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The Most Expensive Credit Cards

This article was written by in Credit. 11 comments.


It rarely makes sense to own a credit card that charges an annual fee. I own one credit card that charges an annual fee after the first year — Continental Airlines OnePlus Card which was replaced by the United MileagePlus Explorer Card– and I might cancel before they charge my first annual fee. Even if I don’t, I fly United often enough so that the services provided, including free checked bags, make the fee worthwhile to me.

This card’s annual fee is modest, particularly when compared to cards that market their services to the super-rich and those who think they ought to be. These “luxury” credit cards offer access to airport lounges, dedicated concierges, and travel assistance. Some services are available to owners of free credit cards, but in some cases, the rewards go beyond what is typical. Some atypical rewards include free hotel stays at prestigious locales and invitations to special private events.

Most of the appeal of these cards is status. The mystique surrounding the “American Express Black Card” existed before the card itself existed, and American Express took advantage of that reputation when it created the Centurion card. If owning a credit card can be prestigious, this is the one to get, but it will cost you.

Citibank Chairman Card

For a $500 annual fee, you could become a member of the Citibank Chairman Card. This card is offered on American Express’s network. Like all luxury cards, the Citibank Chairman Card offers travel and concierge services. In addition to commercial travel benefits, like access to airport lounges, customers have the option of becoming members in programs that allow access to private jets.

Visa Black Card

The Visa Black Card, offered by Barclays Bank, is purported to be available to only 1% of the population of the United States. That’s still about three million people, so membership isn’t quite so exclusive. Nevertheless, the Visa Black Card offers benefits that are more inline with The Platinum Card from American Express. If you use concierge and travel services, you may find the $495 annual fee worthwhile.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Unlike the above two cards, The Platinum Card from American Express is a charge card, not a credit card. There’s no APR because you’ll owe your bill in full every month. If you’d prefer to fly privately, the card offers chartered flights, membership in a private jet company, and fractional ownership.

When traveling, you can use American Express Platinum Travel Services for exclusive reservations at villas and resorts. The card’s $450 annual fee is easily recovered if you’re a frequent world traveler and you utilize the no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your card and the annual airline fee statement credit of up to $200 when you select a qualifying airline. Terms & restrictions apply.

American Express Centurion

The dollar version of the American Express Centurion Card costs $2,500 each year you own it, in addition to a $5,000 initiation fee when you are approved. It’s available by invitation only, so you won’t find any links here to apply for the card. If you charge more than $250,000 a year on an The Platinum Card from American Express, you may be eligible to enroll.

This card is a favorite among celebrities both real and fictional, who are often pictured in the media spending frivolously using the AmEx Centurion Card.

For most people, these cards will never fulfill the promise that the high fees provide. The cards excel at consolidating the types of benefits world travelers with significant amounts of disposal income might enjoy, like private travel, access to unique events, and vacations in isolated locations. Celebrities whose image is important to their future earning capacity could possibly argue the need for a Centurion Card, but the argument isn’t completely solid. Many celebrities would be better off by not spending frivolously.

Most of us are not celebrities and have to watch our spending closely. We many never take advantage of the services offered by these cards, such as private jets and exclusive hotel reservations.

Also see this comparison of luxury credit cards.

What do you think about these luxury credit cards?

Updated June 4, 2014 and originally published February 22, 2011. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Ceecee ♦53 (Newbie)

I’ve heard that more annual fees are on the way, but why would anyone pay one now? It seems silly.

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avatar tom

I think it’s ridiculous to even bother with any of those cards. If you travel that much or are wealthy enough to justify one of those cards, wouldn’t you still be better off getting a Fidelity 2% Cash Back card?

Here’s another question… If a celebrity picks up a Fidelity 2% Card, and spends $1,000,000 a year on it, will they actually get back $20,000?

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avatar tbork84 ♦1,867 (Half-Dollar)

I was hoping to suggest that they use a cashback card if they plan to hit such a high spending amount anyways. Good question though.

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avatar Luke Landes ♦127,470 (Platinum)

Tom,

You’re right, the Fidelity 2% cash back card, at least at this moment, has no limit, so spending $1,000,000 — if that amount is possible on a card that does have spending limits — will result in $20,000 cash back. At least theoretically.

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avatar Jeff

I agree Tom. And we use an FIA Visa card that rebates 2% of monthly charges with no limit. Seems to me would beat anything out there. Rhetorical question, but who gives a flip about status? I’ll take my $40/mo rebate and be just fine.

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avatar gotr31 ♦224 (Cent)

Seems like you be better off with a cash back card, but the super rich and famous aren’t really concerned about that are they. I think it’s all about the status. Funny though, most of us don’t even care and are not impressed at all. So who exactly are they trying to impress? Each other I guess. Glad I have more sense than that!

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avatar TakeitEZ ♦549 (Dime)

I have no problem with them. Most of those who have access to these cards would not even notice the fee amount with their income. It seems like a lot to us but for those people it is like losing loose change from your pocket. I doubt they are hurting or endangering their future financial security by paying those fees. I am sure that there financial situation would change at all if they did not acquire one of these cards. So I really see no big deal and have no issues for somebody wealthy enough to afford these cards in order to obtain the special perks. I would definitely give it a try if I was fortunate enough to be able to afford it.

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avatar skylog ♦368 (Nickel)

while i can see where concierge and travel services could be useful, many other cards do offer similar options that many of these cards are using as selling points. of the cards listed above, it seems that the centurion card is the only true “luxury” card. that said, i do not see the point in paying for any credit card.

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avatar Aryn

The funny thing about celebrities using the Centurion card is that they can already get all those benefits for free, because they are celebrities! The non-famous super-rich might enjoy the extra perks though, since no hotel cares earns cache if they stay there.

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avatar eric ♦1,549 (Half-Dollar)

I think I would pass on these cards :)

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avatar wylerassociate ♦162 (Cent)

I’ve never had an american express credit card but is their customer service and interest rates good or bad compared to other cards?

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