Remember in the not so recent past, American Express didn’t even acknowledge a Black Card? It was like Sasquatch – there were folks who claimed to have seen it, but there just was never a clear image that definitively proved its existence.
Well, that might still hold true for Sasquatch, but we can know there indeed exists an American Express Black Card, or better known as the American Express Centurion Card. And if you’re feeling a bit left out, don’t sweat it too much. This card is offered not by a solicitation in the mail, but rather, a more formal invitation from the credit card giant.
Still, despite its still somewhat-secretive existence, we did get the lowdown on what it is, what it offers and what’s up with all the Fort Knox level secrecy.
First thing you should know is the majority of Americans will never possess what’s needed to qualify for the Amex Black card and while we’re not entirely sure of what those qualifications are, we do know a few things – including a very college-like “initiation” fee of $5,000 and an annual fee of $2,500. See? Being left out puts you in the majority.
There’s also another interesting aspect. – the pre-spending requirement. The AMEX Centurion requires a recipient to already possess another American Express card for at least one year and he must spend $250,000 or more in a given year on that other American Express. Once you’ve achieved that, you’ve met the spending requirement. Earlier this year, we heard rumors that the number could be raised to half a million – and possibly even one million. We’ve not received any kind of confirmation on that, however. Needless to say, there’s a certain income bracket that could meet those tough requirements.
American Express describes its card as the “world’s rarest American Express”. The customer service is rare, too. While the credit card company has historically been good to its customers and has always ranked generally high with its satisfaction levels, word is the satisfaction associated with this card is on the level of British royalty. But that’s a good thing. It’s the American way. Work hard, play hard and spend hard.
Here are a few more of the details that aren’t easily found:
You’ll need excellent – as in perfect – credit. Literally – you need perfect credit. As we mentioned, the annual fee is $2,500 (up from $1,000 in 2000) and you’ll pay an upfront initiation fee of $5,000. You need to earn at least a quarter million annually. And what do you get for these high priced requirements? Around the clock personalized concierge, a travel agent that’s always on stand by – complete with exclusive access to hotels, cars and worldwide travel. You’ll also enjoy around the clock access to a personal shopper, guaranteed dinner reservations, complimentary airline tickets for any companions traveling with you and much more.
Keep in mind – American Express continues with its tradition of offering charge cards versus credit cards and this one’s no different. You don’t have to worry about interest rates, but you also have to pay your balance in full each month.
Wondering how many actually possess this gem? It’s estimated close to 100,000 people own the card – and that’s a global count – with around 40% of those folks right here in the United States.
There are other “experiences” – which is what they’re referred to instead of perks. Among them include exclusive invitations for Formula One car rentals, off-roading at the Land Rover facilities, access to Lamborghini, Lexus, BMW, Bentley and other higher end auto rentals and incredibly impressive offerings when you go to buy one of these works of art.
For those who appreciate the prestige of the American Express brand, there exists the AMEX Platinum card. This is an impressive alternative to the high qualification levels placed on its Black card and certainly offers its own perks. Frankly, the perks associated with the Platinum card are probably more useful than those on the higher end Centurion card.
Despite these little bits of information we’ve gleaned over the past several months, there’s still so much we small folk don’t know. We contacted the credit card company and while they were polite, there were also quite rehearsed in what they tell outsiders. The gentleman we spoke to, who declined to provide his name, said,
Well, we offer it, and those we offer it to know the many services and countless benefits owning the Centurion Card brings.
That about summed it up. Even our lighthearted efforts to “spill it” didn’t move him from his initial statement. We couldn’t even get him to confirm whether it’s an actual black card – although we know it is. At least we think it is.
- AMEX to Begin Issuing Secure Chip Cards – July 2, 2012
- In an Election Year, CARD Act Crucial – August 2, 2012
- FTC Warns of Prepaid Card Scams – May 23, 2013
- Europe to Blame for Weak U.S. Job Growth? – June 1, 2012
- FDIC Investigating Banks Offering Payday Loans – June 20, 2012
- Dimon Will Testify in Senate on Massive Loss – May 28, 2012
- What Are Parent PLUS Loans? – November 21, 2012