American Express Centurion® Card or Black Card sounds like a great deal to most people. And those people are not mistaken, because the AmEx Black Card is actually a great deal.
You don’t just get an AmEx Black Card, because you want it or because you like it. You get this card if and only if American Express invites you to have it. Even if you think you are totally eligible to own it, you can’t apply for the card.
It’s just not the way it works. You have to receive an invitation.
The history of the Centurion
Rumors suggest that during the 90’s, the US business offices and popular social scenes were discussing the presence of an exclusive credit card intended for the wealthiest of all.
The one unusual thing about this card was that the holder would be able to purchase anything, regardless of the price. So, essentially people were discussing that there was a no-limit credit card in the market.
Another attribute of this card was that not only super-rich people could get it, but they also had to be invited for it.
So, American Express took the rumor of the 90’s and made it into a reality. They’ve created their own elite club, sending out exclusive invitations to become members of the American Express Centurion Black Card.
And now, before jumping into the tips and tricks of getting AmEx to invite you to become a Centurion cardholder, let’s explore the features and specifics of this card.
Rates and fees
- APR is 21.99% + Prime Rate *
- Interest payment due date is 25 days following the close of a billing period
- Initiation fee is $7,500
- Annual membership fee is $2,500
- Cash advance fee or foreign transaction fee is the higher of $10 and 5% of the transaction
- Late payment fee is $38
- Returned payment fee is 38$
*This is a variable rate. So, if the Prime Rate increases during a particular period, then the overall interest rate also increases. AmEx uses the Prime Rate published by The Wall Street Journal.
There is a unique feature for the AmEx Black Card, which allows you to pay certain charges over time. The feature is called Pay Over Time and it allows you to pay certain qualifying charges over a longer period of time rather than by normal payment due date.
The qualifying charges are those that individually exceed a predetermined threshold. You will be informed about this threshold and the timing of the extended payment when you are enrolled with this card.
For Centurion card the limit on cash advances (i.e., the maximum amount of cash you can withdraw from ATMs or over the counter) is $10,000. However, the part where things start to get nutty is that there is no spending limit on this card. You can absolutely buy ridiculously expensive things with it.
It is not publicly available as to what criteria you should satisfy in order to be invited, possibly, to become an AmEx Black Cardmember. Nevertheless, there are some reasonable predictions that can be used as a guide. So, according to these predictions, you should:
- Be using other American Express cards
- Be an AmEx cardholder for at least a year
- Circulate $250,000 on your account (although some estimates go way up to $450,000)
There is a fancy data analysis that suggest only less than 1% of the US population would qualify for the AmEx Centurion. Here’s is how this 1% was derived. Centurion holders in the US earn over $1,300,000 on average, meanwhile, there are about 400,000 people in the country who earn about $1,000,000 or more.
These 400,000 people make up just 0.13% of the total US population, suggesting that the number of people that could get an invite for Black Card is less than 1%.
I know this sounds scary, at least for 99% of the Americans it does, but if it doesn’t scare you, let’s unfold the promising list of benefits this card is supposed to offer.
On every purchase you make with the Black Card, you will get membership reward points to be later used on airline flights and hotel stays.
Personal Concierge 24/7
Now we’re talking unique benefits. This program allows you to call your personal AmEx concierge any time during the day to make the strangest requests, only legal though.
This does sound like luxury and a type of service that matches these high-income levels we’ve been talking about. You should know that the concierges will try to help you as if you were asking them something for the first time, every time. So, if you need to make tough reservations at restaurants or get front tickets at events, you can benefit from the concierge program for free.
Elite status in top hotels
Being a Centurion holder, you will automatically gain an elite status in some top hotels like Hilton, IHG and Relais & Château. This means that you can enjoy free upgrades such as premium internet access and late check-outs.
Elite status in car rentals
When you rent a car with your Black Card, you will get benefits like car rental insurance, roadside assistance and elite status with companies like Hertz and Avis.
You will also become eligible for luxury car rental service, which will give you preferred pricing on exotic cars like Bentley, Lamborghini and Formula One cars.
Delta Skymiles Platinum Medallion Status
The AmEx Black Card automatically makes its cardmembers a Platinum Medallion status holder in Delta airlines.
The Medallion status gives a bunch of exclusive benefits ranging from unlimited complimentary upgrades and earning more miles at each Medallion Tier to priority check-in and boarding and more.
Additional travel perks
Airport lounges – the Centurion card gives you access to some of the best airport lounges with the best food and services, which could even include SPA and massage.
Free airplane Wi-Fi – believe it or not, the Black Card has the power to give you free Wi-Fi in airplanes during flights.
Global entry fee – your account will be credited $100 every four years to cover your Global Entry Application Fee. The Global Entry is a US Customs and Border Protection program to enable expedited clearance for pre-approved and low-risk travelers when arriving to the US.
Travel credit of $200 – your account will be credited $200 annually to cover some of your minor airline fees like purchasing in-flight foods and beverages.
The ShopRunner benefit – This benefit allows you to get access to some priority services with AmEx’s 140 partner shops. The ShopRunner membership costs $79 per year, but if you are a Centurion cardmember, you will get this for free. So, when you shop from one of these shops, you will get the following benefits:
- Free 2-day shipping
- Free return shipping
- Express checkout
Advice on how to get a Black Card
As mentioned before, there is no clear-cut list of to-do things to become eligible for this card as there is no official application for it. However, something that you can try is to get the attention of American Express to actually invite you to become a Centurion member.
Below is a list of things you can try if your goal is to get a Black Card:
Spend sky high
If you are willing to put effort in for getting this card, I am assuming you are rich to some degree, otherwise I’d worry about becoming rich first.
If you want to get noticed by American Express, you are looking at spending $300,000+ annually. I know, even if you have the money, you don’t have to be spending that much. But they do have to notice your abnormally high spending, so I’m sorry, but you have to behave like a celebrity to catch their attention.
Own high value assets and high income
Aside from spending, you will also need real proof to make AmEx believe you are a rich guy. Rough ranges would be owning $5-10 million worth of assets and having seven+ figure income.
So, by now you can probably guess if you are realistically hoping for an invitation. But, bear in mind, being rich is not enough. I know this sounds difficult already, but keep reading.
Maintain a perfect credit history
The Black Card is made out of metal, but it is still a credit card. This implies that you will have to repay what you owe AmEx in a timely manner. Given the huge spending power that the Centurion will give you once you have it, AmEx needs to be sure you can really handle it.
Having a perfect high score and perfect repayment history is a must. So, beware of this requirement as they will never invite you for it if you’ve missed a single payment deadline.
Be a loyal AmEx customer
A good starting point to attaining the Black Card is to start with the AmEx smaller ones. When you get this card, it’s like you join the AmEx elite club. According to estimations, only 17,000 people in the entire world hold a Centurion card.
You can now imagine how hard it is to join the Club, right? So, prepare to join the AmEx family and demonstrate that you are loyal to their brand.
This guide will help you better form a picture of eligible people for the Black Card. People who got an invitation have historically:
- Spent $250,000+ on their AmEx Platinum card per annum
- Had average annual income of $1.3 million
- Had average net worth of $16 million
Feel the vibe
A Chinese collector used his AmEx Black Card to buy a US$ 36 million (HK$ 281 million) worth ancient teacup. This rich collector then had to sign 24 different AmEx receipts, because a single receipt can be issued with a maximum amount of HK$ 12 million.
Guess what this man got in return from American Express. He was rewarded with 421,860,000 AmEx points. If you wonder what so many AmEx points can get you, they can be converted to 28 million frequent flyer miles or shopping vouchers worth about 180,000 US$.
I hope you can catch the vibe in the AmEx elite club. Their behavior, their lifestyle and spending habits differ from those of others. So, I hope you give this thought a consideration before setting your credit card goals.
Alternatives to the Centurion
In fact, no credit card would match the level of Centurion, but it is understandable that it is normal for you not to be in that 0.13% of people.
So, if you are not a Centurion material or if you think you are, but keep not receiving an invite, then I have some alternative suggestions for you.
AmEx Platinum Card
This is a fine luxury card that has a lot of travel perks as well such as giving elite status in international hotel chains and access to airport lounges. You may also want to consider that the AmEx Platinum card may be what you needed before progressing to the Centurion.
Mastercard Black Card
See, American Express is not the only one who has Black Cards. This Mastercard’s luxury card can even be applied for. It will give you cash reward benefits as well as travel perks, a 24-hour concierge system and occasional luxury gifts. This card is also made from metal and has an annual fee of $495.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Another metal luxury card to consider is Chase’s Sapphire Reserve. No invitation is needed for this card and you will get some serious perks. Travel benefits with airlines and hotels, cash rewards, the $100 Global Entry Application Credit, Priority Pass membership and many more – as you can see the Sapphire Reserve also a lot to offer.
I know, Centurion will never be matched, but there is no reason to get upset if you can’t have it. There are other luxury credit cards out there that you can apply and get approved for. And their benefits are not bad.
Interesting And Crazy Centurion Stories
As you are already familiar with everything about the AmEx Black Card, there are 3 popular stories I would like to share with you about this card to get your goosebumps running.
- The largest purchase with a Centurion has been on a private jet by Victor Shvetsky with a total amount of $52 million.
- Another huge purchase has been by another Black Cardholder as he bought a $300,000 worth Bentley.
- A Centurion Concierge tracked down Kevin Costner’s lost horse and delivered to him in Europe.
Final thoughts on the Black Card
You have heard all about it. The AmEx Black Card is the top luxury card of all available cards. It’s almost like owning a Lamborghini or a Ferrari. If you have it, you are one of them, the elite. And the invite-only feature combined, this card can be very desired by many people.
The perks and benefits are also huge. I mean, have you just read about that Concierge finding a horse and delivering it to its owner? This is a top-class service. But don’t forget that you have to be rich, be spending a lot of money, be a responsible credit card holder and be a loyal American Express customer. With that said, remember about the alternatives if you are not quite this kind of person yet.
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