The most exclusive credit cards: Should you get one?

Jim Wang
December 22, 2017
Most exclusive credit cards

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Have you been checking out the most exclusive credit cards and wondering if they’re worth it? Or which one to consider?

Some exclusive credit cards come with big perks attached to a big annual fee.

Others are made of premium materials that are outshined only by their premium benefits, like personal 24/7 on-call concierge services.

If you’ve been considering one of these cards, we’ve rounded up some of the best to help you decide if getting one is right for you.

Here are five of the most exclusive credit cards for you to consider:

CardAnnual fee Biggest perks
1. American Express Centurion$2,500Private concierge service, status upgrades
2. Merrill Lynch Octave Black$950$350 annual travel credit or Delta Skyclub Membership
3. Citi Chairman American Express$500Concierge service and travel upgrades
4. J.P Morgan Reserve$595Made of palladium, 3x points on dining and travel
5. Dubai First Royale MastercardUnknownEmbedded diamond crest and gold trim, dedicated relationship manager

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1. American Express Centurion Card

The American Express Centurion Card, often called the American Express Black Card because of the card’s color, is one of the most famous exclusive credit cards.

It also comes with a famously high initiation cost of $7,500, and that doesn’t include the annual cost.


  • Private concierge service that will get you anything you want, including access to VIP events not available to the public
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status
  • Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • IHG Priority Club Rewards Platinum Elite status
  • Centurion airport lounge access
  • Priority Pass Select membership
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status

American Express also offers standard programs like auto insurance and purchase protection.

Annual fee:

  • $2,500

The takeaway:

Sure, a $7,500 initiation fee and a $2,500 annual fee sounds insanely high, but their target customer spends $350,000 to $500,000 per year … minimum.

The biggest downsides, like all of the cards on this list, are eligibility and cost. While there are no official eligibility requirements, it’s been reported that American Express will only extend it to business cardholders who spend around $500,000 per year.

That amount is lower for personal accounts — in the area of $350,000. But it’s the level of spend Amex expects to see before extending the invitation to apply.

We asked Chris Peach, of, what he thought of the card. He suggested that you look past the high fees, because for some, it might make sense.

“With the $200 airline credit, $200 baggage fee credit, $200 Uber credit, access to their private airport lounges and your own concierge service to help with things such as sending flowers, handling a reservation or getting tickets to hard-to-get-into events, the card could easily pay for itself and then some,” says Peach.

2. Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card

The Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card is available to Merrill Lynch clients with at least $10 million assets in their Merrill Lynch accounts. Like the American Express Centurion Card, it comes with some big perks.


  • $350 travel credit or Delta SkyClub Executive Membership
  • Five points per $1 spent
  • No spending limit
  • Airport concierge
  • 20% off up to two round-trip coach airline tickets

Annual fee:

  • $950

The takeaway:

The biggest drawback, like many cards on this list, is the annual fee — it’s $950 for the Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card.

While the travel credit reduces the actual annual fee to just $600, it’s still a high price given the limited perks of the card. It might be exclusive, and it might be a cool black, but there are better options available.

3. Citi Chairman American Express Card

The Citi Chairman American Express Card is open to Citigroup brokerage accountholders with “significant” investments. It comes with a $300,000 credit limit.


  • Concierge service
  • Travel upgrades
  • Access to airport lounges
  • Earn one Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent
  • Earn one Citi ThankYou point per mile flown when you purchase the flight with the card

Annual fee:

  • $500

The takeaway:

If you bank with Citi, and you’re looking for perks like a concierge service, travel upgrades and the ability to get into private airport lounges, this card can be a good choice. And its annual fee, at $500, is the least expensive on our list. But you’ll find more benefits out of a card like the Centurion.

4. J.P. Morgan Reserve Card

The J.P Morgan Reserve Card, previously known as the Chase Palladium Card, is another invite-only. It’s only available to Chase Private Bank Customers.


  • Card is made of palladium
  • 3x points per $1 spent on travel and dining, and 1x point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Unlimited points
  • VIP access to events and experiences
  • $300 annual travel credit
  • No blackout dates or restrictions

Annual fee:

  • $595 annual fee

The takeaway:

Perhaps one of the most attractive benefits of the J.P Morgan Reserve Card is its status and scarcity — it’s made out of the rare chemical element, palladium.

Plus, it offers 3x points on travel and dining, making it a main competitor in the exclusive credit card category. But to become a private banking client, you need $250,000 in assets with Chase.

5. Dubai First Royale MasterCard

The Dubai First Royale Mastercard is yet another invitation-only credit card. But this one features a gold trim and a .235-carat diamond embedded in the center, making it one of the most ostentatious of prestige cards.

Most cardholders reside in the United Arab Emirates. The card offers a dedicated relationship manager who acts as your personal concierge. And Dubai First actively seeks out members — it’s reported that most cardholders are UAE royalty or making nine to 10 figures annually.


  • Embedded diamond crest and gold trim
  • Dedicated relationship manager to cater to your every whim and keep you happy
  • Royale lifestyle manager to help you book exotic trips, excursions and more, 24 hours per day

Annual fee:

  • Unknown

The takeaway:

It’s not really even worth asking if this card is worth it – most human beings will never see one, let alone be asked to join. The annual fee and interest rates are unlisted on their website, but they likely run high.


Should you get one of these cards?

Exclusive credit cards offer big benefits to those who travel a lot and can take advantage of the travel credits, instant upgrades to premium statuses and other perks. But they also come with huge annual fees — sometimes thousands of dollars — and high dollar spending requirements.

For most people, these exclusive cards are not worth the annual fee.

But if you’re a frequent traveler who wouldn’t mind paying for access to better service from airlines and hotels, an exclusive credit card might make sense for you.

Just make sure to compare all of your options before you decide.

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