The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive.

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Important: Since this post was written, CNB massively devalued this card effective Jan 1 2020.  Many of the specifics in the post below are no longer true.  For details about the changes, see: CNB Crystal Visa Infinite loses valuable perks as of Jan 1 2020.   And for things to think about before cancelling your card, see: Dumping my CNB Crystal Visa Infinite.


CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card

Would you pay $400 per year for $1,000 in airline gift cards, 48 Gogo wifi passes, 2 Priority Pass Select memberships that offer unlimited guests, and more?  Of course you would.  If you can get your hands on a CNB card, you can get all of that, but it is a big “if”.  More below.

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite: How to Get the Card

City National Bank charges $400 per year for the Crystal card, and that includes up to 3 authorized users.  In exchange for that fee, the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card offers a pretty spectacular mix of high end benefits including up to $1,000 per year in airline fee reimbursements (see the “Perks” section for more).

Further, CNB often offers a pretty attractive signup bonus for the card.  Here’s the latest offer:

Card Offer

In my opinion, pretty much anyone who can get the card should get the card.  The problem is that getting the card isn’t easy.

While some have had success signing up for the card over email in the past, CNB usually enforces an “in-branch only” rule.  And CNB is hardly everywhere.  Here’s the latest branch map that they show on their site (locations.cnb.com)

CNB locations. CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card

If you live near one of their branches, or can stop by during a trip, that’s probably your best bet.

Apply via Phone?

CNB’s website implies that you can apply via phone, so that may be worth a try.  This is from the CNB website regarding applying for the card:

Contact your local City National banker, or call us at (800) 773-7100.

Apply online?

If you are already a CNB client, you can log into your account and apply online.  The CNB website states:

Already a City National client? Click here to log in to City National Online and apply.

You can become a CNB client by signing up online for a checking or savings account, but only if you bank in one or their supported states.  Their website currently lists the following:

City National Bank has office locations in California, Georgia, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Tennessee and Washington, DC.

The website, though, doesn’t ask which state you live in, but rather which state you bank in.  Can you pick one of these to bank in and sign up online even if you don’t live in that state?  Maybe.  If you try it, please let us know how it goes.

$100K+ income?

If you get through the hoops required just to be able to apply for the card (as described above), you still might not get approved.  CNB is looking for high net worth customers.  One banker I talked with wouldn’t give me a hard and fast rule, but said something like “$100K or more income would be good.”  I’m sure people have been approved with lower incomes, but if you earn much less than that, it’s probably not worth your time applying.

The hardest credit card application ever

Once you figure out how to apply for the card, you may be in for a shock as to how much info they request for your application.  A few years ago I signed up via email when that path was still available.  Here’s the info I had to provide in addition to basic info required in the application form:

Primary Cardholder (i.e. me):

  • Income Verification (Current) No older than 90 days (paystubs)
  • Verification of stated assets/liquidity no older than 90 days (statements for anything you listed under assets on the app)
  • employer
  • work address
  • occupation
  • place of birth
  • ID photo (I supplied a photo of my passport)

Authorized users:

  • A copy of primary id (drivers license or passport)
  • Employer
  • Occupation
  • Work address
  • Mothers maiden name
  • Place of birth
  • Home address
  • Contact phone
  • SSN

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Perks:

Why go to all that work to get one of these cards?  The reason is simply that the card’s perks far outweigh its $400 annual fee.  Take a look at these highlights:

  • $250 Airline Incidental Fees Statement Credit (up to $1,000 total): Each year you can get up to $250 of airline fees reimbursed for each CNB Crystal card you have. So, if you have one primary card and three authorized users, you can get up to $1,000 in fees reimbursed each year.  This works with US domestic carriers only. This is intended to be for fees such as ticket change fees, checked bag fees, etc., but many things that aren’t supposed to get reimbursed do in-practice.  Readers have reported success with getting reimbursed when buying airline gift cards directly from airlines.  I’ve had a lot of success with charging Delta award fees to the card, as long as the fees were under $75 or so.  Very small airfare tickets would probably also work.  A reliable trick is to pay for most of a ticket with airline gift cards and the rest directly with the credit card.
  • Airline Lounge Membership Fee Statement Credit with $50K Spend: Reimburses up to $550 towards an airline lounge membership. Request for reimbursement must be made in the same calendar year in which the charge was recorded. In order to get reimbursed, you must have spent $50K on your CNB card in the current or prior calendar year.  Note that they will not reimburse the part of the lounge membership fee that was already reimbursed by the $250 airline incidental fee credit, so make sure to use up your airline fee credits before purchasing a lounge membership.
  • 3X Earning Rate for gas, grocery, travel, and dining: This is probably the most rewarding uncapped grocery spend card on the market.  Those who manufacture spend at grocery stores should take notice.
  • Points worth up to 1.25 cents each towards flights: Usually points are worth, at most, 1 cent each for rewards, but when you book flights with points, I find that the value typically ranges from 1.15 to 1.25 cents per point.
  • Priority Pass with unlimited guests: With your CNB card, you get two full Priority Pass memberships that each allow unlimited guests.  When you have multiple authorized users, the primary cardholder can choose which two cardholders get this benefit.
  • Gogo Infight Wi-Fi: 12 in-flight passes per year per card.  If you have 3 authorized users, you can load all 48 passes to your Gogo account if you want to, or each cardholder can get 12 of their own.  Each pass only works for one flight segment and they do not work for international flights (for international Gogo passes, you’ll want the Amex Business Platinum card).
  • Visa Infinite Discount Air Benefit: Save $100 on each 2 (or more) person round trip domestic flight purchased through this website.  We reported this feature previously, here: Bet You Didn’t Know: A Repeatable Companion Airfare Discount with the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite.
  • Global Entry Application Fee Statement Credit: $100 per 4 years per cardholder
  • GroundLink: $30 one-time credit. 15% discount ongoing.
  • Troon Rewards and Troon Prive’ Golf Privileges:. Save on golf tee times, merchandise and instruction. Automatic Silver status with Troon Rewards (or upgrade to next level if you already have status).
  • Personal Identity Theft Protection: CNB reimburses expenses incurred to restore your identity, up to $15,000. Covered events include theft or unauthorized or illegal use of your name, transaction card account or account number, Social Security number, or any other method of identifying you.
  • Miscellaneous: Broadway League, Crystal Card Concierge, Crystal Card Experiences, Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection, Visa Infinite Hotel Privileges, Visa Infinite Car Rental Privileges

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Travel Protections

Unfortunately, CNB’s travel protections fall well short of best-in-class protections.  You can find a comparison here: Ultra-Premium Credit Card Travel Insurance.

You must pay for travel in-full with your CNB card for the following travel protections:

  • Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver: Primary coverage.  Not available on cars with retail values above $75K.  No benefit is provided in Israel, Jamaica, the Republic of Ireland, or Northern Ireland.
  • Emergency Evacuation and Transportation: Up to $10K. Secondary coverage.
  • Hotel Theft Protection: Up to $1,000.  Valid for hotels in the US and Canada only.
  • Lost Luggage Reimbursement: Up to $5,000.
  • Travel Accident Insurance: Up to $1M
  • Trip Cancellation / Interruption: Up to $5,000.
  • Trip Delay: Up to $500 per ticket for trips delayed 6 hours or more.
  • Travel and Emergency Assistance Services: You get to talk to someone over the phone for free, but you’ll pay for any services they refer you to.

CNB also offers Roadside Dispatch for towing, tire changing, jump starting, lockout service, fuel delivery, and winching, but they charge $59.95 per service call (several other premium cards offer this for free).

CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Purchase Protections

You must pay in-full with your CNB card when purchasing items in order to get the following protections:

  • 60 Day Price Protection: Reimburses difference if price drops. Max $1,000 per item, $4,000 per year.
  • 90 Day Purchase Security: Covers items stolen or damaged.  Max $10K per claim, $50K per year.
  • 90 Day Return Protection: Covers your cost If you are unsatisfied with item and merchant won’t accept a return. Max $300 per item, $1,000 per year.
  • 1 Year Extended Warranty: Covers up to original price of item. Max $10K per claim, $50K per cardholder.

Wrap Up

The CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card offers benefits that make the card worth far more than its $400 annual fee.  The airline fee rebate alone (worth up to $1,000 per year) makes the card a keeper even if you never use the card for spend.  And, if you do use the card for spend, you can do really well with its broad range of 3X categories: gas, grocery, travel, and dining.  And, if you use the card for lots of spend ($50K+ per calendar year), you can get reimbursed for airline club membership up to $550.  This can be a terrific perk for those who frequent airports not supported by Priority Pass.

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SteveL

The wonderful benefits provided by the CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Benefits will end in January 2020. The airline incidentals are reduced to $350 per account, and the Priority Pass membership is only given to account holders, and guests are $32. I’ve been looking for this type of card for a long time and now that I’ve found it, it’s gone. Are there other cards with amazing benefits like this one had?

[…] See also: The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive. […]

Chen

Hello Greg,
I just received the card, is authorized user eligible for global entry reimbursement?

Jose

What kind of limits are people getting on this card?

Biren

$15k limit. The limit will be reduced when you add AUs, because part of your limit is split amongst the AU’s.

e.g. $15k limit with no AUs turns into $9k limit on primary, with $2k limit on each of the 3 AUs.

MSer

$50K

[…] More about the CNB card can be found here: The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive. […]

LLS

The hotel redemption was not great. Bellagio Las Vegas Expedia is pricing at $195/night, CNB reward require $19.8K points. In addition, just found out the CNB reward reservation now requires a $20 fee for cancelling an otherwise fully cancellable hotel reservation. They didn’t disclose anywhere on Terms of Conditions or at the time of hotel booking, only sneaked the fee in the FAQ page. https://www.scorecardrewards.com/tools/GlobalRepository/Documents/FAQs/FINAL_CNB_Travel_FAQs_10.03.2018.pdf

Jay

Hi Greg! I was lucky to get this CNB card end of last year(december time), i missed out on the $250 credit per calendar year. I was able to add the 3 users and all of us ended up getting $250 credit on airline purchases but since i didnt use my card in december, did i loose the other $1000 i could have gotten?

Sorry if this is confusing! Thank you for all your tips!

DCE

DP: I applied May 2019 in southern California (I’m from a different state) and was approved the next day. $125k annual income, $50k liquid assets. I was asked for recent paystubs and was told that any other documents would help. they recommended a w2.

Sam

@Greg- Any idea what the lowest income they would accept or will they consider deposits in their bank? Thanks!

[…] City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite (non-airfare travel, supermarkets that don’t accept Amex) […]

[…] referred to Frequent Miler’s post in order to learn about all the benefits of the card. The stars were aligning and we were on our way. What […]

Dan

Has anyone tried Delta GCs under $75?
Thx!

Dan

Has anyone purchased Delta GCs purchases under $75?

Thx,

[…] a lounge with an apparently unlimited number of guests. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Problem is, the card is very difficult to get. I guess that’s why they can be so generous to the people they […]

Phil

Do we have to apply for the AU in person too? Do I need to bring their IDs or could I just add them online once you have an account? I plan to apply for the card soon. Thanks.

DCE

They provided me with an AU info sheet I emailed to them after the application.

TMouse

What kind of points does this card create? It’s only points? Can you transfer them out or use them on their own portal like Chase?

ChickB

Read the comments above, you use the points on a CNB portal.

TMouse

I did. Not very clear

Nick

Signed up before the additional 25k bonus date (Dec 17th), confirmed that you have to be “boarded” to get the additional miles. It took about 14 days from when I applied to get the cards (over xmas break). For right now they are keeping the 50k miles. Got the card a few days ago and am signing up for the benefits that I can (Gogo internet, priority pass etc). Visa $100 airfare discount is only valid on domestic flights.

Vladdi

Question: is the 250 free reimbursement per calender year? Just got the card and it’s end of December…
Will it reset in January?

Josh

It’s a bummer that it goes by approved date, I applied before the 17th and was approved after and will likely only get 50k.

MSer

These people were the single biggest pita bank I’ve ever dealt with. Got so disgusted at the never-ending requests for more information I told them to stick their card up their arse. They actually wanted an audited personal financial statemwnt. Beyond ludicrous! I’ve done 8 figure loans with far less hassle than what these jokers wanted for a crappy credit card. And then you get bombarded with wealth management salespeople – the card is simply a sales tool to mine personal financial information for high net worth people. Beware.

[…] CNB Crystal Visa Infinite card may be the single best rewards card available (for details, see: The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive).  But, until now, it was tough to pinpoint the value of CNB points.  It has long been the case […]

[…] since Doctor of Credit said that points were worth about 1.00 CPP.  I did some more research and Frequent Miler said points were worth up to 1.25 CPP.  I double checked my math and was still getting 1.35 CPP on all […]

[…] Pass access, the Visa Infinite $100 companion travel discount, and much more.  Please check out Frequent Miler’s post and Doctor of Credit’s post to learn more about this credit […]

[…] If you make around $100k (congrats!), I recommend this post on Frequent Miler blog which has all the details you need: The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive. […]

ray

do u know if the primary rental car coverage is for authorized users too or only primary cardholder?

savingwizard

Where did you find it is primary rental car insurance?
In GUIDE TO BENEFITS, it says:
hat else is not covered?
 Expenses reimbursable by your insurer, employer, or
employer’s insurance

I called CSR to confirm, she says domestic card rental is secondly insurance, but international car rental is primary insurance. International is primary is just because your own personal insurance does not cover international travel.
Sounds to me it is clearly secondly insurance.

Paul

According to the banker I applied with, it’s primary for domestic as well. He said the other insurance referenced is for things like liability which obviously are not covered by CDW.

DBo

FYI – I got $75 fee for heavy baggage on Southwest credited back to me. It took just over a week to post.

Sam

Just approved in Cali. Can each AU use Visa infinite $100 airline booking credit or only account holder???? Why is everyone ignoring this potentially amazing benefit???

brian

Terms say cardholder has to be primary passenger on itinerary.

Tiffany

i thought account holder’s name has to be on one of the ticket. Can you help other people booking the flight without you taking the fight?

Josh

Anyone try applying over the phone?

DBo

On the phone they suggested to go in to the branch. I have a branch close so I didn’t push the issue.

DBo

FYI – The map above shows states where there are branches, not necessarily a branch map. As Greg mentioned you have to click on the link. Just wanted to note that in case people think the only branch in California is in the middle of the Sierras. LOL!
I applied for this card last week and it arrived today. Going to the bank later to pick it up.

Renee

Thanks for the information. Do you know if you can use the 250.00 credit from Amx platinum to purchase an airline lounge membership. I know it comes with Priority Pass, but I just flew from LAX to Portland and both directions Alaska Lounges had signs out front saying that they where “full” and not able to accept priority pass people. I was really upset and felt that the value of my Amex was not there.

Jeff

How can points be used? Through a designated website for flights purchase? How competitive is their pricing?

Charlie

That’s not encouraging. Buying through a bank’s website (even if it is really Expedia or similar company) is my third choice for redeeming. First choice would be transfer of points to an airline frequent flyer program and then spending miles for an award ticket. Second choice would be for me to buy the ticket directly from the airline using the credit card, and then receiving an offsetting credit from the bank when the charge posts. I guess you’re saying that neither of my two preferred methods works with this CNB card? If that’s true, what do we know about the bank’s website? Is it Expedia or some other known entity? How do the prices compare to buying directly from the airline? For me, this is the most important issue. (And yes, I live near a CNB branch.)

[…] morning, Greg went head first into The amazing CNB Crystal Visa Infinite Card. A deep dive. He had great timing with that, because this afternoon he received a mailer offer for a bonus offer […]

Rob

Similar benefits to Chase Sapphire Reserve (CSR) so another reason to drop CSR as dining now goes to 4x AMEX Gold. Not leaving Chase Ultimate Rewards system but don’t need to pay another premium card’s annual fee (effective $150 AF).

For the Crystal Visa Infinite card, can a primary cardholder be an authorized user on someone else’s Crystal card and vice versa? At the moment, not sure I need up to $2,000 in airline credit as other we hold other cards that offer airline credit. But this info is good to know for the future.

Dan

With the important distinction that trip insurance on the Crystal Visa may not work with award tickets since you’re not paying the whole price with the Crystal Visa. I keep my CSR vs. the other premiums almost entirely for the ability to ‘pay partial’.

Steve

Any knowledge of how Citi Nat’l treats MS spend on the card?

Eastern Traveler

They’ll close your account.

Lk123

What is considered manufactured spend to them? Is it based on volume or certain types of transactions?

Tommy

Edit, wrong post

king

This card is applicable only for US Citizens, not for resident aliens

Rania King

False. Source: I have one.

Krishna Aswani

Hey! you are the first person I have seen. You don’t have green card right? I was denied for this card 1-2 year back.

Mark

Do AU’s have to 1) have ID and 2) be at the same address?

Mo2

Is it free to add authorized users?

J L

free to add, limit of 3 AUs.

5inkaddict

The whole point of this card is the airline credit… I would love to hear from others or others who can give a link where someone shows how they bought a gift card and it worked… if it is – then this is worth it. But if not… then it really isn’t for me. I don’t spend almost anything at airlines beside for the ticket itself.

So any data points of people buying airline gc with this card and getting it back?

A few more questions –

Is there a business version of the card?
Can I take out an AU for my 3yr and my 4 weeks old? hahah (seriously though – I am asking..)

FYI… I live right next door to a branch.

Al jo

Just did a $125 AA GC to test … a little nervous bc now 5 days have passed w no reimbursement. Other small charges (WiFi onboard. Baggage fees ) posted within 4 days …. very little out there in terms of updated data points for what works what doesn’t. …….

Airline credits are also calendar year if I’m not mistaken …?

kv11

I did one $50 AA GC last Monday, still not posted it yet. crossing fingers…

kv11

got credit today. purchase made at 10/8, got credit back at 10/17.

William f

Data points seem strong to support AA e-gift cards to trigger the airline credit. Everything else I’m not so sure.

TomT

Actually, there is a CNB Crystal business card:
https://www.cnb.com/lending/cards/large-business/crystal-commercial.asp

It also has the $250 airline fee per year per cardholder benefit. It is unclear if it earns points at the same rate as the Crystal personal card, but it does reference the same City National Rewards Program document via a link, so maybe it does, as long as the business card is also a Visa Infinite card. Currently, there is no sign-up bonus on the business card, but there has been a 100k point bonus for it in the past:
https://www.doctorofcredit.com/targeted-city-national-bank-100000-point-visa-business-offer/

rysn

is there an annual fee?

TomT

Minimum age is 15 for AUs. I know, as I had to wait for my son to turn 15 before they would allow me to add him as an AU, and I am waiting for my daughter to do the same in 17 months.

Ilikeit

Thanks for great info.. So I need to think who I can use for au… Maybe I’m not verse in those doctor of credit data points but seems like southwest has many examples of gift certificate working and a few united.. But not much more. I wish I could find out if delta will work.

Business version is great as I can deduct the fee making the airline credit issue less problematic but very lacking in info there.. Didn’t even see where it says what’s the yearly fee.

For me it still boils down to if I can take advantage of the airline accidental for gc.

TomT

AA gift cards work. I buy 1 at $150 and one at $100 to get the $250 credit from each card. Have 6 CNB cards total between me and P2 with each other plus our son as AUs on each account.

PaulT

how do you specify what airline to use? it’s not included in the T&C (just got mine).Thanks.

02nz

I’ve charged a lot of United award ticket taxes (not fees) on int’l trips – very small amounts up to $150 or so, all have been credited back up to the annual limit.

asc

On my application, minimum age said 15 years old.

William f

The airline credit is probably 90% of the value for most heavy credit card churners. How are people planning on taking advantage of the authorized users? I feel comfortable with my gf, but are people adding close friends/family as authorized users? Seems like a win/win because I know friends who’d like the lounge access.

Also, does anyone know if the authorized users will see a credit pull on their credit report for taking one of the cards? I was annoyed to see a credit pull show on my account when I was added as an authorized user (to a different credit card) in the past.

William f

Thanks for the heads up. Do you know if the 2 priority pass slots could be used for the authorized users? As the main card holder, I have priority pass from 3 or so sources already.

EDIT: seems like primary card holder + 1 authorized user get the priority pass

Josh

Do you know if the AU’s report to their credit report?

DBo

When I added my wife as an AU I had to give her SSN, but was told that a credit report would NOT be pulled.

Rob

Don’t forget that it is also now a nice looking heavy black metallic card. The VGC cash-out rate worsened from .95 cents per point to .77 cents per point a couple of years ago. But with even one authorized user, the airfare credits alone offset the annual fee. Occasionally they will offer some bonus points for spending a few grand on the card too.