Your guide to private banking credit cards

Mar 29, 2021

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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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In This Post

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

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 photo by The Points Guy

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

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More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
17.24%-26.24% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.