Credit Cards for the Rich and Famous: Premium Credit Cards Offer Premium Benefits. But Do You Qualify?

So you've worked to improve your credit record, and color by color, metal after metal, you've climbed the credit card ladder. Blue, silver, gold, platinum. Very impressive. Think you've reached the top?

Not yet.

Not long ago, having a Platinum card in your pocket meant that you were at the top of the credit card game. It's still impressive. However, the credit industry has succumbed to "keeping up with the Joneses" syndrome, and credit card companies are beginning to aggressively market cards with "elite benefits". Elite cards offer enhanced benefits and prestige.

Cards with exceptional privileges do have limited membership. As an example, only 1 percent of American Express platinum customers have been offered Centurion membership, and only 1 percent of all American Express customers have a platinum card!

If you have never considered yourself the type to have an elite card, read on-you might find reason to apply for one.

American Express Centurion

A sleek black card introduced in October 1999 as a step above some of the newer cards offered by Visa and MasterCard. The elite of the elite, the Centurion comes with an annual fee to prove it: $1,000! However, the perks may well be worth the fee if you live a certain type of lifestyle.


"Many of our prospective cardmembers are already frequent travelers receiving elite benefits on one airline. The Centurion Card is the only product on the market that can grant them elite status on four airlines, and much more," said James Bush, senior vice president of Consumer Marketing at American Express, when the card was launched.

Centurion cardmembers are likely frequent travelers, therefore the card caters to these needs, offering bigger and better frequent flyer rewards, perks and upgrades at hotels, privileges at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, and a personal travel counselor to handle all travel needs.

Notable Perks:

With the purchase of a full fare, first-class transatlantic ticket to or from London (British Airways), the card holder is upgraded to the Concorde at no additional cost.
Complimentary international cell phone.

Revived by Diners Club International, the Carte Blanche has an annual fee of $300 and benefits that rival any of the other elite cards.

Aimed at the same type of clientele that the American Express Platinum caters to, the Carte Blanche card offers traveling perks as well as the usual benefits associated with the Diners Club card, including a discount dining program and frequent flyer miles.

Notable Perks:

Members who fly British Airways from the US will receive a complimentary same-class ticket for a companion. While limited to one trip per year, this perk alone can more than make up for the annual fee. Access to more than 200 private, semi-private, and high-end public golf courses around the world.

Visa Signature Card

No preset spending limits, purchase protection, and travel services are the perks offered by the Signature Card.

World MasterCard

No preset spending limits, global acceptance, travel rewards, and concierge.

Visa Infinite Card

A card to "meet the growing needs of today's more active and technologically savvy, affluent international traveler."

MBNA Quantum Card

Promising to provide service beyond the customers' expectations, the Quantum card carries credit lines from $15,000 to $250,000. Perks? Exceptional perks made better by no annual fee, no application fee, no balance transfer fees, no foreign exchange fees, and no cash advance fees.

For opinions and reviews from actual cardholders, be sure to check out our Credit Card Reviews There are several reviews on elite cards which can help you decide which one that you decide which one that you would like to carry in your wallet. Even if you don't qualify, it certainly does not hurt to dream!

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