In the credit world, there are countless credit cards offered by banks all across the country, and while there are some cards that nearly anyone can be approved for as well as some that have a far more rare approval rate, there are some cards that are only available to the most creditworthy, high net worth individuals in the US. The most difficult credit cards to get will have incredibly low approval rates, but they'll also come with some of the most amazing perks and benefits available in a credit card.
The overall hardest credit card for anyone to obtain is the American Express Centurion Card, often referred to as the American Express "Black Card" or simply "The Black Card." This card is so exclusive that you cannot simply apply for it; you must be personally invited.
The American Express Centurion Card is generally recognized as the single hardest credit card to obtain in the world, with only the most wealthy and famous consumers being invited into the fold. There are other cards, however, that are still extremely exclusive and difficult to obtain, and while they may not offer the decadent benefits of the American Express Centurion Card, they still give the cardholder some incredible perks. We're going to dive into the hardest credit cards to get and what exactly makes them so great.
What Is The Hardest Credit Card To Get Approved For?
The hardest credit card to get is the American Express Centurion Card, and while those who are considered are almost universally accepted into the Centurion program, not being able to directly apply for the card increases its mystery and allure. This exclusivity manifests as one of the major attractions of the American Express Centurion Card.
The American Express Centurion Card is a credit card created for the biggest spenders and highest net worth individuals in the nation. While there are some intense fees associated with joining the program, for those that charge hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars throughout the year. However, with that in mind, those same individuals can experience some incomparable benefits as cardholders.
The exclusivity starts with the process of getting the card in the first place. Most people are familiar with the usual methods of applying for a credit card, such as filling out a paper application or, more commonly, applying online. With the American Express Centurion Card, however, there are no such mechanisms for applying. Those who qualify for the card are generally sought out and personally invited, though there is a channel to submit a request for future consideration.
When invited, the cardholder will need to pay a $10,000 initiation fee, followed by a $5,000 annual fee for the primary cardholder as well as each authorized user. Once the cardholder's account is active, the benefits can start being immediately enjoyed. These benefits include not only membership perks but the ability to earn rewards from purchases that can be quickly accumulated and easily redeemed. Additional benefits of the American Express Centurion Card include:
- All eligible purchases earn 1 point per dollar.
- Purchases over $5,000 earn 1.5x points, with a maximum of 1,000,000 points earned per calendar year.
- Centurion Shopping Program
- Exclusive rewards for Saks Fifth Avenue, InCircle, as well as Mr. Porter & Net-A-Porter Shopping Service.
- Complimentary Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status, which can earn the cardholder airline perks such as priority waitlisting, priority check-in, priority boarding, courtesy upgrades, extras, and increased mileage earnings.
- Exclusive access to the Global Lounge Collection, which is a proprietary lounge network around the world and includes super-exclusive Centurion Lounges accessible only to Centurion cardholders and authorized users.
- Invitation and admittance to the Avis President's Club, as well as being granted Platinum Status with Hertz rental agencies.
- The business version of the American Express Centurion Card includes a 50% rebate on all airfares that are purchased with previously earned rewards points.
- All-access gym membership for Equinox locations.
- Automatic Diamond Status at all Hilton locations, including upgrades to the reserved suite, late checkout perks, boosted rewards earnings on paid stays, and breakfast benefits.
- Automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold and IHG Platinum benefits.
- Unique credit card designs include a wearable card created by fashion giant Prada.
One of the additional major but often overlooked benefits include the American Express Centurion Concierge. Most higher-end credit cards with annual fees, American Express, in particular, will have a robust concierge benefit or feature that cardholders can use. The American Express Centurion Card, however, has a concierge service that is elevated to the level of service that Centurion cardholders have come to expect.
The American Express Centurion Concierge can help you track down rare and sold-out holiday gifts, as well as ensure they are delivered to the recipient. They can help you plan your travel arrangements for a long vacation, domestically or abroad, or help you plan travel arrangements to evacuate your family from a volcano, hurricane, or wildfire danger. They can even help you plan an entire wedding or find the perfect celebrity to perform at your child's birthday.
Other Credit Cards Hard To Get Approved For
The American Express Centurion Card may be the most exclusive in the world, but many others can provide significant benefits and perks to the cardholder. These cards can also all be applied for in a conventional manner, and while they may have low approval rates, they are still far easier to obtain.
J.P. Morgan Reserve Credit Card
The J.P. Morgan Reserve Credit Card is arguably the second-hardest credit card to get since not only is the application process unconventional, but it also has a minimum requirement for total assets. To be approved, the applicant will not only need to have "excellent" credit and $10 million or more in assets, but those assets will need to be under the management of J.P. Morgan Private Bank. Cardholders can get up to 10 points per dollar spent, as well as a long list of travel credits and perks.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
Often considered one of the best rewards cards available, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card is also one of the most difficult to obtain. The card requires "excellent" credit, but it rewards cardholders with robust rewards of between 1 and 10 points per dollar, as well as a welcome bonus of 50,000 points. There is a $550 annual fee, and the interest bottoms out at 16.99%. Perks like annual travel credits, 50% bonus value when booking through the Chase travel portal, and access to thousands of luxury airport lounges around the world make the card well worth it.
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Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature Card
One of the most difficult business cards to get approved for is the Wells Fargo Business Elite Signature Card, which requires "excellent" credit. The interest rate averages just under 8%, and while it only gives a 1.5% cashback perk, it also has a $0 introductory annual fee, which rises to $125 after the first year. The welcome bonus is relatively significant as well, giving a $1,000 bonus when the cardholder spends $25,000 in the first 3 months.
US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card
The US Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite Card requires "excellent" credit and has an annual fee of $400. While this card is hard to get, it still has relatively high interest but also compromises by providing some great rewards potential. The rewards rate ranges from an average 1 point per dollar to a staggering 5x multiplier in some travel categories. Travelers with this card can also enjoy a credit for TSA PreCheck or GlobalEntry, easy mobile redemption, Infinite Concierge, and more.
Simmons Bank Visa Card
The Simmons Bank Visa Card is not only one of the hardest credit cards to get, but it's also one of the cards with the lowest interest rates overall. There is no annual fee, and they offer a 0% APR for the first 12 months, after which the regular APR can be as low as 10.50%. They will still require "excellent" credit for approval, but if you tend to carry a balance, this card can save you big bucks.
Are You In The Market For One Of The Most Exclusive Credit Cards?
If you are a high net worth individual, who spends a significant amount of money on credit cards, one of these credit cards may be right for you, even if they are some of the hardest cards to get. While you may have the status and the finances to easily obtain any of these cards, it's important to focus on the terms, not the level of exclusivity.
The hardest credit cards to get will all have similar application and approval requirements, so be sure you are putting your money to work in the smartest way possible. Your new credit card should not only be a tool to help you flex your finances but also a key to improving them even more.
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Shawn Manaher is a former financial advisor, has founded 5 online businesses, and is a coach, speaker, podcast host, and author. He's been featured on Forbes, The Consults Corner on TAE Radio, The Writing Biz, What's Your Story, and more.