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)
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:
- Primary cardholder: $400, waived first year
- Additional cardholders: $0
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.
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.
- $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 standingDiscontinued as of February 2016
- Crystal Card Concierge service
- Visit Infinite Benefits
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.
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.
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.
Is this card churnable?
- 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.