Visa Infinite (the highest tier of Visa cards) was, until recently, a foreign delicacy unavailable in the U.S.
That’s changing, though, with a few cards bearing the “Infinite” label making their U.S. debut.
While Visa Infinite cards tend to carry high annual fees, they have a collection of benefits frequent travelers and big spenders might find intriguing.
Visa Infinite cards available in the U.S.
As of August 2016, you have only these options if you want to carry a Visa Infinite card:
- Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card from City National Bank ($400 annual fee): You must visit a branch in person to apply for this card.
- Ritz Carlton Rewards Credit Card ($450 annual fee): Once a mere Visa Signature, the Ritz Carlton card was relaunched as a Visa Infinite in August 2016.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee): Chase entered the premium-travel-card game in August 2016 with this card.
Visa Infinite Benefits
Issuers have the ability to customize which network benefits to offer and not offer on their cards.
While rewards and other benefits may vary by card, the Visa Infinite cards released so far may have various combinations of the perks below:
- $100 discount when you buy two or more domestic, coach airplane tickets: Think of this as a renewable companion discount, because there’s no limit on how often you can use it. Other cards limit their companion-ticket discounts to once/year.
To claim this benefit, you’ll need to book via the program’s website (see your card’s terms and conditions).
This benefit is NOT being included on the Chase Sapphire Reserve (although it does have a flexible $300 travel credit – see below).
- Annual airline/travel credit: There is some variation among U.S. Visa Infinite cards in what this credit can be used for.
For the Ritz-Carlton and Crystal cards, it’s good toward air-travel “extras” like seat upgrades, baggage fees and lounge passes. For the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the credit can be used toward an expense that Chase codes as “travel.”
The amount may also vary (it’s $300 for the Ritz-Carlton card and Chase Sapphire Reserve and $250 for the Crystal Visa Infinite). Either way, you’re getting at least the amount that other luxury cards offer, and quite possibly more. For comparison, the Platinum card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner), awards a $200 annual airline credit, the Citi Prestige gives you $250 and the Black Luxury Card from Barclaycard gives you $100.
- Reimbursement for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck: Use your card to pay for either of these programs and receive a refund via statement credit. Each card will have different rules for how often you can use this credit and whether it’s available to authorized users. The Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, allows you to use this perk once per account every four years.
- Priority Pass Select membership: More than 900 airport lounges participate in the Priority Pass program. With membership, you and accompanying guests (guest access rules vary by lounge) will get complimentary access.
- Premium perks: You’ll get concierge service, a suite of travel insurance protections, and early/private access to various concerts and sporting events.
- Hotel privileges: This varies by the current cards offered. For example, the Crystal card gives special perks (continental breakfast, late check-out and more) when you pay for a stay at hotels in the Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel collection. The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives similar perks at properties in Chase’s Luxury Hotel and Resort Collection. And the Ritz-Carlton card concentrates its perks on its own properties with a $100 hotel credit and elite status in its own rewards program.
Visa Infinite cards around the world also have other various benefits, including exclusive food and wine experiences and access to private events.
Are Infinite cards worth the cost?
The Infinite label is now being rolled out only on high-annual-fee cards. And that’s all it is – a label. Think of the long-established prestige the American Express Platinum has enjoyed. That prestige doesn’t necessarily mean it earns the most rewards on your spending or has the best perks for you. However, if you are shelling out more than $400 a year for a card, Visa Infinite perks are nice to have, and frequent travelers can likely maximize them for their monetary value, time saved or comfort on the road.
If you’re still not sure if you want to spend $400+ a year, check out the following cards, which have lower annual fees and still have some stand-out perks, including point-transfers to airlines, airline-fee credits and/or elite status at affiliated hotels: