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American Express Centurion (Black) Credit Card

Have you guys ever heard of the mystic “black” credit card that no credit limit that some rich and famous people use? This card used to be urban legend, but American Express took advantage of the rumour and created their version of the card. The Centurion Credit Card.

I never knew about this card before, but after reading an interesting thread on RedFlagDeals, I thought that I’d share the details with you.

For those of you who are frugal and don’t believe in paying fees for using a credit card, than this article isn’t for you. Believe me because when I read about the fees, all I could think was “who in their right mind…”. But then again, when you’ve got a ridiculous amount of cash, a few thousand bucks isn’t going to mean much.

Here are some details (referenced from wikipedia):

The Benefits

  • The card is made from titanium, the only titanium credit card on the market (i’m not sure if I would consider this is a benefit)
  • Personal dedicated concierge service and travel agent along with free flight companion tickets.
  • Personal shoppers at retailers like Gucci, Escada.
  • Access to airport clubs and free first class flight upgrades.
  • Hotel benefits like one free stay at every Mandarin Oriental Hotel / year.
  • Platinum status for popular US airline point systems.

The Fees

  • $5000 one time initiation fee + $2,500/yr ($7500 fee in your first year!)
  • $1500 / year for additional cards (..and I thought $50 for an extra card was expensive)

Do you qualify?

  • Minimum annual spending of $250,000
  • Exceptional credit history
  • I assume exceptional income as well.

Apparently, to date, the largest purchase made on the card was a $30 million dollar jet. Imagine..

Note that this card is currently for U.S residents only.  The closest things we have here in Canada is the Visa Infinite card.







49 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Wow… where do I sign up???

    I guess it’s one of those “if you have to ask, you can’t afford it” type things… :)

  2. These have been around for a few years. There are people who have to fly a lot who do get their money’s worth from the benefits (or at least claim to do so). It’s also not that hard to get an invite if you meet the basic criteria.

    Needless to say, I do not have one.

  3. It sounds like a great way… to waste money in credit card fees!
    However, I do believe that this “mystic black credit card” existed at some point. I remember, 15 years ago, my father use to have an American Express who seems not to have any limit on it. The only trick was that he had to pay it all at the end of the month. Nonetheless, as it was 15 years ago, maybe the limit was something like 20K and seemed limitless back then!

  4. I used to have an American Express corporate card. I was so frustrated when I first got it. They tell you there is no credit limit, but they do indeed use an internal formula to determine how much you can spend.

    So I signed up for the card. The first time I tried to use it, it was a $1500 computer purchase and the store was prompted to call in for authorization. They handed me the phone and the American Express person explained to me that my “no limit” card had a $1,000 credit limit.

    What she also explained however was that once I charged $1,000 and paid it in full, it would automatically be increased to $2,000 the next month. Basically, at that time, at least the way it was explained to me is that they set an initial limit (behind the scenes) and then whatever you charge and pay off, you are limited to between 1.5 to 2 times that amount in the future.

    In that business, it was not uncommon for me to do $10,000+ purchases and I bought the card for the convenience because my bank debit card had a $3,000 daily spending limit and while my suppliers didn’t require a check up front, when I walked into retail, not everyone is all that keen on taking a $10,000 business check.

    It took me about a year to get the card to where I could actually freely use it as desired (for purchases of say $10,000) and even then if I happened to be in a month where I needed to make 2 such purchases, I was out of luck.

  5. AJ, I had no idea that AMEX used that kind of formula to determine credit limits. Good to know. Any other downsides to AMEX (besides limited availability in Canada)?

  6. 6. Jon Lee

    I thought this card was invite-only?

  7. Jon, to be honest, i’m not sure. It would make sense if it was though.

  8. 8. oOKitijimaOo

    One of my friends in HK has one for himself and his father. They seem to be abundant over there.

  9. 9. Centurion holder

    Have it! Titanium is a draw back – does’nt work in taxis, ATMs and other payment machines.
    But it looks good and it draws attention.
    If you want the service – rather try Quintessentially’s Beyond Black card…..

  10. 10. Anne

    Doesn’t cost anything like that amount in the UK – no sign-up fee and the annual cost is substantially lower. As is the annual spend – I didn’t spend anything like that amount on my Amex annually when I got the invitation from Amex to sign up for the Centurion card.

    As for credit limits, I haven’t managed to find mine yet despite air fares and the like. I use it – as I used the previous Amex card – for business expenses because I work with/for clients shallow enough to be impressed by it. Which is why I have it – if they’re stupid enough to think I’m a better lawyer because of the colour of my credit card, so be it.

    I’m a corporate lawyer, by the way. Probably says all you need to know .

  11. 13. MOMMA

    I WORK AT A HOTEL AND HAVE NOW SEE 3 OF THESE BLACK CARDS IN A MATTER OF 1 WEEK. THE FIRST GUEST TO PULL HIS OUT OPENLY INFORMED ME HE HAD TO SPEND A MILLION A YEAR TO GET HIS AND BOASTED OF OWNING VARIOUS PRO SPORT TEAMS. THE OTHERS FOLLOWING HIM SEEMED LIKE REGULAR PEOPLE WHO JUST SO HAPPENED TO HAVE THESE FANCY CREDIT CARDS. PERSONALLY I FIND THAT ANY FORM OF DEBT IS STILL DEBT, WHETHER YOU ARE RICH AND FAMOUS OR NOT. YOU STILL OWE SOMEONE MONEY AND YOU STILL PAY INTEREST. THE WAY THEY MAKE IT SOUND IS THAT IT IS LIKE PLAY MONEY IN THE FORM OF TITANIUM.

  12. 14. Cannon_fodder

    For $5 there is a kid in downtown Toronto who will work with your existing credit card and issuer to ensure you, too, can have a ‘black’ credit card.

    I believe it involves the use of a black permanent marker…

  13. 15. I am Legion...

    There USED to be an American Express “Diamond Card”. It was black, and it had a diamond on it. This is where the initial mythology arose from. In recent times (last decade or so), the card was resurrected in the form of the “Centurion Card” a.k.a.: Black Card. As with ALL American Express Cards, your spending history determines your credit limits. I have the Platinum business and personal cards, my spending is limited only by my history and bank accounts. I’ve tried since 1990 to get the Black card, but those bastards at Amex have insisted that you spend a certain amount. In the past, the spending requirement was approximately $125K per year, then it rose to $160K (which I missed by a few dollars the year it changed…), and now it’s a cool $250K that’s necessary to qualify for the card. As far as your INCOME is concerned: that’s not really a factor. I was lying to them at 18 years old telling them I made over $175K a year….that got me the green and then the gold rather quickly. The spendng limits were lower for Platinum cards and I was quickly invited. Anyway, I’ve busted chops by calling Amex periodically and throwing tantrums about the Black Card…..I’ve even told them I’d cancel the Platinum card if I couldn’t get the Black. Unfortunately nothing I could do would sway them…
    Bottom line: spend alot of money ($250K) in one year and you CAN call and ASK them to qualify you for the Centurion (Black) card. They will put in an application. Every time I’ve been denied it’s only been for lack of spending…

    Of course it’s only a silly obsession for me. The card really doesn’t have markedly more benefits available for the price. The Platinum card gives you practically everything except the same travel benefits…

    I can most assuredly say that I only want the card for shock value. The reality is that every time I’ve seen one my mental gears get moving and crank out the same idea: “That person spends alot of cash…they must be important or something”. It’s not conscious…but it does have that impact, vapid as it may be.

    Nonetheless….the card is accessible if you’re willing to shell out the bread mentioned above. Anything can be bought for a price. Even that F-ing Black card. When I get around to it…I’ll get it and start flashing it round….(heheh)

  14. 16. knowitall

    If you have a Platinum or Centurion “Charge Card” you will never have a limit. You always have to pay that at the end of the month. The Centurion Card was introduced in the last 6 years. Its very cool.

  15. 17. Ummm X

    Charge cards don’t have pre-set spending limits but that does not mean unlimited spending. They work by consolidating your regular expenses. Purchases are approved or declined based on financial information and history. Charge cards generally have higher annual fees than credit cards, and therefore more inclusive insurances and features. By using charge cards you get something back for charging instead of using cash/bank card.

  16. 18. old news...

    this is all old news, i called up 4 years ago and got this business black card.

    I used it to the bone. travelling 3 of those years and getting everytime a flight upgrade, hotel upgrades, suites, and i had listed all my friends and family on their birthday lists with what their hobbies were and 7 days before each birthday they would call me up and ask me about what i wanted to send them and evene the content of the letter.

    this card actually saved me money. I have gone to resturants in L.A, NY, Las Vegas, london, paris, munich, berlin, seattle, vancouver, mexico city and more and they have made the price of the meal free and i only paid for the bottles of wine.. ($500 each two bottles or one bottle sometimes, $250 in food) also ANY high end club that I used the card would get me a VIP table and one security guard standing close by…

    the rules have changed now and some items have been dropped. i have changed over to the bank of america infinte card and merryl lynch cards..

    there are other services like Quintessentially and others that offer more… also they are very exclusive….

    i hate to say it now but unless you have a million dollars house and actual offer to pick the tab up on over $1500 meals “just because ” dont get the card… people will know you are a poser…

    good luck,

    tchau

  17. 19. Alex

    The Centurion card is not available in Canada. I actually called them to complain as to why I was not invited since one of my friends in the US was recented invited. I spent over $1M in 07 for business and personal on my AMEX Gold Corp card, and called them quite upset, as it turns out the Rep on the phone hadnt even heard about it and I had to speak with a supervisor.

  18. 22. rob

    who cares!

  19. 23. eric

    Recently attended a vip dinner held by american express canada to announce the new Centurion card was being introduced into Canada, by invitation only,, people at the dinner were “begging” to be allowed that night to sign up…
    couldnt figure out why american express spend about $300 per person for a very fancy dinner x 2, for my wife and myself,=$600.
    Now I get the invitation two weeks later, but the invitation is only a teaser, that i have been pre-selected and that in a few weeks I will get the application with all the listed benefits,, only have I have read on other websites do I discover that the annual fee is $2,500 plus possible sign up fees of $5,000..
    Now I understand the fancy dinner, the rest of what is going on, american express spend $600 to prepare me for the opportunity to spend $7,500 in the first year, and then $2,500 per year afterwards,,, Nice marketing…
    I do spend approx. $1million a year on my american express platinum card for business purposes, so I did qualify..
    But i have to hand it to American Express to build up the opportunity and then allow me to hand over that kind of money to have an excuslive card..
    The benefits would have to include some illegal activities..

  20. 24. Anthony

    I spoke with American Express last night, I have had the Platinum card for 9 years now and always spend approx 300,000 a year. They told me i should be recieving an invitation shortly. I think the card is wourth every penny of the 7500.00. Has anyone else in canada got the card in hand yet?

  21. 25. Alex

    Anthony, do you live in Canada??? From what I understand from American Express Canada, there is no program available here for the Centurion???

  22. 27. Anthony

    Hi,

    yes it is in canada, and yes I am from canada. Only if you have the Platinum card will they actualy acknowledge that it exists when you call. As well they only do it if you qualify for the centurion card. If not the American Express customer service rep acts like she has no idea what Centurion is and tells you they have had no news so far. When I spoke to Centurion canada they did tell me they are out of Toronto and its here to stay.

  23. The Centurion Card is actually now available in Canada, see http://www.the-blackcard.com/

  24. 29. Anthony

    So I got home yesterday to a black box sitting on my table. As i looked at the return address it was from American Express Toronto, I knew right away what it was. Inside I found a large black wood carved oversized Jewelry box with an invitation to get the Centurion card. I called in and will be receiving the card in 7 days.

  25. 30. Brock

    Just signed up and cannot wait……..7500 sure it is expensive but damn keeps the cheepos out of the club. Too many platinums out there finally Canada has gone black.

  26. 31. PHYorkUK

    In about 30 minutes I’ll be ringing Amex to cancel my Centurion membership – and I have been an Amex member since 1988. Why? Because the junk received before the titantium card arrived told me not to worry about “plebian concerns” plus the card is in a (velvet?) holder which has “mine” written on it (for God’s sake …): I never though that I would grow up to be the type of person who would think this rubbish would enhance me in any way whatsoever. Also – don’t be conned into thinking that it’s that exclusive – I make £250,000 a year and only spend about £25k on the card a year. Even with the plastic card the ‘shock’ value isn’t there in the UK since almost all purchases are now made with ‘chip and pin’ and the vendor doesn’t even see the card.

    And “Brock”, “Anthony” and “I am Legion” – have a look in the mirror guys and consider if you would like your kids to have this attitude to life – I’ll keep my “plebian concerns” thanks … and stay out of Brocks club while I’m at it.

  27. 32. Chibe

    Until I read PHYorkUK’s comment, I was starting to lose faith in mankind. What is wrong with you people? The very thought of paying $7,500 so that you might feel special when you use your fancy black card is approaching insanity. I dare say you couldn’t possibly have earned your money the old fashioned way.

    Brock, your comment about keeping the “cheepos” out of the club is about as stereotypically arrogant as one could be. When I picture you, you’re the guy that sits on the fender of his rented Ferrari in the parking lot so that peaple will look at you. As pointed out, I hope your kids somehow escape this attitude.

    Amex is selling exclusivity to those that desire it, not service.

  28. 33. Dash

    it’s worth the $7500 for exclusive items. – Not to feel “special” but forthe those that do have a heavy portfolio, AMEX Centurion actually brings some exceptions and out of this world experiences that are mostly only offered to those card holders. – Try getting an invite to meeting Tiger Woods !! Ask Centurion card members if they’ve gotten their invite ?? Sure have. !!! Yes it’s not free… but for those with $$$$ it’s not about the cost anymore, it’s about the experiences, and Centurion can bring you things that others simply can’t do.
    For those with cash… this price is nothing. Not to mention the long list of other exclusive benefits.

  29. 34. Adriano

    CHIB- Next time i come to Olive Garden make sure to keep the bread warm, last time your cheap ass served me it was kinda cold.

    People like you should be carying the scoitabank money back no annual fee visa in there pocket.

  30. 35. PHYorkUK

    Dash – ‘For those with the cash’ comment: I agree – but Amex market the card on being very, very, exclusive but it is far more common than you would think. Their real market position is sign up a whole load of people who would like to think they have that sort of income when, in fact, they don’t.

    Adriano – you sound a real charmer and I think the real depth and insightfulness of your comments on the service industry warrant some considered deliberation at my end before I respond.
    (PS – us Brits call this sarcasm)

  31. 36. Dash

    PHYorkUK – As it relates to your comments about how AMEX markets this card… it’s totally different in individual markets… UK gives them to almost anyone…US is a little tougher… Canada on the other side.. from what I hear it’s tough as nails to crack… and the exclusivity is absolutely there. And when it comes to how they actually market to those cardholders… that I’m assuming is also done on a segmented (Country) basis… otherwise, why would they not have entered the CAD market earlier… and why don’t they piggy back off of other market “marketing”. Everything I have seen here in Canada here on it is very specific to their members.
    I think the specific problem you have encountered on your side is that in the UK they indeed have not held up the original standard of exclusivity…These cards exist is Canada…. but you hardly ever see them. I’d guess there are less than 1000 of them out there for the whole country.
    I’m assuming UK took a different strategy…

  32. 37. tmiller

    if you dont spend 100k+ yr on your card and/or travel extensively its not worth your money, there are far better choices on the market that offer great benefits to standard consumers-albeit without the bragging rights. we pay 7k+ yr on annual fees for our black cards but we also own several businesses so its 100% tax deductible. and by the way, the centurion club has been around since the early 80′s, but its had several names.

    the best part of having a black card is not the benefits but seeing a poser flash his expired card and drive away in a broken down rusty honda!

  33. 38. oneworld

    any real benefit over Plat that could justify the annual fee? Seems the benefits are roughly the same…

  34. 39. David

    I just got the American Express Black Card about a week ago, I have been posting my experiences with it on my blog, http://www.watchusmakemoney.com so far it has not done anything extraordinary for me to justify the hight costs. Check out my blog for details.

  35. 40. Mani

    Just received my invite for the centurion card today. To the other centurion card holders out there in canada – is it worth it? What is the best part about having the card? Have you been able to do/attend/get something that you would not have been able to othewise without this card?

  36. Hello Everyone,
    It is nice to see how many of us want to impress our importance. I am not sure how many of you actually own a Centurion Card , if any to begin with . , I dont think Centurion card holder would like to share their experiences on this site ,
    Remember one common rule in life , The Rich people always brag how poor they are , they dont advertise their money unless someone is newly rich . Centurion is only good for travellers or people who stay in hotels a lot , expenses paid by the company .Also Amex is the least acceptable card in the world compared to Visa or Master card .You would be surprised to know majority of the celebrties carry Visa or the Master card . Centurion card is more hyped in North America than rest of the world .
    $7500 is a lot to pay for the card , Amex is also very unreliable card to carry ,Amex has tendency to cancel cards without prior warning , Webs pages are full of Amex abrupt cancellation and complaints .
    If you people claim to be rich and own the centurion card , think again Perhaps you are not rich enough to know that ” Coutts & Co ” has been the most prestigious card in the world since last 20 plus years ( never heard of it ) , Ofcousre, none of us reading on this site are not at that level yet ..nor will we be ….Winning lotto is just not enough …Rich people rather be on yatchts or private planes than bragging falsely here .Speaking of Private planes , Stratus Reward Visa is more exclusive than Amex Centurion when it comes to Private Jets. ( Again never heard of this too )
    What about the Ultra Ultra Rich Arabs , since there is no Centurion in Middle East , what do they do ? …See I told you , you guys are not rich people , Arabs carrry Citibank Ultima card ..Now go and do your research and start bragging again about these new cards that you guys carry on different web sites ….
    No need to feel sad , be happy that you are alive and healthy , Money couldn’t save Micheal Jackson or Kings or Queens in the past .. …Black card or a Green card …just enjoy it .
    All the Best

  37. 42. rob murray

    what is rockstars rob murrays card i forgot and pin look it up on the computer

  38. Confirmed. The Black Card has been made available on an invite only basis available to Canadian residents. Both myself and a client of mine got the invites this month.

  39. Confirmed. The Black Card has been made available on an invite only basis to Canadians. Both myself and a client of mine received invites (in a very nice box) this month.

  40. 45. Dan

    This card is for the rich no doubt about it, I see previous people who have posted mention they tried to get this card by attempting to spend the 250K per year and thinking that that amount is allot of money. Seriously though for the rich ( where this card is aimed at) 250K a year is nothing. I have worked with clients that spend this amount a day or even a week keeping their staff and assets running.

    I have known some clients who have given million dollar tips for a waiter they liked. Also, most of the super rich view this card as new money trash, or for people who have something to prove.

    As a merchant banker you are always weary of those dressed up in expensive suits who own expensive cars and have expensive credit cards, usually in debt trying to prove they are rich. The true wealth wears board shorts to business meetings and dont usually have expensive cards.

  41. 46. dema

    my mom has that card… its not worth it at alllllllll…..

    the benefits dont cover the expenses we pay for it…

    like when i travel i travel on buisness or first class.. i already have a lounge to stay in! i dont need the amex lounge…

    and when making a hotel reservation they give you high rates with usually breakfast inclluded and late checkout… not that big value…

    mmmm and the personal shoping service is offered to all amex card holders nothing special…

  42. 47. AK47

    I have one, the maximum I’ve paid with it is north of 365000 $ but normal purchases I do are around 55000 to 75000 $ a month. The titanium thing is pretty cool and it stands out among my other gold cards. They’ve accepted it at hotels in Hanoi, Tananarivo and Brunei, funny how some hotel and resto employees find it so cool that they have to ask me about it.

  43. 48. AK47

    Ah, I also have the Merrill +, as I have a wealth of investments at Merrill Lynch, but the Citibank Ultima doesn’t interest me (I have business in India too). But to the guy that criticises people about bragging about credit cards, sure, there’s lots of deadbeats here bragging about what they just can dream to have, but some of us do have these cards and it’s not to brag before friends or unknown people or hotel employees, but it’s a thing of prestige with your clients, very wealthy clients that want to know they are dealing with wealth fellows. If you invite them to a restaurant in Dubai or at the Marina Bay sands hotel in Singa, don’t take your guaranteed capital one or mbna smart card, for god’s sake. They’ll spit on you.

  44. Many years ago I saw a salesgirl’s eyeballs nearly popping out when she accepted a credit card. It happened in a higher echelon clothing department in The Hague, Netherlands.
    The card in her hands was “without limit”. Only today I discovered a tiny problem. American Express introduced the Centurion was in 1999. It was based on this “mystic” card that made the sky the limit. As far as I know they were the “official” first without limit.
    It was 1993 when I saw this black card held by the salesgirl … Was it the “mystic” one?

    The Centurion makes eyeballs popping out too … saw that happen some years ago at another warehouse. I guess you only have to look a guy’s creditcard to unveil a billionair.

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