BEST OF

Best Premium Credit Cards of December 2021

NerdWalletNov 15, 2021

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Premium credit cards come with outsized perks. Travel credits, high rewards rates on spending and rich redemption options are just a few of the benefits premium cardholders can expect.

Not everyone will qualify for premium cards. They are typically aimed at consumers with good to excellent credit. If your credit is poor or average, you’ll want to first work on improving your credit before applying for a premium card.

The premium perks also come with significant annual fees, going up to $550 and beyond. That means it’s important to make sure you will extract more value from the card than you pay. The card details below will help you find the best premium card for you.

NerdWallet's Best Premium Credit Cards of December 2021

Best Premium Credit Cards From Our Partners

Our pick for

Overall premium card

Apply now

on Chase's website

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

4.7

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Chase's website

Annual fee

$550

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Not only does the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offer a massive sign-up bonus and rich ongoing rewards, but cardholders also have a lot of flexibility in how they redeem those rewards, giving them access to a wide variety of airlines and hotel chains.

Pros

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve® stands out for its large sign-up bonus as well as ongoing rewards: 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. If you purchase through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you can earn even more: 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining, hotel stays and car rentals and 5 points on air travel. Those points can then be redeemed for 1.5 cents each when you book travel through Chase. You might even be able to squeeze more value out of your points by transferring them to the card's various hotel and airline partners. Other perks and highlights include an annual $300 travel credit, airport lounge access, application-fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry, and no foreign transaction fees.

Cons

  • The $550 annual fee is a big one, and anyone who pays it should ensure they are getting more value out of the card than they are paying. If you use the $300 annual travel credit, then you’re already most of the way there.

Read full review
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Through December 31, 2021, gas station & grocery store purchases will also count towards earning your Travel Credit

  • Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3X points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel

  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 50% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories

  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs

  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more

Our pick for

Luxury travel perks

Apply now

on American Express's website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

4.8

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$695

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Score

The welcome offer, high rewards rates, rich redemption options, perks like airport lounge access and complimentary hotel benefits worth hundreds of dollars — everything about The Platinum Card® from American Express card screams luxury. Terms apply.

Pros

  • The Platinum Card® from American Express is designed for consumers with high-end tastes and spending habits. In addition to the large welcome offer, cardholders earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare (as long as you make the purchase through the airlines or American Express Travel); 5 points per $1 spent on hotels booked through amextravel.com; and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. In addition, you get a number of useful credits, including a $200 credit toward airline fees and $200 of annual Uber credits. Cardholders also enjoy access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world and automatic upgrades at select hotels. Terms apply.

Cons

  • The biggest downside is the $695 annual fee, which stands out as high even among premium cards. Cardholders who are big travel spenders, though, will have no trouble extracting more value than they’re paying. Another negative is that not all merchants accept American Express, especially overseas.

Read full review
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.

  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.

  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax.

  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.

  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.

  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.

  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.

  • $695 annual fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Travel portal benefits

Apply now

on Capital One's website

Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card

4.9

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on Capital One's website

Annual fee

$395

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

16.99%-23.99% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Capital One's premium travel credit card can deliver terrific benefits — provided you're willing to do your travel spending through the issuer's online booking portal. That's where you'll earn the highest rewards rates plus credits that can make back the bulk of your annual fee.

Pros

  • As with the regular Venture-branded card, you earn 2 miles per dollar on purchases. But when booking through Capital One Travel, you also get 5X miles on airfare and 10X miles on hotel and rental cars. There's up to $300 a year in statement credit for bookings through the portal, a 10,000-point annual bonus, airport lounge access and a jumbo sign-up offer.

Cons

  • The value you'll get from this card is highly dependent on whether you use Capital One to book your travel. If you prefer to reserve directly with airlines or hotels, look elsewhere. The bonus offer is big, but so is the spending required to earn it.

Read full review
  • Earn 100,000 bonus miles when you spend $10,000 on purchases in the first 6 months from account opening, equal to $1,000 in travel

  • Limited-time Offer: Receive up to $200 back in statement credits for vacation rentals charged to your account within your first year

  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get our best prices on thousands of options

  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary

  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel, plus unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases

  • Escape the airport crowd and recharge before your flight with unlimited access to all-inclusive amenities at the Capital One Lounge and at 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges worldwide

  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®

  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs

Our pick for

Premium airline card

Apply now

on American Express's website

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$550

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

15.74%-24.74% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

Every airline has a premium card that gets you into its airport lounges, but the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card gives you that AND an annual companion certificate that's good even in first class.

Pros

  • The card gets you into Delta's Sky Clubs (an annual membership costs $545), and you can also use it to access American Express Centurion Lounges when flying Delta. Every year, you get a companion certificate, which lets you bring someone with you on a domestic flight, regardless of what fare class your ticket is. Rewards: 3 miles per dollar on Delta purchases and 1 mile per dollar on other purchases. And don't forget the sterling sign-up bonus. Terms apply.

Cons

  • You'll have to be a frequent Delta traveler to justify paying an annual fee of $550. Lounge access is only valuable if you use it, and to use a companion certificate, you have to pay full price for a ticket for yourself.

Read full review
  • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

  • Plus, earn up to $100 back in statement credits for eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants with your card within the first 3 months of membership.

  • Earn up to 60,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $30,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 15,000 MQMs four times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.

  • Receive a Domestic First Class, Delta Comfort+® or Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government-imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.

  • Complimentary access into the Delta Sky Club® for you when travelling on a Delta flight.

  • Enjoy complimentary access to The Centurion® Lounge or Escape Lounge – The Centurion® Studio Partner when you book a Delta flight with your Reserve Card.

  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.

  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.

  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases.

  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

  • $550 annual fee.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Premium dining card

Apply now

on American Express's website

American Express® Gold Card

4.6

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$250

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Score

With rich dining and travel rewards, not to mention valuable credits, the American Express® Gold Card can offset the cost of indulging in a little luxury.

Pros

  • You get an impressive welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months. Terms Apply. You also can earn high rewards rates in certain categories, including restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and flights booked with airlines or through amextravel.com. The card also offers $10 in monthly statement credits when you use the card at eligible merchants, including Grubhub, Seamless, and Shake Shack. Terms apply. The card has no foreign transaction fees. Its annual fee, $250, is also lower than the fees on other premium cards. Terms apply.

Cons

  • Unlike many other premium cards, this one doesn’t come with automatic airport lounge access. You might also still run into merchants who don’t accept American Express. And while the card's benefits can help offset most of its annual fee, you'll want to make sure you can make use of those benefits.

Read full review
  • Rose Gold is here to stay. Card Members can choose between a Gold or Rose Gold Card.

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.

  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).

  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.

  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.

  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.

  • Annual Fee is $250.

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

Our pick for

Premium card for business

Apply now

on American Express's website

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Apply now

on American Express's website

Annual fee

$595 (10/14-1/12/22)

Intro APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Regular APR

14.24%-22.24% Variable APR

Recommended Credit Score

For frequent business travelers, the perks that come with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express are hard to beat: elevated rewards, access to airport lounges, hotel status, and credits toward airline fees.

Pros

  • The Business Platinum Card® from American Express comes with an impressive welcome offer, rich ongoing rewards, including 5X Membership Rewards on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com, and additional bonus points opportunities, including 35% points back on first- and business-class flights when you meet certain requirements. Terms apply. The card also gives you access to over 1,300 airport lounges across 140 countries and an annual $200 credit toward airline fees. Terms apply.

Cons

  • The annual fee of $595 (10/14-1/12/22) is high, but can easily be worth it if you travel a lot for business. The opportunities to earn bonus points can also get a little complicated.

Read full review
  • Welcome Offer: Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with your Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.

  • Plus, 0% Intro APR for 12 months from the date of the account opening on purchases eligible for Pay Over Time. After that, your APR will be 14.24% to 22.24% based on your credit worthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.

  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.

  • Earn 1.5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases in key business categories, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more everywhere else. Cap applies.

  • Unlock over $1,000 in value per year for statement credits on select purchases with your Card, including up to $400 with Dell Technologies, up to $360 with Indeed, up to $150 with Adobe and up to $120 on wireless telephone purchases. Enrollment required.

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year toward baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.

  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.

  • Access to more than 1,300 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting with The American Express Global Lounge Collection®. More lounge options than any other credit card on the market as of 8/2020.

  • $595 Annual Fee ($695 if application is received on or after 01/13/2022).

  • Terms Apply.

  • View Rates & Fees

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST PREMIUM CARDS

Click the card name to read our review. Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Our pick for: Overall premium card

The high annual fee on the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives many potential applicants pause, but frequent travelers should be able to wring enough value out of this card to more than make up for the cost. Cardholders earn 10 points per dollar spent on Chase Dining purchases, as well as hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards®; 5 points per dollar for air travel purchased through Ultimate Rewards®; 3 points per dollar spent on travel and dining not booked with Chase; and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Plus, cardmembers get a fat sign-up bonus, annual travel credits, airport lounge access, and a 50% boost in point value when redeeming points for travel booked through Chase. Points can also be transferred to about a dozen airline and hotel partners. Read our review. 

Our pick for: Luxury travel perks

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a hefty annual fee, but travelers who like to go in style (and aren't afraid to pay for comfort) can more than get their money's worth. Enjoy extensive airport lounge access, hundreds of dollars a year in travel and shopping credits, hotel benefits and more. That's not even getting into the high rewards rate on eligible travel purchases and the rich bonus offer for new cardholders. Read our review.

Our pick for: Travel portal benefits

Capital One's premium travel credit card can deliver terrific benefits — provided you're willing to do your travel spending through the issuer's online booking portal. That's where you'll earn the highest rewards rates plus credits that can make back the bulk of your annual fee. Read our review.

Our pick for: Premium airline card

Every airline has a premium card that gets you into its airport lounges, but the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card also gets you into American Express's Centurion Lounges when flying Delta, and it comes with an annual companion certificate that's good even in first class. Read our review.

Our pick for: Premium hotel card

The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card comes with a steep annual fee, but its rich rewards (especially on travel and dining) and generous perks make it near-must for hardcore Hilton loyalists. Enjoy airline and resort credits, airport lounge access, automatic elite status, free weekend night awards and much more. Read our review.

Our pick for: Premium dining card

The American Express® Gold Card can earn you a pile of points from everyday spending, with generous rewards at U.S. supermarkets, at restaurants and on certain flights booked through amextravel.com. Other benefits include hundreds of dollars a year in available dining and travel credits and a solid bonus offer for new cardholders. There's an annual fee, though, and a pretty substantial one, so it's not for smaller spenders. Read our review.

Our pick for: Premium card for business 

Like the consumer version of this card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a big annual fee. But business travelers who prefer to go in style will find plenty that appeals to them: high rewards on certain travel purchases, bonus rewards on larger non-travel purchases, a superb newcomer bonus offer, extensive airport lounge access, elite hotel status, hundreds of dollars a year in available credits and a list of perks as long as your arm. It's not cheap, but luxury never is. Terms apply. Read our review.

To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card, see this page. All information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

Last updated on November 15, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet's credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.