FREE video Reveals 21 steps To Earning Up to $9,000 Per Sales Online!
 

The Ultimate Bling – Black Amex Centurion

written by John Chow on January 15, 2007

uopm

amexblack.jpg

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.

amexblack2.jpg

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. :)

Did you enjoy this post? Get John Chow Dot Com updates via email...

Stay up to date with all of John Chow’s tips for making money online and blog posts by subscribing via email. Your email will be kept private and never shared with anyone.

{ 60 comments }

Nick Witkoski January 15, 2007 at 10:22 pm

Is that the card that rappers frequently refer to as their “black card”?

A friend of mine said he was shopping in a retail store recently and a lady had one of those so when she left they looked up her name on google and found out she had just won millions in a lawsuit.

James February 11, 2007 at 4:12 pm

Hi Guys,
I can confirm that the Black AMEX is NOT made from any metal what so ever. It does not set off metal detectors, and scans perfectly on all machines. If you had seen one, and they really are not rare, you would be surprised. It is actually very thin, and breaks more than any of the normal AMEX cards just under the magnetic strip, which is annoying (if anyone else has noticed this then let me know, i keep reporting it to AMEX but they deny they are thinner than the Platinum). In addition, you DO have to be invited a card, but often the yearly fee is waved, well in the UK it is, i do know that some people are billed for it in the States, but you do not have to spend 250,000 a year on it, that is utter rubbish.

John Chow February 11, 2007 at 9:15 pm

The old Black Amex was plastic. The new one is titanium and does set of airport metal detectors. And you no longer need to be invited. Any Amex card holder spending more than $250K a year can ask for a invite.

I guess it’s been a while since you seen a Centurion Card.

John Chow January 15, 2007 at 10:30 pm

Yes that is the card rappers are referring to when they say black card.

As for the lady, it may not be a black Amex. You can’t just apply for it. She would have be a current Amex customer who charged over $250K per year for at least a full year. If she just won a lawsuit and came into a lot of money, Amex wouldn’t give her one.

Stephen January 15, 2007 at 10:34 pm

That card slices, dices, and makes french fries in three different ways! It’s not plastic ;)

Nick Witkoski January 15, 2007 at 10:37 pm

I believe it was a divorce settlement or somthing along those lines, so the family already had money. I guess that was the reason for her being at the top of google. But, I wasnt there so I dont know the exact details. It was just interesting because he said that the woman was acting very strange and trying on clothes and walking out of the dressing room without having some on…

Ant Eksiler January 15, 2007 at 10:50 pm

Interesting story yet again. I would expect something so “exclusive” as this card to have more stuff. My HSBC Premium card also gets me airport lounges. When I go to the bank, I enter another line :) Also when I call the bank, premium card holders get a different and 24/7 available service. And I dont pay any annual fee…

Ant Eksiler January 15, 2007 at 10:52 pm

Did I say I can pass through metal detectors?

John Chow January 15, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Ant – I think part appeal is the $2,500 annual fee. That just adds to the blingness.

Ryan January 15, 2007 at 11:08 pm

I don’t spend $250k/yr, much less charge that much. Must be nice to have that problem. I’m sure $2.5gs is a drop in the bucket to people that have it.

Raghu January 15, 2007 at 11:28 pm

Hmm.. Am sure there must be some reasonable benefits other than getting the free stuff you mention – tickets etc etc…

If I am spending 250K on my credit card a year I probably already have ways and means to get these tickets etc – looks like it has more problems that features !

Raghu January 15, 2007 at 11:30 pm

And.. Hate heavy wallets and this is no light thing either … MasterCard/VISA cards serve the need for most !

Jon Daniel January 15, 2007 at 11:44 pm

Someday… Hopefully someday. Any idea if they offer these to businesses?

Ed Lau January 15, 2007 at 11:50 pm

The Black Card is pretty sweet. I wouldn’t have believed it if I didn’t see it myself.

Rappers…Kanye West, rather…call it the “African American Express”.

Nick Witkoski January 16, 2007 at 12:05 am

i was just recalling that little bow wow quote where he says ” i aint gotta act hard, im under 21 with a black card” or somthing to that effect.

Jane January 16, 2007 at 12:50 am

I thought American Express stopped giving these out? Anyone else hear that?

Nate W. January 16, 2007 at 1:28 am

I have swiped plenty of those at the Apple Store…they are so damn heavy and THICK you could seriously use one as a weapon! Yikes! Me wants!

Robbie January 16, 2007 at 2:27 am

Amex Plat and Amex Black offer the same exact services and both in most cases have no preset limits.

HMTKSteve January 16, 2007 at 2:31 am

Hey, you blurred out the numbers!

Jeff January 16, 2007 at 3:12 am

WOW it is true…!!!

MillionDollarJourney.com January 16, 2007 at 4:13 am

Is this card really worth the $2500 annual fee? I guess it would be for people that travel a lot with those free companion tickets.

FT

Nomar January 16, 2007 at 4:50 am

waaaaw, that card is looking hot.

I wish one day, I can have 1

Icon January 16, 2007 at 5:30 am

Thanks for the heads up on the amount to spend John. With the black card, I can buy a new murciealago have a whole month to enjoy it before my accoutant a.k.a. wife screams my head off. For those thinking she would find out when I bring it home, I would just rent a garage and hide it like mistresses :).

Gdog January 16, 2007 at 5:43 am

The centurion name is pretty sweet…

My New Choice January 16, 2007 at 5:46 am

Nate, you mentioned that you have swiped quite a few but John indicated the numbers had to be entered manually.

While I understand the appeal of the prestige, I am too cheap to pay a $2500 fee even if I could afford it.

Tyler January 16, 2007 at 6:35 am

I appreciate you scratching my surname off of that John ;)

It fits nicely in my 24k gold wallet actually.

Sooo.. ya..

Anyway that’s the infamous black card huh? Pretty spiffy, if I only had $250,000 that I could spend per year without being in debt!

Dave January 16, 2007 at 7:48 am

My aunt and uncle both have Centurion cards. In fact I found out because they bought me a plane ticket to come out and see them in London a few months ago, and the itinerary said “Thanks for using your American Express Centurion Card”.

Needless to say, I don’t think they have any problems spending $250k a year on the card.

martinezg January 16, 2007 at 8:26 am

Platinum is old news, plutonium is in. Watch Bow Wow steal my line; dam rappers always jacking my lines. (LOL)

Leftblank January 16, 2007 at 9:20 am

That is one overpriced sexy credit card, pretty expensive, but that personal assistant thing does sound interesting, I’m afraid I wont qualify though ;)

HMTKSteve January 16, 2007 at 9:34 am

When they said “black card”, I always thought those rappers were talking about something else…

Ryan January 16, 2007 at 9:51 am

HMTKSteve, I think this is what they mean by once you go black you never go back. ;)

Nick Witkoski January 16, 2007 at 10:34 am

Im with you martinez, platinum is getting old, i engrave my business cards on platinum these days…

Lucas McDonnell January 16, 2007 at 10:37 am

This made me think of Bling H2O for some reason (http://www.thisnext.com/item/7CF2838B/878CC3E2/Bling-H2O). A water bottle covered in Swarovski crystals. So, so unnecessary.

And by the way, I think I could spend $250k a year on my American Express. I just wouldn’t be able to pay off about $245k of it. ;)

derrich January 16, 2007 at 10:38 am

You mean you don’t have one, John? Aw, man…you need to get one they’re great!!!

So I’ve heard.

Leftblank January 16, 2007 at 11:31 am

Lucas, don’t worry, you’re not the only one ;)

Derrich, you almost made me believe you did have one ;)

Juan Francisco Diez January 16, 2007 at 11:37 am

That would help for my plans for CES 2008.

Buy a custom made gold plated Murcielago limo with a Swarovski covered pickup, which will be used for my stripper entourage, while my monkey driver – with a white tuxedo – pours Crystal all over the strip :)

dacholo January 16, 2007 at 11:42 am

blah. the Amex conceirge really doesn’t help much, esp. if you travel a lot. A good conceirge at the local high-end hotel (+ nice tip) will definitely help better.

Request to Amex conceirge to obtain a table at a restaurant in Tokyo, Japan was answered, with a “hmmm, uhhh…sorry.”

Jacob January 16, 2007 at 12:57 pm

Tyler sounds like a dick, man.

Alex Becker January 16, 2007 at 1:14 pm

I work at a hotel and I have seen and touched the card. Its pretty cool. The concierge part seems stupid since the concierge probably just Googles things and then spits them back at you.

Blogcrowds January 16, 2007 at 1:50 pm

“The Centurion is made of pure titanium, is surprising heavy, and sets off airport metal detectors…Being noticed is what the Centurion card is all about.”

mmmm, favorite pass time of the rich and famous :D

Michael Kwan January 16, 2007 at 2:41 pm

I can see why some people would enjoy an essentially limitless credit card, but I can’t justify paying the $2500 annual fee. I refuse to pay any sort of annual fee for any credit card.

Robert January 16, 2007 at 2:50 pm

I remember watching a show on TLC (I think) that followed one of these card holders around and the treatment was top notch. They basically got whatever they wanted and Amex went out of their way to get them deals, travel plans, etc.

It is a lot like the treatment that the really high rollers (whales) get when they come to Vegas.

David Mackey January 16, 2007 at 4:17 pm

I like my 2% cash-back Visa. I started with a $500 cash limit as a college student and have worked up significantly from there…Now if only they would raise the cash-back percentage…

Alex Becker January 16, 2007 at 6:36 pm

I like my Debit Card. I will be a rebel and not build credit. Its so much easier than writing a check at the end of the month

Stew January 16, 2007 at 6:42 pm

You need to add it to your arsenal or you can’t achieve pimp status

Michael Kwan January 16, 2007 at 6:46 pm

Wow, David. 2% is pretty good. Which card is that?

Karate Dave January 17, 2007 at 10:50 am

That is crazy. Thanks John for the post on it. Wonder how you get it…

Karate Dave

John Chow January 17, 2007 at 11:54 pm

I explained how to get it in the post. You have to be a current Amex card holder in a good standing and you have to charge more than $250,000 a year.

james January 17, 2007 at 11:42 pm

There’s a sucker born every minute. My favorite credit card pays me every time I use it, because the credit card companies are already skimming a few percent of every purchase I make. The idea of wasting $2,500 in annual fees on a “status card” is something that would only appeal to the very stupid or the incredibly vain.

John Chow January 17, 2007 at 11:57 pm

Well, Tyler is paying “only” $1000 a year for it. :) The card does pay for itself pretty quickly. Book a 1st class international flights with a free companion ticket and you’re ahead of the game in the most cases.

Jerry January 20, 2007 at 2:24 pm

I have one of these. I got my invitation last year. $2500 is a lot of money to spend on anything, let alone an annual fee, but I decided to try it out for a year and see if it is worth keeping. Before I applied, I did alot of research to see what perks were worth $2500. Here is a breakdown on why this card is worth it to me.

1) Club/VIP level Membership for virtually every hotel/Airline/Car Rental.
( Free Room/Car Upgrades + Late Checkout/Car Return )
This alone is worth it if you travel alot.

2)I went on a cruise to Alaska last summer with my family. 3 rooms.
( $500 Ship credit + Free Room upgrades from Balcony to Mini-Suite + Large fruitbasket! in my Stateroom! )

3)Membership fee is tax deductable

Those things added up comes close to paying for the card already. Not to mention the usual 2-4-1 International Flights, which I have never used before.

I did however use the concierge once when I was in Hongkong. 12 Hours before my flight back home, my father wanted me to bring back some things (Chinese medicine, herbs, etc.) Also I had a few things to get but did not have time. I called the concierge at night time and in the morning, there was a nice shopping bag waiting for me at checkout. I had also requested some nice cohiba robusto cubans to be waiting for me at my gate (I think conceirge arranged it with one of the Duty free shops inside the terminal).

moom January 21, 2007 at 11:15 am

They should make it out of carbon fiber instead and solve the scanner problem.

Jon January 21, 2007 at 8:16 pm

My partner (the owner of http://www.MarketModel.com, I just work there ;-) ) has one of these. Personally, I think it is nuts to spend $2500 a year for the annual fee, but he claims it is worth it. Of course, it is a pain for the waitresses when we go out to eat(he puts everything on the card so he will make sure he meets the minimum spending limit ;-) ) since the card won’t slide through the credit card processing machine. However, I think he gets an ego boost when they come back and tell him they have never seen that card before.

Abe January 21, 2007 at 8:56 pm

I can get this card for you if you spend 250000.00 a year on any american express card.

Mike E January 29, 2007 at 12:16 am

I currently hold an Amex Platinum which carries all the same benefits you described. Centurion just offers a little more. For example, booking a Mansion at MGM Grand with Platinum gets you a $500 credit, Centurion is $750, Centurion hardholders get a free hotel stay at any Mandarin Oriental once per year, etc.

On the topic of concierge, Platinum’s has been very useful to me. It’s not just a google search. I asked them once to track down a rare sake the name of which I had forgotten but only remembered how much it cost at the restaurant I had it at. They were able to find it in San Franciso, have it shipped to me, and have it charged right to my card. Pretty sweet.

So is Centurion really worth $2100 more than what I pay for Platinum when I’m already getting 95% of the benefits? Oh yes, if for no other reason than to smack that titanium on the counter and let the world know you’ve made it ;-).

Mike E January 29, 2007 at 12:18 am

Whoops, one more thing: although invitations are more commonly sent out, you can call Platinum card’s concierge if you feel your spending justifies ownership of a Centurion and be transfered to the application process. Unfortunately, I won’t be doing that for another 40 years.

Jerry February 6, 2007 at 1:31 pm

Just found out from talking to a csr that this card is no longer invite only. Anyone spending alot of money with their amex is welcome to apply There is a line you can call to apply, ask your amex platinum rep and they’ll transfer you. Of course they put you under financial review first, but If you qualify, u can get one.

James February 12, 2007 at 2:39 am

Hi,
I last saw a Black AmEx today, and before that, yesterday. I see one infact EVERYDAY! I am English, and live in the UK, so unless you guys in the States have new ones and we don’t, they are not titanium. Most people i know would be furious with AmEx for making them like this if they cause so many problems. They are great at the moment, especially for booking restaurants and securing good football tickets. I would not pay $2500 a year for one, but i know for certain that the fees can be waived.
John you seem very aggressive when you talk and reply to people! When was the last time you saw one, truthfully?

John Chow February 12, 2007 at 10:43 am

Last Jan in Las Vegas for the CES at the MGM Skylofts. Tyler used the card to book our suite. It is made of titanium and it does set off airport metal detectors.

If you don’t believe me, them maybe this Times Online interview with Apple Cofounder Steve Wozniak will convince you. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2097-2426240.html

Quote:

“My favourite card is my new so-called “black” one from American Express, mainly because I’m doing so much travelling at the moment and the benefits include free companion tickets and access to airport lounges.

The only problem is that it’s made of metal, so it sets off all the airport security machines. I have a bit of fun with that.”

I doubt Amex is sending metal cards for US only and plastic for everyone. Most likely, your friends with black cards hasn’t received their new metal one yet.

jay February 20, 2007 at 1:32 pm

yes, the centurion cards (black cards) are made out of titanium here in the US. i just used one with my friend. it is heavy and very deadly as well (especially the edges as it can be used as a weapon). the old black cards were not like this. the UK ppl above still don’t have their facts straight.