City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card Review

Update 2 (12/8/17): Card now has an additional benefit for those who spend $50,000+ per year to get a statement credit of up to $550 per calendar year for any airline lounge club worldwide. There were some golf and chauffeur benefits added as well. Card is also being reissued as a metal card. (Hat tip to r/churning)

Update: Sign up bonus is currently 50,000 points.

This post is another in our Weird Wednesday series where we look at slightly out of the ordinary credit cards. Today we will be looking at The Crystal Visa Infinite Card which is issued by City National Bank. We don’t know a lot about the interest rates and fees on this card, so we will skip that section and just post the main points we do know:

Annual fees:

  • Primary cardholder: $400, waived first year
  • Additional cardholders: $0

Application Information

You’re only supposed to be able to apply for this card at a City National branch. Branches are found in NY, DE, GA, TN, NV & CA, with the vast majority of branches in California. Some people have reported that they’ve been able to get a paper application posted out if they live in one of those states but don’t have a branch in their city.

Card Benefits

This card comes with a number of benefits:

  • Unlimited Priority Pass Select lounge access for two and their guests (e.g one primary and one authorized user card + guests)

This Priority Pass membership seems to be the same one that is offered by Citi on the Citi Prestige (read more about this benefit here). This gives you access to all of the lounges in the Priority Pass network apart from United lounges. This card allows the primary cardholder to select one other person to receive this benefit (don’t need to be an authorized user).

  • $250 airline credit for eligible incidental charges per card per calendar year (including authorized users).

They give the following examples of what is considered an incidental charge: seat upgrade charges, ticket change/cancellation fees, checked baggage fees, inflight entertainment, onboard food and beverage charges, airport lounge membership fees and day passes, onboard wireless charges (excluding Gogo Wireless), and TSA Pre✓®membership application fee.

What’s most worrying is that it looks like they will send out a 1099-INT for this $250 reimbursement, this is what their fine print states:

This benefit may be subject to taxation and/or Form 1099 reporting

Obviously the key word there is may, so they might not send out a 1099 but the fact that it’s included suggests that they most likely will.

Update: Readers have reported not receiving a 1099 for using this benefit.

  • $100 Global Entry Credit

Cardholders are entitled to a $100 reimbursement for their Global Entry application fee. They may receive one of these credits every four years (GE needs to be renewed every four years)

  • Free CLEAR membership as long as you’re a cardholder in good standing Discontinued as of February 2016
  • Crystal Card Concierge service
  • Visit Infinite Benefits

Rewards Program

This card earns and lets you redeem City National Rewards Points. These points don’t expire as long as your account is open and in good standing.

Earning Rewards

This card earns at the following rates:

  • 3 points for every dollar spent on grocery stores airline, hotel, taxi, limousine, rental car, train, bus, gas, restaurant, fast food and takeout food dining establishment purchases
  • 1 point for every dollar spent on all other purchases

There is no cap on the amount of points you can earn. The fine print states that:

PIN-based and ATM transactions do not earn Points

The fact that PIN based transactions don’t earn points is odd considering that this card has an EMV chip and PIN functionality (PIN as backup, similar to the Barclaycard Arrival Plus).

Sign Up Bonus

This card does not have a sign up bonus (apart from the benefits of the card) and as far as I know has never offered one. I also haven’t heard of anybody being targeted for a sign up bonus either.

Redeeming Your Rewards

City National Rewards Points can be redeemed for airfare with most carriers, you can use their airfare search tool to see how many points you need for a flight. From my testing it seems like you’re normally get around 1¢ per point in value. There are also no blackout dates. New rates for gift cards seem to be in effect as well.

Our Verdict

I don’t think it’s worth putting spend on this card, you get 3x points on some categories but realistically that works out to be less than 3% in cash back terms and most of those categories have cards that earn 5%. You’re also stuck just redeeming the points for airfare which is quite restrictive.

The main reason to get this card is the benefits, there are two in particular that seem of interest to me. The first is the lounge access, having two cardholders + guests being given access is fantastic. Usually you can bring in as many guests as allowed by each individual lounge. This means you could potentially bring in quite a lot of people, useful if traveling in a large group (without isolating yourself and causing resentment for those not in the lounge) The downside is that United lounges aren’t included and most of the lounges that are included are so so at best.

The second and more compelling reason to get this card is the $250 airline incident credit. The best thing about this is that authorized users also get this benefit and they pay no annual fee. But I have too big reservations:

  • We don’t know how strict they are on what does/doesn’t count as an airline incidental charge. Some card issuers include gift cards without batting an eye, while others are actively trying to crack down on this “abuse”.
  • You might have to pay taxes on this benefit.

The value you get out of this benefit will be dependent on what tax rate you pay (and your authorized users pay) and if they sent out the 1099 or not. For me the bigger issue is not knowing what will count as an airline incidental outside of what they mentioned. I only have so many airline incidentals each year and more and more cards have a similar benefit, because of that it’d be nice to be able to purchase airline gift cards and for those to count.

If they did count, I’d probably sign up for this card. Before paying the annual fee you’d be able to cycle this benefit twice (remember it’s per calendar year) and the same again for each authorized cardholder. Personally I’m going to give this one a miss, the other problem is that City National have a lot of high networth individuals and they might not approve you unless you already have funds invested with or held by them.

Visa Infinite is the highest Visa tier card available in the United States (they have Visa Infinite Privilege elsewhere). As far as I know it’s the only Infinite card available to those in the U.S. If you have any personal experience with this card, please share it in the comments below.

F.A.Q

Is this card churnable?

Yes.

  • Bonus Points offer is limited to City National Bank clients and colleagues who do not currently have, and have not had within the 24 months prior to the date of application, a City National Bank Visa personal credit card account

This comes directly from an e-mail they sent announcing the offer.

Hat tip to View From The Wing for making me aware of this card and that authorized users are fee free.

81
Leave a Reply

avatar
 

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
jeph36
jeph36

Despite the recent devaluation of point values which was pushing me to sock-drawer this card until next year when I might cancel after getting whatever airline credits are left …

Late last week I got a mailer that offers 10K bonus points for $5K in spend from 2019-Oct-15 – 2020-Jan-15. Of note, it explicitly states it is only for my card and not my wife’s AU card (they have different account numbers). For an effective 3.3% anywhere or 5.5% at gas/grocery/restaurant/travel, I now plan to max out this promo.

I have yet to decide if I should use it to pound away at Visa GCs at a grocery store and risk a shutdown … for a card that I am growing less likely to keep anyway. I do not currently MS in any significant way, but my wife started college recently and has a healthy size tuition bill that can be paid via CC with a 2.85% fee, making Visa GCs easy to dispose of.

Yu
Yu

Anyone knows if I will earn 3% cashback when paying parking fee at garage by using cnb card?

aubergine
aubergine

note that points have been devalued for online redemption through the travel portal

Jeremy
Jeremy

@DOC, I think this card should be re-evaluated in light of the 1.3 cents/point. That makes the categories almost 4% + $100 air discount for 2+.

Sparky
Sparky

They have more locations now, including one in DC. https://locations.cnb.com/

Sparky
Sparky

It’s 75k after 5k in spend by 12-17-18. https://www.cnb.com/content/cnbcom/en/personal/cards/credit-cards/crystal-visa-infinite.html I don’t see on their website that the first year annual fee is waived.

ssss
ssss

Can you use the $250 credit for gift cards? Did you receive 1099 for using them?

Quango
Quango

Applied via email (Ralph’s contact is in the comments) and was approved the same day. They do full underwriting so you’ll need to send in your last month’s paystub, all liquid asset statements (stocks/banking/retirement accounts w/ no penalty counts) and a copy of your identification.

Leonel

Quango, which contact? I searched the comments for Ralph and could not find anything. Also, you are in one of the state’s with a branch?

Protected
Protected

There is a new procedure in place (maybe rolled out as part of the bonus) where FICO >720 may not need documented verification. I was able to do the application with stated income and assets.

Protected
Protected

My application was approved with some additional verbal verification of identification and employment. I did not have to supply any documentation throughout the process.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Do you remember how long it took before they approve you?
And did they contact you via email or phone for the approval notice?

TIA!

Protected
Protected

The banker called me to let me know. It was the next business day after I applied in person.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Thanks! That is quick for you!
It look me a week before they called me back to ask for more documents.

02nz
02nz

The application process was a total hassle but this card is a keeper for the benefits. AFAIK it’s the only card (besides the Ritz-Carlton card, no longer issued to new customers) to have the $100 airfare benefit – buy domestic airfare for two, save $100 on the total. Have used this several times now, always priced out exactly the same (before discount) as booking directly with the airline. Great benefit and great card.

cardsurfer
cardsurfer

why was it a hassle to open the card?

Leonel

Yes, how did you apply? Are you in one of the state’s with a branch?

John K
John K

I see that you mentioned branches in NY, DE, GA, TN, NV & CA, but I also see branch in downtown D.C. and Twin Cities, MN. Also they mention they are “An RBC Company” – anyone know what that’s about?

02nz
02nz

CNB was bought by the Royal Bank of Canada.

HoKo
HoKo

Hi everyone, any recent updates on 1099’s or (lackthereof) for the $250 travel credits (for both primary and authorized users)?