Best premium credit cards

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Signing-up for credit cards with big bonuses is the easiest and fast way to earn lots of miles & points. “Premium” cards often come with the best bonuses, plus valuable perks, like the ability to earn transferable points, bonus spending categories, free checked bags, and more.  But they usually charge an annual fee.

Best premium credit cards

The information for the Citi Prestige and the Hilton Aspire card has been collected independently by Million Mile Secrets and has not been reviewed by the card issuer.

Card nameWelcome offerAnnual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express75,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 within the first six months of account opening

Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership
$550 annual fee (see rates & fees)
Chase Sapphire Reserve50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening$550
Citi Prestige50,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening$495
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card75,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of Card Membership$450 annual fee (see rates and fees)
Hilton Amex Aspire Card150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership$450 annual fee (see rates and fees)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021. Terms Apply.$550 (see rates and fees)
United Club Infinite Card 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening$525
A premium card can translate into premium travel experiences. (Photo by seligaa/Shutterstock)

Why you should consider annual fee cards

In some cases, it’s worth paying an annual fee because the benefits you’ll get outweigh the cost of the card. That’s certainly the case with many of these premium credit cards. If you can make the most of a card’s perks, the value you’ll receive from them can certainly be worth more than the annual fee you pay.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

With the Amex Platinum card, you can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. In addition, you’ll earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.

The card has a $550 annual fee, which is not waived (see rates & fees). But it’s easy to see how you can come out ahead with this top premium card.

The welcome bonus alone is worth up to 225,000 Amex Membership Rewards points. Which at a value of 1.8 cents per point, that’s worth at least $4,050 in travel f you use the perks and credits, you’ll easily come out ahead and find the Amex Platinum’s annual fee well worth it.

Cardholders will also have access to loads of perks like:

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

When you sign up for Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. According to our valuations, that’s worth at least $850 in travel. And potential more if you transfer your points to some of Chase’s fantastic transfer partners.

In addition to a valuable welcome offer, the card is loaded with benefits. The best perk for this card is the annual $300 in travel credits, which are automatically earned whenever you make a qualify purchase, including airfare, hotels, rental cars and more.

You also get an application fee credit (worth up to $100) for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years. The card also includes a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you and up to two guests access to 1,200+ airport lounges. So while this particular premium card does have a $550 annual fee, it’s totally worth it.

Just note that Chase has these restrictions for their Sapphire-branded credit cards. You cannot have more than one Sapphire-branded credit card open at the same time.

If lounge access is a top priority during your travels, then a premium card that offers lounge access is the way to go. (Photo by Zach Griff)

Citi Prestige Card

With the Citi Prestige card, you’ll earn 50,000 ThankYou points after spending $4,000 in the first three months of account opening. Transferrable Citi ThankYou points are worth an average of around 1.7 cents each, depending on the partner you redeem them with. That makes the bonus worth $850 and once you factor in the $250 travel credit and subtract the $495 annual fee the first-year value is $605.

One of the best benefits of this card is the fourth-night-free perk, even though it’s not what it used to be. With this benefit, you’ll get the fourth night free (based on the average cost per night) on any hotel stay of 4+ nights when you book through the Citi travel site. This used to be a perk you could use an unlimited number of times but now it is limited to twice per year. Also, you won’t earn hotel points or elite night credits when you make a fourth-night-free booking because the Citi ThankYou travel portal is considered a third-party booking site.

Along with this benefit, you’ll get perks like 5x Citi ThankYou points on air travel and dining, 3x Citi ThankYou points on hotels and cruise lines and one Citi ThankYou point on all other eligible purchases. Plus, every calendar year you’ll get up to $250 in travel statement credit for most travel-related purchases. With all of these benefits, you can see why paying the $495 annual fee could make sense for some.

That said, while the Citi Prestige used to be a top-tier premium travel card, with the removal of so many benefits over the years, it’s hard to recommend it over cards like the Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum or even the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express. It still, however, offers better travel perks than any of the other Citi cards.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex

This card is offering a welcome bonus of 75,000 Marriott points after meeting minimum spending requirements — a bonus that’s easily worth $600+ in hotel stays. In addition, you’ll earn a free-night award valid at select Marriott hotels each account anniversary (worth up to 50,000 points). This perk alone can help offset the annual fee of this hotel credit card.

Another valuable card benefit is the Bonvoy Brilliant’s up to $300 in credits at participating Marriott hotels. This credit even applies to room rates and can apply to meals from the hotel restaurant that are charged to your room. In addition to the annual Marriott statement credit of up to $300, you’ll also get an annual free night (at participating Marriott hotels worth up to 50,000 points) after you renew your card.

On top of those perks, cardholders get complimentary Gold elite status and up to $100 in property credits when you book direct using a special rate for a two-night minimum stay at Ritz-Carlton or St. Regis hotels. Check out this guide for an in-depth look at the rest of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex benefits.

The card comes with a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees). But as you can see, if you stay at a Marriott hotel at least once a year, this card is worth it for the annual free night and annual statement credit of up to $300. If you use the free night at an otherwise expensive hotel and add in the value you’ll get from the annual statement credit, the annual fee is absolutely worth it.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

The Hilton Aspire card has a bonus of 150,000 Hilton points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.

The Hilton Aspire’s benefits make it one of the top hotel credit cards on the market. For starters, you’ll get top-tier Diamond Hilton status as long as you have the card. That gets you 100% bonus base points on Hilton stays, free breakfast and upgrades up to a suite (when available). You’ll also get a free weekend night award every year and you can earn a second weekend night award if you spend $60,000+ on the card in a calendar year.

This is also one of the few hotel cards that comes with airport lounge access. You can enroll in Priority Pass and get unlimited lounge visits for you and up to two guests. It also has a yearly airline fee credit of up to $250 and up to $250 in Hilton resort credit, which is valid for purchases like room rates and hotel dining. You’ll have to select an airline for the fee credits and the resort credits are valid at Hilton’s participating resorts.

So sure, the Hilton Aspire’s $450 annual fee is nothing to scoff at (see rates and fees). But the card’s ongoing perks are almost ridiculous. There are few who won’t be able to easily offset the cost of the annual fee.

MMS team member Meghan used the welcome offer and perks from her Hilton Aspire card for an incredible week at the Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. She considers it one of the best family-friendly resorts she has been to! (Photo by Meghan Hunter/Million Mile Secrets)

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

The Delta SkyMiles Reserve card has an intro bonus of 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 4/28/2021. If you redeem through Delta Pay With Miles, you can get at least $800 worth of value from the welcome bonus. Which is great considering the card’s $550 (see rates and fees).

Delta SkyMiles Reserve cardmembers will also receive priority boarding, so you have more time to get settled in and find space to store your bags. And other money-saving perks, like free checked bags on Delta flights, an annual companion certificate and 20% savings on select inflight purchases.

Although this premium card comes with a hefty annual fee, it is still well worth it for frequent Delta flyers given the value of the welcome bonus and perks like the annual companion certificate, priority boarding, free checked bags, Delta Sky Club lounge access and more.

United Club Infinite Card

The United Club Infinite card is currently offering 75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. With this card, you’ll get premium perks like a United Club membership (worth up to $650). If you enjoy United Airlines lounges and their free food and drinks when you fly, this is a great card to have. With the membership, you can access United Clubs and Star Alliance lounges. Plus, you can bring two guests for free (or one adult and dependent children under 21 years of age) to a United Club or one guest to a Star Alliance lounge.

(Note that United Airlines lounge access restrictions state that you need to be flying United Airlines or one of its partners the same day to gain entry to United Clubs.)

You’ll also get perks like first and second bags checked free when you pay for your ticket with the card (save up to $280 per round-trip flight), priority check-in and boarding and, of course, more access to available award seats.

The annual fee is $525. Opening this card is the way to get United Club access at a discount. If United Club access isn’t a must-have for you, you’re likely better off with the United℠ Explorer Card.

FAQ about premium credit cards

What makes a card a “premium” card?

There are a variety of different kinds of travel rewards cards, from cash back to miles, points, and flexible rewards earning cards. But the cream of the crop are the premium cards — the cards that offer the best perks.

Most premium cards’ annual fees range from $400 to nearly $600. And while that seems like a lot, the cards’ exclusive benefits more than make up for the annual fee. Especially if you can make the most of those perks.

What is the hardest credit card to get?

The most exclusive card is the Centurion Card from American Express, most often referred to as the “black card.” It’s the hardest card to get because it’s by invitation only. 

The likelihood you’d receive an invitation is based on several factors like your credit score and the annual spending across all of your American Express accounts. If you are interested in one you can request an invitation here.

What credit card do millionaires use?

Millionaires are known for using the same, exclusive, Centurion Card from American Express mentioned above. Along with being invite-only, this card has the highest fees on the market, with a $10,000 first year initiation fee and an annual membership fee of $5,000 (a total of $15,000 of fees in the first year). But, cardholders aren’t subject to a spending limit. Meaning you can spend as much as you like on this card; you will just need to be able to pay off your balance every month — which shouldn’t be a problem if you’re a millionaire!

For rates and fees of the Platinum card from American Express, please click here
For rates and fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve American Express Card, please click here
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire Card, please click here.

Deborah Atchison is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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