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Hey, Look: I’m Rich! 6 Credit Cards That Cost Over $400 Just to Carry Them

None likes fees, but do you believe there are credit cards with annual fees over $400? The 1% live in a different world! See the cards’ pricey perks here.

Credit cards are a funny business. Most of them are “free” as long as you payyou’re your balance in full each month. Many even refund a small percentage of your purchases as airline miles or rewards points.

Other cards, though, tack on annual fees for the privilege of carrying them. Sometimes, paying such a fee makes sense – like when you fly a lot and the annual fee comes with perks like free checked bags or a companion ticket. The value of those benefits can quickly exceed the fee.

The following cards, however, charge annual fees that clearly exceed most mere mortals sense of “worth it”.

amx-platinum The Platinum Card from American Express [find card details here]

This is the card that has said: “I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal” for over 30 years. For an annual fee of $400 you get access to airport lounges worldwide, access to VIP travel concierge line, and even insurance that will evacuate you from a foreign country if you have a medical emergency.

Something to note: The Platinum Card and it’s posh big brother the Black Card are charge cards, not credit cards, meaning you have the full balance is due each month come hell or high water. So these cards aren’t for fakers; you’d better have the cash to back them up.

reserveThe American Express Delta Reserve Card

These days, flying sucks. There are long lines, cramped seats, and fees for just about everything.  So if you must travel often, you look for ways to make your experience just a little less miserable. For a $450 annual fee, the Delta Reserve card gets you priority boarding, free access to SkyClubs, and accelerated route to Delta’s Medallion elite flyer program whose members often get free upgrades to first class.

amex-centThe American Express Centurion Card (aka the AMEX Black Card)

This is the card that started it all. Rumor has it that select American Express charge card members who spend at least $150,000 a year are invited to apply for the rare Centurion Card.

The price for admission is steep. There’s a $7,500 initiation fee followed by a $2,500 annual fee. Access gets you the benefits of the Platinum Card plus access to personal shoppers and automatic elite status at many airlines and hotels.

citi-chairmanThe Citi Chairman Card

Citi’s Chairman card is available only to wealthy clients of Smith Barney or Citi Bank. The fee for admittance is $500 for which you get the standard airport lounge access, travel insurance, a concierge line and a credit line of up to a whopping $300,000.

jp-palladiumThe JP Morgan Palladium Card

The Palladium card’s annual fee of $595 is reportedly less than the cost of the materials that create it. Not surprisingly, this card may be most exclusive on this page; the rumor is only investment clients of JP Morgan with assets exceeding $25 million are invited to apply.

visa-blackThe Visa Black Card

Most of these high-end credit cards are designed for people for whom $500 is a drop in the bucket. If you can’t afford it anyway, you can’t qualify for the card. The Visa Black Card, however, makes it possible for anyone with good credit and $495 to enjoy conspicuous displays of wealth (or foolishness, depending on your view).

The stainless-steel Black Card comes with airport lounge access, a 24/7 concierge, and a rewards program.

Okay, so when – if ever – are these annual fees even close to a fair shake? If you’re a professional world-traveller, perhaps (and by that we don’t mean you take a once-a-year trip to Mexico).

The real value in these cards come from the travel perks like airport lounge access and concierge service. If your travel takes you to far-flung places, it’s nice to take a load off in the comfort of an airport lounge and even better to have a real person who you can call for everything from dinner recommendations to help renting a car.

For the rest of us, no-annual fee rewards cards or – for those who travel a few times a year – airline credit cards with modest annual fees and perks like free checked bags will do just fine, thank you very much.

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About David Weliver

David Weliver is the founding editor of Money Under 30. He's a cited authority on personal finance and the unique money issues we face during our first two decades as adults. He lives in Maine with his wife and two children.

Comments

  1. David G says:

    If the “Black Card” will get you into the major air carriers lounges then for anyone traveling international and especially Asia should grab it. Making 10 trips per year means an extra $40 per trip for lounge access. I’ll pay it. My question is do they list the airlines and airports that this applies?

  2. I think it really depends on the individual. For someone that travels a lot, that black card can come in handy. But, is it necessary? Probably not. And could the credit card companies get away with charging more? Probably. If your going to pay $400, you’d probably also pay $600.
    For the average joe, $400 is probably too much to just have the opportunity to hold the card. They’d rather opt for the no annual fee with minimal perks.

  3. I have never payed an annual fee and to be perfectly honest, if a card started charging me annual fees, they’d quickly lose me as a customer.

    I’m not 100% positive about this, but don’t most credit card revenues come in from charging merchants their service fee, instead of charging customers interest? For every transaction anyone charges, about 1-2% goes straight into the credit company’s wallet. I’d imagine that’s a much bigger payoff overall than charging delinquent accounts interest.

    Regardless, I think there will continue to be free options. For me, a card is just easier, quicker and safer than cash. The bonus rewards are just that, a bonus. If I had to choose between free and bonus rewards, free would win out, unless I was getting 1% back on every dollar I spend and my fee was much much lower than that (maybe $25 max?).

  4. Being a “bargain crusader,” I will never pay an annual fee for the use of a credit card, as long as a free one exists out there. I agree with Samir, in that bonus rewards are just that, a bonus. Most of the visitors to this website (and I hope I’m not generalizing) are not in a financial position to be paying $400+ a year for credit cards that boast access to airport lounges and “prestige.” Maybe someday when I’m a CEO and the “prestige” matters, I’ll think about it, but most likely not even then. I’ll stick with my run-of-the-mill FREE Mastercard and their rewards points…

  5. While I don’t have a Platinum card, I do have a Gold AmEx card that I love. The annual fee for it is a more reasonable $150 a year. The one thing that I like about the service American Express provides is their fraud protection. AmEx does not put up with vendors who cheat customers or fraudulent card activity. You get your money back right away while they investigate unlike Visa or Mastercard which are more on the merchants’ sides. You can say whatever you want about other cards having the same, but it’s not true. I like paying for AmEx’s pitbull attitude and tenacity on protecting its card holders.

  6. I’m in my late 30′s and I have learned the hard way about personal finance in recent years. When I was a kid I thought having a personal checking account meant that you always had money, boy was I wrong! I would tell my parents lets go out to eat since my mom always carried her check book. Looking back at it now it’s so funny. In my teen years, I thought if you had a credit card you were rich! That’s even funnier! Now that I have been more educated about personal finance in late 20’s I would say that credit cards are probably the worst thing to happen in personal finance ever! Don’t get me wrong I understand how our credit system works and I do have a credit card but I find that I don’t use it much. As I have gotten older I’ve learn more about the power of cash and I can tell you from personal experience that no one gets a good deal on purchases with a credit card! I’m a firm believer that cash rules the world, and that I have got some crazy deals with cash. Most people believe that you have to have a credit card in today’s society, that’s not the case. The bottom line is that people are just lazy when it comes to carrying cash; they don’t want to manage it on a daily basis and when the credit card bill come at the end of the month, the stuff hits the fan!

    On a side note I don’t know anyone that has had identity fraud when using cash. Just food for thought.