Centurion: The Black Amex
Whats black, hard as steel, and makes all of your dreams come true? If you answered the American Express Centurion card – you are correct!
The Centurion card, also known as the black amex, is the highest level of card available with credit and charge card issuer American Express. Its mystique captures many due to its cameo appearances in James Bond and many other movies – it’s often touted as the ‘card with no limit’. The card provided is tough as steel… literally… it’s a slab of titanium.
The card was bought to the market in 1999 after rumours were circulating about a mysterious ‘invite only’ card with an unlimited balance which was only provided to the worlds élite. American Express decided to take advantage of the rumours by creating the Centurion card.
Find a list of celebrities with black amex cards here…
American Express is extremely tight-lipped about the numbers of Centurion cards in circulation, though reports indicate that only 1% of its customer base will ever receive an invite to the illustrious black amex club. Even fewer will actually accept the offer and pay the sky-high annual card fee, often thousands of dollars a year. Getting an invite is tough – customers are generally means tested and have a strong track record with American Express.
So what do you get with a black amex? There are many benefits that come with the card and trust me, you would want to get some benefits after forking out the massive annual fee. Whats included?
You will get instant platinum status with airline and hotel partners such as Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Diamond and Hilton HHonors Diamond Elite and you will also get status with various rental car companies like Hertz and Avis. You will also get a Priority Pass card which will give you access to thousands of airline lounges worldwide – even if you’re flying economy (but if you have a black amex, chances are you won’t be flying economy will you?).
The Centurion concierge service caters for your every whim – nothing too big or too small can be catered for by the concierge team. Want a table at a fancy restaurant? Centurion has agreements with most top-end restaurants which set aside a table a table specifically for black amex cardholders (you must book the day before your reservation). The concierge team can also help you out with unusual requests – such as ‘I really like the cardigan that Madonna was wearing last night on TV – can you order me one?”.
Centurion has the access to get you into scores of top-notch clubs and venues. In Sydney Australia, there are arrangements at the Piano Room, Zeta Bar and the American Club. In Melbourne, you get priority access to venues such as The Long Room, Spice Market and Baroq House. Further, in most of these venues you will get a free cocktail (or bottle of something nice), express entry and a guaranteed booth/table. There are arrangements with clubs and venues in all the worlds hot spots.
Discounted First & Business Class Flights
In years gone by there were stories of customers buying a first class ticket and their partner would receive a free ticket to travel with them. Whilst this may not be the case these days, cardholders have access to discounted tickets with a swag of airline partners.
All cardholders are provided with an annual complimentary travel insurance policy that covers the cardholder and their family. The benefits of the policy are generous and cater for the high net-worth value of the customer.
Centurion Fast Track
If customers book their travel through the Centurion travel team, they will be given a fast track service at their destination. Travellers are received at the gate at their destination by a fast track representative and ushered past the long queues of customs and immigration to an awaiting car.
Access to ‘By Invitiation Only’ Events
From posh champagne tasting events to intimate dinners with Sir David Attenborough, American Express really pulls out all stops when putting on events for its top customers. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny for the luxury though, with some events costing a bomb.
Now that you’ve heard about the benefits of owning a Centurion card, how can you get your hands on one?
Getting an invite will take time, patience and a huge amount of spending history with no late payments on your bill. The generally accepted ‘quick path’ to get an invite is to:
- Join up with American Express and get approved for a Platinum card
- Spend between $250,000 – $500,000 (or above) a year
- Spend up big on luxury items and high-end goods (they track the type of purchases)
- Never be late with a payment.
Once you have fulfilled the above requirements for a year or two – you may be surprised with an invite!
If you finally get an invite, how much will you need to fork out for the luxury? It all depends on your location but the annual fee is generally a few thousand dollars. In Australia the annual fee is $4,300 and in the US, the fee is $2,500 with a one-off joining fee of $5,000. Keep in mind also that all Centurion cardholders must pay the balance of the card at the end of each month – you cannot carry forward the bill to the following month. If you’re invited, you will also receive a stunning invite pack (see image) to fit the occasion.
Some cardholders have criticised the dwindling Centurion offering in recent years and with a growing centurion membership base – the exclusivity feel is losing its finesse. Further, some of the benefits of years past are no longer available and the cost/benefit ratio is wearing thin. However we think that the Centurion is merely a status symbol and really, If you can afford to have it, and you’re invited – then why not? If you have that much money chances are a $5000 annual fee won’t break the bank.
Do you know someone with a black amex?