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Hardest Credit Cards to Get Approved For

Have you ever wondered what it takes to carry one of the world’s most exclusive credit cards? The top credit cards are a status symbol of luxury and often come with a host of perks that the average person can only dream of – but – they are the hardest credit cards to get approved for.

The fascination with exclusive credit cards is more than just excellent credit and the highest spending limits. It’s also about the unparalleled perks and services these cards offer, including round-the-clock personal concierge services and access to the best airport lounges.

From the AMEX Black Card to the Coutts World Silk Card favored by royals, these are the best credit cards for elite status and luxury service. “>

Hardest Credit Cards To Get In 2023

1. American Express Centurion Card (“Black Card”)

Commonly known as the AMEX Black Card, the American Express Centurion Card is undoubtedly one of the most exclusive credit cards out there. Introduced in 1999, the invitation-only card targets high-net-worth people, such as multi-millionaires and celebrities.

So, how do you qualify for a Black Card invitation? You must be an existing AMEX client and meet spending requirements anywhere from $100,000 – $250,000 annually to even be eligible. In most cases, American Express only invites the ultra-wealthy and celebrities to carry this card.

The AMEX Centurion Card has a super high annual fee of $5,000 and an initiation fee of $10,000, but it comes with perks that match these costs. Cardholders can access personalized 24/7 concierge services that can do anything from booking travel, securing reservations at the world’s most exclusive restaurants, and even planning a wedding. You’ll also get automatic elite status at the best airport lounges, hotels, and luxury events.

Keep Reading: Best American Express Credit Cards

2. Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® credit card is a high-end travel rewards card that targets frequent travelers who appreciate luxury perks. It quickly gained a following after it launched in 2016 for its generous sign-up bonus, high earning rates on travel and dining, and a wide selection of travel-related benefits.

Its exceptional travel rewards set the Chase Sapphire Reserve apart from other luxury travel cards. Spend at least $4,000 in qualifying purchases within 3 months to earn 75,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points. That’s worth up to $1,125 when redeemed for airfare, hotels, and other travel purchases through the Chase Travel℠. You’ll also earn 1:1 travel points on all purchases, and 3x points on travel and dining purchases. Plus, Chase will reimburse you a $300 Annual Travel Credit for travel purchases on your account anniversary each year.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve charges a $550 annual fee, earning you a premium suite of benefits. As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy Priority Pass lounge access to 1,300+ airports across the globe, no foreign transaction fees, and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit. The card also offers travel protection benefits, such as trip cancellation insurance, lost luggage reimbursement, and even emergency medical and dental coverage abroad.

Read Our Review: Chase Sapphire Reserve Review

3. American Express The Platinum Card

The American Express Platinum Card is among the most prestigious credit cards on the market. It’s designed for affluent customers who want luxury travel benefits and a high level of customer service.

While the card carries a high annual fee of $695, it also has benefits that quickly outweigh the cost for frequent travelers who can take full advantage of travel perks. Cardholders can access over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide through the American Express Global Lounge Collections, including all 45 Delta SkyClub lounges and all American Express Centurion Lounge locations.

One of the hallmarks of the Platinum Card is the generous welcome offer. Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu. Cardholders can also enjoy $200 in free credit for a pre-selected airline, up to $200 in free Uber rides, and even $100 in credits to shop at Saks Fifth Avenue each year.

4. Capital One Venture X Rewards

Unlike many other card issuers on this list, Capital One offers its Venture X Rewards card to the general public. To qualify, you need to have good credit to excellent credit history, and you’ll need to be able to afford the card’s $395 annual fee. If you can afford it, the Venture X Rewards card is one of the best premium credit cards to have.

The Capital One Venture X Rewards card is aimed at travelers looking for a premium credit card with high-value rewards and benefits without astronomical fees. Capital One introduced the Venture X as a more upscale offering to the Venture line, which is known for its straightforward rewards structure.

What sets the Venture X Rewards card apart from other rewards credit cards is its initial bonus of 75,000 travel points – worth $750 – when you spend $4,000 in the first three months. You will earn anywhere from two to ten miles per $1 on all purchases. Plus, you will have airport lounge access across the globe as a Venture X Rewards cardholder.

5. American Express The Business Platinum Card

The American Express Business Platinum Card is a high-end business credit card tailored to meet the needs of entrepreneurs, executives, and business owners who travel frequently. Like its personal counterpart, the Business Platinum Card hosts an array of travel-focused benefits, including airport lounge access through the Global Lounge Collection, elite status at various hotel chains, and up to $200 in annual airline fee credits.

The Business Platinum Card’s membership rewards program is designed to maximize benefits for business spending. As a cardholder, you will earn additional points for large purchases and travel booked through the American Express Travel portal. It also provides a suite of tools and services for business management and growth, such as an app for expense management and a Vendor Pay feature to streamline payments.

This card is tailored to reward qualifying cardholders who have high business expenses. Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend at least $15,000 in eligible purchases within 3 months of opening your account. Terms apply. Cardholders will also earn a rewards rate of one to five points per $1 spent on all purchases. Like other luxury credit cards, the AMEX Business Platinum Card requires a good to excellent credit score and has high membership fees to keep the card.

6. Mastercard Black Card

The Mastercard Black Card is one of the few premium credit cards that regular people can apply for. However, the $495 annual fee means that not everyone can afford it.

Mastercard wants more people to take advantage of their Black Card, and they sweeten the deal with an excellent balance transfer promotion. New cardholders can take advantage of a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 billing cycles after each balance transfer to your account within 45 days of account opening. You will incur a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the transfer, whichever is greater.

With the Mastercard Black Card, you will enjoy travel perks like annual airline statement credits and credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fees. It also has a simple and flexible rewards program. While the card doesn’t offer the highest membership rewards points, it does provide one of the highest redemption values for airfare when redeeming points through the Luxury Card travel portal.

7. American Express Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card is one of the most accessible luxury credit cards on the market. It offers exceptionally high rewards at restaurants, supermarkets, and airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel.

Unlike other premium cards emphasizing travel, the AMEX Gold Card is focused on maximizing rewards for lifestyle and everyday spending. They offer 4:1 Membership Rewards points on up to $25,000 of purchases at restaurants and supermarkets in the US. Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months of card membership.

Even though the American Express Gold Card isn’t invite-only, it still offers a luxury experience for only $250 annually. If you spend heavily on dining and travel, you will love the experience of being an AMEX Gold Card cardholder.

8. Mastercard Gold Card

With its 24-karat gold plated design, the Mastercard Gold Card is easily one of the most opulent credit cards on the market. Its design isn’t the only thing that positions this as a luxury credit card. You will also enjoy premium features like Priority Pass Select airport lounge access and 24/7 concierge service.

Although the Mastercard Gold Card has a staggering $995 annual fee, it comes with perks that will appeal to those who like to travel in style. You can take advantage of global luggage delivery, chauffeured transportation, and even get fast-tracked through customs. Plus, you will earn 2% cashback on qualifying purchases like airfare.

While this card may offer fewer perks or high-earning rates in specific spending categories, its simplicity, premium benefits, and high-value airfare redemption make it a compelling choice for travelers who prioritize luxury.

9. J.P. Morgan Reserve Card (“Palladium Card”)

The J.P. Morgan Reserve Card, also known as the Palladium Card, may have a lower annual fee than other cards on the list, but that doesn’t mean it’s any more accessible. The J.P. Morgan Reserve Card comes with a $595 annual fee, but it is an invite-only credit card only available to J.P. Morgan clients with at least $10 million in investments under management.

Plated in palladium, the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card is a card that represents distinction and elitism. Its high-net-worth cardholders can enjoy 3:1 points on travel and dining globally, 1:1 points on all other purchases, complimentary airport lounge access, VIP access to premium events and experiences, and much more.

This card is not just about spending power or earning rewards. It reflects a broader financial relationship with one of the world’s leading financial institutions. While other cards may match its perks and benefits, the prestige and exclusivity associated with the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card are nearly unparalleled.

10. Coutts World Silk Card

The Coutts World Silk Cards is the epitome of banking prestige. Famously the credit card of choice for the British Royal family, the Coutts World Silk Cards is only offered to the most valued customers of Coutts, one of the oldest and most prestigious private banks in the U.K.

This invitation-only credit card is aimed at high-net-worth individuals and comes with a range of luxurious benefits. From a dedicated relationship manager to a 24/7 concierge service that can assist with everything from securing rare event tickets to arranging exclusive experiences, the Coutts World Silk Card offers a level of personalized service and luxury that matches its high-profile cardholders.

The real appeal of the Coutts World Silk Card goes beyond its immediate benefits. It’s the access to Coutts’ wider range of wealth management and financial planning services that makes it truly exclusive. For those who qualify, the Coutts World Silk Card is more than a payment system. It’s a status symbol that comes with an exceptional level of service and exclusivity.

How To Qualify For The Hardest Credit Cards

Getting approved for the hardest credit cards is no small feat. These cards are often invite-only and target high-net-worth individuals, business moguls, or those with exceptional credit histories.

While each credit card issuer has its own set of criteria, there are several guidelines that can help if you aspire to carry one of the most elite cards in your wallet

Have an Excellent Credit Score

The first step to qualifying for a top-tier credit card is having a credit score of 750 or higher. Your credit score is a representation of your creditworthiness, and a high score will increase your chances of getting approved and qualify you for the best rates.

Have a High Annual Income

These cards are designed for people who not only spend a lot but can also pay it off. A high annual income will make you more attractive to credit card companies. You’re typically looking at a minimum of six figures, but this will vary depending on the issuer.

Establish a Relationship with the Bank

For the most exclusive cards, you often can’t even apply unless you’re invited. These invitations often go out to individuals who already have an established relationship with a bank, credit card company, or its affiliates. If you’re targeting a specific card, consider moving some or all of your financial portfolio to the bank to better your chances of being noticed.

Have a Strong Financial Portfolio

Most credit card issuers look beyond just income and credit score when it comes to who should carry their most exclusive cards; they also look at your overall financial portfolio. Your assets, investments, and other indicators of your financial stability will likely come into play.

Advantages Of An Exclusive Credit Card

Owning an exclusive credit card is not just about bragging rights. There are tangible benefits that offer significant value to each cardholder. Here are some of the key advantages you can enjoy when you carry one of these premium cards.

Premium Rewards and Bonuses

Exclusive cards offer some of the most generous rewards programs available. You can expect to receive high-earning rates on spending categories like travel, dining, and shopping. These cards also often come with a substantial welcome bonus that can be redeemed for membership points, luxury vacations, high-end merchandise, or even exclusive experiences.

Personalized Service

One of the hallmarks of an exclusive credit card is the exceptional service you receive. From dedicated 24/7 concierge lines to personal shopping services, these cards go above and beyond to make their cardholders happy.

Elite Travel Perks

If you’re carrying one of the world’s most exclusive credit cards, you’re also probably traveling a lot for personal or business reasons. Frequent travelers can take advantage of an array of benefits to make their journeys smoother and more enjoyable. These can include a priority board, complimentary airport lounge access, and even personal travel concierge services to help with trip planning.

Financial Flexibility

Many exclusive credit cards offer high credit limits, and some don’t even have pre-set spending limits. This provides cardholders with financial freedom to make large purchases or handle emergency expenses with ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a black card?

Unlike other credit cards, you can’t simply apply to the American Express Centurion Card. You need to be invited by American Express to become a Black Card cardholder. The invitation is typically only made to high-income individuals with high annual spending, strong financials, significant influence, and a long-term relationship with AMEX.

What card do billionaires use?

Just like us, billionaires all use different credit cards. Many billionaires likely own similar cards, such as the AMEX Black Card. However, most exclusive cards require pre-existing banking relationships. For example, the Coutts World Silk Card, the card used by members of the British Royal family, is only available to Coutts’ clients.

What is a black card limit?

The perception that there is “no credit limit” to the AMEX Black Card has contributed to the allure and mystery of it. However, even wealthy individuals will have some practical limitations on their spending with the card.

The card works on a “no pre-set limit” (NPSL) basis, which means that your purchasing power adjusts based on factors such as spending habits, credit records, and financial resources. The more responsibly the cardholder uses the card, the more they’ll be able to spend.

What is the rarest credit card?

The rarest credit card is likely one that most people have never heard of. Some luxury credit cards are kept mostly secret, but it’s rumored that the Dubai First Royale Mastercard is the rarest credit card with less than 200 cardholders.

What’s the highest level of credit cards?

The hierarchy of credit cards is generally determined by their range of features, perks, fees, and exclusivity. The highest level of credit cards, known as ultra-exclusive cards, are invite-only and typically only available to the ultra-rich and famous.

Bottom Line

The world of exclusive credit cards is one of opulence, exceptional perks, and unparalleled service. Getting your hands on one of these credit cards is no simple task.

You often need an impeccable credit score, a high annual income, and sometimes a personal invitation to apply.

However, if you can afford the high annual fees, these cards can offer convenience, luxury, and the best rewards available.

Grant Sabatier is a co-founder and CEO of MMG Media Group, which owns Grant is also the Creator of Millennial Money and Author of the International Bestseller Financial Freedom (Penguin Random House), which has been translated into fifteen languages. Dubbed the “Millennial Millionaire” by CNBC, Grant went from $2.26 to a millionaire in 5 years, reaching financial independence at the age of 30. Grant has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, BBC, CNBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Money Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Marketwatch, the Rachael Ray Show, and many others. He cares passionately about sharing his story to inspire others to build a life they love, reminding everyone that time is more valuable than money, and building cool stuff.
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