The hardest credit cards to get

Young woman sitting in first class on an airplane and smiling because she knows that the 5 most exclusive credit cards areImage: Young woman sitting in first class on an airplane and smiling because she knows that the 5 most exclusive credit cards are

In a Nutshell

Here’s a roundup of the most exclusive credit cards with the most lavish perks. Learn how to get approved for one and if they’re really worth it.
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So you want an exclusive credit card?

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.

We handpicked these credit cards and based their level of exclusivity on the following:

  • Availability — By nature, exclusive cards aren’t available to many people, and some are only available via invite.
  • Annual fee — The higher the annual fee, the less likely average consumers can afford the card.
  • Benefits — These cards offer exclusive benefits for cardholders that are unmatched when compared to “regular credit cards.”
  • Exclusive perks — Not only do these exclusive cards offer great benefits, but they offer exclusive perks to invite-only events, specialized gifts and more.
  • Reviews — Based on our research, these cards are the cream of the crop, and the costs are worth the rewards.

Read on to learn about the hardest credit cards to get and find out if they’re really worth the hype.

Centurion® Card from American Express

Here’s why: It offers cardholders luxurious perks and benefits.

Centurion® Card from American Express, also known as the “black card,” has started some of the greatest urban legends in credit card history. And to this day, it’s still shrouded in mystery. The American Express website provides little information about the eligibility requirements or the card benefits.

The perks of the card come at a hefty cost — currently, there’s a $10,000 initiation fee and an annual fee of $5,000.

Platinum Card® from American Express

Here’s why: Platinum Card® from American Express offers great travel perks and Uber rides.

American Express is known for offering some of the most exclusive cards on the market. It also offers the Platinum Card® from American Express, which provides cardholders access to an array of perks.

Members can use the American Express Global Lounge Collection℠, which includes access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries.

Other benefits include …

  • Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber credits each year for Basic Card Members
  • 5 Membership Rewards® points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year, then 1 point per $1), and on prepaid hotels booked through

The price for all of these perks? It has a high annual fee ($695).

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Here’s why: Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers valuable travel perks and rewards.

Cardholders will get …

  • An annual $300 travel credit
  • Priority Pass Select membership, which provides airport lounge access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide
  • Numerous opportunities to earn points — along with valuable point-redemption options
  • Exclusive perks and rewards with Peloton, Lyft, DoorDash and Instacart

The card isn’t cheap — it has a $550 annual fee.

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

From our partner

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

4.0 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Here’s why: This Capital One credit card’s luxury benefits and rewards place it among the best premium credit cards.

With Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, you can access the following:

  • Complimentary lounge access for you and 2 guests to Capital One Lounges
  • A $300 travel credit for bookings made through Capital One Travel
  • Select dining and entertainment experiences

At $395, this card has the most affordable annual fee on our list.

Mastercard® Gold Card™

From our partner

Mastercard® Gold Card™

3.1 out of 5

From cardholders in the last year

See details, rates & fees

Here’s why: The Mastercard® Gold Card™ is not just any credit card — it’s plated in 24-karat gold (yes, really).

The card comes with the following perks:

  • A concierge service
  • Up to a $100 application fee credit for the cost of TSA Precheck or Global Entry
  • Up to $200 in annual airline credits toward qualifying purchases
  • 2% value when redeeming for airfare through or by calling the customer service line
  • 2% value for cash back redemptions

The downside? The card has a steep annual fee of $995; $295 for each additional user.

How to qualify for exclusive credit cards

The hardest credit cards to get typically have pretty high qualification requirements. So what do you need to do to get one?

Issuers don’t typically lay out approval requirements for credit cards — and for an invite-only card, you’re often relying on rumors to verify what you need to qualify. But generally, the following restrictions to apply to luxury credit card requirements:

  • Having good-to-excellent credit
  • Having a high income

Depending on the card, already having an account or another credit card with the bank could help your chances of approval.

If you’re interested in getting one of the cards in this article — even if you’re confident you’ll qualify — consider whether it’s worth it for you. Will the benefits outweigh the annual fee? It’s possible to find less-expensive cards that will help you access the travel and lifestyle perks you’re after.

Bottom line: Are exclusive credit cards worth it?

What separates the most exclusive credit cards from the rest of the pack? Usually, it’s part urban legend and part brilliant marketing. While most of these prestigious credit cards are unattainable for regular folks, they are available for wealthy individuals at the higher echelon of society.

You can apply for some of these cards on your own — if you can stomach the annual fees.

The exclusivity of these cards can mean access to a variety of perks, luxuries and special events, as well as a higher credit limit. It can carry some status as well.

Review how the perks and bonuses shape up against the cost. Depending on your situation, some of these perks could be worth the cost. On the other hand, you don’t want to be stuck with a card you can’t afford.


What is a black card?

The Centurion® Card from American Express is commonly referred to as the “black card.”

What is the easiest credit card to get approved for?

Secured credit cards and cards designed for people who are new to credit are the easiest cards to get approved for.

What is the most prestigious credit card?

The mysterious exclusivity of the Centurion® Card from American Express makes it seem highly prestigious. But there are other luxury cards that are open to applicants and offer valuable perks, such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or the Platinum Card® from American Express. Ultimately, a card’s value lies in where it’s useful to you — not just what its name represents.

About the author: Melanie Lockert is a freelance writer and editor currently living in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about education, financial literacy and empowering people to take control of their finances. Her work has been f… Read more.