Arriving at the airport in a Town Car, breezing through security, escaping into a posh lounge and nabbing upgraded seats used to be limited to an elite group, but in many ways, travel rewards credit cards have democratized the travel experience.
Thanks to frequently offered benefits like free airport lounge access, statement credits for the cost of Global Entry, and accelerated paths to elite status, it’s never been easier for us mere mortals to frolic around the world like gods.City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card provides an unparalleled number of luxurious perks, with a hefty annual fee of $400 to match. But as with any elite club, you have to go through a stringent initiation process to earn your spot. Plus, a number of changes are coming to the card’s benefits on Jan. 1, 2020, which may make it more challenging to offset the cost of card ownership.
Here are five things to know about the card.
1. Submitting an application takes considerable effort
Forget clicking a few buttons online and getting approved instantly. The City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card is going to make you work for it. While you don’t have to live in a city with a City National Bank branch, you do have to apply in person. City National Bank has branches in only the following locations:
- New York.
- Washington, D.C.
Conveniently, you can contact customer service to make an appointment before you take a road trip. The in-person application appointment takes about 15 to 30 minutes.
2. Get ready to provide a lot of personal information
With a typical credit card application, you must submit information like your Social Security number, annual income and occupation. The City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card takes this a step further, and it’s essential to have all the required information available for your appointment so you don’t go all the way to a branch for nothing, especially if you crossed state lines to do so.
The bank employee assisting you with your application will ask for basic financial information, including your income and debts. You’ll also need:
- A photo ID like a driver’s license or passport.
- Proof of income. If you’re not self-employed, this can be a pay stub showing income for at least the past two weeks (bring in several pay stubs to be safe). If you are self-employed, bring your most recent tax return.
- The average balance for your banking and investment accounts. While you won’t need to show statements, having statements on hand will ensure that you’re providing accurate information.
There’s no specific minimum income required to be eligible for the card. Instead, your overall financial picture will be considered, including your debt-to-income ratio, debt-to-asset ratio and credit score.
3. Rewards are generous, but they’ll be changing soon
Once you’re approved for the City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card , you’ll earn:
- 3 points per $1 spent on gas, groceries, airfare, hotel stays, taxis and ride sharing services, limos, rental cars, trains, buses, restaurants, fast food and takeout. (Beginning Jan. 1, 2020, you’ll earn only 1 point per $1 on gas station and grocery store purchases.)
- 1 point per $1 on all other purchases.
Through the end of 2019, new cardholders can earn this sign-up bonus: 30,000 Bonus Points with $3,000 minimum spend in the first 90 days following account opening. But come Jan. 1, 2020, there will no longer be a welcome offer.
These are negative changes overall, though you’ll still have quite a bit of flexibility when it comes to cashing in your points. Redeem them for things like travel, gift cards and merchandise (point values may vary and are subject to change). You can book travel on most airlines with no blackout dates.
4. Travel perks are numerous but will also change in 2020
The City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card includes so many travel-related benefits, you’d think they’d send Marie Kondo herself to help you pack for your next trip (they won’t).
Travel credits and discounts
Through Dec. 31, 2019, you’ll get:
- A $250 statement credit — for each authorized user! — every calendar year to cover qualifying incidental airline fees. You can have up to three authorized users per account.
- A statement credit of up to $550 per calendar year for any airline lounge club around the world after spending $50,000 that year.
- A $100 discount on U.S. domestic round-trip coach airline bookings for two to five travelers.
- A $100 statement credit to cover the Global Entry application fee.
- Free access to Priority Pass Select lounges and 12 free passes per year for Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi.
Beginning on Jan. 1, 2020, these changes take effect:
- A maximum of $350 in statement credit per calendar year to cover qualifying incidental airline fees. This cap is not for each authorized user, but rather the cap for the total account.
- Cardholders get two complimentary Priority Pass Select memberships per account, with unlimited free visits. If either member brings a guest, they’ll be charged $32 per guest, per visit.
- The $100 Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit will be eliminated, meaning you’ll no longer get a discount when booking a U.S. domestic round-trip coach airline for two to five travelers.
- Adding an authorized user will cost $95 per year.
Upgraded hotel stays and car rentals
The City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card entitles you to VIP treatment at hotels that are part of the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection and Relais & Chateaux, including properties like the Park Hyatt and the Peninsula. You’ll get amenities like free breakfast and Wi-Fi and a late checkout.
You can also get discounts and upgrades when you rent a car from Avis, National and Silvercar, as well as 15% off and a one-time $30 promotional credit for future use when you use your City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card for GroundLink chauffeured black car service.
Concierge service and unfettered access
A concierge is available at your beck and call, 24 hours a day, for help with airline and hotel bookings, restaurant reservations and more. Your City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card also grants you access to “signature events” including concerts and sporting events and Broadway shows — and not the cheap seats, either. Golfers can also snag savings and special access to high-end links via Troon.
Travel and purchase protections
When you travel, you’ll have rental car collision coverage, reimbursements if your trip is delayed, interrupted or canceled (or if your luggage is lost), hotel theft protection, travel assistance services, emergency card replacement and more. Your purchases will be covered by an extended warranty, as well as price protection.
5. All things considered, it’s an inexpensive card to carry
Some lucrative benefits are getting taken away in 2020. But if you travel often and you’re the type to use every benefit a rewards card offers, you’ll find a lot of value in the City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card , even with its $400 annual fee. The travel-related statement credits and discounts alone are worth $1,000 before you even factor in Priority Pass Select lounge access and free in-flight Wi-Fi passes.
This card is geared toward high spenders, and that sometimes means carrying a balance after making a major purchase. The City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card has a surprisingly low interest rate. The ongoing APR is 13.00% Variable, which is below the typical interest rate for travel rewards cards.
Homebodies and strict budgeters who won’t squeeze every drop out of the City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card will have better luck with a more modest travel rewards card, or even a cash-back card. But if you want a taste of the high life, the City National Rewards Crystal Visa Infinite® Credit Card opens doors.