My Cavalier Attack on the City National Crystal Card Has Failed



City National Crystal Card

City National Crystal Card

The reason why I wanted this card is as simple as it is unusual.

I normally do not care one single bit about credit cards without a good sign up bonus.

I despise them! 90% of my junk mail is about those kinds of offers. They keep dulling the blades in my shredding machine.

This card, however,  is a bit different. It might be a money maker. Or not, but it has the word infinite in it, and for a geek like me that’s worth something.

Not everyone can get that card. They are only located in 6 states: NY, DE, GA, TN, NV & CA. Mostly in CA. It’s unclear to me whether or not you can get it by mailing or faxing all the required documents.

But first thing first.

1. The City National Crystal Card pays you $250 back a year for airline incidentals.

2. It appears that this card pays an authorized user $250 a year, too!

3. It also appears that up to two people per the account (an account owner and an authorized user) can have access to the Priority Club lounges with their guests! 

4. Chip and Pin.

5. The rest of the benefits are pretty standard, IMHO. Global Entree or TSA credit, travel insurance, roadside protection (not free), Luxury Hotel Collection, etc. They also offer a free CLEAR membership for as long as you have a card.


Citi National Crystal Visa Infinite Credit Card Guide to Benefits

DOC Write Up on the Subject Matter

But of course, there are plenty of “buts”! What’s their tolerance level for incidentals? Do they really allow every authorized user to receive credit for incidentals? Isn’t it true that when something looks too good to be true, it probably is?

Although something tells me that they might tolerate our erratic behavior for some time—due to their card’s low popularity and high entry barriers. And also because they don’t know our crowd just yet.

So here is how it went

I went to the City to meet a client on Madison Ave this morning. Then we had a coffee break, and then it kinda hit me.

Isn’t there a City National Branch somewhere around 6th Ave? I checked the map, and lo and behold, there is! 44th and 6th. Less than a 10-minute walk from where I was sitting.

After I was done, I went to the bank and spoke with a very nice lady who gave me the lay of the land.

They are a special bank. They’re into producers, writers, directors, and Silicon Valley kind of folk. I noted that they must be the bankers for the Rich, and she wholeheartedly agreed. She asked me what I do, and said she was surprised I wasn’t their client. I wanted to tell her I’m not that kind of writer, but didn’t. I felt ashamed of myself.

In any case, they need a W2 or 1099. And a bank statement for the last 3 months. She gently nudged me into opening a bank account with them. She asked me which bank I was doing business with, and so I only told her about the first three. She was well trained and smart enough not to push the matter of opening an account any further, but did mention that the underwriter might require the bank account as a precondition for opening the card.

A no-fee account is $3,500 daily balance minimum, otherwise it’s $19 a month. I didn’t pay attention to other options that included landing hundreds of thousands of dollars I don’t have on their doorsteps.

I asked her to clarify whether or not I would indeed be required to get an account in order to receive the card, and she promised to get back to me.

So here you get it. A little too many unknowns if you ask me. But if I feel like it, I might put an extra effort and make another trip to 6th Ave in order to satisfy their morbid curiosity in my financial affairs.  😛


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Isn’t this the bank RBC is acquiring? I wonder if having accounts with RBC would help .


Thanks, Andy. I’ll be in NYC next week. Maybe I’ll head over 6th Ave & see what they say although my RBC accounts are in Canada though…


I have a branch 10 minutes away. The authorized user bit piqued my interest as well. Definitely a low profile bank if you’re not part of the 1% (it’s really designed for the 0.1%).


Wow! You found a smart bank! One that is not so eager to get business that they let in all of us “gamers”!

I may need to invest in their stock. 😉


I am from the San Francisco Bay Area and have been banking with City National for over 6 years. They are into relationship banking and know their clients. The Bay Area is different, a person in 1% in the country is in 5% in the bay area! You have to have at least $5 million in the bank to have a private client account (the top rung), I cannot do that and have a preferred banking account with them. I got a crystal card today, I applied by talking to my banker. It is quite easy if you have an… Read more »


I work near the city national bank in san jose. I may apply if you can get the airline credits on 2nd AU as well. Don’t care much about lounge access but hwoever following benefits do stand out price protection is $1000 per item. Most CCs are much lower. Return protection is better on CSP I think. Trip cancellation is also better on CSP as it cover award travel while crystal card will not. The air travel benefit seems useful as well if I could use it on southwest. I fly southwest up and down the cost a lot. And… Read more »

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