If you have excellent credit, and want to use the best credit card available to you, then you may be in the market for a premium credit card. These are cards that boast a wide range of rewards, perks and benefits, but require the payment of an annual fee that is more than $200. The rewards can be worth the fee, if you know how to use them.
What to Expect From a Premium Credit Card
High-end credit cards are known for lavishing account holders with a long list of features, beginning with rewards. Premium credit cards will typically offer rewards for spending in the form of points or miles rather than cash back. These may be airline miles or points with a hotel rewards program, or they could be points in a bank rewards program that can be transferred to airline miles or hotel rewards.
In addition, premium rewards credit cards will offer a host of travel insurance and purchase protection policies not found in less expensive cards. Finally, all of the premium reward credit cards offered membership in an airline lounge program, and some feature access to multiple airport lounge networks. Membership in airport lounge clubs typically cost $400-$500 by itself, so you can think paying the annual fee for these cards as the purchase of a lounge membership, with all of the other features and benefits of these card added for free.
Here are the three credit cards that ranked highest when we examined the key features premium credit cardholders want.
The Winner: Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard
Why It Won: This card now goes above and beyond all other premium credit cards by offering lounge benefits not just for the primary cardholder, but for all authorized cardholders as well.
The Benefits: When traveling on American airlines, cardholders receive their first checked bag free for themselves and up to eight additional people on their reservation. Cardholders also get to use the priority check-in areas at ticket counters and the expedited airport screening lanes, as well as priority boarding privileges. Furthermore, all cardholders including additional authorized users receive American Airlines Admirals Club membership for themselves and their immediate family members, or two guests. And since there is no additional charge to request cards for authorized users, you can offer lounge club membership to anyone you choose to add to your account. (Just be aware that adding an authorized user to your account leaves you open to responsibility for any charges they incur using the card.)
Cardholders also receive a $100 statement credit towards an application for the Global Entry program. Reach elite status sooner by earning 10,000 AAdvantage elite qualifying miles every year when you spend $40,000 on purchases. (Full Disclosure: Citibank, as well as American Express, advertise on Credit.com, but that results in no preferential editorial treatment.)
The Costs: There is a $450 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.
1st Runner-Up: Citi Prestige
Why It Won: The Citi Prestige offers excellent rewards and strong airport lounge access.
The Benefits: Cardholders earn 3x ThankYou points per dollar spent on air travel and hotels, 2x 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 12 different airlines as well as the Hilton HHonors program. Points are also worth 1.6 cents each towards airfare purchased from American airlines, and 1.25 cents towards other travel reservations made through Citi’s ThankYou Rewards travel portal. In addition, cardholders receive access for themselves and a guest to the American Airlines Admirals Club and the lounges of the Priority Pass Select network. Other benefits include a $250 annual statement credit toward air travel costs, including airline tickets, and a $100 Global Entry application fee credit.
The Costs: There is a $450 annual fee for the primary account holder, and no foreign transaction fees. There is a $50 fee for each additional authorized cardholder.
2nd Runner-Up: The Platinum Card From American Express
Why It Won: American Express has a long history of providing premium benefits to Platinum cardholders, but this card offers airport lounge membership for cardholders only, no guests.
The Benefits: For each dollar spent, cardholders earn one point in the American Express Membership Rewards program, which includes more than a dozen different airline transfer partners. Cardholders receive access to the airport lounges in the Delta SkyClub and Priority Pass Select lounge networks, both of which allow complimentary access for the cardholder only, but guests must pay an additional charge for admission. Thankfully, American Express also runs a small but growing network of its own Centurion airport lounges that can be even more luxurious than most airline lounges. This card offers a $200 annual statement credit towards airline ancillary fees, as well as a $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Finally, it offers several travel insurance and purchase protection policies.
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 AAdvantage Executive World Elite Mastercard, Citi Prestige, and The Platinum Card From American Express are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com 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.