The American Express Centurion sets the benchmark for elite and luxurious cards.
Also known as the Black Card, this exclusive product has served the highest tier of American Express cardholders since 1999. Named after the iconic American Express centurion logo, this card is traditionally made of titanium and issued by invitation to the wealthiest American Express Platinum cardholders.
The American Express Centurion is so exclusive that none of this information is actually published on the company’s website. But rumour has it you have to spend US$250,000 a year on your Platinum Amex card before you’ll be eligible to receive an elusive Black Card invitation. Several years ago it was also reported that Centurion cardholders had average annual household incomes of approximately US$1.3 million and net worths of about US$16 million – figures which have probably increased by now.
Features of the Amex Centurion credit card
If you’re aiming for one of these prestigious credit cards, here’s what you need to know about it:
- Invitation-only. Despite the mystery shrouding the Black Card, one thing is for sure – you can only get one of these by invitation from American Express. You must be a high income, high net-worth individual and hold an American Express Platinum card with a proven high annual expenditure.
- Fees. The Establishment Fee varies depending on the country of issue, but in America your one-time initiation fee is currently US$7,500. It is rumoured to be the same in Australia. The annual fee is currently reported to be US$2,500 in America and AUD$5,000 in Australia.
- Titanium cards. Crafted out of anodised titanium metal, the Black Card is laser-etched with your account information. Amex issues the Centurion with two cards so business and personal expenses can be easily separated. A plastic version of the card is also issued in some countries, for the sake of convenience.
- No limit charge card. The Black Card is technically a charge card, not a credit card. This means that you are not charged an interest rate on purchases and are required to repay your full balance by the due date on each statement. If you don’t, you could be charged a late fee or have the card suspended. There is no stated credit limit on the Black Card, although American Express will allocate a "spend ceiling" based on past spending and repayment patterns.
- Dedicated relationship manager. Possibly the most celebrated perk of the card, you'll also have 24/7 personal concierge services for almost anything you want, including getting you a table at the most chic booked-out restaurants, arranging your last-minute travel itinerary, or buying your kid the perfect pet – whatever you need done.
- Travel benefits. The Amex Centurion gives you access to premium airport lounges and clubs worldwide, complimentary companion airline tickets on select airlines, flight upgrades and travel insurance covers. It also offers chauffeur limousine services for overseas flights and queue-skip privileges throughout the airport.
- Automatic program upgrades. With the Amex Centurion, you are automatically upgraded and enrolled into the highest-tiers of hotel rewards programs (Shangri-La Diamond, Hilton Honors Diamond), car rentals (Hertz President's Circle, AVIS President's Club) and airline rewards (Emirates Gold, Qantas Club access, Priority Pass membership).
- Hotel benefits. This card also offers hotel upgrades and free additional nights at participating hotel chains globally. Most enviously, it also offers 12pm check-in and 4pm check-out.
- Shopping benefits. The Amex Centurion entitles you to your own personal shopper, exclusive luxury brand sales, advance tickets to exclusive events, and VIP access to practically anything money can buy.
Prestigious credit cards in Australia
The top 5 most prestigious credit cards in the world
From gold plating to pure gold, rare metals to solitaire diamonds, there is a select group of credit cards that offer both luxury and extravagance. Based on exclusivity, perks and status, these prestige credit cards are top of our list:
- American Express Centurion. This Amex card is widely-acknowledged as the first, and most prestigious, invitation-only black card in the world.
- JPMorgan Chase Palladium. Made of metal, palladium and 24K gold, this card is also issued by invitation alone to JPMorgan’s private banking wealth management and investment banking clients with investments of at least US$30million.
- Dubai First Royale Mastercard. Trimmed with gold and embedded with a .235-carat solitaire diamond, this card is only offered to royalty and ultra-millionaires in the UAE.
- Coutts World Silk Card. This tastefully unembellished card is only available to UK private bank Coutts clients only.
- Sberbank Visa Infinite Gold Card. This card is made of gold and is adorned with .17 carats worth of diamonds – and that’s before you get to any of the privileges and perks that come with it. With a reported upfront cost of US$100,000 (approximately AUD$132,600), Kazakhstan’s Sberbank has only issued it to 100 of its top clients.
While credit cards are often used for everyday spending, they can also be a visible symbol of status and distinction. Remember, though, that is prestige will come at a cost – usually in the form of high annual fees.