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Credit Cards

How to pick the right premium credit card for your wallet

Premium credit cards are becoming quite popular. Here's how to pick the right one for you.

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Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Premium credit cards have become a common offering from many large banks, attracting consumers with excellent credit scores who are looking for a card with a long list of benefits and perks. But as premium cards have flooded the market, people may be overwhelmed by all the choices and have issue finding the best one for their wallet.

I've personally held a few premium credit cards and they've provided benefits that I enjoyed using. However, you must be organized and plan-oriented in order to extract the full value from the card you choose.

Select details what factors to keep in mind when picking a premium credit card, and how to maximize value from your card to cover the cost of the large annual fee.

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What to keep in mind when picking a premium credit card

While each premium credit card has a number of exclusive perks, they all typically come with a variation of these benefits: travel insurance, airport lounge access, multiple spending categories to earn bonus miles, TSA PreCheck®/Global Entry credit, spending credits (travel or hotel credits) and more.

However, these perks aren't free, and you'll have to pay a large annual fee to use the product. So when looking at premium credit cards it's best practice to closely analyze the categories below to see which card fits best for you:

Benefits

It can behoove you to become familiar with the perks of several different premium credit cards so you can compare which best fit your needs. As you analyze them, reflect on what spending or travel habits you currently have and match that with a card's benefits.

For example, if you fly regularly, having access to airport lounges could be an easy benefit to use. However, if you mainly commute via car, that benefit may not be useful.

Additionally, if you fly or stay with a specific hotel or airline regularly, you may want to consider a card with that brand to take advantage of any potential elite status or brand-specific perks. For instance, some hotel credit cards give out automatic elite status which can help you enjoy loyalty benefits right out of the gate.

But most importantly, be sure to choose a credit card that most closely aligns with your current, or near future, travel and spending habits. Look at all the benefits before you apply for a card and put a dollar figure of what you estimate their value is to you — this will help you understand if the card's annual fee is worth it.

For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express has a $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) and our analysis says that you can get over $3,500 in value in the first year of card membership if you use all of the benefits. However, you may value some perks more or less than other people do.

Spending categories

Premium credit cards are generally built for consumers who spend large amounts per month. However, that doesn't mean you need to spend a lot of money in order to have one.

So when analyzing different premium cards, be sure to select one that closely aligns with your spending patterns. For example, if you spend heavily on flights or hotels, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5X points per dollar spent on flights and hotels booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Or if you spend heavily on dining out, you may want to consider the American Express® Gold Card which awards 4X points per dollar on dining at restaurants.

If you choose a card that matches how you spend you'll rack up rewards much faster.

Ability to spend earned rewards

The ability to earn valuable rewards for your spending is great, but it's also important to have a plan to spend those rewards — especially if they're travel rewards. Because travel rewards are subject to devaluation from airlines and hotel loyalty programs, your points are vulnerable to losing value over time. And the best way to avoid that is by following the "earn and burn" mantra.

For example, the welcome bonus for the United Club℠ Infinite Card is 100,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. Once you meet the minimum spend threshold, the miles you would have accumulated (plus the bonus) can easily get you a few award flights. However, if United modifies its loyalty program before you have a chance to cash in, those miles may not get you as far as you originally planned. So, it's important to remember that if you earn a significant amount of rewards, you should come up with a plan to spend them.

Earning transferrable points, like Membership Rewards points from The Platinum Card® from American Express or Ultimate Rewards points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can help protect against devaluation since they aren't tied to just one airline or hotel. Each program has over a dozen transfer partners to move your rewards too.

Consider a 'checkoff list'

Premium credit cards are available as consumer credit cards and business credit cards, and some of them can have an overwhelming list of benefits.

It may be worthwhile to write down each benefit and track when you take advantage of them. Doing this will help you squeeze every dollar of value out of your card. And when your annual fee posts after the first year of card membership you can evaluate if the card has benefitted you enough to justify the annual fee.

Premium credit cards worth considering

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit Needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber savings
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card®  on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times (enrollment required)
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.

Cons

  • $695 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase’s secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on flights and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2025

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    20.74% - 27.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    5%, minimum $5

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit for travel purchases
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit up to $100 every four years
  • Priority Pass™ Select lounge access at 1,000+ VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide
  • Points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel via Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Special benefits at The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • Complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership

Cons

  • High annual fee, but it can be offset by taking advantage of all the card’s perks
  • No introductory APR
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,469
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $3,346

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com and 1X points for each dollar you spend on eligible purchases. Also, earn 1.5X points (that's an extra half point per dollar) on eligible purchases at US construction material & hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software & cloud system providers, and shipping providers, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else, on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months of card membership

  • Annual fee

    $695

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    17.99% - 25.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • Enroll to receive up to $400 in annual statement credits on Dell purchases (up to $200 semi-annually), up to $360 with Indeed, up to $150 with Adobe and up to $120 on wireless telephone purchases
  • Get 35% points back when you use points to purchase all or part of an airline fare, up to 500,000 bonus points back per calendar year
  • American Express Global Lounge Collection
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® where available and get up to $189 back per year on your membership when you use your card
  • Up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year toward baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline

Cons

  • $695 annual fee
  • No introductory 0% financing offers

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

Information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    14X points per dollar for eligible purchases on your card made directly with a participating hotel or resort within the Hilton portfolio; 7X points for eligible purchases on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and at U.S. restaurants; 3X points for all other eligible purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within your first 3 months of card membership

  • Annual fee

    $450

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    18.74% to 27.74% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Pros

  • $250 Hilton resort credit for expenses at restaurants, spas and other establishments within the hotel property
  • $250 airline fee credit for incidentals, such as checked baggage, in-flight refreshments and flight change fees
  • $100 property credit on a two-night minimum stay at Waldorf Astoria® Hotels & Resorts and Conrad® Hotels & Resorts
  • Two weekend night awards: one every account anniversary and one after you spend $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year
  • Complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status

Cons

  • High $450 annual fee
  • You have to spend $60,000 on eligible purchases in a calendar year in order to qualify for one of the weekend night awards
  • No introductory 0% APR
  • Estimated points earned after 1 year: 240,088
  • Estimated points earned after 5 years: 600,438

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months.

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    19.49%-28.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fees

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees, terms apply.

Bottom line

As long as you can take advantage of the benefits and perks that a credit card offers, paying a high annual fee is not always a bad thing. And by using most (or all) of the benefits of a premium credit card you have a good shot of earning back the value of the annual fee.

Keep in mind that it's often best practice to not hold more than two premium credit cards at one time, as many of them offer overlapping benefits like travel insurance and airport lounge access.

And as you use the card it's important not to spend more just for the sake of using the benefits on your card. In addition, be sure you budget for the large annual fee you plan on taking on.

Catch up on Select's in-depth coverage of personal financetech and toolswellness and more, and follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from Amex, click here

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card from Amex, click here

For rates and fees of The Delta SkyMiles Reserve Amex, click here

For rates and fees of The Hilton Honors Aspire Card, click here

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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