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American Express is notoriously secretive about the details of the Centurion Black Card. For many years, the company didn't acknowledge the existence of the Black Card. And there's some evidence that the card became a part of pop culture lore before becoming an actual product.
But today, the Centurion Card very much exists as a product for a select group of high net worth individuals willing to shell out a generous sum of money to carry perhaps the most exclusive credit card out there.
Here are 10 things we know about the AmEx Centurion Card.
1. The Centurion Black Card is invitation-only
You don't get the Centurion Card by applying for it.
If you want to join the exclusive club of cardholders who carry the Centurion Black Card, you must get an invitation from AmEx. And a Centurion Card invitation isn't something AmEx hands out lightly. While AmEx services over 100 million cardholders, there are estimates that AmEx only has 100,000 Centurion cardholders worldwide.
2. It will cost you $10,000 to get one
The Centurion Card carries a hefty initiation fee. Reports vary, but the most recent information is that AmEx charges $10,000 to become a Centurion member.
You might think paying a five-figure fee would be enough to grant you a lifetime of benefits, but not with the Centurion Card.
If you want to keep the card, you'll have to shell out $5,000 per year. And that annual fee is not waived in the first year.
» Learn more: Is it worth paying an annual fee for a credit card?
3. You can request a Centurion Card invite online
While the Centurion Black Card is invite-only, it is possible to request an invitation online. You must have an AmEx card to make the request. AmEx also clearly states that an invitation request does not mean you will receive an invitation.
You can request a Centurion invite on the American Express website.
4. You need to be a big spender to get a Centurion Black Card
It is widely accepted that you need to be a big spender for AmEx to give you a Centurion Card.
Reports on the internet range from requiring $250,000 to over a million dollars of annual spending. AmEx has not confirmed any specific spending requirements, and there's no known threshold at which Platinum cardmembers receive an invitation.
While the exact amount you need to spend on your cards is a matter of speculation, you probably need to spend at least six figures annually on an AmEx card to get a Centurion Card.
5. Centurion Cardmembers still get to bring guests into the Centurion lounge
In February 2023, AmEx removed free guest access from its lounge access benefit for The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders.
Centurion cardmembers didn't suffer this cut and still retain expanded access. Centurion cardmembers may bring in two guests or immediate family members. Eligible immediate family members include a spouse, a domestic partner and children under 18.
» Learn more: AmEx Membership Rewards — how to earn and use them
6. The Centurion Black Card offers an unbelievable level of concierge service
For the multimillionaires and billionaires who carry the AmEx Centurion Card, probably the most helpful benefit is the Centurion concierge.
The concierge service offered on The Platinum Card® from American Express is limited to helping with travel reservations, getting event tickets, making restaurant reservations and fulfilling shopping requests. The concierge service offered by the Centurion Card offers seemingly unlimited service.
Centurion cardholders report using the Centurion concierge for things you might expect. One cardholder says that his concierge makes travel bookings considering his seat preferences based on the airline cabin configuration. His concierge also contacts hotels to inform them of the cardmember's arrival time.
But Centurion concierges have also handled requests such as arranging elaborate tours, getting front-row tickets for in-demand concerts, locating personal items lost during travel and even arranging emergency evacuations.
For someone who might not have a full-time personal assistant, the Centurion concierge can offer an alternative.
» Learn more: How to add money-saving AmEx Offers to your card
7. AmEx offers Centurion cardmembers exclusive perks
Like many other things about the Centurion Black Card, the card's perks are shrouded in secrecy. AmEx doesn't provide much information about the card on its website and most reports about the card's perks are based on third-hand accounts and speculation.
However, we have confirmed a partial list of benefits offered to Centurion cardmembers. Here are some of these exclusive benefits:
An auto program that allows cardmembers to anonymously negotiate prices on luxury automobile purchases through a members-only website.
Global chef partnerships, which grant access to daily table reservations at fine dining restaurants around the world.
Exclusive seating in ticket blocks reserved for Centurion cardholders at many major events worldwide.
Various onboard credits, excursion credits and vouchers are available exclusively to Centurion cardmembers through Centurion Cruise Partners.
Private jet arrangements can be made for Centurion cardholders through the AmEx Private Jet program.
8. Yes, you can buy a mansion or a private jet on a Centurion Card
Like many aspects of the Centurion Black Card, the card's purchasing power has been the subject of much speculation. The card offers no preset limit, but how far does that go? While there are no credible reports of someone buying a Gulfstream or even a Cessna Citation (private jet) with a Centurion Card, the card has been used for some substantial purchases.
In 2015, The New York Times reported that Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian purchased a Modigliani painting at Christie's auction house in New York. The price? $170.4 million. If you can put a $170 million painting on an AmEx card, why not a jet or a mansion?
9. You can get many of the Centurion Card's perks from The Platinum Card® from American Express
Many of the perks offered by the AmEx Centurion Card can be had with The Platinum Card® from American Express, a card that carries a much more affordable $695 annual fee compared to its counterpart. Here are some of the perks that the Centurion Card shares with The Platinum Card® from American Express:
AmEx Fine Hotels and Resorts and the Hotel Collection offer luxury experiences at over 2,000 properties worldwide.
The Global Lounge Collection grants access to 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries.
The AmEx International Airline Program offers preferred airfares with participating airlines.
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President's Circle and Avis President's Club as complimentary benefits.
Presale ticket access.
And just like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Centurion Card earns Membership Rewards, which can be transferred to any of AmEx's transfer partners.
» Learn more: The best AmEx transfer partners — and ones to avoid
10. You can get better rewards on many other cards
The AmEx Centurion Card isn't the card to get if you want to earn the maximum rewards on your spending. And even if it were, you'd have to chase a lot of category spending to compensate for the card's annual fee.
If you're looking for generous rewards on your spending, consider a card that earns 2% cash back on all purchases. Many of these cards have no annual fee.
Or, if you want travel rewards, consider a card from NerdWallet's list of best travel credit cards. Some of these cards can earn you as much as 10 points per dollar on travel spending.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card