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From the Experts at

The Best Premium Credit Cards in America

by Jason Steele

The Best Premium Credit Cards in America

A premium credit card often comes with an impressive annual fee, and an impressive lineup of features and benefits to match. It takes the right kind of credit card user to get the most value out of a premium card – but if you consider yourself to be a high-end user who can put those benefits to use, a premium credit card can be a good part of your spending strategy.

Premium credit cards tend to cater to frequent travelers – so that’s one thing to keep in mind. Many of the top-end credit cards carrying an annual fee of under $500, yet the rewards and benefits of these cards can easily offset the fee if you’re able to maximize them. For example, many premium credit cards include an airport lounge membership – which can be $400-$500 per year otherwise; some may waive baggage fees, or may offer statement credits for such fees.

Cardholders can also expect an assortment of travel insurance and purchase protection policies, as well as travel coverage for trip interruption, trip delays and lost luggage. Also, purchases made with a premium credit card are likely to be covered by extended warranties, price guarantees and accidental damage coverage.

Choosing the Best Premium Credit Card for Your Needs

Those who are considering applying for a premium credit card need to avoid the temptation to look for a card that has the most features, and focus on finding a card that will have the features that are the most valuable for their particular needs. For example, an airport lounge membership is nice to have, but applicants need to examine the lounge program and find out if a lounge is offered in a convenient part of their home airport, and in the places that they travel to most frequently. Cardholders also need to assess the value of the fee waivers or credits, along with the purchase protection and travel insurance policies to ensure that the expensive annual fees will be worth paying.

Those who travel frequently can usually find great value in these cards, while others who travel less often might find most of the non-travel benefits available in a less pricey product.

As you shop for a premium credit card, it can help to know your credit scores so that you apply for a credit card for which you’re more likely to be approved. There are free tools that can help you prepare for your search, like the Credit Report Card, which gives you your credit scores and an analysis of your credit data, updated every month.

Now, after reviewing many of the best cards out there, we’ve chosen the premium credit cards with the best overall value. Here they are:

The Winner: Citi PrestigeCiti Prestige

Why It Won: The Citi Prestige has been redesigned with an eye on not just benefits and rewards, but unparalleled value.

The Benefits: Cardholders earn three ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels, double ThankYou points for dining and entertainment purchases, and one point per dollar spent on all other purchases. ThankYou Points can now be transferred to miles with 11 different airlines as well as the Hilton HHonors program. Points are also worth 1.6 cents each towards airfare purchased from American or US Airways, and 1.25 cents towards other travel reservations. Cardholders receive access for themselves and a guest to the American Airlines Admiral’s Club and Priority Pass lounges. Other benefits include a $250 annual statement credit toward air travel costs, including airline tickets, and a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. And of course, this card comes with travel and shopping benefits too numerous to detail.

The Costs: There is a $450 annual fee for the primary account holder, and $50 for each additional authorized cardholder. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.

1st Runner-Up: Citi American Airlines AAdvantage ExecutiveCiti American Airlines AAdvantage Executive

Why It Won: This card offers all travelers most of the benefits of having a first class airline ticket — except for the big seat, of course.

The Benefits: When traveling on American and US Airways, cardholders receive their first checked bag free for themselves and up to eight additional people on their reservation. At the airport, travelers receive access to dedicated check-in areas at ticket counters and airport screening lanes, as well as boarding privileges. This is in addition to the American Airlines Admiral’s Club membership for themselves and their immediate family members, or two guests. On board, travelers receive a 25% savings on eligible in-flight purchases on American Airlines and US Airways flights. Every year when a cardholder spends $40,000 on purchases, they will earn 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles from American Airlines, so they can reach elite status sooner and have the chance to be upgraded to first class seats, as well.

The Costs: There is a $450 annual fee for this card and no additional fee for authorized cardholders, however the primary cardholder must be present to use the lounge access benefit. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.

2nd Runner-Up: The Platinum Card from American ExpressPlatinum Card from American Express

Why It Won: This is the classic premium card, but it now offers complimentary lounge access to cardholders only, no guests.

The Benefits: For each dollar spent, cardholders earn one point in American Express’s Membership Rewards program, which presently includes 17 different airline transfer partners. Cardholders receive membership in the Delta Skyclub and Priority Pass lounge programs, both of which only allow the cardholder to enter; guests must pay an additional charge. American Express also runs a small network of its own Centurion airport lounges. American offers a $200 annual statement credit towards airline fees, but not tickets or upgrade charges, as well as a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Add to that this card’s numerous travel insurance and purchase protection policies, and it is still one of the top premium cards available today.

The Costs: There is a $450 annual fee for the primary cardholder, and a $175 annual fee for up to three additional authorized users. There are no foreign transaction fees for this card.

Editorial Disclaimer: The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the credit card issuers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuers.

At publishing time, Citi Prestige Citi American Airlines AAdvantage Executive, and the Platinum Card from American Express are offered through product pages, and is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

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  • Meet Our Expert

    jason_steele GravatarJason Steele has worked as a computer systems administrator, a commercial pilot, and a contributor to several of the top personal finance sites as an expert on credit cards and travel. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in History.
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