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Published July 15, 2022

Black Credit Cards in Canada: What They Are, How to Get One

Black credit cards are exclusive and may be available on an invitation-only basis. Black credit cards tend to have high fees and spending requirements.

Despite the name, not all black credit cards are black. What actually unites black credit cards is a unique combination of mystery and prestige.

The exact eligibility requirements and perks of black credit cards in Canada are tough to nail down — but not impossible. In general, these cards tend to be reserved for those with high net worth and lavish spending habits.

Is a black credit card right for you? It depends. But you’ll need to see if you qualify for one first.

What is a black credit card?

A black credit card is a deluxe credit card that offers exclusive perks and rewards to those that qualify. There’s no universal definition for what qualifies as a black card in Canada, but the attributes commonly associated with black credit cards include:

  • High credit limit.
  • High annual income requirement.
  • Annual spending requirement.
  • Premium rewards and perks.
  • Exclusive application process, including Invitation-only.

You’ll notice the colour black is curiously missing from that list — it’s not an accident. Not all black credit cards are black. But they are highly exclusive. In fact, some black credit cards are only available on an invitation-only basis.

Made popular by the American Express Centurion Credit Card, black credit cards are available from a variety of credit card issuers, including BMO, HSBC, RBC and more.

The American Express Centurion Card

The popularity of black credit cards can largely be attributed to the American Express Centurion Card. The Centurion is American Express’s most exclusive card, and is available by invitation only.

How to get an invitation is a closely guarded secret. The rumour is that you need to spend at least $500,000 per year on an American Express Platinum Card just to be considered. In addition, there’s supposedly a high one-time fee (rumoured to be in the thousands) and an annual fee that’s in the four-digit range.

What makes this Black Card so prestigious is its list of benefits, although it’s tough to confirm the specifics. Some of the perks you can apparently enjoy as a cardholder include:

  • 24/7 concierge service.
  • Premier status at various brands of hotels.
  • Premier status at multiple rental car agencies.
  • Exclusive hotel and shopping offers.
  • Unlimited airport lounge access.
  • Discounts and upgrades through the International Airline Program.
  • VIP airport arrival services at select airports.

The Black Card focuses on luxury experiences and benefits, which is what makes the program so exclusive. The earn rate is supposedly not the most impressive, but when you’re spending $500,000+ a year, earning points won’t be an issue.

Black credit card benefits

Generally speaking, black credit cards boast luxurious rewards and benefits that typically include:

  • Accelerated everyday spending and travel rewards programs.
  • No foreign currency conversion fees.
  • Unlimited airport lounge access.
  • Unlimited free WiFi.
  • Robust travel insurance coverage.
  • Premier status at various brands of hotels.
  • Exclusive dining offers.
  • Dedicated taxi and limousine services.

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How to get a black credit card

Some black cards are available on an invitation-only basis, like the American Express Centurion Credit Card. Others are available to those that participate in the respective card provider’s private banking services, like the HSBC Jade World Elite Mastercard, a metal credit card that is only available to HSBC Jade customers.

There are also black credit cards that are available to anyone who completes an application and fulfills the eligibility requirements, like the Visa Infinite Privilege cards offered by BMO, CIBC and TD.

Black card eligibility requirements

If you apply for a black credit card, expect to encounter some or all of the following requirements:

  • Canadian residency.
  • Age of majority in your province or territory.
  • Strong credit score.
  • Individual annual income of at least $80,000 or household income of at least $150,000.
  • Existing private banking or wealth management accounts with the card provider.

Are black credit cards worth it?

Black credit cards tend to impose strict eligibility criteria and high annual fees in exchange for top-shelf rewards, concierge service, travel discounts, big welcome bonuses and robust insurance coverage. Is the cost of entry worthwhile? It depends on your lifestyle and spending habits.

What makes a credit card worthwhile is its overall value. If you can squeeze more from the card than you pay to have it, then a black credit card may be worthwhile.

Take a look at the annual fee a card charges and compare it to the potential rewards. Some rewards have time-sensitive spending requirements, so take that into consideration, too.

Black credit card alternatives

While the perks and exclusivity are attractive, black credit cards are far from the only premium credit card. There are plenty of options for those who don’t want (or can’t get) a black credit card, including:

  • Air Miles credit cards. The Air Miles program is one of Canada’s most popular — and for good reason. Flexible redemption options let you cash in your points for travel, merchandise, gift cards and more. Air Miles credit cards are available from multiple card providers.
  • Aeroplan credit cards. If you’re a frequent flier, an Aeroplan credit card could be for you. These cards earn Aeroplan points that can be redeemed for air travel across numerous airlines, including Air Canada, United, and Lufthansa, among others.
  • Travel credit cards. The best travel credit cards offer flexible, comprehensive travel benefits, like discounted flights, free checked bags, hotel rewards, no foreign transaction fees, concierge service, lounge access, insurance coverage and more.
  • No-fee credit cards. You don’t need to pay a hefty fee to access credit card benefits. There are a number of no-fee credit cards that come with many of the bells and whistles you find on a more expensive card — without the annual fee.
  • Rewards credit cards. If you want to rack up points on everyday spending, a general rewards card might be for you. These cards offer points and cash back each time you swipe your card on eligible purchases, like groceries, gas and more.

About the Authors

Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a personal finance and travel expert. His website moneywehave.com is one of Canada's most trusted sites when it comes to all things related to money and travel.

Shannon Terrell

Shannon Terrell is a lead writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet, where she writes about a variety of personal finance topics. Previously, she was a writer, editor and video host for financial comparison company, Finder. Shannon has appeared as a financial expert on CP24 and has been quoted in numerous publications, including Yahoo! Finance and Black Enterprise. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and English literature from the University of Toronto Mississauga. She’s also a published author whose work has been featured in academic journals from the University of Toronto. Shannon is based in Brampton, Ontario.

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