The Only Visa Infinite in the US is $0 the First Year and Comes With Lounge Access

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Most premium Visa products in the U.S. are offered as Visa Signature — this includes Chase Sapphire Preferred and even President Obama’s Palladium card.

Several banks in Canada and around the world offer cards that are a notch higher — Visa Infinite — but it hasn’t taken hold in the US. I vaguely recall that US Bank used to offer a Stratus card that was Visa Infinite. Now there’s a Visa Infinite US card.

Visa Infinite, the more exclusive tier, is now available in the US from City National Bank: the Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card.

    visa infinite us

But does Visa Infinite mean it’s a valuable product?

The card comes with:

  • Priority Pass Select membership for lounge access, including two free guests per visit (like Citi Prestige)

  • Triple points on travel and dining (which includes “airlines, hotels, taxis, limousines, rental cars, trains, buses, gas, restaurants, fast food and takeout food dining establishments”). Searching through the airfare search tool you should get between 0.9 and 1.1 cents per point on tickets.

  • $250 per card airline fee credit each year

  • Global entry enrollment fee credit

Not hugely exciting, though there are more benefits I’ll talk about below. What’s interesting is that the card’s website didn’t mention the annual fee, which they can do because you can’t apply online you have to call. So I called and asked about the fee and was told it’s $0 the first year then $400. They had to research and call me back when I asked whether additional cardholders had an annual fee.

They rang back to let me know that additional cardholders are fee free. That’s very interesting because the benefit guide says that “each cardholder under the Crystal Visa Infinite card account may receive a discount up to $250 per calendar year for qualifying airline purchases…” So this fee credit appears to scale without additional annual card fees!

Additional card benefits include, among other things:

  • The rental car collision damage waiver is secondary (so not as good as what’s offered by Chase Sapphire Preferred whose coverage is primary), only valid for rentals up to 15 days inside the U.S., and doesn’t provide coverage in Israel, Jamaica, Ireland, or Northern Ireland.

  • National Car Rental Executive status (which American Express Platinum also offers)

  • $100 off domestic airline reservations for 2-5 passengers, when booked through the cardmember portal at myvisainfinite.com/cnb

  • Fast track to Relaix & Chateau Club 5C status after 2 nights in 12 months

This is not a great rewards card, but there’s value here. Largely you make $250 (or 250 per cardholder on the account) off the airline fee credit in the first year where the fee is $0. Plus you pick up National car rental status (not hugely valuable, but it’s a nicer car from the Executive Aisle instead of Emerald Aisle) and there’s a domestic airfare savings when traveling with another person and booking through their portal which can be used as many times as you wish.

It also provides you that premium Priority Pass Select membership with free guests, which is the cheapest way by far to access Alaska Airlines lounges.

I don’t think this card is anywhere in the league of Citi Prestige, but ‘first year free’ lets you milk some real benefits.

I haven’t done any business with City National Bank so don’t know whether they’ll approve people that aren’t bank customers. I also don’t know whether their gift card option (“Don’t forget to ask about ordering Gift Cards in bulk”) will allow credit card purchases.

(HT: Steve T)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Apparently, there is no online application or on the phone application. The only way to apply for the card is to go to a branch, which are only in California!
    Did you find a way to apply online?

  2. Per their website, “offered in City National Bank offices only in the states of California, Georgia, Nevada, New York and Tennessee.”

  3. So…. technically I can get 5 additional cards fee free, and bank $1500 (me +5=6×250) in airline credits??

  4. Tread with caution… “each cardholder under the Crystal Visa Infinite card account may receive a discount up to $250 per calendar year for qualifying airline purchases”

    is very different from

    “each cardholder under the Crystal Visa Infinite card account WILL receive a discount up to $250 per calendar year for qualifying airline purchases”

    Legally, the first statement does not mean what folks are inferring.

  5. Nobody commented on the fact that it’s per calendar year, so with two card holders, this could be $1,000.

  6. I called them today at (800) 773-7100. Initially I was told that I needed to apply in person at the branch. However, after hearing that there is no branch in my city (Clovis, CA), they promised that they would send me an application by mail. I had to go through several supervisors in order to get to that point. Will I receive an application by mail? Stay tuned.

  7. They mention a welcome amenity and free breakfast at Relais & Chȃteaux properties when booking via the bank, not fast track to 5C. Where does that come from?

  8. Sweet! There’s one in my city (Pleasanton, CA). I’ll stop in next week to inquire. I never cease to be amazed how good the East Bay Area is for MS. 🙂

  9. is there a reason to get this vs Ameriprise Amex Plat? They seem similar but Amex has SPG gold and boingo wifi with $200 air credit. I realize the 3x points is appealing but I would rather do higher cat spending with lower annual fees, I think. Still very new to travel cc maximization.

  10. From reading the benefits PDF, looks like two other key things are:
    – free CLEAR membership (worth $100+)
    – special hotel benefits ($25 meal credit, late checkout, special gift, low price guarantee)

  11. @adam – I rather dismiss those since the hotel benefits aren’t clearly better than visa signature offerings than i could discern, and some folks value clear > $0, in a couple of airports they can help you skip the precheck queue, i don’t see it as especially valuable

  12. Hmm, I hear you about the CLEAR thing. But for those of us who fly out of CLEAR-supported airports (like SFO or SJC), it’s quite cool from my experience (I actually pay for it currently). And the Bay Area does have a ton of frequent travelers :).

    re hotels… perhaps my memory isn’t serving me well, but the benefits listed (see below) seemed better to me than what I recall from the Amex and Visa Signature equivalents and… dang, cannot seem to cut and paste from the PDF :\. But in particular, the Best Rate guarantee seemed impressive and distinct, as did the special amenity (they listed $100 room credit, extra $100 dining credit as examples) on top of the $25 credit.

    With all that said, I’m not applying for the card now myself. I have the Citi Prestige and am very fond of it, and there’s too much overlap in benefits.

  13. Hey Gary, do you know if the airline fee credit will get triggered by buying airline gift cards? Is it too new to have any data points on this? It wasn’t mentioned on FT and i’d love to be able to use it in that way. Thanks for any details you may have.

  14. Belatedly, thank you for the response re Relais & Chȃteaux. I find this quite interesting – R&C engage in exceedingly few deals/promotions that I am aware of, and have some highly impressive and historic properties. This could be a great benefit. I don’t need a new CC right, but will take another look in the fall.

  15. Follow up on my previous comment. I called, received the application by mail, sent it back and received the cards about four weeks later. They confirmed that the $250 airline incidentals is per card, not per account. So in our case, with four cardholders, it should be $1000 per calendar year – not bad given that the fee is $400 (waived for the first year). Applies only to US based airlines.
    On the downside, their website is awful. You cannot see your expenses, and cannot pay online. Obviously, you cannot set up automatic payments. Their “points” are of very limited value.

  16. Hmm, intriguing, Ron; thanks for sharing!

    So…
    – You can add additional cardmembers for no added fee?!
    – Do the additional cardmembers also get lounge access?

  17. No fee for additional card members. At least not for the first year, while the card is free. I am not sure what they will do next year. And.. a separate Priority Pass for additional members. Strangely, I got a Priority Pass card for myself and for my younger daughter, but not for my wife and my older daughter. Go figure.

  18. Had the card for over a year now. It has some awesome features:
    The $250 rebate for air travel incidentals, per card. My family has four cards, so that gives me 600 good reasons to love the card (after the $400 annual fee).
    Strangely, the card works in many places where other cards are declined. Especially abroad. So it is a good backup card to keep in your wallet.
    Their website is still not perfect, but it is greatly improved. You can now see your activities and pay online. You can still not set recurrent payments, unless you have a bank account with City National bank.

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