For people of average wealth, credit cards are ways to get by when money is tight, make additional purchases, or earn generic rewards. The super-rich, however, have access to cards that give them luxurious perks, helping them to further fund their extravagant lifestyles. Many of these exclusive credit cards come only through invitation or by achieving specific benchmarks.

Key Takeaways

  • Ordinary people use a credit card to make purchases when cash is not readily available, with many Americans carrying a balance month to month.
  • For the ultra-wealthy, however, credit cards are used for accumulating perks, rewards, and flaunting status.
  • Many of these cards are available by invitation only, and stringent wealth requirements must be met to qualify for them.

1. American Express Centurion Card

The American Express Centurion Card is the most exclusive credit card in the world and commonly known as the “Amex Black Card.” Launched in 1999, American Express has kept it in a shroud of uncertainty, giving it a very high level of status in the minds of consumers.The Centurion card is so exclusive that American Express won’t release the card’s full details or say how one can become a cardholder. According to reporting by Credit Karma, you need to spend at least several hundred thousand dollars a year on an American Express card and have an income of at least $1 million annually. Condé Nast Traveler reports that you also have to have specific spending habits, with Amex prioritizing those whose purchases tend toward luxury goods, dining, events, and travel.

Initially, you had to be invited by American Express to get the card. More recently, however, you are allowed to apply if you are already an American Express cardholder. If you are approved, you will need to pay an initial fee of $10,000 and an annual fee of $5,000. The annual percentage rate (APR) for cash advances is the prime rate plus 21.99% and capped at 29.99%. There is also a pay-over-time feature that allows you to carry a balance and pay interest on it.

Nowhere does American Express delineate the Black Card’s rewards and perks. However, according to Condé Nast Traveler, which interviewed cardholder Brian Kelly, CEO of the Points Guy, it offers elite traveling status in airports whisking you through security and into private waiting lounges, as well as the Centurion International Arrival Services, which gets you off the plane and navigates customs and immigration for you. Other programs include the Centurion Hotel Program, for booking, upgrades, and on-property credits, and the Centurion Dining Program, for hard-to-get tables at exclusive restaurants and private wine tastings and tours.

Kelly's favorite program is Centurion Concierge, which provided him with a dedicated concierge who arranged everything from prime tickets to a sold-out Celine Dion concert at the last minute to private tours in cities around the world and access to exclusive Amex cardholder events with cooking and tennis celebrities. The concierge was also instrumental in changing travel plans quickly during emergencies, helping to escape a volcanic eruption on Bali, and navigating through sudden travel restrictions.

2. JP Morgan Chase Reserve Card

The JP Morgan Chase Reserve credit card is made of laser-etched palladium and gold (it used to be called the “Palladium Card”) and is available by invitation only, with requirements unstated by Chase. However, according to reportage by Credit Card Insider, to get an invitation you must have at least $10 million in investable assets with JP Morgan’s asset management. Unlike the American Express Centurion Card, the Reserve card has an annual fee of only $595.

The card has liberal perks and rewards. Each dollar that a cardholder spends on travel and dining results in three points toward the card’s reward benefits, and you can qualify for a $300 annual travel credit. Benefits are available for using Door Dash and Caviar, as well as fitness company Peloton. There are special car rental privileges with National, Avis, and Silvercar. New purchases are covered for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim, with an annual cap of $50,000. Chase has real-time fraud monitoring and around-the-clock fraud alerts. You get zero liability protection, meaning you won't be held responsible for any unauthorized charges, and have 24/7 access to a customer service specialist and worldwide travel assistance.

3. Dubai First Royal MasterCard

The Dubai First Royal MasterCard is trimmed in gold, with a diamond embedded in the center of the card. Consumers must receive an invitation from Dubai First to become cardholders.

It comes with some amazing perks. Cardholders have access to a team of 24/7 lifestyle managers whose sole purpose is to meet their every request. Additionally, the card has no credit limit and zero restrictions, allowing cardholders to spend as much as they want.

4. Stratus Rewards Visa Card

The Stratus Rewards Visa Card tries to differentiate itself from other elite cards, even down to its color. The bright white card is available to high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) only through invitation. However, these individuals can pool their rewards points together to use toward private jets and other perks, an option exclusive to this card.

These other perks include personal concierge services, discounted charter flights, car services, upgrades at luxury hotels, merchandise discounts, and consultations with lifestyle experts. The card has a $1,500 annual fee.

5. Coutts World Silk Card

Queen Elizabeth II uses the Coutts World Silk Card, as do at least 100 other people who have $1 million or more in a Coutts account. Known as England’s most exclusive credit card, the Coutts World Silk Card comes with a 24/7 concierge service, access to exclusive airport lounges, and private shopping at designer stores.