The American Express card is one of the original credit cards along with Diners Club. (If you have heard of the Discover card, they own the Diners Club brand.) As one of the first credit cards it didn’t have a credit limit; it was based on your ability to pay. A late payment would seriously jeopardize your ability to use the card. Just having the card was a status symbol.
That was more than 40 years ago, and to continue its tradition of offering a unique symbol of financial and social status the company created the American Express Black Card. The exclusive card also known as the Centurion card, is not your father’s green American Express card. In fact, you can’t apply for the Centurion. If you qualify, they will let you know. Exclusive may not be the best word to describe having a Centurion card.
Here are 10 things you never knew about this mysterious and rare credit card.
1. It has a $10,000 upfront fee.
That fee includes a $7500 initiation fee and the low $2500 annual fee. If you’re thinking this is more of an exclusive club than just another credit card, you are correct.
2. Invitation equals approval.
We already know that you can’t apply for the card, but if you get an invitation for the card it means you’re already accepted. The reduces the waiting process to nearly zero days. You will have some of the expected administration stuff to do, and you’ll have to know where to send the $10,000 to get your hands on this power card.
3. All customer service is based in the United States.
It wouldn’t really be “American” if you ended up talking to someone in India or Indonesia. It may be wrong to call the Centurion card customer support as customer support. It’s more like having a personal assistant who is trained to address every one of your card-related needs.
4. Many of the perks are about travel.
You are not very likely to get invited if you use your current American Express card to shop for groceries and clothing at Walmart. It’s obvious you have to be making serious money to even be considered, but it is a card created for people who aren’t sitting around at home like Scrooge. To justify having a Centurion you need to be out and about regularly, either for business or pleasure.
5. You have to spend a minimum of $100k a year on the card.
Only card owners know how much their monthly payment is, but you can be sure it is more than what many people make in a year after taxes. If there is such a thing as a monthly payment on this card.
6. You can have authorized users on the card.
If you have a friend who has the Centurion, you might want to be really nice to them. But even then they are not likely to pay the $2500 annual fee in addition to their own $2500 annual fee just to let you use the card once or twice a year. It really defines who the card is for – people who spend a lot and often.
7. There are two versions of the card.
You can get a personal card, or if your company thinks you are worthy enough, there is a business version available. It is hard to imagine who at a company would be trusted enough to walk around with a Centurion card. Maybe they will let an employee use one temporarily, or maybe use the card number, but not much more.
8. There is a rewards program.
This actually seems crazy given that you have to be a millionaire to even be considered for the card. But this is a lesson in money management for those not being considered for the card. No matter how much money you have, it makes financial sense to get as much benefit from your spending habits as you can.
9. Having $1 million may not be enough to get an invitation.
Just because you won the lottery doesn’t mean you will be considered. You also have to have a high total net worth because as we know, many lottery winners have blown through their winnings in a few months. This means that the Centurion represents financial stability measured in millions of dollars.
10. It has huge benefits if you fly with Delta.
Many people first think of United or American Airlines (or Jet Blue) when choosing an airline for vacation or general travel. But American Express has a Delta Platinum Medallion status that comes with the card. It makes you think that there is something special about Delta – and maybe there is. The few reviews about the card say this is the greatest benefit that comes with it.
If you are thinking that there is a certain mystery about the American Express Black Card, you are right. The company likes to keep it that way to protect those who actually carry one. For example, how much cash can be withdrawn from an ATM is kept a secret. The card is definitely a curiosity, and for 99% of us it will always remain that way.