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Credit Cards

The most exclusive credit cards on the market right now

These high-annual-fee cards promise decadent rewards and perks for those who qualify.

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Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.

Thanks to the mythology surrounding the Centurion® Card from American Express — aka the original "black card" — an increasing number of consumers today want their credit cards to offer VIP perks and rewards.

Premium luxury credit cards, or black cards, are the most exclusive credit cards on the market. They typically come with high annual fees, high spending requirements and strict rules regarding who can qualify for card membership.

While there may always be cards reserved exclusively for the elite, some of the best credit cards aren't impossible for everyday consumers to apply for and use.

Ahead, Select rounds up the most exclusive credit cards on the market. They aren't all invitation-only, but most require that applicants have good to excellent credit scores and pay expensive annual fees that, in theory, pay off in terms of luxury benefits.

From travel cards to high-limit rewards cards, here are some of the best choices on the market for those looking for the star treatment.

The most exclusive credit cards

The Platinum Card from American Express

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 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within six 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

U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card

U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Information about the U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X points on prepaid hotels and car rentals booked directly in the Altitude Rewards Center, 3X points on every $1 on eligible travel and mobile wallet spending

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 50,000 bonus points (worth $750 on travel) after spending $4,500 in your first 90 days of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $400

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    17.74% to 24.74% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Complimentary 12-month Priority Pass™ Select membership that gives access to more than 1,300 VIP lounges worldwide
  • 12 complimentary Gogo® in-flight Wi-Fi passes per year
  • 24/7 fraud monitoring, ID Theft Protection, Emergency Evacuation and Transportation Coverage and more
  • Drive a luxurious Audi and save up to 30% when you rent with Silvercar with no location, date, or class restrictions
  • Elevated service levels 24/7 with dedicated service advisors and Visa Infinite Concierge

Cons

  • $400 annual fee
  • Only available to U.S. Bank customers

Citi Prestige Card

Citi Prestige® Card

Information about the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    5X points at airlines, travel agencies and restaurants, 3X points at hotels and cruise lines, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

    $495

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    16.99% to 23.99% variable on purchases

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent

See our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $250 annual travel credit
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit, up to $100 every 5 years
  • Priority Pass™ Select membership
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $495 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $836
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,782

Rewards total incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

On Chase's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 5X total points on air travel 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

  • Annual fee

    $550

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    17.74% to 24.74% 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

Mastercard Black Card

Mastercard® Black Card™

Information about the Mastercard Black Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    Earn 1X point for every dollar, 1.5% value on cash-back redemptions and 2% value on airfare redemptions

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $495

  • Intro APR

    0% for the first 15 billing cycles following each balance transfer that posts to your account within 45 days of account opening; N/A for purchases

  • Regular APR

    16.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    Either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

Terms apply.

Pros

  • 1.5% value on cash-back redemptions
  • 2% value on airfare redemptions
  • 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge and travel perks
  • No fee on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $495 annual fee
  • Low rewards rate on everyday purchases

American Express Gold Card

American Express® Gold Card

On the American Express secure site
  • Rewards

    4X Membership Rewards® points at Restaurants (plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.) and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, 1X points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first 6 months of card membership

  • Annual fee

    $250

  • Intro APR

    Not applicable

  • Regular APR

    17.49% - 24.49% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    Excellent/Good

See rates and fees and our methodology, terms apply.

Pros

  • Up to $120 dining credit annually ($10 a month) for purchases made with Grubhub, Goldbelly and other eligible restaurants (after a one-time enrollment)
  • Up to $120 Uber Cash annually ($10 a month) for U.S. Uber Eats orders and U.S. Uber rides (card must be added to Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit)
  • Strong rewards program with 4X points earned at restaurants and 3X points earned on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • Baggage insurance plan covers up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage and up to $500 for checked baggage that is damaged, lost or stolen
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • No introductory APR period
  • $250 annual fee
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $1,074
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $2,969

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Information about the U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card has been collected independently by Select and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

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.