The elusive Centurion Card, also known as the American Express Black Card, is a high-end, invitation-only card reserved for big spenders.
The card started as a legend. Before its launch, rumors circulated of a secret, black credit card reserved for the ultra-rich.
The story has it that American Express was trying to keep the exclusive card “secret.”
In fact, there was no black card, Amex director Doug Smith claimed. That is, until 1999 when the company decided to use the free publicity about the rumors and launch the card. The rest is history.
The centurion card is a metal card, and but not just any metal. The card is made of anodized titanium and it weighs almost 14 grams.
But how does one get the card? And, more importantly, is it really worth it?
How To Get The Black Card
It’s not easy to secure this piece of titanium. The card is invitation-only, available for only very select American Express Platinum holders.
Invitations are sent to clients based on their credit score and income. However, exact criteria are not specified.
Reports say that it’s likely offered to customers that spend at least $250,000 with their Platinum card per year.
Once selected, would-be Centurion holders can get the card – provided they pay the $10,000 initiation fee.
That is in addition to the $5,000 annual fee. Amex Platinum’s $550 annual fee seems like quite a bargain in comparison!
So, what exactly are the benefits of the Centurion Card?
Travel With Style
American Express designed the black card with luxury experiences in mind.
This includes travel, especially airlines. Delta gives Centurion holders automatic elite status which also provides card holders with access to Delta lounges.
But, it’s not just Delta where travelers can hang out in an airport lounge. The Centurion black care gives its holders access to hundreds of airport lounges.
This includes designated Centurion lounges, which offer services such as spas and wine tasting.
Naturally, cardholders can also skip airport security with Global Entry or TSA Precheck Priority screening.
When traveling business or first class on international flights, American Express black card holders can even get a personal guide to make customs that much easier.
Exclusive Events, Hotels
The card also offers access to exclusive events, not available to the public. In fact, many of these are not available to anyone except Centurion holders.
For example, the card provides privileged access to events and ticket sales. These include the Grand Prix de Monaco or Coachella VIP access.
Furthermore, the Centurion Dining program helps members get reservations when others can’t. Some 1,000 world’s top restaurants participate in the program, reserving a number of tables for Centurion members.
The card also gives elite status in select hotel rewards programs. This includes Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Hilton Honors Diamond, IHG Platinum Elite and Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion.
Some of the perks include priority check-in, room upgrade at check-in, and points bonuses.
Moreover, the Centurion Card has its own hotel reward program. Members get exclusive benefits at Belmond, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula Hotels, Rosewood, Waldorf Astoria and others.
Finally, the card comes with a complimentary Equinox membership. Equinox is a high-end gym that charges $3,120 for membership per year. That is more than half of the Centurion membership, making it a great deal for Equinox members.
Is It Worth It?
Together with the aforementioned exclusive services, the card gives other benefits.
It offers a large selection of free or discounted luxury experiences and gives points for every dollar spent.
Theoretically, due to those benefits, some Centurion members might actually save money with the membership.
However, if you are considering the black card, savings is probably not on top of your list of priorities.
If the elite “status” is what you’re after, the black card might be for you.
If you are an American Express member and want to be considered for the black card, you can fill out this application.