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The best premium credit cards
Below you'll find the main details about each of our favorite premium credit cards. For more information on each card, scroll to the "more info" section below.
Best for earning travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Best travel and luxury benefits: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Best perks for dining out and ordering in: American Express® Gold Card
Best for expensive hotel stays: Citi Prestige® Card
The Citi Prestige® Card may not have the same name recognition as the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Platinum Card, but it offers one very unique benefit that you can't find anywhere else: a fourth night free on qualifying hotel stays booked through Citi.
You can use this perk up to two times per calendar year, and if you're strategic about how you apply it, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
The best premium airline credit card: United Club℠ Infinite Card
The best premium hotel credit card: Hilton Honors Aspire Card
Some of the top rewards credit cards — including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card — have $95 annual fees and include a strong mix of rewards and travel/purchase protections. If you want perks like annual statement credits and airport lounge access, though, you'll be looking at premium cards in the $250 to $550-a-year range.
Paying hundreds of dollars for a premium credit card won't make sense for everyone, but if you take advantage of enough benefits, it can be well worth the money. Keep reading for a look at the best premium rewards cards and information on how to find the best one for you.
We're focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won't be worth it if you're paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it's important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.
How our list compares to other publications
No matter what type of credit card you're looking to open, doing your research is key. That means digging into the options and comparing them, and seeing what various experts recommend.
To help streamline the process of finding the right premium credit card for you, we made this chart that shows how our recommendations align with two other top publications.
|Personal Finance Insider||NerdWallet||The Points Guy|
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||✓||✓||✓|
|Amex Gold Card||✓||X||X|
|Citi Prestige® Credit Card||✓||X||✓|
|United Club℠ Infinite Card||✓||X||X|
|Hilton Honors Aspire Card||✓||✓||✓|
More info on our favorite premium credit cards
If your No. 1 criterion for picking a premium credit card is rewards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great option. Not only does it earn 3 points per dollar on a wide range of travel (after earning the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases, but it also has additional limited-time bonus categories.
While other premium credit cards may have higher points multipliers on select spending categories, the Chase Sapphire Reserve stands out for offering some of the most valuable redemption options. Each of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from this card is worth 1.5 cents toward travel booked through Chase, or toward dining, grocery, or home improvement purchases with Chase's new Pay Yourself Back feature. That's a 50% bonus over the standard value of Chase points (1 cent apiece).
The card has a $550 annual fee, but its annual travel statement credit of up to $300 is easy to use (virtually any type of travel purchase is eligible, from plane tickets to Uber rides to highway tolls). So if you spend at least $300 on travel in a year — which you absolutely should if you're considering this card in the first place — you can effectively subtract that from the fee for a total of $250 spent out of pocket.
It's hard to beat the Platinum Card when it comes to the sheer number of perks it offers. In addition to earning a respectable 5x points on flights booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel, the card comes with a whole host of benefits, both for travel and shopping.
On the travel side, you get up to a $200 annual airline fee credit, more airport lounge access options than any other card, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and up to $200 in Uber credits every year. Other benefits include up to $100 in Saks credits every year (broken up as $50 semi-annually), and Amex Offers for cash back or bonus points when you shop with specific retailers.
The Amex Gold Card is one of the most rewarding options for those who like to dine out and order in. It offers up to $120 in annual statement credits (up to $10 per month) for dining with GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations.
You'll also earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide (including food-delivery services) and 4x points on up to $25,000 spent at US supermarkets each calendar year (and 1 point per dollar if that cap is met).
Citi Prestige® Card
The Citi Prestige® Credit Card isn't as well known as some other cards on this list, but it stands out for one very valuable benefit: a fourth night free on hotel stays booked through Citi.
You can use this benefit up to twice a year, and if you apply it to expensive stays, this perk alone can cancel out the card's $495 annual fee.
The Citi Prestige® Credit Card also offers up to $250 in statement credits toward travel purchases each year, and it earns 5x points on air travel and restaurants.
United Club℠ Infinite Card
The best premium airline credit card for you will depend on what airlines fly out of your home airport. But if any of the major US airlines is a convenient option for you, the United Club℠ Infinite Card has a few advantages that make it the best premium airline card.
This card has a $525 annual fee, but it's waived the first year — which is virtually unheard of among premium credit cards. As a cardholder you'll get a United Club membership, so you can access the airline's airport lounges and its partner lounges around the world.
The United Club℠ Infinite Card also stands out on the rewards front. Unlike other airline credit cards that only offer bonus miles on purchases with the affiliated airline, this card earns 2x miles on all travel purchases and on dining at restaurants, plus 4x miles on United purchases (and 1 mile per dollar on everything else).
You also get two free checked bags on United flights when you pay with the card, plus priority check-in and early boarding.
Just as the best premium airline credit card for you depends on which airline you prefer, the right premium hotel credit card for you will be the card that offers benefits where you're most likely to stay. If you already have status with with a particular hotel chain, you'll probably want to get a card associated with that loyalty program so you can continue building rewards and even potentially earn higher status.
But if you don't have a favorite hotel chain and simply want the card that will get you the most benefits and save you the most money, there's a strong argument to be made for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card.
In exchange for the $450 annual fee, you get the highest level of elite status in the Hilton program: Hilton Honors Diamond, which gets you a 100% points bonus on stays, room upgrades, and complimentary breakfast. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is the only hotel credit card to offer the highest level of elite status outright; with other cards, you have to spend your way to top-tier status, and the annual spending requirements are in the thousands of dollars.
Other card benefits include a free weekend night reward each year after your account renewal, and up to $250 in statement credits each year for purchases made at participating Hilton resorts. You can use this statement credit to effectively get $250 off of a Hilton hotel room rate. In addition to that, you also get up to $250 in annual statement credits for airline fees.
Other credit cards that just missed the cut
Our final list of the best premium credit cards includes six options, but we considered several other cards as well. Here's a look at the other premium credit cards that didn't make the final cut.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — The top-of-the-line Marriott credit card has some great benefits, including up to $300 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels. It falls just a bit short of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card in terms of the value it can offer, since that card offers top-tier Hilton status, and both a Hilton statement credit and an airline fee statement credit.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — This premium Delta credit card has some strong benefits, such as a Status Boost that earns you Medallion Qualification Miles toward Delta status when you meet annual spending requirements. It also comes with an annual companion certificate each year upon your account renewal. That said, it has a $550 annual fee (See Rates), which is the highest among premium airline cards.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® — It was a right race between this card and theUnited Club℠ Infinite Card. Unlike United's card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offers airline lounge membership (for American Airlines' Admirals Clubs) to both the primary cardholder and up to 10 authorized users that can be added to the card for free. Those 11 cardholders can each bring in two guests, so you're getting 33 people free lounge access from one card. The United Club℠ Infinite Card ultimately won because it offers more miles on everyday purchases — and not everyone will care about airport lounge access.
- U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — With a $400 annual fee and a long benefits list including up to $325 in annual credits for travel, this card is a lesser-known gem. However, it didn't make the cut because you need to be a U.S. Bank customer to apply, and there are fewer options for redeeming your points compared to other premium cards from Amex, Chase, and Citi.
Frequently asked questions
How did we choose the best premium credit cards?
Our list of the best premium credit cards doesn't include every option under the sun — Personal Finance Insider narrowed down our list to the top options. To do so, we used the following criteria:
- Annual fee — It's a given that premium credit cards charge high annual fees, but some fees are lower than others, and some cards are able to justify the higher fees with benefits like annual statement credits that give you money back.
- Welcome bonus — A welcome offer of bonus points or miles for new cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement is a great incentive to sign up, and it can help jumpstart your next trip booked with rewards. It's not the most important factor in deciding whether a premium credit card makes sense for you in the long run, but we did give some weight to how a card's sign-up bonus stacked up against the competition.
- Ongoing rewards — How many points or miles per dollar does the card offer on everyday spending? The stronger the earnings on purchases, the better.
- Benefits — Beyond earning points and miles, what kinds of benefits does the card offer? Ideally, cardholders will get a strong combination of statement credits that reduce their out-of-pocket spending, travel protections, and extras like airport lounge access.
From there, we looked at the overall value each card offers based on these various features.
Is a premium credit card worth it?
A premium credit card is worth it for some people, but not for others. To decide whether a premium card is worth it for you, you'll want to look at the card's benefits and determine how many of them you'll use. Premium credit cards justify their high annual fees by offering high-end benefits you can't get with less-expensive cards, but they'll only be worth it if you can actually put those benefits to use.
Another important step in determining whether a premium credit card is worth it for you is to assess your spending and see if the card will offer you strong rewards on the purchases you make. Some premium cards only offer bonus points when you spend with a particular airline or hotel, while others, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, have several bonus categories that encompass a wider array of purchase categories.
What is the best premium credit card?
Just as a premium credit card could be worth it for one person but not make sense for another, the best premium credit card depends very much on the person. Some of the most popular premium cards are the Platinum Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but they're not necessarily the best option for you.
Which is better — the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum?
The Platinum Card is better if you want as many travel perks as possible, from airport lounge access to annual Uber credits to complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott. If you want a card with bells and whistles but want perks you can use even if you don't hit the road often, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is likely a better pick. Its annual statement credit of up to $300 applies to all sorts of travel purchases, including those you make close to home like parking and highway tolls and subway fares. It also earns bonus points on dining, and you can get great value from your points for non-travel purchases like groceries, dining, and home improvement.
Check out our comparison of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum for an in-depth look at the two cards.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.
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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.