Are you looking for the ultimate status symbol of the 21st Century? Well, nothing signals money, mystery and, well, money, like an American Express Black Card, officially called the Centurion Card. If you think you've got the stuff (money), read this page to find out how to get an American Express Black Card. By flashing that American Express Centurion Card, you are sure to make an impression.
Getting a Centurion Card isn't easy, even if your lifestyle places you comfortably above what most people would consider middle-class. Read on to find out all about the Centurion Card, including both what perks come with a Black Card and how you can go about getting your hands on one.
Step 1: Learn about the AmEx Black Card
According to Snopes.com, the AmEx Black Card began as an urban myth: specifically, as a rumor that American Express provided a secret “black card” to the elite and powerful. “It wasn't true, but we decided to capitalize on the idea anyway,” according to AmEx Europe director Doug Smith.Snopes.com: Black American Express Card1 Thus, the company released the Centurion Card in 1999. Here is some general information about the card:
It's a charge card. Your balance, however large, needs to be paid back at the end of each month.
- It comes with a variety of services and perks that are unusual for a credit card.
- It's officially called the Centurion Card. American Express: Centurion Card2
- It's black.
- The card is made out of titanium, not plastic.http://creditcards.lovetoknow.com/American_Express_Black_Card3
- Though you don't have to be a tycoon or head of state to get one, you do need to have access to a good deal of money.
- It's American Express' most exclusive card and was once only available by personal invitation from American Express. American Express: Centurion Card2
NOTE: First-hand accounts indicate that beginning in 2006, you can now call American Express and request to be upgraded to a Black Card.BlackCardSource.com: BlackCardSource Gets A Black Card (March 24, 2009)4 Centurion Cards for business use are also often available through specific company networks.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5 Invitation-only or not, you'll still be required to meet the basic eligibility requirements, outlined in the next section.
Step 2: Determine if You Qualify for an AmEX Black Card
- 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.DaveManuel.com: Who Qualifies For An American Express Black Card? (February 4, 2009)6 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.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5
Step 3: Establish if You Can Afford the American Express Black Card
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: 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
- 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.BlackCardSource.com: BlackCardSource Gets A Black Card (March 24, 2009)4
- 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.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)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).
Step 4: Learn the AmEX Black Card Perks
- Spending limit
- 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. An advanced warning may be required for extremely large purchases.DeltaQuest: American Express Centurion Card Profile7
- For the benefit of Centurion holders, American Express reserves tickets at major sporting events and concertsQuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5
- Private Jet
- The card also gives you the option of partial ownership in a private jet.DeltaQuest: American Express Centurion Card Profile7
- 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.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5
- Other perks
- Other benefits include automatic enrollment in air miles 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.DeltaQuest: American Express Centurion Card Profile7
- Participating Companies
- Companies that offer some or all of these perks to Centurion Card holders include—but are hardly limited to—the following:Wikipedia: Centurion Card8
- Delta Air Lines
- Northwest Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
- US Airways
- Mandarin Oriental Hotels
- Westin Hotels
Step 5: Learn Black Card Services
- Personal Concierge
- Your personal concierge, available by phone, will help you to make reservations and other dining arrangements, shop for you, and even provide personal reminders (such as birthdays and appointments).The Wall Street Journal: The Black Card Gets a Challenger (April 6, 2004)9
- Travel Concierge
- Your full-service travel agent will book flights, hotels, cabs, rentals, limos, helicopters and hovercraft.
- AmEx's crack team of international speakers will make arrangements for you in non-english speaking countries, even Tonga.
- Financial Assistant
- Need to buy or sell a small corporation or two? AmEx will provide “free” assistance with the rigmarole of financial transactions, as well as help to keep track of your assets.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5
- Personal Shopper
- If you're not sure exactly what to buy, your Centurion Card will grant you personal attention at major and exclusive retailers—reportedly with service that far surpasses that of an ordinary salesperson.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5 Snopes.com: Black American Express Card1
How to Get a Black Card
- You don't have to be wealthy to hold a Centurion Card, but it helps. If you manage a business—and can use your card to process major expenses, including payroll—you'll have an automatic route to Centurion-hood that doesn't require you to be independently wealthy.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)
- 5 In any case, here's the basic game plan, regardless of your situation:
Get an American Express Platinum Card.
- Even if you've spent $250,000 on your ordinary Visa or Mastercard, you won't qualify—you need to go platinum before you go black.
Spend like there's no tomorrow.
- That's right, the goal here is to rack up (and pay off) $250,000 worth of debt, in one year, on your Platinum Card.
- Some bright ideas to help you hit that limit might include:
- Making every conceivable major and minor purchase with your Platinum.
- Telling your employer you'd be glad to use your card for work expenses (provided that you'll be reimbursed).
- If you're out to dinner with friends, pay for the whole meal.
- Use your card to pay bills whenever possible, including insurance and utilities.
- If you want to be really unconventional, use your card to donate to charity.
- Make lots of impulse buys, particularly for jewelry, couture T-shirts, and designer appliances.
- Spend, spend, spend!
Dodge Your Spending Limit.
- Your Platinum may only allow you to spend $10,000 per month, which falls far short of your goal. There are at least two ways to get around this:
- One option is to pay off your account several times mid-month, in order to free up your limit.
- Another option is to overpay your bill at the end of each month: for example, if your limit is $10,000, send a check that exceeds your current debt by more than $13,000. American express can credit your account for the extra money and effectively give you a new limit of $23,000 for the month.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5
Mind Your Credit Rating.
- Pay off your balance on-time and don't exceed your limit (not to be confused with overpaying your limit).
- Keep track of your credit score with a service like Equifax, or Experian.
Apply for a Centurion Card.
- Until 2006, the Centurion Card was only available by “invitation.” But now, you can simply call the American Express Platinum customer service number (1-800-263-1616) and ask for an application.QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)5
- If you've got the desire and the means, and you're also an avid luxury traveler, then good luck. It's time to get cranking on some high-level expenditures with your Platinum Card!
If you're a “high roller” with a taste for the finer things in life, you might already know about the prestigious – and somewhat mysterious – American Express Black Card, officially called the Centurion Card.
- ^Snopes.com: Black American Express Card
- ^American Express: Centurion Card
- ^BlackCardSource.com: BlackCardSource Gets A Black Card (March 24, 2009)
- ^QuickSprout: American Express Centurion: Once you go black, you never go back (January 2, 2008)
- ^DaveManuel.com: Who Qualifies For An American Express Black Card? (February 4, 2009)
- ^DeltaQuest: American Express Centurion Card Profile
- ^Wikipedia: Centurion Card
- ^The Wall Street Journal: The Black Card Gets a Challenger (April 6, 2004)
American Express Black Card Tips
- The card is for those who spend hundreds of thousands of dollars each year
- You must have had a Platinum American Express card for at least one year to apply
- You must have charged a minimum of $250,000 on your Platinum Card as a minimum requirement
- Balances must be paid off each month
- Also known as the Centurion Card