The best premium credit cards of December 2020

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The best premium credit cards

Below you'll find the main details about each of our favorite premium credit cards. For more information on each card, scroll to the "more info" section below.

Best for earning travel rewards: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Chase Chase Sapphire Reserve®American Express The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAmerican Express American Express® Gold CardCiti Citi Prestige® CardChase United Club℠ Infinite CardAmerican Express Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

While other premium credit cards may have higher points multipliers on select spending categories, the Chase Sapphire Reserve stands out for offering some of the most valuable redemption options. Each of your Chase Ultimate Rewards points from this card is worth 1.5 cents toward travel booked through Chase, or toward dining, grocery, or home improvement purchases with Chase's new Pay Yourself Back feature. That's a 50% bonus over the standard value of Chase points (1 cent apiece). 

The card has a $550 annual fee, but its annual travel statement credit of up to $300 is easy to use (virtually any type of travel purchase is eligible, from plane tickets to Uber rides to highway tolls). So if you spend at least $300 on travel in a year — which you absolutely should if you're considering this card in the first place — you can effectively subtract that from the fee for a total of $250 spent out of pocket.

Platinum Card

It's hard to beat the Platinum Card when it comes to the sheer number of perks it offers. In addition to earning a respectable 5x points on flights booked directly through the airline or through Amex Travel, the card comes with a whole host of benefits, both for travel and shopping.

On the travel side, you get up to a $200 annual airline fee credit, more airport lounge access options than any other card, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, and up to $200 in Uber credits every year. Other benefits include up to $100 in Saks credits every year (broken up as $50 semi-annually), and Amex Offers for cash back or bonus points when you shop with specific retailers. 

The Platinum Card's $550 annual fee is nothing to sneeze at, but if you take advantage of all its benefits, you can get as much as $2,000 in value in your first year as a cardholder.  

Amex Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card is one of the most rewarding options for those who like to dine out and order in. It offers up to $120 in annual statement credits (up to $10 per month) for dining with GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations.

You'll also earn 4x points at restaurants worldwide (including food-delivery services) and 4x points on up to $25,000 spent at US supermarkets each calendar year (and 1 point per dollar if that cap is met).

The Amex Gold Card is the most affordable card on this list, with an annual fee of $250 (See Rates). Plus, the annual fee is effectively even lower when you factor in the monthly dining credit.

Citi Prestige® Card

The Citi Prestige® Credit Card isn't as well known as some other cards on this list, but it stands out for one very valuable benefit: a fourth night free on hotel stays booked through Citi. 

You can use this benefit up to twice a year, and if you apply it to expensive stays, this perk alone can cancel out the card's $495 annual fee.

The Citi Prestige® Credit Card also offers up to $250 in statement credits toward travel purchases each year, and it earns 5x points on air travel and restaurants.

United Club℠ Infinite Card

The best premium airline credit card for you will depend on what airlines fly out of your home airport. But if any of the major US airlines is a convenient option for you, the United Club℠ Infinite Card has a few advantages that make it the best premium airline card.

This card has a $525 annual fee, but it's waived the first year — which is virtually unheard of among premium credit cards. As a cardholder you'll get a United Club membership, so you can access the airline's airport lounges and its partner lounges around the world. 

The United Club℠ Infinite Card also stands out on the rewards front. Unlike other airline credit cards that only offer bonus miles on purchases with the affiliated airline, this card earns 2x miles on all travel purchases and on dining at restaurants, plus 4x miles on United purchases (and 1 mile per dollar on everything else). 

You also get two free checked bags on United flights when you pay with the card, plus priority check-in and early boarding.

Hilton Honors Aspire Card

Just as the best premium airline credit card for you depends on which airline you prefer, the right premium hotel credit card for you will be the card that offers benefits where you're most likely to stay. If you already have status with with a particular hotel chain, you'll probably want to get a card associated with that loyalty program so you can continue building rewards and even potentially earn higher status.

But if you don't have a favorite hotel chain and simply want the card that will get you the most benefits and save you the most money, there's a strong argument to be made for the Hilton Honors Aspire Card.

In exchange for the $450 annual fee, you get the highest level of elite status in the Hilton program: Hilton Honors Diamond, which gets you a 100% points bonus on stays, room upgrades, and complimentary breakfast. The Hilton Honors Aspire Card is the only hotel credit card to offer the highest level of elite status outright; with other cards, you have to spend your way to top-tier status, and the annual spending requirements are in the thousands of dollars.

Other card benefits include a free weekend night reward each year after your account renewal, and up to $250 in statement credits each year for purchases made at participating Hilton resorts. You can use this statement credit to effectively get $250 off of a Hilton hotel room rate. In addition to that, you also get up to $250 in annual statement credits for airline fees.

Other credit cards that just missed the cut

Our final list of the best premium credit cards includes six options, but we considered several other cards as well. Here's a look at the other premium credit cards that didn't make the final cut.

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — The top-of-the-line Marriott credit card has some great benefits, including up to $300 in annual statement credits for eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels and complimentary Platinum Elite status with your Card for the 2021 status year (offer Expires 1/13/2021). It falls just a bit short of the Hilton Honors Aspire Card in terms of the value it can offer, since that card offers top-tier Hilton status, and both a Hilton statement credit and an airline fee statement credit.
  • Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card — This premium Delta credit card has some strong benefits, such as a Status Boost that earns you Medallion Qualification Miles toward Delta status when you meet annual spending requirements. It also comes with an annual companion certificate each year upon your account renewal. That said, it has a $550 annual fee (See Rates), which is the highest among premium airline cards. 
  • Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®It was a right race between this card and theUnited Club℠ Infinite Card. Unlike United's card, the Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® offers airline lounge membership (for American Airlines' Admirals Clubs) to both the primary cardholder and up to 10 authorized users that can be added to the card for free. Those 11 cardholders can each bring in two guests, so you're getting 33 people free lounge access from one card. The United Club℠ Infinite Card ultimately won because it offers more miles on everyday purchases — and not everyone will care about airport lounge access.
  • U.S. Bank Altitude® Reserve Visa Infinite® Card — With a $400 annual fee and a long benefits list including up to $325 in annual credits for travel, this card is a lesser-known gem. However, it didn't make the cut because you need to be a U.S. Bank customer to apply, and there are fewer options for redeeming your points compared to other premium cards from Amex, Chase, and Citi.

Frequently asked questions

How did we choose the best premium credit cards?

Our list of the best premium credit cards doesn't include every option under the sun — Personal Finance Insider narrowed down our list to the top options. To do so, we used the following criteria:

  • Annual fee — It's a given that premium credit cards charge high annual fees, but some fees are lower than others, and some cards are able to justify the higher fees with benefits like annual statement credits that give you money back.
  • Welcome bonus — A welcome offer of bonus points or miles for new cardholders who meet a minimum spending requirement is a great incentive to sign up, and it can help jumpstart your next trip booked with rewards. It's not the most important factor in deciding whether a premium credit card makes sense for you in the long run, but we did give some weight to how a card's sign-up bonus stacked up against the competition.
  • Ongoing rewards — How many points or miles per dollar does the card offer on everyday spending? The stronger the earnings on purchases, the better.
  • Benefits — Beyond earning points and miles, what kinds of benefits does the card offer? Ideally, cardholders will get a strong combination of statement credits that reduce their out-of-pocket spending, travel protections, and extras like airport lounge access.

From there, we looked at the overall value each card offers based on these various features.

Is a premium credit card worth it?

A premium credit card is worth it for some people, but not for others. To decide whether a premium card is worth it for you, you'll want to look at the card's benefits and determine how many of them you'll use. Premium credit cards justify their high annual fees by offering high-end benefits you can't get with less-expensive cards, but they'll only be worth it if you can actually put those benefits to use.

Another important step in determining whether a premium credit card is worth it for you is to assess your spending and see if the card will offer you strong rewards on the purchases you make. Some premium cards only offer bonus points when you spend with a particular airline or hotel, while others, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige® Credit Card, have several bonus categories that encompass a wider array of purchase categories.

What is the best premium credit card?

Just as a premium credit card could be worth it for one person but not make sense for another, the best premium credit card depends very much on the person. Some of the most popular premium cards are the Platinum Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but they're not necessarily the best option for you.

Which is better — the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Amex Platinum? 

The Platinum Card is better if you want as many travel perks as possible, from airport lounge access to annual Uber credits to complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott. If you want a card with bells and whistles but want perks you can use even if you don't hit the road often, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is likely a better pick. Its annual statement credit of up to $300 applies to all sorts of travel purchases, including those you make close to home like parking and highway tolls and subway fares. It also earns bonus points on dining, and you can get great value from your points for non-travel purchases like groceries, dining, and home improvement.

Check out our comparison of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum for an in-depth look at the two cards.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, please click here.

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