The “Black Card” Explained – The American Express Centurion Card | Debt U : Debt University
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The “Black Card” Explained – The American Express Centurion Card

Written by DebtU

The American Express “Black Card.” It’s been glorified in song lyrics, movies and television for years, but what is it? What are the costs and benefits of holding a black card? How can you get one?

The Basics
Well, first off, let’s get the name straight. The official title of the card is the American Express Centurion card. The existence of a totally black card with no credit limit was actually a myth until 1999, when American Express decided to cash in on the hype and create the card. Another fact to get straight – the Centurion is not a credit card. It is a charge card. The difference being that the holder is expected to pay off the balance every month, instead of carrying it over with interest (something that we suggest everyone does).

How To Get One
American Express is rather coy about how to get one of these coveted charge cards. As far as we can tell from the rumors, these are the prerequisites:

  • Start by using another AmEx card. (For instance, the Platinum Card from American Express.)
  • Charge between $250,000 and $1 million per year on your American Express card.
  • Maintain active American Express cardholder status for at least 12 months.

Reportedly, those who qualify under these criteria will automatically be invited to receive a Centurion card, as the company does not accept applications for the Centurion.

Okay, So What Do I Get?
There are a number of known benefits to holding an AmEx Centurion card. The biggest benefit for most people is the prestige that comes with owning such an exclusive charge card. People around the world know what the card represents, and a lot of people will be impressed, whether in a business or personal setting. The card is made out of “anodized titanium,” which I’m sure sounds amazing when thrown down on the table following a business dinner.

On top of that, there is the dedicated travel agent and personal concierge, as well as access to all of the benefits of lesser American Express cards. It is also presumed that Centurion cardholders have access to exclusive discounts on hotels, high-end rental cars, as well as sold-out entertainment and sporting events.

Hotel advantages incorporate one free night, when no less than one paid night is occupied during the same stay, in every Mandarin Oriental inn overall once a year, and benefits at lodging networks like Ritz-Carlton, Leading Hotels of the World, and Amanresorts. The majority of the advantages above are for United States-issued cards. American Express Centurion Cards issued in different nations may incorporate different and diverse advantages.

What Will This Cost Me?
The fees for the Centurion card as follows, as indicated on this cardmember agreement:

Initiation Fee: $7,500
Annual Membership Fee: $2,500

That is a lot of cash to plop down every year just for the privilege of showing off a credit card and flaunting your status.

Is it worth it?
Well that’s up to you (but likely not). If you care about the prestige involved and would use the exclusive Centurion benefits, then it is definitely a card to consider. From a strict financial standpoint there are plenty of credit cards out there with similar benefits and far less fees. We do highly suggest other American Express cards such as the green, gold or platinum cards. These cards are also charge cards, which promotes financial responsibility.

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