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The American Express Black Card: Everything you need to know

What is the American Express Black Card?

The American Express Centurion Card or more commonly known as The American Express Black card or Amex Black Card is widely known as one of the most difficult credit cards to obtain and is only accessible by some of the World’s most elite such as rappers ,actors, business-persons and entrepreneurs. it is used by these elites in order to purchase certain luxury items and get access to luxurious services. The Black card is a very prized possession within the celebrity community. The perks and benefits of the Black Card are pretty amazing but , however they do compare to the Platinum card in some ways even though the Platinum card has way less fees attached to it. Unlike normal credit cards the American Express Black Card is a charge card, which means you would have to pay your card charges at the end of every month.

How Can You Get an American Express Black Card?

  • Use other Amex cards
  • Be an active card holder for at least a year
  • Charge at least $250,000USD per year to your account

These are just the the things that make you eligible for an invite. It costs a whooping $10,000 USD for the initiation fee alone and another $5,000 USD in annual charges for The Black Card.

Benefits

  • $1,000 USD in Saks Fifth Avenue Credits which releases $250 USD every quarter in credits or adds to your account
  • Equinox Destination membership valued at $2,500 USD (An elite gym membership)
  • Clear Airport Membership (less security checks and hassle while at the airport) $250 USD value
  • Personal Concierge service
What it’s like to have an Amex Black

When Pedro Miranda, 47, walks into a high-end store in jeans and a t-shirt, he says that he’s almost always treated badly by store staff. “In the beginning, they treat you like you’re going to rob the store,” .  But things change drastically once he gets to the register and whips out his American Express Centurion Card aka the Amex Black Card to pay for his purchase.

t’s as if he’s a totally different person, he says and the salespeople start treating him much better. Once he was even offered the chance to borrow a piece of jewelry for his wife to try out for two weeks and return it. Another time, the salesperson offered to be his personal shopper.

Miranda, an immigrant who moved from Brazil to the U.S. at 18 with no credit history, has been using his Amex Black Card for about 10 years now. And while he’s quick to say the hefty $5,000 annual membership fee is worth every penny, he wants to reinforce that the status symbol card isn’t something everyone should strive for, especially the younger generation that always seems to want the next shiny object. “Just because I have a black card doesn’t mean I’m anyone special,” he says. Below, Miranda talks about how he got invited to be an Amex Black Cardholder, why he likes it and his black card advice for young adults.

Miranda’s credit journey

Although Miranda had zero credit history when he first immigrated to the U.S., he was able to get his first credit card (an American Express card) when he started as an undergraduate student at the University of Miami.

He went on to earn an MBA from MIT and worked as an investment banker at Credit Suisse First Boston and Goldman Sachs, and he continued to use credit cards from American Express, upgrading from the Amex Gold Card to the Amex Platinum.

Miranda recognizes that he made credit mistakes along the way, such as carrying a balance on his card and accruing high interest when he was in college, but he got better as he grew older. He would charge a high volume of transactions on his Amex credit cards, but he was able to pay them off each month so he didn’t have to worry about interest.

This active credit card usage showed that he knew how to use credit responsibly, but it was also the type of spending he was doing that helped him eventually get invited to get an Amex Black Card. Miranda traveled weekly for work, and he had a pattern of spending on airlines and hotels that showed he could benefit from the black card’s exclusive travel benefits.

Why the Amex Black Card is worth it

Of course, the Amex Black Card comes with many luxury perks, including hotel elite status, airport lounge access, Equinox gym membership, credits to high-end stores and a 24/7 concierge service. But Miranda says he gets the most value from the card’s overall convenience. “You don’t sweat anything,” he says of the many times he needed assistance when his card information got stolen (which he says happens almost yearly). “When I have issues with Amex, it’s very smooth to sort that out.”

He recalled one time when he was having dinner in France and someone tried to make a $6,000 purchase with his card in Dubai. “It happens quite often,” Miranda says. “First thing they do is issue a new card and open an investigation.” Even if the card didn’t come with a ton of extra perks, he would still use it for its customerservice alone. “In my opinion, nobody does customer service like American Express,” Miranda says.

He points out that it’s the little things about the card that he appreciates: Someone picks up right away when you call and you don’t have to listen to hold music, they take care of any card disputes you have, they make sure everything is organized when you make a reservation and they have airport arrival services when flying internationally so that you have a personal guide who takes you quickly through immigration and customs.

Today, Miranda runs a Miami-based private equity company that invests in real estate so he says these travel benefits save him time. “They always make sure you’re taken care of so you feel like you’re getting more than you paid for,” Miranda says.

Miranda’s black card advice to the younger generation

“There are a lot of misconceptions about having a black card,” Miranda says. “People see this card and think it’s some magical thing.” Miranda wants people to know that being invited to have a black card doesn’t mean you’re more special than anyone else, or that you have more money. While he values his card for its convenience when he travels, he doesn’t want others to be attached to thinking that they need to have it in order to reach a certain status in life.

“It’s not about that,” Miranda says. “You need to have stuff that has a purpose to you I pay $5,000 for this card because it has a purpose to me and prevents aggravation. But there are so many people who want to flash this card. I don’t think there’s much to gain from flashing or boasting about anything.”

Everything you want to know about the American Express Black Card

The first rule of the AmEx Centurion Card is: You do not talk about the AmEx Centurion Card. Also known colloquially as the Black Card, Centurion membership is so exclusive that American Express will not even officially confirm any of its perks, nor what it takes to be invited to apply. That’s right, you must receive a formal invitation just to apply. “It’s our long-standing policy not to share the details of our Centurion Membership,” is all the detail on the card that the issuer will divulge.

Commenting on the card publicly, posting about it on social media, or even just flashing it around are all apparently frowned upon. But we have it on good authority that celebrities including Beyoncé, Oprah Winfrey, and Jerry Seinfeld, who reportedly received the first-ever Black Card, all carry it. Collectively there are thought to be fewer than 20,000 AmEx Centurion cardholders around the world. We managed to speak to a few of them for the inside scoop on how you can get your hands on one and the VIP treatment you can expect once you do.

An application algorithm

American Express remains absolutely silent on the requirements for a Centurion Card invitation. However, card members we spoke with believe the issuer uses a secret algorithm more closely guarded than the Coca-Cola recipe to winnow potential candidates. There is also likely a team of advisers who conduct background checks and handpick each invitee.

Based on various sources, it appears that to be considered, you must be an existing American Express cardholder who regularly spends upward of $350,000 per year on your current AmEx cards, or around $500,000 if you want the business version of the card (yes, there’s a business version, too). It takes more than simply hitting the raw numbers, though. According to a cardholder we spoke with who requested anonymity, AmEx also analyzes candidates’ spending and prioritizes those whose purchases tend to be in specific categories like luxury goods, dining, events, and travel. It is also thought to help your chances if a current Centurion Card member personally recommends you.

According to one Business Centurion Card holder who was willing to speak on the record, founder and CEO of The Points Guy, Brian Kelly, you might have luck just calling up and asking for the chance to apply. According to Kelly, his business was regularly spending upwards of $1 million per year on the company’s AmEx Business Platinum Card account. Noting that activity, he phoned American Express to ask about opening a Business Centurion account, and received an invitation two months later.

If you are accepted, expect to pay. A lot. New cardholders are subject to a one-time $10,000 initiation fee plus an annual fee of $5,000 just for the privilege of keeping the card in their wallet. Additional cards for authorized users are $5,000 each, and you can only add up to two of them per account.

Welcome to the elite ranks

That price tag might be worth it, though, considering just how many exclusive perks carrying the Centurion Card confers. Among the most outstanding: Members receive automatic Delta Platinum Medallion elite status, which normally requires flying 75,000 miles and spending $9,000 with the airline each year, plus mid-level Marriott Bonvoy Gold and IHG Rewards Club Platinum status, and top-tier Hilton Honors Diamond status with perks like upgrades and free breakfast during stays.

Card members also receive a statement credit worth up to $100 toward a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee, plus complimentary Clear membership (normally $179 per year) to speed through airport security even faster. Worth another $4,500 per year is membership to PS at LAX, a private suite at the airport with luxurious departure and arrival amenities, though you still have to pay for individual visits. The Equinox Destination Access Membership grants entry to the brand’s 100+ locations and is worth another $3,600 per year. Like AmEx Platinum Card members, those with the Black Card can use Delta Sky Clubs and Priority Pass airport lounges when traveling. At AmEx’s own Centurion Lounges, they will find reserved tables set aside just for them and receive a complimentary glass of Veuve Clicquot (or a choice of other premium spirits).

When traveling in business or first class through over 30 designated airports around the world, they can take advantage of Centurion International Arrival Services including a personal escort to whisk them off the plane and through customs and immigration. Centurion members also receive special benefits like upgrades and on-property credits when booking stays through the Centurion Hotel Program at partner brands including Aman, Belmond, Mandarin Oriental, Oetker Collection, Peninsula Hotels, Rosewood, St. Regis, and Waldorf Astoria.

Through the Centurion Dining Program, cardholders can reserve hard-to-book tables at more than a thousand American Express restaurant partners around the world, including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Mirazur in Menton, France. They are also entitled to private tours and tastings in Napa and can participate in special wine-collecting sales and advisory sessions.

Interestingly, the Centurion Card only accrues one American Express Membership Rewards point per dollar on most purchases, which actually trails many other AmEx products including the AmEx Gold Card and AmEx Green Card in terms of earning potential. The business version does earn bonuses for big-ticket items. But that’s not really the point, says Brian Kelly. If you carry the card, chances are you’re not stockpiling points to book cheap award tickets anyway.

This one perk alone is worth it

According to Kelly, the most exceptional benefit included with his Business Centurion Card is being able to enlist the services of his dedicated Centurion Concierge, Ray. Kelly says Ray has done everything from arranging private tours for his family in various cities across the globe to nabbing sold-out front-row tickets to a Celine Dion concert and scoring him last-minute invitations to exclusive AmEx cardholder events with luminaries like chef Massimo Bottura of Osteria Francescana and tennis superstar Rafael Nadal.

Even more impressive, when Mount Agung erupted on Bali in November 2017, stranding Kelly, Ray got him off the island and to another international airport via van and ferry with the help of AmEx contacts in Singapore. Most recently, Ray was able to change some of Kelly’s travel plans during the quickly intensifying coronavirus travel restrictions within 20 minutes of being contacted. Compare that to the multiple hours many travelers (and even Platinum Card members calling AmEx Travel) had to wait on the phone with airlines.

Kelly says that having access to Ray and the rest of the Centurion Concierge team is the one perk that makes carrying the card year after year worthwhile. Of course, it probably doesn’t hurt that AmEx also sends card members exclusive gifts every so often. Recent items have included a Sofia Cashmere travel set, Bottega Veneta and Tom Ford card cases, and bottles of Dom Pérignon with Baccarat crystal flutes or Tiffany crystal ice buckets. All the better to toast the extravagant benefits the Centurion Card has to offer.

Conclusion

The Black Card is one of the most elite credit cards in modern history and though expensive, it’s luxury status allows you to do a majority of things that you would otherwise not be able to do without it. Their customer service is second to none in the industry and they go the extra mile in order to make sure disputes and matters related to credit charges , money back and return charges are corrected on your behalf.

Written by odanemorgan

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