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.

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

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
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  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

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.