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I’m not your average credit card consumer — I currently have 26 credit cards and spend more than $6,000 in annual fees. But, I run a website that’s focused on evaluating credit cards, so it’s my job. The thing is that I’m here to test out these cards and relay that information to you, our readers, who can use the information in making your own credit card decisions. When I review these cards, it’s not a ringing endorsement for everyone to go out and get the card, but it’s really to show you some inside perks. Because, as you’ll see in this JP Morgan Palladium Card review, not all credit card perks — especially those that are not public like the Palladium Card — are made available to the general public.
When I blogged about getting the Centurion Card from Amex, a lot of people asked about the Palladium Card (with a $595 annual fee), so I decided to get it myself. In order to be eligible for the card, you must be a private banking client of JP Morgan. In order to become a private banking client, you must have $250,000 in assets with Chase, although I’ve heard that can be flexible and you don’t have to keep it there at all times — once you’re in, generally you’re in. Being a private banking client has its perks, like the fact that all my ATM fees — whether they’re Chase or at a random bodega in NYC — get reimbursed. Once you’re a private banking client, you can go to your local Chase branch and talk to a private banking advisor who will give you an application that you sign, and that signature is then laser engraved on the back of the Palladium card — a pretty neat feature, though it’s ultimately just a novelty.
The long story short about this card is that it’s exclusive. President Obama has the card, and who doesn’t want to have the same credit card that POTUS has? But is it really worth it? I’ll get into the details below, but spoiler alert: Unless you really value the United lounge access and spend a ton of money to unlock the sign-up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a much better option.
1. The Biggest Perk: United Lounge Access
The main perk with the Palladium Card is the complimentary United Club and Priority Pass Select membership. The card doesn’t advertise the United Club perk, and I think that’s because Chase also has the United MileagePlus Club Card and it doesn’t want to take the shine away from there. But, you do indeed get a full lounge membership, which is an extremely valuable perk. If you were to purchase an annual United Club membership without elite status, you would have to pay $600 ($550 for a subscription and a $50 initiation fee). Right then and there, you’re essentially covering the cost of the $595 annual fee with the United Club membership. So, if you fly United a lot, this perk could make the card worth it.
That said, the United Club Card (with a $450 annual fee) is a better value if you’re mostly looking to redeem rewards for flights with the carrier, since you’ll earn 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase and 2 miles per dollar on United purchases. If you’re more interested in transferring to other partners, though, the Palladium could be a better choice since it earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed with 11 partners including British Airways and Hyatt. Plus, I value UR points at 2.1 cents apiece, while United miles are a bit lower at 1.5 cents each.
2. There’s a Spend Bonus
Although the Palladium Card comes with no sign-up bonus, there is a yearly spending bonus. If you spend $100,000 annually with the card, you’ll get 35,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I consistently value Ultimate Rewards points high, and based on my most recent valuations, those 35,000 points are worth around $735.
3. The Category Bonus is Nice, but Not Great
The card will earn you 2x points on travel purchases. Yes, this category bonus pales in comparison to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns you 2x points on travel and dining. It probably doesn’t make much sense that a card $500 cheaper would give you more bonuses, but that being said, if you’re going on expensive safaris and booking private jets, the 2x travel could add up to be worth it, especially when coupled with the 35,000 points from the spend bonus. And the 2x travel bonus category is better than the Centurion Card, which has no bonus categories.
4. Global Entry Fee Waiver
Especially with the recent issues the TSA has been having with its security checkpoint wait times, now’s a better time than ever to consider getting Global Entry, which comes with TSA PreCheck. It doesn’t have an impact on me because I already have both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, but it’s definitely an added benefit to have with a card like this. You’ll get the $100 credit to cover the cost of Global Entry every five years.
5. It Looks Cool
There’s no denying the card looks really cool. It’s actually made of palladium and gold, and you can tell that just by how much it weighs — 1 oz., the same as the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card. The downside to this is that it sets of TSA metal detectors. So when I zip past regular security lines with my TSA PreCheck, I have to take my wallet out. It’s not a big deal, but a definite drawback if you’re looking to rush through the security screening process. For that reason alone, you can get a plastic version of the card if it’s too heavy to carry around in your wallet all the time and you don’t want to set off metal detectors.
There are other perks to this card as well, such as a concierge service and extended purchase protection. But, in general, unless you really value United Club access and spend a ton so you can unlock the 35,000 bonus points, this card is probably not for most people. I would still recommend that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better all-around card for the everyday consumer.
Are you a Palladium cardholder? If so, please share if you’re been able to maximize its perks.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards