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The Ultimate Bling – Black Amex Centurion

written by John Chow on January 15, 2007

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Forget your Platinum Visa or American Express card. You’re looking at the ultimate credit card; the Centurion card from American Express, also known as the Black Card. This card is so exclusive you cannot apply for it. It’s not listed anywhere on the Amex website. So how do you get it? You have to be invited.

To get an invite, you must be a current American Express cardholder in good standing, and you must charge a minimum of $250,000 a year. The annual fee for the Centurion started at $1,000 but has since increased to $2,500. There are less than 10,000 Centurion cards issued worldwide. What do you get for paying $2,500 a year to use a charge card?

To start, you get one bling bling looking card. The Centurion is made of pure titanium, is surprising heavy, and sets off airport metal detectors. Imagine the fun you can have with that. Ops! Forgot to remove my titanium credit card! Because the card is made of metal, the magnetic strip won’t work with most card scanners. This forces the casher to enter your card number manually, where she is sure the see the 24 hour 1-800 customer service number Amex makes available to Centurion cardholders. Being noticed is what the Centurion card is all about.

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The 1-800 number dials up your personal Concierge. The Concierge can help you with airline reservations, getting tickets to sold out shows, or whatever else you need. One time, while in LA, We used the card to find out what time Disneyland and Universal Studios closed. The Concierge went online to get the hours for us.

Aside from the personal Concierge, the Black Amex offers a bunch of rewards and access to exclusive clubs and airport lounges. On certain international flights, you can use the card to book a free companion ticket if you’re flying first class (is there any other class?). I like how they say “companion” ticket and not a ticket for the wife.

The Centurion started out as an urban legend. Rumors of a special, black-colored card offering dignitaries and celebrities unlimited spending power and after-hours access to high-end stores circulated in the 1980s. The rumors were false but American Express capitalized on them by launching the Centurion Card in 1999.

The Centurion Card pictured above belongs to my friend Tyler Dikman. Tyler was among the first batch of Amex users invited to apply for the Centurion Card and as such, his annual fee is grandfathered to only $1,000 a year. If Amex ever sends me an invite, I’ll have to pay $2,500 a year. I doubt I will be getting an invite anytime soon since I don’t have any Amex cards.

My cash back Visa does the job for me. :)

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