With the right credit card in your wallet, you can make larger purchases than you could with cash but can also gain access to unique perks. Scroll below to learn about the credit cards with truly obscene rewards.
According to research conducted by J.D. Powers and Associates, U.S. consumers are happier with their premium credit cards than ever before. Banks have a lot of incentive to keep those rewards coming: People who are pleased with their perks spend $1,132 per month on average while people who are less than thrilled with theirs spend only $744 per month. Cash back, not surprisingly, is the most popular reward. Points for travel, merchandise, and dining are nice too.
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Big spenders are in a whole different league, stockpiling their points for drone-piloting instruction, card-counting lessons taught by blackjack pros and shark-diving adventures in the Bahamas. From there, it gets even more outlandish. Here are three cards with truly obscene rewards.
American Express Centurion Card, aka the Black Card
You won’t see many of these floating around. There is no application process, and AmEx is stubbornly tight-lipped about its criteria for the invitation-only account. The Motley Fool estimates that only 0.1 percent of the population has the kind of spending power that AmEx is looking for.
Even the reward system is cloaked in secrecy, but a company spokeswoman told The Associated Press in 2015 that decisions are made on case-by-case reviews based on spending patterns. The discussion took place after Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian paid for the $170.4 million painting “Reclining Nude,” by Amedeo Modigliani, with his black card. Neither AmEx nor the auction house would confirm this, but Liu and his wife freely volunteered the information.
Liu said that he paid with the card so that his family could earn the points to travel the world for free for the rest of their lives. The exclusive card has a baseline of one point per dollar spent, so the lucky Lius can probably fly in style with first-class seats and unlimited pretzels.
According to The Motley Fool, the Centurion card has an initiation fee of $7,500 and an annual membership fee of $2,500 per year per card. Some experts surmise that spending and paying off between $250,000 and $500,000 per year might land you an invitation. A business account is offered, and that one may be easier to come by.
Again, many of the cards’ perks remain a mystery, but here are some known benefits:
- 5 times the points on purchases over $5,000
- Each cardholder has a personal Centurion Concierge to service their needs from being your travel agent or getting you last minute reservations at popular restaurants
- Free hotel upgrades, such as noon check-in, daily breakfast for two and free Wi-Fi, at fancy hotels like the St. Regis, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula, Westin, and Waldorf Astoria
- Complementary flight upgrades on Delta flights including priority check-in and priority wait listing
- Complementary car rental upgrades with Hertz and Avis
- Hotel and cruise ship credits for use on dining, spa services or other amenities
- A personal guide through customs and immigration on international flights
- Unlimited free access to posh airport VIP lounges, which include high-quality food and craft cocktails and wine
- Access to special sales and events like the Monaco Grand Prix, the Kentucky Derby, or a private tour of wineries
- Guaranteed reservations at the world’s top 1000 restaurants
- 90-day protection on eligible items purchased with the Centurion card that are stolen, lost or damaged
Dubai First Royale Mastercard
This is a fun little card if you’re a multimillionaire, especially one who lives in the United Arab Emirates. Even those credentials, though, won’t automatically result in a Royale card.
Being royalty helps, but there are no guarantees. Dubai First Royale doesn’t want to talk about its selection process beyond saying that clients from around the world are welcome to apply. However, since there are only a few hundred members, you shouldn’t get your hopes up.
The card itself is trimmed with gold and embedded with a .235-carat diamond. There are no spending limits or restrictions of any kind. Ibrahim al Ansari, the bank’s chief executive, says the Royale card is “the most exclusive credit card in the world.”
There is no formal system for earning rewards; customers are presumed to have already earned them, so benefits are difficult to describe. Individuals who carry this card don’t especially need discounts on gas, baggage fees, or trips to Walt Disney World. Instead, they appreciate having 24/7 access to a dedicated financial advisor and something called lifestyle management services, who acts as a kind of exclusive concierge to obtain almost anything the cardholder desires.
If they want tickets to the Academy Awards or a private chalet for a Formula One weekend, arrangements are discreetly made. If a member sees a yacht he likes while on vacation, the purchase will be approved with no questions asked.
If you can imagine it and have a Royale card, it’s yours.
Sberbank Visa Infinite Gold Card
Sberbank-Kazakhstan, a Kazakhstani bank, offers a card that’s made of pure gold and decorated with 26 diamonds totaling 0.17 carats. You don’t want to leave this one behind in the tip folder at the restaurant.
It costs $65,000 to produce, and the initiation fee is $35,000. Simply put, plan on ponying up $100,000 just to get the ball rolling. The annual fee is a relatively affordable $2,000.
The gold card is available to only the 100 wealthiest Sberbank-Kazakhstan clients. According to the bank’s website, it will “emphasise your high status and provide privileges unavailable to holders of more basic cards: global discounts and special offers, tailored service and a higher level of financial security.”
Here are some of the many reasons to amass a fortune, move to Kazakhstan and get this card:
- Health and life insurance worth more than $250,000
- 24/7 Concierge and limo services
- Preferential treatment at luxury resorts, spas, and golf courses
- Free access to VIP lounges in many airports
- Fast-track immigration services at 280 airports around the world
- A free iPhone
MasterCard Gold Card
This luxury card from MasterCard carries a hefty $995 annual fee but offers rewards over and above those of standard cards. Looking at the basics, the Gold Card doesn’t seem to have much going for it when compared to cheaper cards, but if you’re into the luxury lifestyle, this could be the card for you.
Standard perks include:
- One point per dollar on all purchases, redeemable at two cents each for statement credit, airfare, car rental, cruises and hotel nights
- 50,000-point signup bonus for spending $3,000 in the first three months
- $200 airfare credit annually
- $100 Global Entry reimbursement annually
- Travel protection
- Identity theft protection
- Zero-liability fraud protection
Signing up gets you a zero-percent entry APR on qualifying transfers for 15 months and 16.49 percent variable rates after the introductory period is over. Applicants on active military duty aren’t required to pay the annual fee, and all cardholders gain access to its special benefits, such as a concierge service to help with travel planning, reservations, event access, and other special requests. You’ll enjoy chauffeured transportation, airport escorts, and VIP airport lounge access when you fly and special privileges if you head off on a cruise. MasterCard also treats Gold Card members to occasional “luxury gifts.”