If you’re looking for prominence and distinction in a credit card, look no further.
The American Express Centurion, also known as the Black Card, has served the highest tier of American Express cardholders since 1999. Named after the Manhattan credit card brand’s iconic centurion head logo, this card is traditionally made of titanium and issued by invitation-only to the wealthiest American Express Platinum cardholders.
This card 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 $1.3 million and net worths of about $16 million – figures which have probably increased by now. You get the idea.
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’d usually also have to already hold an American Express Platinum card with a proven high annual expenditure.
- Establishment fee. This varies depending on the country of issue, but in America your one-time initiation fee is currently US$5,000. It is also rumoured to be the same in Australia.
- Annual fee. Similarly, this fee will vary depending on your country of issue. It is currently reported to be US$2,500 in America and AUD$5,000 in Australia.
- Titanium card. Crafted out of anodised titanium, the Black Card is laser-etched to display your card information. A plastic version of the card is also issued in some countries, for ease of walking through metal detectors and such.
- 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.
- No spending limit. Since it’s a charge card, there is no stated credit limit on the Black Card, although American Express commonly practises allocating a “spend ceiling” on your card based on past spending and repayment patterns.
- Travel benefits. The Black Card gives you access to premium airport lounges and clubs worldwide, complimentary companion airline tickets on select airlines, flight upgrades and travel insurance covers.
- Hotel benefits. This card also offers hotel upgrades and free additional nights at participating hotel chains globally.
- Rental cars and other driving perks. Limousines, luxury sportscars and Formula One rides are all accessible rentals to the Black Card holder.
- 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.
- 24/7 concierge. 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.
Other prestigious credit cards
The Centurion has inspired a range of other prestigious and exclusive credit cards with similar features. From gold plating to pure gold, rare metals to solitaire diamonds, these cards have each sought to outdo the other with extravagance and lustre. Based on exclusivity, perks and status, the top five prestigious credit cards in the world by our estimation are:
- 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.
- 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.
Prestigious credit cards in Australia
While the Centurion may be out of reach to you at this point, there are other exclusive credit cards in Australia that offer a range of perks and features similar to the prestigious cards above. The table below outlines some key perks and features of prestigious black and platinum credit cards on the Australian market.
|Credit card||Key perks||Minimum income||Annual fee|
|American Express Platinum||$100,000||$1,200|
|ANZ Frequent Flyer Black||$75,000||$425|
|ANZ Rewards Black||$75,000||$375|
|Westpac Altitude Black||$75,000||$395|
Credit cards can represent much more than just a payment option or line of credit. In fact, your credit card can also be a visible symbol of status and distinction. Remember, though, that there can be a hefty price tag for this type of prestige, usually in the form of high annual fees.Back to top