Posted by William Charles on December 8, 2017
Credit Card Review

Published on December 8th, 2017 | by William Charles

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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.



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Andy Shuman

Been looking at this card, but having to make a trip to the City to fill out an application–what century is it? Anyway, two things. I believe it’s not a full PP membership, but Lounge Club–more limited selection than PP. And second, I don’t think they can 1099 you; it’s a rebate, not income. And I agree, it would be interested to see what their level of tolerance is in regard to the “incidentals” In the best case scenario, it’s free $500 in the next 12 months. Honestly, if I didn’t have more lounge access right now than I can use, I would be all over this card –totally free lounges don’t come around too often.

stvr
stvr

Is the Global Entry fee per user?

Ramon
Ramon

Yes. Pretty much all the benefits are available to all AUs.

Paul
Paul

Interesting. I have a Citi National bank close by – always thought it was one of those weird local banks that seem to disappear quickly, so never even thought about it.

Since AU cards are free, and supposedly they all get lounge access and $250 airline reimbursement, it’s a way you can add your friends and anyone who travels a bunch as AUs. Be helluva nice perk for company officers who you could (presumably) trust not to abuse the card, but in return would get nice perks and even get some travel related expenses refunded.

calwatch
calwatch

CNB, like First Republic, is all into relationship banking. They advertise a lot on public radio and news radio in the Los Angeles markets. The target audience would probably be doctors, lawyers, producers, and other small business professionals, as that is CNB’s bread and butter.

h
h

Any idea which bureau they pull from?

DVD
DVD

Like CalWatch mentioned, City National is a relationship bank geared towards businesses and high net worth clients. I doubt their card products are issued outside their client base. My gut tells me their card products are for clients that need a high credit line, those who have a high net worth but are “credit challenged” or new to credit (recent immigrants) as they can also collateralize of any of their card products as well.

Many will find the CNB Crystal Card unique because its an Infinite Card, which may have more benefits then a Signature Card. Also CNB is the only US bank to offer the Infinite Card, other then Banco Popular in Puerto Rico.

Here is a link to the rates and fees:

https://www.cnb.com/lending/cards/individual/Crystal-Visa-Card.pdf

APR is 9%, 12% for cash advances
No FTF
Chip and PIN

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[…] DOC Write Up on the Subject Matter […]

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[…] Receive a sign up bonus of 100,000 points after $5,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening on the City National Crystal Visa Infinite card. […]

Gina Choe

Hi Everyone!

Please contact me with you have any questions about the City National Crystal Infinite Visa!

I’d be happy to help!

Thank you
Gina Choe
Assistant Vice President

naveen medisetti
naveen medisetti

Can i refer my friends to apply for the card? can you help

Mike
Mike

May I application without visit branch in personal?

Ron
Ron

No City National Bank in my city (Fresno). I called the bank, was mailed a paper application, and eventually got the Crystal card.
I like their “incidentals” policy, which allows $250 per card, not per account. With 4 family members, it translates to getting $1000 for the $400 fee. Not bad! So far I found out that it works for the purchase of “economy plus” seats, miles re-deposit fees, and consumables on the plane – as long as it is a US based airline. It does NOT work for purchased food at the Admiral’s lounge. Well, that experiment set me back $14, and the food was pretty awful..
The concierge service is not good. I tried getting a couple of tickets for a concert in Kiev. I gave them all the details, including the website which sold the tickets. It took them three days to call back and inform me that they were unable to get me the tickets. I then contacted the Visa Signature concierge service, and they were able to get me the tickets within a day.
They offer a $100 discount on two domestic round trip tickets, as long as they sell the tickets. The prices on their travel site are not inflated, but the site itself is infested with bugs. I tried using it several times and got a decent price. However, when I clicked “continue” an error message stating “sorry, something went wrong” appeared. I did not bother following up with a phone call, so I don’t know whether the agent assisted reservations are any better.
In summary: the card has some advantages, not the least of which is that it looks really cool!

exoticfusion
exoticfusion

Fellow Fresnan here, also with the City National CC. I did the same, no branches in our city called them to ask them to email me one and they did. I made sure to have a savings account set up, so I could establish a relationship and was told it had to be open for 90 days before applying for the CC. It varies on what they require. Imo, they suck on the service side and their online interface is a bit antiquated, but the perks are nice.

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[…] Receive a signup bonus of 50,000 points after $5,000 in spend within 90 days of account opening on the City National Crystal Visa Infinite card. […]

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[…] City National Bank Visa Infinite [Our review] […]

jeo
jeo

So with the CSR $300 credit..is it per calendar year or annual fee cycle?

i know with citi prestige in your first year you can obtain the $250 airline credit twice if you signed up mid year youd get the credit for that calendar year and then again for the next

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[…] Oleg asked if I’d create a page letting people know what has/hasn’t triggered the City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite $250 airline credit. Before we get started, two important things to keep in […]

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[…] In addition they are looking for high networth/income individuals so not everybody will be approved. Still fantastic deals if you can get them! We have a full review of the personal card that can be found here. […]

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