American Express developed the black ‘Centurion Card’ for its very best customers. It is so exclusive that you won’t even find details of it on the American Express website. It’s available by ‘invitation only’ and reputedly requires card spending of US$5,000 per month.
This kind of spending brings plenty of benefits, including a personal travel counselor to handle all travel needs, and a personal concierge to help with anything from special occasion planning and selecting ideal gifts, to locating unusual items.
James Bush, Senior Vice President of Consumer Marketing, said at the launch of the card: “We created the Centurion Card in response to customer research that identified a small but affluent group of cardmembers for whom individual attention and access to previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest.”
To obtain the American Express Black Card, the following does help:
Do You Qualify?
In the good old days of usury and loan-sharking, the only collateral you’d need for a loan might be your fingers, or your life itself. Things are more complicated in the 21st Century: you sometimes need a salary and marginally decent credit history just to get a card with a spending limit of $7,000. So, what kinds of qualifications will you need for a Centurion Card?
- High credit rating
If your life circumstances or sense of responsibility have caused blemishes on your recent credit history, this card may be out of your reach. At least until you fix your credit rating, anyway.
- Have a Platinum Card
You need to already hold an American Express Platinum, if you want to apply for a Centurion.
- Extravagant spending habits
Your Platinum account will have to demonstrate a $250,000 annual spending rate. Again, that’s a quarter of a million dollars, each year, charged to your account.
- Significant Assets
These might include, oh, say, a house, or savings that exceed your current credit card spending limit. A company or an island might help as well.
Can You Afford One?
Let’s imagine that there were no minimum requirements for a Centurion Card. Any old Tom, Dick or Harry (with amazing credit) could just call up American Express, and get themselves a hot new status symbol. To maintain the exclusivity, American Express levies some pretty hefty service fees for those who hold a Black Card:
- For the privilege of opening a Centurion account, you will pay a one-time fee of $5,000.
- To keep your account, you’ll pay an annual fee of $2,500.
So make sure to consider the finances of getting a Black Card, and if the mere symbolism is worth the cost in your particular circumstances. For example, If you travel constantly and have a lot of money (or an extremely flexible company expense account), these fees may be offset by the savings you accrue from the Black Card’s perks.5 But if not, you will be paying thousands of dollars per year strictly for the benefit of being able to impress your friends and/or rivals (which may be worth the cost in and of itself, depending on who you are).
You can also call and ask for an invitation at 1-800-263-1616
- The spending limit is based on your assets and credit history.
- It is not unlimited, as has been rumored. However, it is likely to be very high.
For the benefit of Centurion holders, American Express reserves tickets at major sporting events and concerts.
The card also gives you the option of partial ownership in a private jet. You will also earn membership for private jet services.
- Automatic Upgrades: At many hotels/resorts and certain major airlines and cruise lines, a Centurion will get you automatic upgrades—from coach to first-class, for example, or from a regular room to a luxury suite.
- Free 1-night stays, under certain conditions, at certain hotels and resorts.
- $500 toward food and expenses if you take a cruise or rent a yacht.
Other benefits include automatic enrollment in airmiles programs, free meals, gift certificates in hotel gift shops, spa treatments, free companion flights and a subscription to Black Inc. magazine, the only magazine published solely for those who have a Black Card.
“Culture on Demand: Black is Beautiful
The American Express black card is the ultimate status symbol. First of all, you can’t just “apply today” for this little piece of smart plastic. Only American Express top customers are offered this “invitation only” experience — and even then they don’t order it. It simply arrives one day in the mail, presented in a svelte box complete with padding and a nice, velvety scent. It may not be diamonds, but it sure can get you some. The card, which has no credit limit (it has been rumored to purchase Porsches on the spot), conforms to American Express traditional payment options, and I?m guessing that if you are the type who only pays the monthly interest on your balance, you’re probably not on their list.”…Read more from Time
AMERICAN EXPRESS INTRODUCES THE CENTURION CARD
Black Card Sets New Standard For Premium Service With
Free Upgrades on British Airways Concorde® and Enrollment in Elite Airline Frequent-Flier Programs
NEW YORK, October 14, 1999 – American Express today announced the introduction
of the CenturionTM Card. The Centurion Card will
be offered by invitation only to selected Platinum Cardâ
The black-colored Centurion Card offers customized personal service to help ease the
busy and demanding lifestyles of cardmembers. It has been designed for individuals who
travel frequently, entertain often and value single points of contact for service.
“We created the Centurion Card in response to customer research that identified a
small but affluent group of cardmembers for whom individual attention and access to
previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest,” said James Bush,
senior vice president of Consumer Marketing at American Express. “Many of our
prospective cardmembers are already frequent travelers receiving elite benefits on one
airline. The Centurion Card is the only product on the market that can grant them elite
status on four airlines, and much more.”
The introduction of the Centurion Card is part of a broader American Express strategy
to introduce a wider array of card products to specific market segments.
“Our company’s innovation includes the creation of the
world’s first Travelers Cheque more than 100 years ago, and has
continued with unique services for the Personal Card and the invention of the first Gold
and Platinum Cards,” added Bush. “With the Centurion Card, we’ve again set
the standard — raising the bar in the premium card category.”
Centurion Card Benefits
The card provides customers with all the benefits and rewards they received with their
Platinum Card, plus numerous additional travel, lifestyle and financial services benefits,
Elite Travel Benefits
Centurion members are eligible for upgrades and enrollment in the elite tiers of
several airline frequent flier, hotel guest and car rental programs, without the rigorous
mileage requirements usually needed to join. Examples include:
- Upgrades to the Concorde at no additional cost with the purchase of a full-fare,
first-class transatlantic ticket to or from London and any British Airways gateway in the
- Complimentary upgrades, dedicated check-in, priority boarding and mileage earning at an
accelerated rate via complimentary enrollment in the Continental Airlinesâ OnePassâ Gold Elite Program, Delta Air Lines
Gold MedallionÔ program, TWA Aviators Elite 1 program and US
Airways Dividend Milesâ Preferred PlusSM.
- Complimentary access to the airport clubs of Continental, Northwest and TWA
airlines when flying those airlines.
- Room upgrades, late checkout, complimentary use of fitness centers and other benefits
through enrollment in Starwood Gold Preferred Guest program, Gold VIP membership in the
Hilton HHonorsâ program, Diamond membership in the Hyatt Gold
Passport program and membership in the Inter-Continetal Six Continents Club.
- Confirmed room upgrades when available, at Ritz-Carlton and select Four Seasons
properties around the world and more than 330 other fine hotels, resorts and spas.
- Complimentary international cellular phones, which will be delivered directly to
Centurion Cardmembers, who pay only the cost of the calls.
- Each cardmember will be assigned a personal travel counselor to handle all travel needs,
and their own concierge to help with anything from special occasion planning and selecting
ideal gifts, to locating unusual items.
- Special privileges will be extended to Centurion members at Neiman Marcus
and Saks Fifth Avenue, including personal shopper services, invitations to exclusive
events, free consultation for restyling of precious jewelry (Neiman Marcus) and private
shopping hours (Saks.)
- Fee-free enrollment in Membership Rewards PlusSM, the premium level of the Membership Rewardsâ program. This includes redemption of points for travel on any airline anywhere in the world, and for purchases
charged on the American Express Card.
- Fifty-percent Membership Rewards point bonus on all charges made with a Centurion
Card at our Centurion partners. These partners include Delta Air Lines, Continental
Airlines, TWA, British Airways, Hilton Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Neiman
Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others.
- Complimentary two-hour consultation with Provident Financial Management, a subsidiary of
American Express Tax and Business Services, which specializes in planning for
high-net-worth individuals, including industry leaders and celebrities.
- A 25 percent reduction in the management fee for investments and a reduced minimum
investment requirement at Portfolio Management Group, a division of American Express Asset
Management Group at American Express Financial Advisors.
American Express is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services
company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers
Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.