Even if some portion of Americans are struggling with unemployment and mounting debt, the wealthy among us are thriving. World-wide there has been an increase in folks getting some of these luxury products, and chances are we’ve seen someone flash one of these around town. While still fairly rare, are these luxury credit cards still as prestigious as they once were? And what kinds of perks do cardholders enjoy?
The American Express Centurion Card
American express introduced the “Black Card” back in 1999. This seems like a relatively short time on the market, given how ubiquitous the Centurion now is, and it’s probably due to that fact that rumors of this card date back to the 1980s. This card is arguably the most internationally recognized signs of luxury, prestige, and exclusivity. The success of the Centurion is due, not just to its distinctive black appearance, but to its construction as well. American Express began the practice of minting exclusive credit cards out of something other than plastic, and it started with the Centurion (which is made from titanium). The card seems relatively “cool” already, but if you want the chance to tote your own “Black Card” you may have to wait awhile: they’re offered through invitation only (to current American Express cardholders who spend at least $250,000 annually). This is a charge card, so the balance must be paid in full, and no interest is assessed. However, the annual fee is $2,500 (plus an initial set-up fee of $5,000). And what perks do you earn? Pretty impressive ones like a personal 24-hour concierge, amazing travel benefits, like rewards, travel discounts, airfare and upgrades and companion tickets, entrance to airport lounges, a personal shopper, and the opportunity to be included in selective programs, etc. Although this card is expensive to own, the perks are impressive and nothing says luxury credit card like Centurion.
The American Express Platinum Card
Prior to American Express Centurion, one of the most exclusive credit cards on the market was the Platinum Card. This prestigious card has a more reasonable fee ($450) than Centurion, but tends to be comparable compared to the other options on this list. And while people in the know will immediately recognize the prestige inherent in owning this card, it doesn’t scream “luxury”, and is made from plastic like most credit cards. One of the best kept secrets is that the benefits are nearly identical to those offered by the Centurion card. With the Platinum Card you’ll receive 24-hour personal concierge service, be enrolled in the American Express rewards program (plus an extra 25,000 points the first year), travel rewards, companion airfare, airport lounges, a $200 airline credit, and Global Entry (this lets you skip U.S. Customs lines). You can see how this credit card pays for itself if you use it for all your purchases. Ultimately, this card is not the most exclusive luxury credit card on the block, but you get a lot of rewards for a reasonable price.
The Black Card Visa Card
The Black Card Visa is often confusing to people who mistake this card with the American Express Centurion. The Black Card Visa is made by Barclay, and didn’t come onto the market until 2008. This card, often mistaken for Centurion, capitalizes on some other unique features of Centurion. While Centurion is made of titanium, the Black Card Visa is made of a patent-pending carbon material, making this light-weight card a breeze to carry everywhere. This card is not invitation-only like Centurion, however it is only used by an exclusive 1% of the population. The specs are similar to the Platinum Card: the annual membership cost is $495 a year, and Black Card Visa cardholders generally charge thousands of dollars to their credit cards every year. With this card you’ll get one percent cash back annually (with no limits), a 24-hour concierge service, two free airport lounge visits per year (additional visits may be purchased after the first two), complimentary companion tickets, airline upgrades, access to other exclusive discounts, promotions, and deals. Finally, it should be noted that the Black Card Visa is accepted everywhere the Visa logo is, giving anyone who owns this card some additional spending power.
The Chase Palladium Card
The JP Morgan Chase Palladium card might be the height of elite luxury items. While it’s only been around since the summer of 2011, over half of the world’s billionaires already carry this the Chase Palladium. Part of what adds to the prestige of this credit card is that it uses an estimated $1,000 worth of materials to make (for each one). It’s possible because it is made from palladium, and includes a 23 karat gold engraving of your name. The card is also good for international transactions, as each one includes “Chip & PIN” technology. So how does one get one of these exclusive credit cards? By having significant investments (millions and billions of dollars’ worth) with JP Morgan Chase. But what you get in return are impressive perks like 24-hour concierge, an Ultimate Rewards Program (with a rewards rate of 1-2%, and an exclusive bonus worth 35,000 points, when you spend more than $100,000 a year). It also gives you travel rewards, like companion tickets, travelers insurance, free upgrades, access to airport lounges, etc. All of this makes the Chase Palladium an incredibly prestigious credit card that solidifies its place in the luxury credit card hall-of-fame.
What do you think about these four exclusive credit cards? Are there others you’d add to the list? Think you’ll ever own one of them someday? Leave your comments below!