We’ve Expertly Reviewed 6 Ultra-Premium Travel Cards and This One Came Out on Top

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We’ve Expertly Reviewed 6 Ultra-Premium Travel Cards and This One Came Out on Top

Andrew RWe’ve Expertly Reviewed 6 Ultra-Premium Travel Cards and This One Came Out on TopMillion Mile Secrets Team

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In the world of miles and points, a few cards rise to the top in the ultra-premium category.  These cards typically come with very large welcome bonuses, a slew of great travel perks, and a high annual fee.

But even though the annual fees on these cards are substantial, the value you get from all of the perks and rewards often outweighs the cost of keeping the card!

Use the Points You Earn With These Premium Travel Cards to Fly To Hawaii for Free!

I’ll take a look at the best premium cards and help you decide which ones are best for you.

When ranking the cards, I took into consideration the welcome bonus, the card’s perks and benefits, and the value you get from the points you earn and how you earn them.

1.   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Apply Here:   Chase Sapphire Reserve

Our Review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card tops our list for a few reasons.

Welcome Bonus:   You’ll earn 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.  That’s worth $750 in travel when you redeem points through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Travel Portal for paid travel.  Or potentially much more when you transfer points at a 1:1 ratio to Chase’s travel partners like United Airlines, Hyatt, or Singapore Airlines!

Rewards Earning:   With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you earn 3 Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining worldwide.  And you’ll earn 1 Chase Ultimate Reward point per $1 on all other purchases.

Strongest Additional Perks:   The Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s biggest perks include:

Worth the Annual Fee?   The Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with a $450 annual fee.  However, once you factor in the $300 annual travel credit, your net cost is essentially $150 ($450 annual fee – $300 credit).

If you apply for Global Entry, which costs $100, you are only paying $50 the first year.  And that gets you 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points as a welcome bonus (at least $750 in value), access to Priority Pass lounges around the world, 3X points earning potential on dining and travel purchases, and a lot more!  Make sure you read our full review of the Sapphire Reserve to see all the additional perks that come along with the card.

Transfer Points Earned With the Chase Sapphire Reserve to Marriott and Stay Steps Away From Myrtle Beach for Free!

2.   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Apply Here:   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Our Review of the The Platinum Card® from American Express

Welcome Bonus:   With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll earn 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of opening your account.  You could redeem those 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for $600 of travel booked with AMEX Travel.  Or you can transfer your points to AMEX travel partners like Delta and Air Canada to get even more value!

Rewards Earning:   The Platinum Card from American Express earns 5X points per $1 spent on airfare booked directly with airlines or through AMEX Travel.  You’ll also earn 5X points per $1 on prepaid hotels booked through AMEX Travel.  All other purchases will earn 1X point per $1 spent.

Strongest Additional Perks:   The AMEX Platinum comes with great features, including:

Worth the Annual Fee?   The annual fee on the AMEX Platinum card is $550.  If you plan on using the $200 airline credit and the $200 in Uber credit, your net cost drops to $150 ($550 annual fee – $200 airline credit – $200 in Uber credit).  If you use this card and apply for Global Entry, you’ll essentially be paying a fee of $50 in the first year.

For that $50, you’ll earn 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, Priority Pass and Centurion Lounge access, and hotel status at Hilton and Marriott / Starwood.  I highly recommend reading our full review of the AMEX Platinum card to read about the additional perks that come along with this card.

3.   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Apply Here:   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Our Review of the Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Welcome Bonus:   When you apply for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express you can earn up to 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

You’ll earn 50,000 points after spending $10,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening, and another 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within the same time frame.

Rewards Earning:   With the AMEX Business Platinum card, you’ll earn 5X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 when you book airfare and prepaid hotels through the AMEX travel portal.  You will also earn 1.5X AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 on single purchases of $5,000+ (up to 1 million additional points per calendar year).  All other purchases earn 1X AMEX Membership Rewards point per $1 spent.

Strongest Additional Perks:   The additional benefits on the business version of the AMEX Platinum differ slightly from the personal version of the card.  With the AMEX Business Platinum you’ll get:

Worth the Annual Fee?   The AMEX Business Platinum card comes with a $450 annual fee.  If you plan on using the $200 airline credit, your net cost is $250 ($450 annual fee – $200 airline credit).

But Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes are normally ~$22 per flight and Global Entry applications cost $100.  If you factor those in, your fee gets closer to ~$100 depending on how many Wi-Fi passes you use.

If you are a small business owner who can meet the minimum spending requirements, this card is an outstanding value!

Move AMEX Membership Rewards Points to Delta or Air Canada for Flights to Amazing European Cities Like Berlin

4.    Citi Prestige® Card

Apply Here:   Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige card stays in the wallets of Million Mile Secrets team members year after year.  Here’s why.

Welcome Bonus:   Currently, the Citi Prestige does NOT have a welcome bonus.  But it has in the past.

Rewards Earning:   With the Citi Prestige card, you’ll earn 3X Citi ThankYou points per $1 on air travel and hotels, 2X Citi ThankYou points per $1 on dining and entertainment, and 1X Citi ThankYou point per $1 spent on other purchases.

Strongest Additional Perks:   The Citi Prestige card also offers these money-saving benefits:

Worth the Annual Fee?   While the Citi Prestige card has an annual fee of $450 and has no intro bonus, it does have enough behind it to consider opening.  It has good bonus categories and after the $250 flight credit and $100 Global entry credit, you can really get value with the 4th night free perk if you book a couple of 4-night stays per year.  I would personally wait until a welcome bonus was available before applying.

5.   Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Apply Here:   Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

Welcome Bonus:   Currently the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is offering 100,000 Hilton points after spending $4,000 on purchases within the first 3 months of account opening.

Rewards Earning:   With the Hilton Honors Aspire, you earn 14X Hilton points per $1 spent at Hilton, 7X Hilton points per $1 on eligible purchases at US restaurants, flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com, and car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies, and 3X Hilton points per $1 on all other eligible purchases.

Strongest Additional Perks:   In addition to the 100,000 Hilton point intro bonus, you’ll also get:

  • Complimentary Diamond elite status
  • Enjoy an Annual Weekend Night Reward from Hilton upon approval and every year upon card renewal
  • $250 in statement credits each year of card membership for eligible purchases at participating Hilton Resorts
  • $250 per calendar year in statement credits per year for airline incidentals
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Free Priority Pass Select membership for access to airport lounges

Worth the Annual Fee?   The Hilton Honors Aspire is a no-brainer for folks who stay at Hilton hotels.  The card does have an annual fee of $450, however, it has a $250 airline credit as well as a $250 credit if you use your card for purchases at Hilton resorts such as at restaurants or spas.  However, if you are looking for more flexibility in your premium card, I would take a harder look at the cards I mentioned earlier.

Get a $250 Credit at Hilton Resorts Like the Hilton Seychelles Labriz Resort and Spa When You Have the AMEX Hilton Honors Aspire Card

6.   US Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Apply Here:   US Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Our Review of the US Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

Welcome Bonus:   With the US Bank Altitude Reserve card, you can earn 50,000 points (worth $750 in travel) after spending $4,500 on qualifying purchases within 90 days of account opening.

Rewards Earning:   With the US Bank Altitude Reserve, you’ll earn 3X points per $1 on travel purchases, 3X points per $1 on mobile wallet purchases (like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay), and 1X points on all other purchases.

Strongest Additional Perks:   In addition to the intro bonus, you’ll also get:

  • $325 in travel credit every cardmember year
  • 12 free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes each calendar year
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • Complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select airport lounges, with 4 free entries per year for you and 1 guest

Worth the Annual Fee?   While I think this card has a lot to offer, it does have some restrictions that move it down my list.  The first is you must be an existing US Bank customer to be approved for the card.  Any relationship is fine (checking account, other credit cards, etc.) however, US Bank doesn’t let you open bank accounts with them if you don’t live near a branch.

And they are picky with approvals, so applying for an alternative card then applying for the US Bank Altitude Reserve card probably wouldn’t work either.  If you are already a US Bank customer, I would move this card up to #4 in this list because the $400 annual fee is negated by the $325 travel credit and combination of Gogo Wi-Fi passes and Global Entry statement credit.  Earning 3X points on all mobile wallet purchases is great, because more and more merchants accept Google / Apple Pay.

Bottom Line

For me, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® comes out on top with its welcome bonus of 50,000 highly valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements, the $300 annual travel credit, and other perks like airport lounge access.

But I also like:

Which premium cards do you have in your wallet?  What helped you make your decision and what perks do you like the most?  Let us know below!

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The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees

More Info

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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I currently have the CSR and I like, but with the changes to the Priority Pass Lounge guest policy, I am going to get rid of it.

I am interested in the Platinum Card from American Express. Can you tell me what the policy for guests is for the lounge is?

Also do you get into all those different lounges?

To assist with the Priority Pass guest policy, i.e, if you need more than 2 people to enter, if u have an authorized user, who travels with u often, I believe u both can each bring in 2 guests, which is a group of 6 (u+2 guests + AU and 2 guests).

With the AMEX Platinum, it’s free for the cardmember and 2 guests to enter Priority Pass lounges. As a cardholder, you can also access Centurion and AirSpace Lounges. Here’s a link to our full review of the card:

https://millionmilesecrets.com/reviews/american-express-platinum-review/

The CSR is my primary premium card. But Altitude has some valuable benefits not mentioned above. US Bank offers “real-time mobile rewards”. For qualifying purchases, you can instantly redeem points via text message for an offsetting statement credit. This is by far the most convenient way to purchase Southwest revenue fares with bank points (with other bank programs, you need to call in, and, unless you know the tricks, you’ll end up with a ticket that’s hard to change/reuse). And I’m told you can instantly redeem points for Uber/Lyft travel the same way.

Really appreciate you sharing your personal experience with the Altitude card. That’s helpful to know!

I have the US Bank Altitude primarily for the travel reimbursements and the GoGo inflight passes. But when I tried to use one from DCA to DFW on American in April, I received an alert message that AA no longer uses GoGo:

“This aircraft is installed with our new high-speed satellite Wi-Fi service. ViaSat is the Internet Service Provider (ISP) on this aircraft. If you have an existing Gogo or Panasonic username and password, it will not work with this Wi-Fi service. If you do not wish to create an account for the ViaSat Wi-Fi service, you can sign in as a Guest User.”

I contacted US Bank for clarification and received the reply:

“Unfortunately, the flight that you took was not a Gogo-equipped plane. Therefore you were not able to use one of your complimentary Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi passes.”

As a result, I’m debating whether to keep the Altitude along with the CSR and Citi AA high-end personal card with lounge access.

Hi Jim, that’s unfortunate. Have you run into that issue often? There should be a way to find out beforehand if your flight comes with Gogo or Viasat.

Hey Andrew,

This was the first time I’ve experienced this, and it was a surprise (and not in a good way). I’m traveling to Budapest at the end of the month, and I’ll be interested to see what happens. Another limitation of the Go-Go passes is that they only work on domestic flights, and not international flights.

I opted for the Ritz Carlton Card from Chase. Being retired we travel a lot by car and there is almost always a Marriott property nearby. The Ritz card gives me the benefits for the Marriott program as well as many benefits for our international and domestic air travel. I can not justify multiple high end cards so the Ritz card meets my current needs.

Thanks for sharing, Gary! I had my eye on that card too, but now that they’ve discontinued it I’ll have to look elsewhere. It definitely is a feature-laden card. I was really interested in the intro bonus of 2 free nights. I’m pretty sad it’s gone and just hope they replace it with another card soon.

AMEX will offer the equivalent of this card although the Ritz specific benefits are missing as I recall. I’ll need to re-evaluate this card after all the dust settles from the merger of the Marriott/SPG programs. I may move to the AMEX Platinum or CSR. Not sure yet what will be in my best interests.

I have the CSR. I opened it when it was 100k pts in-branch March 2017. I will continue to keep it bcuz it is a solid card. I use the $300 travel within the 1st month it hits my acct. I used the bulk of the 100k pts @ the Chase portal for 1.5pts to go to Sri Lanka and several free domestic flights. Love the CSR!

I got the card in branch for the 100k offer too. It’s my favorite card hands down. Just booked an Airbnb and had it pretty much covered completely with the travel credit. And I love how quickly the $300 travel credit posts…within 24 hours the last 2 years I’ve used it!