Ever wondered if the mega rich use credit cards? They do, but not always ordinary ones. Check out these 10 most exclusive credit cards in the world.
There are some credit cards designed specifically for people with money and status. These products are never advertised and are only offered by invitation to the super elite.
While they might not be within reach for you right now, it can’t hurt to aspire – or to see how those in the highest echelon of society live. Let’s see what the 10 most exclusive cards in the world have to offer.
TABLE OF CONTENTS: Exclusive credit cards in this guide
The top 10 most exclusive credit cards
1. American Express Centurion
Also known as the Black Card, the American Express Centurion is an elusive and exclusive charge card issued by invitation only. To be invited, you must be an existing American Express Platinum Card holder who spends more than US$250,000 a year. If invited in Australia, expect to pay an initiation fee of $5,000 and an annual fee of $5,000 for the prestige of holding the onyx titanium card.
Apart from having no credit limit on your card and a rumoured 24/7 dedicated concierge who will get you practically anything you want, this card offers perks so exclusive that they’ve never been advertised. Premium travel and hotel privileges, rare dining and entertainment experiences, as well as excess cover for top-of-the-line luxury car rentals… we can only imagine what other doors this card opens.
While most Centurion cards are issued by American Express across the world, South Africa’s Nedbank Private Wealth now offers the Centurion in partnership with American Express. It’s still invitation-only and limited to the super elite.
2. JPMorgan Chase Palladium
Made of metal and literally minted with palladium and 24K gold, this is one card you can’t take with you through the metal detectors. Although previously available by application, this charge card is now only offered by invitation to clients of JPMorgan’s private banking wealth management or investment banking arms. This means you’d have to have at least US$250,000 privately managed by them.
For US$595 a year, this card offers travel perks including a full United Club membership, unlimited lounge access and Priority Pass, a strong suit of travel insurance covers, and access to private jets if you should prefer to fly that way. You’ll also earn 2 points per $1 spent on travel, 1 point on all other eligible purchases, and 35,000 bonus points if you spend more than $100,000 a year.
3. Dubai First Royale Mastercard
Embedded with a white .235-carat solitaire diamond and trimmed with gold, this elaborate card is the Dubai Group’s exclusive offering to UAE royalty and the region’s top millionaires. You need more than money to have one of these – Dubai First actively seeks out its prospective cardholders among the ultra-high-net-worth folk.
The qualification and fee details of this card are almost as elusive as the card itself. Rumour has it the fee alone is AED7,000 (approximately AUD$2,500). But if you had the honour of being offered one, you could enjoy no pre-set credit limit, your own dedicated relationship manager and “Royale Lifestyle Management” services. Based on what we’ve read about this card, it seems you can get anything you want with it. Ask for the moon, and they’ll apparently try and get it for you (or at least a shiny replica).
4. Coutts World Silk Card
The prestigious Silk Card offered by the Royal Bank of Scotland-owned UK private bank is exclusive to Coutts clients only – including the Queen. The charge card starts with a £20,000 (approximately AUD$33,000) credit limit, although this may differ depending on the bank’s personal assessment of your finances.
The Silk Card has an annual fee of £350 (AUD$577) that’s waived if you spend above £50,000 (AUD$82,500) in your card membership year. With this card, you can expect a host of insurance, travel lounge and Priority Pass perks, luxury brand offers, concierge services and exclusive memberships with hotels, airlines, jet and cruise companies.
5. Sberbank Visa Infinite Gold Card
If being crafted from solid gold isn’t quite enough, throw in .17 carats worth of diamonds (totalling 26 stones to be precise) and some mother-of-pearl to make a card you can be proud of pulling from your wallet. Issued by Kazakhstani outfit Sberbank to only 100 of its top clients, this Visa Infinite Gold card reportedly costs a neat US$100,000 (approximately AUD$132,600) upfront. Of this money, US$65,000 is an account fee, and US$35,000 goes to the account’s opening credit.
Aside from the pleasure of owning a solid gold status symbol, cardholders enjoy above US$250,000 life insurance coverage, exclusive concierge services, VIP access at some of the world’s finest golf courses, luxury vacations and fast-track immigration treatment in hundreds of airports globally.
6. Eurasian Diamond Card (Visa Infinite)
Another Kazakhstani offering, the Eurasian Bank Diamond Card is an elite Visa card for invitation-only clients. This striking black card features a pure gold inlaid heart with a .02-carat diamond centrepiece, and can only be obtained by recommendation of the bank’s management board, or upon referral of two existing Diamond cardholders. You must also make more than US$300,000 (approximately AUD$395,000) a year to qualify.
Annual card fees range between KZT150,000 and KZT450,000 (approximately AUD$583 to AUD$1,750), depending on the size of your current bank balance. Perks include personalised concierge services, VIP airport lounge and Priority Pass access, as well as super-charged Visa exclusives such as hotel discounts, ticket pre-sales, luxury dining, spa offers and purchase protection from loss and theft.
7. Stratus Rewards Visa
Also fondly called the White Card, the Stratus Rewards Visa is often seen as the definitive card for ultra elite jetsetters. To get this card, you need a referral from an existing cardmember or a Stratus Rewards partner company before you’ll even be considered for an exclusive invitation.
As far as features go, this is the card for those who want to fly in privacy and style, with a rewards program that offers private jet flight-time as a redeemable reward. If you like, you could also trade your reward points in for a personal consult with a famed lifestyle expert. At US$1,500 (approximately AUD$1,970), this card will give you access to personal concierge services, discounted charter flights, complimentary car services and luxury hotel upgrades, special events and exclusive gift bags.
8. The Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card
Made of black metal and sporting an American Express logo on its front, the Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card is an invitation-only card that caters to the American bank’s highest-net-worth clients. To qualify, you must have over US$10 million (approximately AUD$13.2 million) sitting in a Merrill Lynch account, and also be a Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management or US Trust client.
Lucky cardholders pay US$950 in annual fees and enjoy perks including no pre-set credit limit, 2.5 rewards points per $1 spent on all eligible purchases, an annual US$350 worth of travel credit or a Delta SkyClub Executive membership, select airline and private jet flight discounts, and premium concierge services.
9. Santander Unlimited Black Card
This understated Black Card represents the “unlimited credit” that Brazilian Santander Group offers to its elite private banking customers. Although eligibility details are undisclosed, only about 2,000 to 3,000 cards are in circulation.
For BRL890 (approximately AUD$345) annually, card perks include high, flexible spending limits, 24/7 concierge services, VIP airport lounge access, Priority Pass, private jet discounts and the usual suite of insurance covers. You also earn 2.2 points for every $1 spent on the card.
10. Luxury Card Gold Card
Plated with 24K gold, Luxury Card’s Gold Card is a carbon Mastercard designed with rewards in mind. Unlike the others on this list, you can apply for this card without an invitation. But does that mean it’s not exclusive after all? With unpublished income requirements and a US$995 price tag, it’s still considerably pricey for a card.
The perks you can expect include 2% cashback or half-priced air fare redemptions when you spend above 50,000 points on flights, US$200 in airline credit yearly, a US$100 Global Entry application fee credit, VIP airport lounge access and Priority Pass, luxury concierge services and exclusive luxury gifts.
Exclusive credit cards in Australia
If your heart isn’t set on a pure gold or diamond-encrusted credit card, you may be glad to know that some cards on the Australian market offer similar benefits to the cards above. In fact, you may end up paying less for the same perks if you’re not overly concerned with using a credit card as a status symbol. After all, in terms of value for money, some of the exclusive cards here may not really be considered worthwhile in the eyes of the prudent. Then again, you might think differently if you’re worth millions of dollars.