardholders get a wide range of benefits for those fees, including automatic hotel room and flight upgrades and discounts on cruises and luxury car rentals. Some airports even have luxurious lounges that are free for Centurion users. These are just some of the rumored perks. There are likely many other benefits you’ll find out about once you become a cardmember — if you’re ever invited.
J.P. Morgan Reserve Card
- Annual fee: $595
- Rewards: 3x points on travel and dining worldwide, 1x point on all other purchases, $300 annual travel credit, complimentary airport lounge access, VIP access to events & experiences, and more
- Invitation requirements: Have $10 million or more to invest with J.P. Morgan
Do you have $10 million or more to invest with J.P. Morgan? If so, the next card in our ultra-exclusive list — the J.P. Morgan Chase Reserve Card — may be right for you. This card, which replaced the J.P. Morgan Palladium Card, is targeted towards extremely high net worth clients. Like its predecessor, the Reserve Card is made of metal with palladium plating. It weighs approximately five times as much as a conventional plastic credit card. It is offered only to J.P. Morgan’s Global Wealth Management clients who have non-real estate assets over $10 million.
Cardholders pay a respectable annual fee of $595 and receive $300 in annual travel credits and complimentary airport lounge access. Visa Infinite benefits are also available and include hotel and car rental privileges your average cardholder can’t hope to get.
Stratus White Card
- Annual fee: $1,500
- Rewards: Travel on private jets or charter flights, concierge services, luxury hotel upgrades, and more
- Invitation requirements: Need a referral from an existing cardmember
Although black seems to be the favored color among the most elite credit cards, the Stratus Rewards Visa card bucks this trend by being known as the “White Card.” This card is available only to those invited or nominated to join and has a hefty annual fee of $1,500.
What gets a Stratus Rewards Visa Card into your wallet is unknown. However, it’s likely only available to those who spend upwards of $100,000 a year on their current credit cards.
Membership offers perks such as free luxury hotel room upgrades and, of course, a personal concierge at your beck and call. Whether you want them to book you a flight or pick up the dry cleaning, rumor has it that the concierge service does it all.
Citi Chairman American Express Card
The Citi Chairman American Express Card’s exclusivity is from the fact that membership in this card club is only open to those who have significant investments with a Citigroup brokerage account.
Rumors claim that the card comes with a credit limit as high as $300,000 and a relatively low annual fee of $500. Along with the other cards on the list, the travel perks are extreme. They include travel upgrades, access to private airport lounges, and the ubiquitous concierge service to arrange travel and dining at your pleasure.
Excellent credit alone won’t get you a Black Chairman Card — you need an invite to get this card into your wallet. Just be sure to drop some serious dough into your Citigroup Brokerage account to score that coveted invite.
Dubai First Royale Card
Dubai First claims its Royale Card is the most exclusive credit card in the world. The Royale Card by Dubai First is an invitation-only credit card with no pre-set spending limit. The card is trimmed with gold on two sides and features a solitary .235-carat diamond centered on the front. Most of the cardholders are in the United Arab Emirates, but this card is still available worldwide.
Cardholders get a dedicated relationship manager with Dubai First. They also get a lifestyle manager who acts as an exclusive concierge to obtain almost anything the cardholder desires. Tickets to the Grammy’s last-minute? Box seats to a sold-out Broadway play? Reportedly, a lifestyle manager can accommodate all that and more when you have a Royale in your pocket.
Exclusive credit cards you can apply for
Not all exclusive credit cards are invite-only. The following credit cards are offered through our partner and are available to those with excellent credit.
Mastercard Gold Card
- Annual fee: $995
- Rewards: 1x point for every dollar you spend, 2% value for airfare and cash back redemptions
- Editor’s thoughts: This card is made out of 24K gold, making it one of the most exclusive and luxurious cards in the world
Those looking for industry-leading rewards and perks without wanting to wait for an invitation should check out the Mastercard Gold Card. For an annual fee of $995, cardholders receive services through the Luxury Card Concierge, $200 in credits toward qualifying airline purchases, a members-only subscription to Luxury Magazine, and undisclosed luxury gifts. The card itself is constructed with a patented 24K-gold-plated front and carbon back –– weighing 22 grams.
Like many other exclusive credit cards, you must have a high income and excellent credit for the Mastercard Gold Card. Like others on this list, many of the top perks of being a cardholder are travel related. Cardholders receive double points on airfare and a booklet of discounts on flights, hotels, and travel packages.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Annual fee: $550
Rewards: 10x points on hotels and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards® and on Chase Dining, 5x points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x points on other travel and dining, and 1x points on all other purchases
Credit requirements: Excellent
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is one of the best-known cards on our list. Much of the exclusivity of the Sapphire Reserve Card comes from the high fees necessary to become a cardholder. The card has an annual fee of $550.
New cardholders can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. A $900 value when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
Once you are a cardholder, the benefits are significant, primarily related to travel and lodging. In addition to an annual $300 travel credit and 3 points on travel (after using the full travel credit) and dining purchases, those with a Sapphire Reserve Card get access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide when enrolled in the Priority Pass Select program. Cardholders also get special travel assistance from a dedicated Chase Travel Team.
Recap of the most exclusive credit cards
|Card||Invite-only?||Annual fee||What stands out|
|Centurion Card from American Express||Yes||$5,000||The first exclusive credit card|
|J.P. Morgan Reserve Card||Yes||$595||$300 in annual travel credits|
|Stratus White Card||Yes||$1,500||Private jet and charter flight access|
|Citi Chairman Card||Yes||$500||A credit limit up to $300,000|
|Dubai First Royale Card||Yes||Unknown||Access to a lifestyle manager|
|Mastercard Gold Card||No||$995||A 24-carat gold card|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||No||$550||Special travel assistance|
What makes a credit card exclusive?
For a credit card to be considered exclusive, it should not only be hard to come by, but it should also have some of the following perks:
- Unique rewards: Elite credit cards typically come with rewards that far surpass the typical cash back reward seen on your standard consumer credit card. These rewards can include private jet access, access to a lifestyle manager, special travel assistance, etc.
- Spending freedom: Since exclusive credit cards target high rollers, issuers are comfortable offering credit limits that seem impossible to reach for the average cardholder. The Citi Chairman Card is rumored to have a credit limit of up to $300,000, for example.
- High annual fees: Exclusivity comes with a cost. Most of these cards come with an annual fee higher than $500. Some fees even surpass the $1,000 mark per year.
- Made with rare materials: If the card’s name wasn’t enough, the physical design of these cards has become something of a competition in the exclusive credit card space. The Mastercard Gold Card, for example, is made with 24-carats of gold.
How to get an exclusive credit card
To receive an invite for an exclusive credit card, you’ll need to have a high net worth, have excellent credit, be a bank client in select cases, and have patience. Most of these issuers want to know you can maintain your worth before rushing to welcome you to their exclusive club.
Since receiving an invite is in many ways out of your hands, here are some things to keep in mind before applying for more accessible elite cards.
- Build or maintain an excellent credit score. An excellent credit score is any score of 800 or above. To be eligible for the most elite credit cards, issuers expect you to show them that you are a safe borrower.
- Minimize your total debt. High amounts of debt can scare away credit card issuers who don’t want to offer cards with high credit limits to those with a lot of debt to pay off.
- Maximize your income. Cardholders are expected to have a high net worth. By showing this, credit card companies can trust that you’ll repay any amount charged to your card in a timely fashion.
Bottom Line: Exclusive Cards are Available — for a Price
As you can see, there are plenty of elite credit cards out there. But, to get your hands on the most exclusive credit cards, you’ll need to be a big spender or a big investor to get an invitation – and you’ll need to be ready to fork over a big annual fee. Still, if you want the style points that only an exclusive credit card can offer, it may be worth it.
To continue comparing cards, you can check out our page dedicated to highlighting high-end or premium credit cards. Many of these exclusive credit cards have unique designs.
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Author: Jeff Gitlen
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