Best Premium Credit Cards of 2021

Best Premium Credit Cards of 2021

We looked through a database of hundreds of credit cards to find the best luxury premium credit cards available to consumers.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

We looked through a database of hundreds of credit cards to find the best luxury premium credit cards available to consumers. Find the best card based on the exact need you’re looking to fill -- whether it’s excellent customer service or the best lounge access.

Anyone looking to pay upwards of $550 per year for a credit card should evaluate whether they’re getting their money’s worth. We analyzed premium credit cards from the nation’s top issuers to see whether the benefits match the price-tag. The cards listed here are intended for individuals with excellent credit scores, who travel very frequently. Anyone looking to just maximize rewards, with little regard for luxury, should look into top rewards credit cards instead.

2021’s Top Premium Credit Cards

What makes something the "best credit card" is highly dependent upon what you’re looking for. In evaluating the different premium credit cards available to consumers, we considered the value each provides in specific use-cases. The factors examined included things like long-term and short-term rewards value and customer service. Here are the best luxury cards that made the cut this year:

Best For…
Airport Lounge Access
Annual Fee


Chase Sapphire Reserve®Priority Pass$550

Luxury Treatment

The Platinum Card® from American ExpressCenturion Lounges$550*

Luxury Hotel Stays

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit CardLounge Buddy$395
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*(See Rates & Fees)

If you’re curious about some of the cards that didn’t make the cut or the elusive Centurion® Card from American Express, you can check out the sections below our list.

Best Premium Travel Card: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

  • On Chase's Secure Website

After first being introduced in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® immediately jumped to the top of the list for best premium credit cards. Between an incredibly high sign-up bonus and great rewards on dining and travel, this card blows the competition out of the water. Even in 2021, there are few credit cards that can match its offering. You Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s worth $750 when redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards points – one of the biggest credit card bonuses we’ve ever seen. On day-to-day spending, cardholders are awarded 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is that it’s yet another Ultimate Rewards (UR) credit card. This reward program reigns supreme over all other current offers on the market. What makes Ultimate Rewards stand out are its excellent hotel and travel partners. You can move your Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio to loyalty programs like Southwest Rapid Rewards and Marriott. Additionally, you get a 50% bonus when redeeming points through the UR portal for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. That boosts the card’s rewards rate to anywhere between 1.5% and 4.5% - depending on how you spend and redeem.


  • Access to 1,200+ airport lounges
  • Rewards rate on dining and travel can be as high as 4.5% (3 points on travel after you earn the $300 travel credit)
  • Annual Fee: $550

Best Card for Luxury Treatment: The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers some of the best perks made available through any card. For example, cardholders have access to concierge services that are consistently well reviewed by customers—something we don’t see from other cards on this list. Additionally, when booking hotels through Fine Hotels and Resorts, you receive exclusive benefits like late checkouts, spa credits, room upgrades or complimentary Wi-Fi. The Platinum Card® from American Express also comes with all the trappings of a premium card. The card grants cardholders access to Amex Centurion Lounges, which are widely regarded as the most luxurious lounges available. These lounges provide travelers with various amenities, including shower suites, work spaces and luggage lockers. It's fairly common for these lounges to also offer complimentary food and beverages.

While there are other cards that may offer more points across more varied categories, very few of them combine a lucrative rewards program with as many perks as those offered by The Platinum Card® from American Express. What makes the points so lucrative is that you have your option when choosing what to redeem them for. For instance, you can choose to book travel with them or even use them to pay for Uber rides.


  • $550 annual fee.
  • Get up to $200 for Uber rides annually.
  • Includes Amex Centurion Lounge access—widely considered among the best airport lounges — Priority Pass Select membership and Delta Sky Club access.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • 1x points for each dollar of eligible purchases.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Best Premium Hotel Credit Card: Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card

The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card is a fantastic option for anyone who ends up frequently staying at hotels during their travels. You also receive 3 free upgrades to The Ritz-Carlton Club® Level annually on paid stays of up to 7 nights. With this, you have access to a dedicated concierge and personalized amenities. Finally, cardholders also receive a $100 hotel credit towards their Ritz-Carlton stays, and free Platinum Elite Status anytime they spend over $75k in one year.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card cardholders also get a lot of extra benefits not tied to the hotel brand. This includes Lounge Club membership and a free night certificate each year you renew your card.


  • Annual free night certificate
  • Automatic Platinum Elite when you spend $75,000 on purchases each account year
  • Annual Fee: $395

The information related to the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

How Do The Best Premium Credit Cards Compare To One Another?

We graphed our estimate for the value of some of the cards listed above. The estimates in the graph below are based on the value of bonuses, lounge access and airline credits. They do not factor in the rewards you would earn for using the cards to make daily purchases.

A graph showing the estimated value of the top premium credit cards.

The Centurion® Card from American Express: Is It As Good As The Rest?

The Centurion® Card from American Express is often heralded as the king of premium credit cards. You can't apply for it, since the card is invite only. Generally, you have to have The Platinum Card® from American Express first. Those who spend $250,000 annually on it have a chance to be invited to the Centurion® Card from American Express. The Centurion® Card from American Express comes with a $2,500 annual fee and a one-time $7,500 origination charge. The issuer is rather secretive about the card and its features. What little is known about it has come through second-hand reports.

There are no welcome bonuses on the card. Instead, it focuses on giving users the maximum amount of luxury treatment. You are automatically enrolled in high-tier elite status across multiple hotel and airline brands, including Starwood, Delta, Hilton, and IHG. It comes with decent lounge access, like all other premium credit cards.

Is it worth it? This answer will differ from person to person. There are far more economical means of obtaining elite status with different programs. The same is true of lounge access. You shouldn’t try to get the Centurion® Card from American Express just for those reasons. Instead, it acts as a strong status symbol. This highly sought-after card may be beneficial to business men and women needing to make an impression when paying for dinner. As far as dollar value is concerned, you can achieve similar results for far less than $2,500 per year.

The information related to The Centurion® Card from American Express has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).