Premium credit cards are a type of credit card that is best for people who are high spenders, like to travel, or want rewards for specific niches like hotels and airlines. Typically, these cards come with an annual fee.
You can apply for the best premium credit cards here:
What is a Premium Credit Card?
A premium credit card, or luxury credit card, is a credit card that offers above average rewards. Typically, these rewards are geared award travel, but not always.
Premium cards also usually come with an annual fee to offset some of the hefty rewards that they offer.
An annual fee is a one-time payment you make every calendar year (usually $100-$300) to use your credit card. In exchange, you get better rewards. For example, you might get 2% cash back instead of 1%.
Criteria: Best Premium Credit Cards List
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when looking at the best premium credit cards:
- This is a general list of the best cards, meaning it is for the general population. If you want to find the best card for you specifically, check out our credit card tool or do the math yourself to see which card pays back the most.
- The criteria for selecting the best annual fee credit cards included:
- Rewards: What percent cash back (or other points/rewards) you are receiving and how much those points/rewards are worth
- Annual Fee: What the annual fee is and how that counteracts the rewards (in other words – what is the net benefit of this card)
- Perks: Other perks like no foreign transaction fees, sign up bonuses, etc.
- Customer Service / Reliability: Subjective measure of how reputable the card and issuing company is
- We did not take APR or late fees into account, as our assumption for luxury credit cards is that they will be paid on time and in full. In addition, balance transfer options and fees were not taken into account.
- The estimated values below are estimates based on the following assumptions:
- The card is held for 5 years
- Monthly expenses = $2,500 ($400 – Dining, $150 – Travel, $300 – Grocery, $50 – Online / Amazon, $100 – Gas, $300 – Entertainment, $1,200 – Everything Else).
Best Premium Credit Cards
Best Overall Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve
$3,330 5 Yr Value
- Rewards: 3X points on travel (after using the full travel credit) and dining out and 1X points on everything else. Plus, rewards are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel.
- Annual Fee: $550 (with $300 annual travel credit, netting to $250).
- Perks: No foreign transaction fees, TSA Precheck or Global Entry credit, airport lounge access, trip cancellation insurance and much more.
- Bonus: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account.
- Estimated Point Value: 1 point = 1.5 cents (when redeemed for travel).
The Chase Sapphire Reserve card is one of the best premium credit cards available right now and is perfect for those who like to travel. This credit card offers great rewards (in the form of Chase Ultimate Rewards Points) on dining and travel and gives you up to 1.5X the purchasing power when you redeem the rewards for travel. On top of its rewards, it has unbeatable luxury perks including airport lounge access and travel insurance (among other travel benefits).
Yes, the $550 annual fee is steep, but when you factor in the $300 travel credit and other premium rewards, this card is often worth the cost.
Similar Card: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
Apply now: The Best Credit Cards.
Best Airline Card: Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard
$2,364 5 Yr Value
- Rewards: 2X miles on dining out, gas stations and American Airlines purchases. 1X miles on everything else.
- Annual Fee: $99 (waived the first year).
- Perks: $125 American Airlines flight credit when you spend $20,000 in one year and renew your card, no foreign transaction fees, first checked bag is free, priority boarding and much more.
- Bonus: 50,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,500 within the first three months.
- Estimated Point Value: 1 mile = 1 cent.
With all the airline cards, there are two important things to note:
- There are more benefits that are difficult to directly measure, such as free bags, preferred boarding, etc.
- It’s important to stay loyal to this airline. If you don’t fly the airline whose card you have, you will never fully realize the perks.
The Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard is a great card for American fliers, especially if you spend enough to maximize their bonus offers.
Similar Card: United Explorer Card.
Apply now: Airline Credit Cards.
Best Hotel Card: The World of Hyatt Credit Card
$3,075 5 Yr Value
- Rewards: 9X points at Hyatt hotels, 2X points at restaurants, on airline tickets purchased directly from the airline, local transit and commuting as well as fitness club and gym memberships, and 1X points on everything else.
- Annual Fee: $95 annual fee (but you receive one free night at any Category 1–4 Hyatt hotel or resort every year after your cardmember anniversary).
- Perks: No foreign transaction fees and travel and purchase coverage.
- Bonus: Earn 25,000 Bonus Points after $3,000 in purchases within 3 months of account opening. Plus, earn an additional 25,000 Bonus Points after $6,000 total in purchases within 6 months of account opening.
- Estimated Point Value: 1 point = 1.25 cents.
With all the hotel cards, there are two important things to note:
- The point values vary more drastically between cards (1 point does not always equal 1 cent).
- It’s important to stay loyal to this hotel. If you don’t stay with the hotel whose card you have, you will never fully realize the perks.
The World of Hyatt Credit Card is one of the best hotel credit cards available – it offers a high mount of rewards per dollar spent. Plus, with access to Hyatt hotels nationwide, it’s easy to find places to stay.
Similar Card: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card.
Apply now: Hotel Rewards Credit Cards.
Best Non-Travel Focused Card: American Express Gold Card
$3,350 5 Yr Value
- Rewards: 4X points on restaurants worldwide, 4X points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year, then 1X), 3X points on airfare book directly with airlines or on Amex Travel portal and 1X points on everything else.
Annual Fee: $250 annual fee (with $120 dining credits and $100 airline fee credits available, netting to $30).
Perks: No foreign transaction fees, various hotel perks, return/warranty protection and much more.
Bonus: 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 within the first three months of opening an account.
Estimated Point Value: 1 point = 1 cent.
The AMEX Gold Card is an affordable premium credit card when you take advantage of the statement credits (airline fees and restaurants). The generous points back, especially at supermarkets, helps to recoup the $30 in net annual fees quickly.
Similar Card: Capital One Savor Cash Rewards Credit Card
Apply now: The Best Credit Cards.
Other Good Premium Credit Cards to Consider:
- Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
- Citi Premier Card
- Bank of America Premium Rewards credit cards
- Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express
- Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Credit Card
- Southwest Rapid Rewards Priority Credit Card
Explore the Best Premium Cards:
Are Premium Credit Cards Worth it?
The answer to this question is usually quite simple, but it requires some math.
In general, low spenders (or someone who does not travel) should utilize no annual fee cards while high spenders (or frequent travelers) can benefit from premium cards with an annual fee.
See the example in the annual fee section of this post comparing two Chase credit cards to learn more.
Remember, getting approved for the best premium credit cards also requires a strong credit score.
Learn More About Annual Fee Credit Cards:
Types of Premium Credit Cards
There are 3 major types of premium credit cards to compare. Understanding these options will help ensure you pick the best luxury credit card for you.
General Rewards Credit Cards
General rewards credit cards include both travel rewards credit cards and non-travel cards. In either case, these general rewards cards provide basic points that can be redeemed in a number of ways across a number of different partners.
General Card Examples:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: This Chase credit card is a flexible, travel card.
- Capital One Savor Rewards Credit Card: This card from Capital One is not travel-focused, but instead focused on dining and entertainment.
Airline Miles Credit Cards
Airline Miles credit cards reward users with airline miles that can be redeemed for future flights, rather than with general rewards programs. Typically, these cards are associated with one specific airline.
Airline Card Examples:
- Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard: An airline travel rewards card from American.
- United Explorer Card: An airline travel rewards credit card from United.
Hotel Rewards Credit Cards
Hotel rewards credit cards reward users with hotel points that can be redeemed for future hotel stays, rather than with general rewards points. Typically, these cards are associated with one specific hotel chain or hotel company.
Hotel Card Examples:
- The World of Hyatt Credit Card: Hyatt’s hotel credit card.
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Marriott’s hotel credit card.
How to Maximize Your Luxury Credit Card
There are four major actions you can take to ensure you make the most of your premium credit card.
1. Earn the Sign Up Bonus
Most premium credit cards offer a welcome bonus.
Typically, these sign-up bonuses come with a caveat of needing to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000 in a two or three month period after account opening.
Of course, you should not break your budget just to get this sign-up bonus, but you should take advantage of it if you can.
2. Spend in the Right Categories
If you use a premium credit card that rewards spending on dining, travel, or entertainment, more than other categories of spending, you should ensure to maximize those card rewards
Better yet, examine your spending before applying for a new card, and pick a card that will naturally reward your current spending habits.
3. Avoid Unnecessary Fees
Some fees with a premium credit card are unavoidable, like the annual fee.
However, expenses such as late fees and interest can be avoided. Ensure you are spending within your means, and paying your card off on time and in full every month in order to avoid these unnecessary fees.
4. Pair it With a No Annual Fee Card
Last, you could pair your premium credit card with a no annual fee card to maximize your spending in certain categories.
For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card provides generous rewards on dining out and travel. Though, it’s reward value on all other spending is only 1% (1.5% when redeemed for travel). If you were to pair this card with the Citi Double Cash Card, you could earn the higher rewards on dining and travel, and earn 2% back on everything else with your no annual fee card.
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Pros and Cons of Premium Credit Cards
Premium Credit Card Pros:
Sign-Up Bonus: Many premium credit cards offer generous introductory welcome bonuses that could be valued anywhere from $300 to $1,500.
Generous Rewards: Premium credit cards offer above average rewards for spending. In certain categories, you could earn the equivalent of 5% cash back rewards, if not more.
Other Perks: On top of the direct monetary benefits, most premium cards will offer high-end perks, like airport lounge access and travel insurance.
Premium Credit Card Cons:
Annual Fee: Most premium credit cards have an annual fee, and some of them can be well over $100 per year.
High Credit Score Needed: Luxury cards typically require a good or very good credit score in order to get approved.
Niche Rewards: Some premium credit cards offer rewards that can only be redeemed for specific uses – like airline miles.
Premium Credit Card Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Question: Which premium credit card is best?
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to premium credit cards. Arguably, the best premium card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card. At least, it’s one of our favorites, but it might not be right for a frequent flier or for someone seeking lucrative hotel rewards.
Question: What is considered a premium credit card?
A premium credit card is any credit card that contains an annual fee and also offers above average rewards. There are annual fee credit cards out there that don’t offer rewards, and there are also cards that offer above average rewards but don’t charge an annual fee (like the Citi Double Cash Card).
In addition, most premium credit cards offer a sign-up bonus.
Question: What is a super premium credit card?
A super premium credit card is a card with an annual fee over $100. It typically offers more lucrative rewards to account for the higher annual fee. There are also prestigious credit cards like the American Express Centurion Card, or Black Card. This is one of the hardest cards to get approved for and is rumored to have annual fees well over $1,000, and could be closer to $10,000 when you factor in an initiation fee.
Question: What is a luxury credit card?
A luxury credit card is the same as a premium credit card.
Question: Which is better: annual fee or no annual fee cards?
This completely depends on your spending habits and willingness to travel. For someone who spends over $3,000 a month and enjoys taking vacations, an annual fee credit card most likely makes sense. For someone who is frugal, or doesn’t want extravagant rewards, a no annual fee credit card or cash back credit card is likely best.
Question: How many premium credit cards should I have?
This depends on how much you spend. Most average Americans will do fine with one premium card with an annual fee, however, some high earners may be able to justify multiple luxury cards.
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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.