Key takeaways

  • Some luxury credit cards from the past were available only by invitation — and still are — yet many of today's most exclusive cards are open to anyone.
  • Factors that set luxury credit cards apart are their high annual fees and generous benefits, like annual travel credits, elite status and airport lounge memberships.
  • Some of the top luxury credit cards available today include the Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Gold Card™, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card.

Luxury credit cards can provide incredible value, but you do have to meet relatively strict requirements to get approved. Exclusive credit cards with perks like airport lounge access, automatic elite status and generous statement credit offers tend to require very good or excellent credit and a high income. The high annual fees the best luxury credit cards charge also weed out applicants who don’t want to (or can’t) shell out anywhere from $395 to $995 in annual fees each year.

In reality though, many top luxury credit cards are worth much more than their annual fees due to their included benefits and the rewards you can earn. If you’re in the market for a luxury card but you’re not sure which one to apply for, you may be surprised to find there are plenty of exclusive credit cards that are well within your reach.

What exactly is a luxury credit card?

The definition of a luxury credit card seems to expand with the state of the industry. More and more crop up every year, though generally speaking, a luxury card is any that could be seen as a symbol of prestige.

That said, the state of the luxury card industry has changed over the years. Where many of the best and most exclusive credit cards once required an invitation to apply, that’s no longer the case in 2024. These days, anyone has a shot at one of the best premium cards on the market today if they meet the income and credit requirements.

The most impressive luxury credit cards

While the top luxury credit cards have changed over the years, nearly every major issuer carries an exclusive card for top-tier customers. Here’s a sampling of what some of these impressive cards offer:

Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Gold Card™

Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Black Card™

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Centurion® Card from American Express

Should you apply for a luxury card?

While luxury credit cards come with steep annual fees, they can offer immense value if you use all of their benefits. The key to knowing if they’re a good deal or not is spending some time to tally up all the perks and what they’re worth.

Take the Chase Sapphire Reserve® with its $550 annual fee, for example. That’s a fairly steep price to pay for a year of membership, yet cardholders get a $300 annual travel credit that applies to any travel purchases charged to the card each year. The included Priority Pass Select membership also has a retail value of $469, and members get a $100 fee credit toward a Global Entry, NEXUS or TSA PreCheck membership.

On top of that, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® starts you off with 75,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within three months of account opening. When you add up the value of the sign-up bonus, the $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass membership and airport security membership, first-year benefits are easily worth $1,500 or more depending on how you redeem your points.

Then again, luxury credit cards only make sense if you can use their statement credits and travel benefits. If you rarely travel and don’t charge a lot to your card each month, you may be better off with a credit card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

The bottom line

Luxury credit cards are considered luxurious for a reason — they provide a wealth of benefits and perks that can’t be achieved with other cards. Plus, they come with a level of prestige that can make you feel good when you swipe.

But at the end of the day, a credit card is still just a credit card — a financial tool designed to make your life easier, not harder. If you can’t spend enough on your card to justify the hefty annual fee it comes with, or if you’re not in a position to take advantage of those lucrative perks, you’ll likely be better off looking at some of the less luxurious (yet still beneficial) rewards credit cards currently on the market.

If you do have the income and the lifestyle to get the most out of a luxury credit card, however, then you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Just don’t forget to keep an eye out for those specialty invitations as you start shopping around.

*Information about the Centurion® Card from American Express has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.