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Having an exclusive credit card in your wallet can make you feel like part of an elite group, but getting your hands on one can be a bit of a challenge. In this article, we'll take a closer look at the most exclusive credit cards for 2023, share some tips on how to get accepted for one, and talk about some of the premium features they offer.

Pros and Cons of Premium Credit Cards

Pros

  • A wealth of bonus points/credits
  • Priority travel perks
  • High welcome bonus/ sign-up offers
  • Introductory APR

Cons

  • Substantial annual fees
  • High barriers to entry
  • Earning caps

The Top 8 Most Exclusive Credit Cards For 2023:

These cards offer the best in terms of luxury, exclusivity, and benefits, so if you're looking for an exclusive credit card that sets you apart from the rest, these are your best options.

  1. The American Express Centurion Card
  2. The Platinum Card® from American Express
  3. Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  4. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
  5. Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
  6. American Express® Gold Card

The Centurion® Card from American Express

SFO Centurion Lounge

American Express

Widely known as the most exclusive credit card on the market The Centurion® Card from American Express is legendary (and almost secretive based on what info is out there). The biggest takeaway to know is eligibility is mysterious and you have to basically be invited to apply. Here's what we do know about the elusive card also referred to as the "Black Card".

  1. It's made of carbon fiber
  2. There are three versions total
  3. It includes wearable tech
  4. Cardmembers receive 24/7 concierge services
  5. It includes luxurious travel perks
  6. Possesses a wealth of loyalty perks and rewards
  7. There is a $10,000 initiation fee + a $5,000 annual fee
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8 Cool Facts About the Exclusive Amex Centurion Card

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers more than just credit, it offers an exclusive travel experience with a range of premium benefits. Cardholders enjoy airport lounge access, personalized concierge services, and elite status at luxury hotels and resorts around the world.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APRSee Pay Over Time APR
  • Annual Fee$695
  • Welcome Bonus 80,000Membership Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership Dollar Equivalent: $1,520 (80,000 Membership Rewards Points * .019 base)

Cardholders have access to credits for hotels, digital entertainment, Walmart+, airline fees and more. Those who can use enough credits can offset the hefty annual fee, but otherwise, the value may be out of reach. Enrollment is required for select benefits.

Overview

The American Express Platinum Card isn’t a standout when it comes to rewards rates, but if you’re looking for a card that can elevate your travel experience and provide you with solid monthly lifestyle benefits, this one should be on your radar.

Read the review

Pros

  • An excellent card for premium travel and lifestyle perks
  • Access to American Express Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Priority Pass lounges and more
  • More than $1,500 in statement credits, from hotels, Uber, CLEAR, digital entertainment and more
  • 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels
  • Automatic Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy hotel programs

Cons

  • Very high annual fee
  • "Use it or lose it" benefits, as statement credits don't roll over
  • Long list of coupon-like perks may be hard to keep track of

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is an exclusive travel card that offers a generous signup bonus, annual travel credits, and airport lounge access, this card is designed for those who appreciate the finer things in life.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

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Secure application on issuer’s website

Rates & Fees
  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR22.49% - 29.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$550
  • Sign-Up Bonus 75,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,125 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Dollar Equivalent: $1,725 (75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

This card features an annual credit for travel purchases, which can offset the annual fee, plus bonus points when you sign up. You'll also get free access to tons of Priority Pass lounges and restaurant options around the world, along with access to the Chase Sapphire Lounge network.

Overview

If you’re looking to elevate your travel experience, look no further than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. When you first get approved, you’ll earn a generous sign-up bonus that can be used for travel-related spending booked through Chase Travel℠. Transfer the points to one of Chase’s airline or hotel partners and they’re potentially worth even more.

Read the review

Pros

  • An array of premium travel perks including access to Priority Pass lounges
  • Easy-to-use $300 travel credit that helps offset card's annual fee
  • Generous rewards rates for spending

Cons

  • High annual fee may be a deterrent for some
  • Perks are starting to get stale relative to newer competition

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® is a mid-tier travel card that offers exclusive perks and benefits, without the hefty price tag of your typical premium card. With a fantastic rewards program and travel benefits such as trip cancellation/interruption insurance and baggage delay insurance, this card is perfect for those seeking a more exclusive travel experience.

Chase Sapphire Preferred®

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR21.49% - 28.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$95
  • Sign Up Bonus 75,000Chase Ultimate Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's over $900 when you redeem through Chase Travel℠. Dollar Equivalent: $1,725 (75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards Points * 0.023 base)

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is one of the gold standards for earning travel rewards. It has a generous sign-up bonus and you can earn points on travel and dining expenses. The card does have an annual fee, but you can continue earning points through bonus categories and an anniversary points boost.

Overview

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is pretty flexible as it lets you transfer rewards points into miles or points several airlines and hotel programs. You can take advantage of strong transfer partners such as United, Southwest, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and Hyatt. Similarly, you can book any reservation you want through the Chase Travel℠ portal. Although the card might not be ideal for the most frequent travelers, it has a built-in upgrade path, so when it’s time to level up your travel rewards game, you won’t have to start from scratch.

Read the review

Pros

  • Points are easily transferable to airlines and hotel partners
  • Accelerated earnings on dining, travel & household purchases
  • Excellent travel and purchase protections
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Not ideal for the highest spenders
  • $95 annual fee

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card is an exclusive starter card that offers unlimited miles earning potential and no annual fee. This card is perfect for those who are just starting to build their credit but still want access to exclusive benefits such as flexible redemption options and travel accident insurance.

Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card

Product Image for Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card
Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

Rates & Fees
  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR19.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$0
  • Sign Up Bonus 20,000Capital One Rewards Miles More Info

    New cardholders can earn 20,000 bonus miles after spending $500 with the card during the first three months of account opening. Dollar Equivalent: $360 (20,000 Capital One Rewards Miles * 0.018 base)

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card features several standout benefits, including the ability to transfer miles to Capital One travel partners—an uncommon feature on a card with no annual fee. Plus, the ability to transfer miles to travel partners—both airlines and hotels—is arguably the most attractive feature of this travel card.

Overview

The Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card features several standout benefits. Perhaps the most appealing feature of this travel credit card is the ability to transfer miles to Capital One travel partners—an uncommon feature on a card with no annual fee. Plus, the ability to transfer miles to travel partners—both airlines and hotels—is arguably the most attractive feature of this travel card.

Read the review

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Ability to earn transferable points to use on travel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • Earning rate is lower than some of the competition
  • Not useful if you don't spend in dining, entertainment, streaming, and supermarket categories

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express® Gold Card doesn't stop at just great rewards, it offers an exclusive dining experience. With rewards on dining and groceries, statement credits for airline purchases, and no foreign transaction fees, this card is perfect for those who enjoy dining out and traveling the world in style. Cardholders also enjoy access to dining events and reservations at top restaurants.

American Express® Gold Card

  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APRSee Pay Over Time APR
  • Annual Fee$250
  • Welcome Bonus 60,000Membership Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 within the first six months of card membership. Terms Apply. Dollar Equivalent: $1,140 (60,000 Membership Rewards Points * .019 base)

This card is a foodie’s dream—you'll earn outsized rewards at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide and get dining credits with select merchants. No foreign transaction fees and others credits make this card ideal for travelers, too. Plus, people who can take advantage of the annual statement credits may easily offset the annual fee. Enrollment is required for select benefits and terms apply.

Overview

Thanks to its generous rewards and attractive benefits, the American Express® Gold Card is a very popular rewards card. While most credit cards these days target frequent travelers, this card offers practical benefits that come in handy in your everyday life as well as your travels.

Read the review

Pros

  • Earns valuable Membership Rewards points
  • A valuable card for food, including at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide
  • An array of credits that help offset the card's annual fee

Cons

  • Use it or lose it credits
  • Perks are not for everyone
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Improving Your Chances of Premium Card Approval

You don’t get to call yourself “premium” or “exclusive” without some gated entry ties to approval. These cards aren’t open to everyone. But how can you improve your chances of getting accepted for one of these exclusive credit cards? Here are three tips:

  • Build a Credit Score High Credit Score: Achieving an excellent credit score is the first step towards getting approved for an exclusive credit card. Make sure to pay all your bills on time and keep your debt levels low to maximize your chances of success.
  • Maximize Your Income: Many exclusive cards require high net-worth individuals who make more than enough to support their spending habits. Demonstrate that you have the financial means to carry a more expensive card.
  • Research Different Cards: Not all exclusive cards are created equal, so it pays to do some research before applying for one. Consider each offer's benefits and compare them against other options to make the best possible decision for yourself.

Features and Benefits of a Premium Credit Card

Amex Lounge Las Vegas

American Express

Now that you know the most exclusive credit cards for 2023 and how to increase your chances of getting accepted, let's talk about some of the premium features these cards offer. From personal concierge services to free global travel upgrades, here are some of the features that make these cards truly stand out:

  • Personal Concierge Services: Most premium cards come with personal concierge services, making it easier to book difficult-to-get reservations or tickets to sold-out events.
  • Free Global Travel Upgrades: Some top-tier credit cards offer cardholders free upgrades on flights, hotels, and car rentals when they travel abroad.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees: Many premium cards come with no foreign transaction fees, allowing you to make purchases worldwide without having to worry about extra charges.
  • Airport Lounge Access: Premium cards often grant free access to exclusive airport lounges for added convenience and comfort during long layovers.
  • Generous Signup Bonuses: Get rewarded for your loyalty by taking advantage of generous signup bonus offers from premium credit cards.

Tips for Potential Prestigious Cardholders

Remember when it comes to choosing a credit card, more expensive doesn't necessarily mean better. Make sure to do your research and consider all the features and benefits of each card before making a decision. 

Also, don't be fooled by imposters offering cards that look prestigious but offer very little in terms of rewards or benefits. Always research any card you're considering thoroughly to ensure it's offering what you want and need.

Premium Card Alternatives to Consider

Citi Strata Premier℠ Card

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

Rates & Fees
  • Our Rating 4.5/5 How our ratings work Read the review
  • APR21.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$95
  • Sign Up Bonus 70,000Citi ThankYou® Points More Info

    Earn 70,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening, redeemable for $700 in gift cards or travel rewards at thankyou.com. Dollar Equivalent: $1,260 (70,000 Citi ThankYou® Points * 0.018 base)

The Citi Strata Premier℠ Card, from our partner Citi, is worth considering if you’re looking for accelerated travel rewards but don’t want to pay a huge annual fee. It’s easy to quickly rack up lots of points on this card. While you can redeem ThankYou points for gift cards, you’ll get more value when you redeem points for flights and hotels, and potentially even better value when you transfer points to travel partners.

Overview

This credit card offers its members a range of incentives, such as bonus points, gift cards and 1:1 point transfers with airline partners. One of the more unique features of the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card from our partner Citi is that it offers 3x ThankPoints for every dollar spent at supermarkets, gas stations, EV charging stations, restaurants and travel purchases. You also get an annual hotel credit of $100 off your reservation of $500 or more when booked through CitiTravel.com.

Read the review

Perks

  • Earn 3x ThankYou Points per dollar spent on travel, grocery stores, restaurants, EV charging stations and gas stations
  • Annual $100 hotel savings benefit. Just book a hotel stay of $500 or more through CitiTravel.com to earn the discount.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Easily transfer your points to Citi's airline partners

Pros

  • High reward rate on common categories of consumer spending
  • Points are easily transferable to airlines and hotel partners
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Points never expire

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • No standout rewards category

Southwest® Rapid Rewards® Performance Business Credit Card

Apply Now

Secure application on issuer’s website

  • Our Rating 4.0/5 How our ratings work
  • APR21.49% - 28.49% (Variable)
  • Annual Fee$199
  • Sign Up Bonus 80,000Southwest Rapid Rewards Points More Info

    Earn 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Dollar Equivalent: $1,120 (80,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards Points * 0.014 base)

As Southwest's top business card, small business owners who travel Southwest frequently or have employees who travel will benefit the most from the card's premium perks. From in-flight Wi-Fi credits to elite status boost opportunities, the perks far outweigh the high annual fee.

Overview

It’s perfect for small business owners who have employees who travel. This Southwest business card offers employee cards at no additional cost and provides perks like inflight WiFi credits, a TSA PreCheck fee credit and complimentary upgraded boardings. The business airline credit card also offers the most generous point rewards structure of any of the Southwest cards: 4x points per dollar spent with Southwest.

Pros

  • 4x points on Southwest Airlines flights, Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partners
  • An array of exclusive Southwest benefits including free Wi-Fi passes and more
  • Shortcut to A-List elite status
  • TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee reimbursement

Cons

  • Higher annual fee may not be a fit for all

It Pays to Go Premium

Having an exclusive credit card can offer a range of benefits and rewards, but getting your hands on one can be a challenge. Make sure to build your credit score, maximize your income, and research different cards before applying for one of the most exclusive credit cards. 

Also, don't be duped by prestigious imposters, and be sure to read the fine print before signing up for any credit card. By taking the time to properly prepare yourself and research your options, you can increase your chances of getting approved for an exclusive credit card or find a premium card alternative that meets your needs.

AB

Ashlyn Brooks

Ashlyn Brooks is a financial writer and former civil engineer. She's on a mission to show others how to save and spend smarter through purposeful money habits. Her work has been featured on Investor.com, HerMoney.com, MoneyGeek and QuickBooks