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Your guide to private banking credit cards

March 29, 2021
9 min read
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Just as airlines and hotels try and woo the biggest spenders by offering all the trappings of elite status, banks and credit card issuers also have an incentive to keep their wealthiest customers happy. Sometimes they do this by offering elevated banking services, such as Chase Sapphire Banking, but some also offer exclusive credit cards that are only available to top customers. Today we're going to take a look at a few of these private banking credit cards and the perks they use to attract high-value customers.

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The Centurion Card from American Express

(Photo by The Points Guy)

Perhaps the most popular private banking card is the Amex Centurion card, which comes in both a personal and business version. While this product is available by invitation only and there's no clear guidelines for how much annual spending one needs to earn an invite, The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, has given us a great inside look at the benefits of this product by sharing details about his Amex Business Centurion card.

Between the $10,000 initiation fee and $5,000 annual fee, this card is not for the faint of heart. Still, the benefits of this card are pretty impressive, including automatic Hilton Diamond and Delta Platinum elite status, as well as a ton of luxury travel and lifestyle benefits.

Amex is also known for showering its Centurion cardholders with luxury gifts. In 2019, TPG received a bottle of Vintage 2008 Dom Pérignon and a Tiffany & Co crystal ice bucket, with a combined retail value of nearly $700.

The information for the Amex Centurion and the Amex Centurion business card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The best travel credit cards for 2021

J.P. Morgan Reserve Card (Formerly the Chase Palladium Card)

Annual fee: $595

Top perks: United Club membership

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United Club at London Heathrow (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)
The J.P. Morgan Reserve card comes with a United Club membership that gives you access to lounges such as the one at London Heathrow Airport (LHR). (Photo by Daniel Ross/The Points Guy)

The J.P. Morgan Reserve card is only available to the bank's wealthiest customers. In order to receive an invitation, you must have $10 million in assets managed by J.P. Morgan's Private Bank — which is not to be confused with Chase Private Client, which has a much lower eligibility threshold. While many banks offer metal credit cards these days, this card is unique in that it's made out of palladium, a rare and valuable metal.

This card is well out of reach of the average customer and frankly that's ok, as the benefits offered aren't much better than the publicly-available Chase Sapphire Reserve. These include the 3x points on travel and dining and a $300 annual travel statement credit. However, the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card also offers United Club membership for the primary cardholder and two guests, which can easily provide several hundred dollars in value a year.

I spoke to a TPG reader who is currently an authorized user on his parents' J.P. Morgan Reserve card (they had applied a while back when the card was available to all Chase Private Client members). He asked to remain anonymous, but said that his family puts about 75% of their total spending on the J.P. Morgan Reserve card, thanks to the strong bonus categories. While Chase is known for having one of the best customer service teams in the industry, J.P. Morgan Reserve cardholders have a dedicated team of agents taking care of them.

This reader told me that when he had to file a car rental insurance claim a few years back, he simply sent the receipt from the rental car company to a customer service agent who filed the entire claim on his behalf — and even got the car company to remove charges that wouldn't have been covered by the benefit.

The information for the J.P. Morgan Reserve card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: The 3 different flavors of Amex Platinum — which one is right for you?

Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card

Annual fee: $950

Top perks: No credit limit, choice of $350 annual travel credit or Delta SkyClub Executive membership

If you're an ultra high roller banking with Merrill Lynch (with an account balance of more than $10 million), you may be invited to apply for the Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card by American Express. The $950 annual fee is incredibly steep, even in the world of private banking cards, but there are a few great perks out there to help you recoup some value.

(Photo by Nicholas Ellis/The Points Guy)
Use the points you earn on the Merrill Lynch Octave Black Card for a seat in British Airways' Airbus A350 Club Suite. (Photo by Nicholas Ellis/The Points Guy)

Octave cardholders earn a fixed 2.5 points per dollar on all purchases. Points can be redeemed for cash back directly into a linked Merrill Lynch account or for a statement credit, gift cards, travel or more.

With points worth one cent each this works out to a 2.5% return on everyday spending, although the lack of any bonus categories is disappointing from a card that costs this much. However, if you redeem your points for travel, they have the potential to be worth up to two cents each for flights on American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines or British Airways and 1.7 cents each for other airlines, on tickets up to $500. This is an odd cap, as you'd assume that high-net-worth individuals would be likely to book more expensive tickets, but if your ticket is more than $500, you'll have to pay for the difference at a rate of only one cent per point.

Each year, cardholders get to choose between a $350 travel credit or a Delta SkyClub Executive membership, which costs $845. You can also get SkyClub access easily by holding either The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card. Enrollment required for select benefits.

Citi Chairman® American Express® Card

Annual fee: $500

Top perks: $300,000 credit limit

While the cards on this list are some of the most exclusive cards on the planet, the Citigroup Chairman card is one about which we know the least. The card is rumored to offer a $300,000 credit limit and access to exclusive members-only events. The card apparently carries a $500 annual fee, which is on the low end for private banking cards and it's unclear whether there are any statement credits to offset it.

We don't know much about the eligibility for this product other than the fact that you're required to use Citi's private banking services to qualify.

The information for the Citi Chairman as been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access

SunTrust Visa Infinite

Annual fee: $0 during the first year, $450 thereafter. Waived for private wealth management clients

Top perks: TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application fee credit

The SunTrust Visa Infinite card is marketed at private wealth management clients (who get a waiver on the card's $450 annual fee), but no matter how much you're paying for the card, it doesn't offer much in the way of compelling benefits. Priority Pass Select membership for airport lounge access is almost comically ubiquitous these days, with nearly every premium credit card offering one. The SunTrust Visa Infinite only offers five free lounge visits a year, with subsequent ones costing $32 per visit per person.

This is one of the few private banking credit cards that has a dedicated web page, although you still need to go through an advisor to apply. Much of the appeal of this card comes from its Visa Infinite benefits -- including purchase protection, travel insurance and concierge services -- although you'll also find all of these perks on other Visa Infinite cards, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, that offer a more complete package for award travelers.

Bottom line

The last handful of years has seen an explosion in the premium credit card market, allowing customers to enjoy luxury perks and travel experiences no matter the size of their bank account. Still, many banks continue to offer exclusive products for their wealthiest customers, though the benefits don't always keep up with the price tag. Please note that we have shared all the details that we know on these cards, but your queries could yield more information.

Featured image by (Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023