Top-tier credit cards make it easier to earn rewards. For example, if you sign up for an online account and paperless statement, you score 600 extra rewards points if you're a Citi ThankYou Prestige cardholder. American Express Delta Reserve cardholders receive 30,000 Medallion miles in the first year that count toward Delta's elite frequent-flier status. Other premium rewards cards offer simple ways to earn points faster than the conventional 1-for-1 rate, such as travel or purchase bonuses.
Issuers also work overtime to create elite rewards events available only to their premium cardholders. For example, American Express offers "by invitation only" events. Past events included a cookout on the Cayman Islands catered by some of the world's most renowned chefs and an inside experience at the Wimbledon Championship last year.
For only $2,650 per person, or 331,250 rewards points, the upscale cookout at the Ritz-Carlton in the Cayman Islands included food and wine tastings from the likes of Anthony Bourdain, Jose Andres, Charlie Trotter, Susur Lee, Gail Simmons, Cakebread Cellars and Screaming Eagle.
The Wimbledon event offered center-court tickets along with two days of activities, including meals, transportation and hotel accommodations, hosted by former Wimbledon champion Stan Smith. Platinum and Centurion cardholders also got to meet former tennis star John McEnroe along with other former Wimbledon competitors. The price tag? A cool $7,980 per person or 997,500 rewards points.