By MELANIE LOCKERT
For many people, credit cards may simply be a means to an end, used for the occasional purchase. But for a select group of people with strong credit scores and a lot of spending money, a variety of exclusive credit cards may be available -- sometimes by invitation only. These exclusive credit cards come with larger-than-life perks, such as personalized concierge service and luxurious gifts, but they also come at a cost. Many of these exclusive credit cards have high annual fees, and they may not even be available to the general public.
Oftentimes these credit cards are the toughest to get approved for, given their strict requirements. Here's a glimpse into the five best exclusive credit cards.
1. Centurion® Card from American Express
The American Express "black card," also known as the Centurion card, has started some of the greatest urban legends in credit card history. And to this day, it's still shrouded in mystery.
Created in 1999, this by-invitation-only credit card is tough to get. Though the American Express website provides little information about the eligibility requirements or the card benefits, it is believed that members must charge in the six figures each year and be an American Express customer to get an invitation for the card.
The "black card" offers members exclusive benefits and upgrades related to travel, dining and more. But the perks of the card come at a hefty cost -- currently, there's a $7,500 initiation fee and an annual fee of $2,500.
2. MasterCard® Gold Card
The MasterCard® Gold Card is not just any credit card. The unique patented design makes this card different from many others, as it's plated in 24-karat gold (yes, really). Like the Centurion® Card, the eligibility requirements remain hush-hush, but the benefits offer a high level of luxury for customers.
The card comes with a concierge, $100 Global Entry application fee credit and a $200 annual airline credit toward qualifying purchases. Not only that, but membership also comes with exclusive luxury gifts, such as the members-only Luxury Magazine and more. The downside? The card has a steep annual fee of $995 per year.
3. Citi Prestige® Card
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For travelers wanting exclusive perks and rewards, the Citi Prestige® Card can be a good option. Each year, card members receive $250 in air-travel credit and can earn three times the points on travel-related purchases. Cardholders get access to American Airlines Admirals Club® lounges for free and can contact the global concierge service 24/7 to help book travel, events and more. In addition, members have access to an airport concierge who can greet you at arrival and assign your luggage to porters who can take a load off for you.
This card is ideal for travelers, as there are no foreign-transaction fees on purchases, and the card comes with various travel safeguards such as lost-baggage and trip-delay protections. The Citi Prestige® Card has an annual fee of $450.
4. Merrill+® Visa Signature® Card
The Merrill+® Visa Signature® Card boasts that it offers "endless possibilities" for its members, including personalized service with a concierge to help you arrange whatever you need. Not only that, but the card also offers its members access to a travel adviser to help them plan the trip of a lifetime.
With every purchase, cardholders earn Merrill Points®, which can be redeemed for cash, gift cards or travel. The perk of using points for travel using the Merrill+ card is there are no black-out dates, so you can redeem travel whenever you want. Even better? There's no annual fee.
However, for some rewards junkies, the Merrill+® Visa Signature® Card may prove to be disappointing. You earn one point for every dollar you spend, and air travel awards start at 25,000 points, meaning you'd need to spend $25,000 for free travel. There is no annual fee for this card, but the rewards may not be as lucrative.
5. Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express is often known for its exclusive credit cards. Aside from its infamous "black card," it also offers the Platinum Card®, which provides cardholders access to an array of perks.
Members can use the Global Lounge Collection, which includes access to over 1,000 airport lounges (including proprietary lounge locations) across 120 countries, and receive up to $200 in airline fee credit annually on qualified purchases. Using this card, members can use their special concierge service to make arrangements for shows, transportation, gifts and more. In addition, cardholders get exclusive invites to private events that are for members only. This card has an annual fee of $550.
These five exclusive credit cards are exclusive for a reason. Many of them require cardholders to have outstanding credit and high spending requirements, and some are even by-invite only.
Though many of the eligibility requirements for these cards aren't clearly listed, you can bet these cards require good credit history and a strong credit score. Many of us may not be eligible for these exclusive credit cards, but one can dream, right? Who knows, you may get a surprise invite in the mail one day.
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