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The best premium credit cards of August 2021:
Some of the top rewards credit cards — including the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
— have moderate annual fees and include a strong mix of rewards and travel/purchase protections. If you want perks like annual statement credits and airport lounge access, though, you’ll be looking at premium cards in the $250 to $550-a-year range.
Paying hundreds of dollars for a premium credit card won’t make sense for everyone, but if you take advantage of enough benefits, it can be well worth the money. Keep reading for a look at the best premium rewards cards and how to choose the best one for you.
If your number one criterion for picking a premium credit card is rewards, the Sapphire Reserve is a great option. Not only does it earn 3 points per dollar on a wide range of travel (after earning the $300 travel credit) and dining purchases, but it also has additional limited-time bonus categories.
Read more: Chase Sapphire Reserve review
While other premium credit cards may have higher points multipliers on select spending categories, the Sapphire Reserve stands out for offering some of the most valuable redemption options. Each of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from this card is worth 1.5 cents toward travel booked through the Chase Travel Portal, or toward dining, grocery, home improvement, or eligible charity purchases with Chase’s Pay Yourself Back feature through September 30, 2021. That’s a 50% bonus over the standard value of Chase points (1 cent apiece).
The card has a $550 annual fee, but its annual travel statement credit of up to $300 is easy to use (virtually any type of travel purchase is eligible, from plane tickets to Uber rides to highway tolls). So if you spend at least $300 on travel in a year — which you absolutely should if you’re considering this card in the first place — you can effectively subtract that from the fee for a total of $250 spent out of pocket.
Note that through December 31, 2021, Chase will also apply the travel credit to gas station and grocery store purchases — a limited-time feature that has been extended because of the ongoing pandemic.
See Pay Over Time APR
100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership
It’s hard to beat the Platinum Card when it comes to the sheer number of perks it offers. In addition to earning a respectable 5x points on flights booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel (starting January 1, 2021, the 5x points will apply up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), the card comes with a whole host of benefits, both for travel and shopping.
Read more: Amex Platinum card review
On the travel side, you get up to a $200 annual airline fee credit**, more airport lounge access options than any other card, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott**, and up to $200 in Uber credits** every year. Other benefits include up to $100 in Saks credits** every year (broken up as up to $50 semi-annually), and Amex Offers** for cash back or bonus points when you shop with specific retailers.
See Pay Over Time APR
60,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 6 months of account opening
The Amex Gold Card is one of the most rewarding options for those who like to dine out and order in. It offers up to $120 in annual statement credits (up to $10 per month credit) for dining** with GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. It also offers up to $120 Uber Cash (up to $10 per month) each calendar year (this is only applicable to U.S. Eats orders and Rides, and the Gold Card needs to be added to the Uber app to receive the Uber Cash benefit).
Read more: Amex Gold Card review
You’ll also earn 4x points at restaurants (including food-delivery services) and 4x points on up to $25,000 spent at US supermarkets each calendar year (and 1 point per dollar if that cap is met).
16.49% – 23.49% Variable
75,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
The best premium airline credit card for you will depend on what airlines fly out of your home airport. But if any of the major US airlines are a convenient option for you, the United Club℠ Infinite Card has a few advantages that make it the best premium airline card.
Read more: United Club Infinite card review
This card has an annual fee of $525. As a cardholder you’ll get a United Club membership, so you can access the airline’s airport lounges and its partner lounges around the world.
The United Club℠ Infinite Card also stands out on the rewards front. Unlike other airline credit cards that only offer bonus miles on purchases with the affiliated airline, this card earns 2x miles on all travel purchases and on dining at restaurants, plus 4x miles on United purchases (and 1 mile per dollar on everything else).
The best premium hotel credit card: Hilton Honors Aspire Card
15.74% to 24.74% variable APR on purchases
Good to Excellent
150,000 points after you spend at least $4,000 in your first 3 months of account opening
Just as the best premium airline credit card for you depends on which airline you prefer, the right premium hotel credit card for you will be the card that offers benefits where you’re most likely to stay. If you already have status with a particular hotel chain, you’ll probably want to get a card associated with that loyalty program so you can continue building rewards and even potentially earn higher status.
Read more: Amex Hilton Aspire credit card review
But if you don’t have a favorite hotel chain and simply want the card that will get you the most benefits and save you the most money, there’s a strong argument to be made for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card. In exchange for the $450 annual fee (See Review), you get the highest level of elite status in the Hilton program: Hilton Honors Diamond, which gets you a 100% points bonus on stays, room upgrades, and complimentary breakfast.
The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is the only hotel credit card to offer the highest level of elite status outright; with other cards, you have to spend your way to top-tier status, and the annual spending requirements are in the thousands of dollars.
Other card benefits include a free weekend night reward each year after your account renewal, and up to $250 in statement credits each year for purchases made at participating Hilton resorts. You can use this statement credit to effectively get $250 off of a Hilton hotel room rate. In addition to that, you also get up to $250 in annual statement credits for airline fees.
Other premium credit cards that just missed the cut
Our final list of the best premium credit cards includes six options, but we considered several other cards as well. Here’s a look at the other premium credit cards that didn’t make the final cut.
- New United Quest℠ Card — The latest addition to Chase’s lineup of United credit cards comes with up to $125 in statement credits each year toward United purchases (like airfare and incidental fees) and a free first and second checked bag when you use the card to pay for your ticket. Cardholders also get up to two 5,000-mile rebates on award flights each year starting after the first card anniversary, excellent travel protections, and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit. Read our United Quest card review.
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — The top-of-the-line Marriott credit card has some great benefits, including up to $300 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy™ program. It falls just a bit short of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card in terms of the value it can offer, since that card offers top-tier Hilton status, and both a Hilton statement credit and an airline fee statement credit. Here’s our review of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card.
- Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — This premium Delta credit card has some strong benefits, such as a Status Boost that earns you Medallion® Qualification Miles toward Delta status when you meet annual spending requirements (offer ends 12/31/2021). It also comes with an annual companion certificate each year upon your account renewal. That said, it has a $550 annual fee (See Rates), which is the highest among premium airline cards. Read our review of the Delta SkyMiles Reserve card.
- Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard®
— It was a right race between this card and the United Club℠ Infinite Card. Unlike United’s card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® offers airline lounge membership (for American Airlines’ Admirals Clubs) to both the primary cardholder and up to 10 authorized users that can be added to the card for free. Those 11 cardholders can each bring in two guests, so you’re getting 33 people free lounge access from one card. The United Club℠ Infinite Card ultimately won because it offers more miles on everyday purchases — and not everyone will care about airport lounge access. See our Citi AAdvantage Executive card review.
- U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — With a $400 annual fee and a long benefits list including up to $325 in annual credits for travel, this card is a lesser-known gem. However, it didn’t make the cut because you need to be a U.S. Bank customer to apply, and there are fewer options for redeeming your points compared to other premium cards from Amex, Chase, and Citi.
How our list compares to other publications
No matter what type of credit card you’re looking to open, doing your research is key. That means digging into the options and comparing them, and seeing what various experts recommend.
To help streamline the process of finding the right premium card for you, we made this chart that shows how our recommendations align with two other top publications.
Frequently asked questions about premium credit cards
How did we choose the best premium credit cards?
Our list of the best premium credit cards doesn’t include every option under the sun — Personal Finance Insider narrowed down our list to the top options. To do so, we used the following criteria:
- Annual fee — It’s a given that premium credit cards charge high annual fees, but some fees are lower than others, and some cards are able to justify the higher fees with benefits like annual statement credits that give you money back.
- Welcome bonus — A welcome offer of bonus points or miles for new cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement is a great incentive to sign up, and it can help jumpstart your next trip booked with rewards. It’s not the most important factor in deciding whether a premium credit card makes sense for you in the long run, but we did give some weight to how a card’s sign-up bonus stacked up against the competition.
- Ongoing rewards — How many points or miles per dollar does the card offer on everyday spending? The stronger the earnings on purchases, the better.
- Benefits — Beyond earning points and miles, what kinds of benefits does the card offer? Ideally, cardholders will get a strong combination of statement credits that reduce their out-of-pocket spending, travel protections, and extras like airport lounge access.
From there, we looked at the overall value each card offers based on these various features.
Is a premium credit card worth it?
A premium credit card is worth it for some people, but not for others. To decide whether a premium card is worth it for you, you’ll want to look at the card’s benefits and determine how many of them you’ll use. Premium credit cards justify their high annual fees by offering high-end benefits you can’t get with less-expensive cards, but they’ll only be worth it if you can actually put those benefits to use.
Another important step in determining whether a premium credit card is worth it for you is to assess your spending and see if the card will offer you strong rewards on the purchases you make. Some premium cards only offer bonus points when you spend with a particular airline or hotel, while others, like the Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige® Credit Card (no longer available to new applicants), have several bonus categories that encompass a wider array of purchase categories.
What is the best premium credit card?
Just as a premium credit card could be worth it for one person but not make sense for another, the best premium credit card depends very much on the person. Some of the most popular premium cards are the Platinum Card and the Sapphire Reserve, but they’re not necessarily the best option for you.
Which is better — the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum?
The Platinum Card is better if you want as many travel perks as possible, from airport lounge access to annual Uber credits to complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott. If you want a card with bells and whistles but want perks you can use even if you don’t hit the road often, the Sapphire Reserve is likely a better pick.
Its annual statement credit of up to $300 applies to all sorts of travel purchases, including those you make close to home like parking, highway tolls, and subway fares. It also earns bonus points on dining, and you can get great value from your points for non-travel purchases like groceries and home improvement.
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