Credit Cards for High Earners

Even in a time when the credit crunch is seeing banks cut back on the number of new credit cards that they issue and tightening up their lending standards they are still very happy to issue credit cards with all sorts of luxury benefits attached to them to those who have both excellent credit and a high income. In fact more of these “luxury cards” are available today than ever before and for those with the earning power to qualify for them they offer some truly rather amazing benefits. Here is a look at some of these credit cards for high earners and just what they offer to those who really make the “big bucks”.

The American Express Centurion Card

Back in the 1980s when gold and platinum credit cards were becoming the symbol of success – financially at least – there was an urban legend that sprang up about the existence of a mysterious black credit card that was issued to the highest of high rollers and came with all kinds of benefits. It was just a myth but in the late 1990s American Express decided to capitalize on that old wives tale anyway and when they introduced the Centurion Card it was indeed black.

No one applies for an American Express Centurion card – it is issued strictly on an invitation only basis to those whose income and credit meet some rather high standards. And they would have to because the American Express Centurion card – which is issued in a number of countries including the US, the UK, Japan, Home Kong, Australia and most of Europe among other countries – has a steep membership fee. In the US those who want to be able to slip an American Express Centurion card out of their wallet at the appropriate time must pay a “joining fee” of $5,000 and then an annual membership fee of $2,500.

What do American Express Centurion cardholders get that is so very special? A dedicated concierge service and personal travel agent, a complimentary companion airline ticket on most international flights, access to executive airport lounges, flight upgrades, a personal shopper to walk around high end stores like Neiman Marcus and Gucci with them (or the personal shopper can do the shopping if the card holder is too busy) and spending power that is (supposedly) unrivaled.

Since 2006 the American Express Centurion card itself has been crafted from anodized titanium instead of plastic. Very stylish to look at but there have been some problems reported by cardholders of cards failing to register in card readers as they are so solid and inflexible.

The HSBC Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard

The World Class Elite MasterCard is designed to be Mastercard’s answer to the luxury American Express offerings and when branded with Sak’s Fifth Avenue it takes on a whole new luxurious meaning. You can apply, rather than wait to be invited, for a Sak’s Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard but you will still need a very healthy bank balance and a very good credit score in order to be approved for one.

HSBC Saks Fifth Avenue World Elite MasterCard cardholders have access to a 24/7 concierge service that is offered by American Express to its elite card holders. Restaurant bookings, front row tickets to the hottest concerts, exclusive shopping experiences at Saks stores and other high end retail shops and even outings with PGA professionals if golf is their thing. Cardholders also enjoy exclusive travel perks including access to airport lounges across the world several times a year., complimentary upgrades and companion tickets on international flights.

By the way, you may not be too surprised to learn that this credit card is also black!

Visa Black Card

Black really is the color of luxury when it comes to luxury credit cards these days. The Visa Black Card is a newer entry into the credit card for high income bracket and it also offers a great many perks to those who can actually afford to own it. Visa say that they issue only a very limited number of Visa Black cards to the the top few percent of earners in the US, much in the same way that the American Express Centurion Card is issued. However it is not quite as exclusive as it AMEX cousin as you can apply for the card rather than wait to be invited and the membership fee is “only” $495 a year.

In return for that nearly $500 a year outlay cardholders receive a credit card that is made out of carbon rather than plastic and access to their own 24/7 concierge representative who is available to assist them with almost anything wherever they are in the world. And when it comes to travel not only do cardholders get access to luxury airport lounges worldwide but a travel rewards program also earns them airline miles rewards and exclusive upgrades on select airlines, at select hotels and at car rental counters.