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Most exclusive credit card 2021: Oh you fancy, huh?

  • October 12, 2021

If you work hard for your excellent credit score and higher net worth, why not take advantage of the most exclusive credit cards 2021 has to offer? Reserved for individuals with great credit who can afford to spend more than average, high-end cards come with perks that make you feel like a VIP. 

The most exclusive credit cards come with a high credit limit (if any) and personalized service. Some were created for personal use, while others are business or corporate cards. Regardless of the top-tier card you’re considering, you’ll find that exceptional service comes with a steep annual fee. Fortunately, the perks and bonuses available usually offset the fee, potentially making it worth your while to invest in one of these cards. 

Some of the more exclusive cards are invitation-only, however, making them highly-coveted. While we can’t get you on the list for the most exclusive credit cards, we can at least show you what’s out there.

American Express Centurion® card

American Express

The most exclusive credit card of all, it’s known among credit card enthusiasts as “The Black Card.” You may have seen this card in music videos or flashed by certain celebrities. It’s only available to a very small club of individuals who reportedly spend at least $250,000 per year. 

  • Annual fee: $5,000

  • Rewards: 1X

  • APR: None

  • Credit limit: None

The Centurion® card has an air of mystery around it — there’s not much public information about its perks or features. However, the stories of what Black Card concierges are willing to do for their customers have become legend. One former employee shared on Reddit that customer service will fulfill any request as long as it’s legal. One thing that’s not a myth is the $10,000 initiation fee, in addition to the annual fee of $5,000. 


  • Elite status for several airlines and hotels

  • The ultimate in prestige when paying for goods and services

  • Personal concierge


Mastercard® Black Card™


If you haven’t received an invitation to apply for the Centurion® Card by American Express, you’re among the majority. There’s not much you could do to get on the list but you could apply for another exclusive black card — the Mastercard® Black Card™.

The card feels substantial, thanks to its patented PVD-coated metal card in sleek black. And there’s substance behind the style; you’ll have access to a 24/7 Luxury Card Concierge by email, live mobile chat, or phone. 

  • Annual fee: $495

  • Rewards: 2% for airfare redemptions or 1.5% for cash-back redemptions

  • APR: 14.99%

  • Credit limit: $5,000 to $25,000

The card’s annual fee of $495, which is relatively affordable compared to the American Express version, is outweighed by its benefits. Each time you book one of over 3,000 properties, you’ll receive room upgrades, resort credits, breakfast for two guests, and more. Plus, you’ll be enrolled in Priority Pass™ Select. The membership provides you with access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the world for as many guests as you want. 


  • Online application available 

  • Higher than average rewards rates

  • Luxurious card design

  • Cell phone protection of up to $1,000 per year

  • Free access to airport lounges worldwide


  • Comparatively-low credit limit

  • No welcome bonuses

Chase Sapphire Reserve® card


If you’re a frequent traveler in search of an elite credit card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is among the best. Only available to applicants with excellent credit scores, it’s an exclusive card for travel aficionados in search of high rewards for travel and dining spending. 

  • Annual fee: $550

  • Rewards: 3X on dining and travel, 5X on flights, 10X on car rentals, hotels, Chase Dining and select categories, 1X on all other purchases

  • APR: 16.99% to 23.99% variable APR

  • Credit limit: $10,000 to $80,000

You’ll receive a bonus of 60,000 points (worth $900 in travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal) after you spend $4,000 or more in the first three months after approval. Although the annual fee for the card is $550 per year, Chase provides you with travel-purchase credits worth as much as $300 each year. Add the Visa Infinite Concierge service and free access to over one thousand airport lounges, and you’ll feel like a VIP anytime you travel. 


  • Travel credits and other benefits offset the $550 annual fee

  • Lucrative bonus offer of 60,000 points

  • High rewards rates of up to 10X

  • Exclusive Chase Sapphire Private Dining Series events


  • Requires excellent credit

  • Focused solely on travel rewards

J.P. Morgan Reserve® card


Another premium card by Chase, the J.P. Morgan Reserve® card is the financial institution’s invitation-only card for J.P. Morgan Private Bank clients who have at least $10 million in assets held. Made of real Palladium, the physical card may be the rarest of the top five reviewed. Surprisingly, many of the card’s features are the same you’d find if you had the Chase Sapphire Reserve. 

  • Annual fee: $595

  • Rewards: 3X on dining and travel, 5X on flights, 10X on car rentals, hotels, Chase Dining and select categories, 1X on all other purchases

  • APR: 13.24 variable APR

  • Credit limit: N/A

Carrying the J.P. Morgan Reserve card, however, signals to anyone who knows about cards that the holder is worth at least $10 million. The sleek, metal card may not have the pop-culture following of the Centurion Card by American Express, but it’s just as exclusive — if not more so.


  • Sleek, palladium-metal card

  • Lucrative bonus offer of 60,000 points after spending $4,000

  • Comes with a 50% travel redemption bonus


  • Invitation-only

  • Applicants must have at least $10 million in assets held with J.P. Morgan Private Bank

Stratus Rewards™ Visa card


The Stratus Rewards™ Visa may be the least-known premium card on the list. Like the Centurion® card by American Express, you won’t find much information online about the card in order to maintain an air of exclusivity. You must be referred by an existing cardholder, or wait for an invitation to apply. The credit card’s rewards system was created to “support and enhance the affluent lifestyle.”

  • Annual fee: $1,500

  • Rewards: N/A

  • APR: N/A

  • Credit limit: N/A

Part of the affluent lifestyle Stratus cardholders expect is access to perks including travel upgrades and a personal concierge that is able to make nearly any desire possible. Stratus even offers exclusive VIP access to events. To maintain the jet-set lifestyle, accumulated rewards points can be redeemed for private jet travel, luxury hotel upgrades, and exclusive events and reservations through concierge services. 


  • Rewards points can be redeemed for private jet travel.

  • Premium concierge service

  • Lower annual membership fee than the Centurion Card by American Express

  • Access to exclusive events not available through other cards and concierges


  • Invitation-only

How did we choose these five cards?

We compared features, fees, level of service, credit limits, and sign-up bonuses to narrow the list down to five cards. Credit limits are not often disclosed by the card issuers, so we searched the web to find cardholder comments and reviews to determine the range. Not all credit cards are available to apply for unless you receive an invitation or referral by an existing cardmember. They’re still worth mentioning, since this guide is all about the most exclusive credit cards on the market right now. 

Which one is right for me?

The five most exclusive credit cards are each designed for a specific individual. If you have at least $10 million in a J.P. Morgan Private Banking account, you may receive an invitation to apply. If you don’t have the level of cash required but you have excellent credit, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Mastercard Black Card both offer an online application to anyone interested in getting a card. One thing all five cards have in common is that they’re right for individuals who are accustomed to spending large amounts annually using their credit cards. 

How can I improve my odds of getting accepted for one of the most exclusive credit cards?

There’s a reason the cards reviewed are considered exclusive. Three out of the five cards are invitation-only, and the other two are cards for individuals with excellent credit. If you’re wondering what to do about getting invited to apply for a card like the Black Card, there are preparatory steps you can take to improve your chances.

1. Work on your credit score: Most premium cards require a credit score of 800 or more for approval. 

2. Establish a banking relationship beforehand: Some cardholders may have established a pre-existing banking or card relationship. This method could help you network more effectively and improve your chances of getting approved for an upgraded premium card. For example, you could open a bank account with Chase before you apply for the Reserve card or have a different card account with American Express, leading to an invitation to upgrade to a higher-tier credit card.

3. Ask for a referral: If someone you know has a Stratus Reserve card or another invitation-only or referral-based credit card, they may be able to refer you. This improves the odds that you’ll be able to apply for a card.

4. Grow your annual income: Nearly all premier credit cards require a high annual income to be considered.

The bottom line

The top most exclusive credit cards of 2021 come with unique benefits, such as concierge service and increased rewards rates. However, watch out for the high annual fee. Unless you use the card and its perks regularly, you may not be able to recoup the annual expense. 


Are there premium card alternatives worth considering?

For the ultimate in exclusivity, the products mentioned are the top picks. However, three out of five are invitation-only. For the bulk of individuals who may never see a Black Card invitation to apply, there are alternatives such as the Platinum Card by American Express or the Black Mastercard mentioned. 

Why do some American Express cards not have a credit limit or APR?

Not all cards are considered a revolving line of credit. In the case of the Platinum or Centurion Card by American Express, you may spend as much (or as little) as you need knowing your card won’t be declined. However, the entire card balance is due at the next billing cycle or you may be marked as having made a late payment and assessed a penalty interest rate. 

What are some premium features of a top-tier credit card?

A personal concierge may be the most common perk or feature you’ll find in an exclusive, high-end credit card. Personal concierges are well-connected to book you a difficult-to-get reservation, find tickets to a sold-out concert, etc. Besides concierge service, premium card perks include free hotel, flight, and car-rental upgrades and free access to airport lounges.

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