JP Morgan Palladium Card: Is It Worth It?

Jun 23, 2016

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I’m not your average credit card consumer — I currently have 26 credit cards and spend more than $6,000 in annual fees. But, I run a website that’s focused on evaluating credit cards, so it’s my job. The thing is that I’m here to test out these cards and relay that information to you, our readers, who can use the information in making your own credit card decisions. When I review these cards, it’s not a ringing endorsement for everyone to go out and get the card, but it’s really to show you some inside perks. Because, as you’ll see in this JP Morgan Palladium Card review, not all credit card perks — especially those that are not public like the Palladium Card — are made available to the general public.

When I blogged about getting the Centurion Card from Amex, a lot of people asked about the Palladium Card (with a $595 annual fee), so I decided to get it myself. In order to be eligible for the card, you must be a private banking client of JP Morgan. In order to become a private banking client, you must have $250,000 in assets with Chase, although I’ve heard that can be flexible and you don’t have to keep it there at all times — once you’re in, generally you’re in. Being a private banking client has its perks, like the fact that all my ATM fees — whether they’re Chase or at a random bodega in NYC — get reimbursed. Once you’re a private banking client, you can go to your local Chase branch and talk to a private banking advisor who will give you an application that you sign, and that signature is then laser engraved on the back of the Palladium card — a pretty neat feature, though it’s ultimately just a novelty.

The long story short about this card is that it’s exclusive. President Obama has the card, and who doesn’t want to have the same credit card that POTUS has? But is it really worth it? I’ll get into the details below, but spoiler alert: Unless you really value the United lounge access and spend a ton of money to unlock the sign-up bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a much better option.

The United Club lounge in London.
The United Club lounge in London.

1. The Biggest Perk: United Lounge Access

The main perk with the Palladium Card is the complimentary United Club and Priority Pass Select membership. The card doesn’t advertise the United Club perk, and I think that’s because Chase also has the United MileagePlus Club Card and it doesn’t want to take the shine away from there. But, you do indeed get a full lounge membership, which is an extremely valuable perk. If you were to purchase an annual United Club membership without elite status, you would have to pay $600 ($550 for a subscription and a $50 initiation fee). Right then and there, you’re essentially covering the cost of the $595 annual fee with the United Club membership. So, if you fly United a lot, this perk could make the card worth it.

That said, the United Club Card (with a $450 annual fee) is a better value if you’re mostly looking to redeem rewards for flights with the carrier, since you’ll earn 1.5 miles per dollar on every purchase and 2 miles per dollar on United purchases. If you’re more interested in transferring to other partners, though, the Palladium could be a better choice since it earns Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed with 11 partners including British Airways and Hyatt. Plus, I value UR points at 2.1 cents apiece, while United miles are a bit lower at 1.5 cents each.

If you fly private a lot
If you fly private a lot, you’ll get 2x points on travel but will also inch toward the $100,000 needed for 35,000 bonus points.

2. There’s a Spend Bonus

Although the Palladium Card comes with no sign-up bonus, there is a yearly spending bonus. If you spend $100,000 annually with the card, you’ll get 35,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. I consistently value Ultimate Rewards points high, and based on my most recent valuations, those 35,000 points are worth around $735.

Car rentals are counted as travel purchases.
Car rentals are counted as travel purchases.

3. The Category Bonus is Nice, but Not Great

The card will earn you 2x points on travel purchases. Yes, this category bonus pales in comparison to the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which earns you 2x points on travel and dining. It probably doesn’t make much sense that a card $500 cheaper would give you more bonuses, but that being said, if you’re going on expensive safaris and booking private jets, the 2x travel could add up to be worth it, especially when coupled with the 35,000 points from the spend bonus. And the 2x travel bonus category is better than the Centurion Card, which has no bonus categories.

The Palladium Card comes with a Global Entry fee credit.
The Palladium Card comes with a Global Entry fee credit.

4. Global Entry Fee Waiver

Especially with the recent issues the TSA has been having with its security checkpoint wait times, now’s a better time than ever to consider getting Global Entry, which comes with TSA PreCheck. It doesn’t have an impact on me because I already have both Global Entry and TSA PreCheck, but it’s definitely an added benefit to have with a card like this. You’ll get the $100 credit to cover the cost of Global Entry every five years.

Keep in mind that there are other credit cards that offer this fee credit, such as The Platinum Card from American Express, Citi Prestige and Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, among others.

The card looks even cooler when it's paired with
The card looks even cooler when it’s paired with a cute French Bulldog like Miles.

5. It Looks Cool

There’s no denying the card looks really cool. It’s actually made of palladium and gold, and you can tell that just by how much it weighs — 1 oz., the same as the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card. The downside to this is that it sets of TSA metal detectors. So when I zip past regular security lines with my TSA PreCheck, I have to take my wallet out. It’s not a big deal, but a definite drawback if you’re looking to rush through the security screening process. For that reason alone, you can get a plastic version of the card if it’s too heavy to carry around in your wallet all the time and you don’t want to set off metal detectors.

Bottom Line

There are other perks to this card as well, such as a concierge service and extended purchase protection. But, in general, unless you really value United Club access and spend a ton so you can unlock the 35,000 bonus points, this card is probably not for most people. I would still recommend that the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better all-around card for the everyday consumer.

Are you a Palladium cardholder? If so, please share if you’re been able to maximize its perks.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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