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Now known as the Centurion® Card, the American Express "black card" is considered one of the most exclusive cards on the market today. This prestigious card offers a plethora of perks for those who qualify, not least of which is the privilege to carry it in your wallet. Let's dive deeper into what you need to qualify for the elusive Centurion® Card and how you may benefit from having one.
How Do You Qualify for a Black Card?
Unlike other credit cards, you can only get a black card if you receive an invitation from American Express. Although Amex doesn't publish requirements for the card—or its perks, for that matter—it typically extends black card invitations only to high earners who have spent and paid off between $350,000 and $500,000 across all of their American Express accounts in a calendar year.
Saying yes to that invitation means paying a $7,500 initiation cost and annual fees of $2,500 per card (cardholders can have two cards per account). So qualifying is only one consideration when looking at the black card.
What Credit Score Is Needed for a Black Card?
In addition to being a high earner and meeting large spending requirements, you'll need top credit scores to get a black card. A credit score between 800 and 850 is considered exceptional. If your score falls in the 700s or even high 600s, you may still be considered for a black card if your overall wealth and card spending catch American Express' eye.
What Are the Benefits of Having a Black Card?
There are a number of benefits you can enjoy as a Centurion® Card holder, including:
- Hotel elite status: If you have a black card, you get hotel elite status with four major hotel loyalty programs, including those from Starwood, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Relais & Chateau. Hotel elite status can land you perks like competitive rates, free WiFi, room upgrades, late checkouts, complimentary breakfast, resort and spa credits, and complimentary stays, food and beverages.
- Car rental elite status: By renting a car with your black card, you can get elite status with car rental companies such as Avis and Hertz and enjoy expedited service that allows you to skip the counter and go straight to your car, earn rewards and redeem them for rentals and upgrades, and receive exclusive monthly email offers. Free roadside assistance and primary rental insurance are available as well.
- Access to airport lounges: Having a black card comes with access to more than 900 airport lounges around the world. You and your entire party can enjoy them while you're traveling at no extra charge.
- 24/7 concierge service: As a black card holder, you can take advantage of the Centurion's concierge service to help you make travel arrangements, purchase gifts, secure reservations at exclusive restaurants, get tickets to nearly any event, help you manage your account, and more.
- Shopping perks: A black card can give you access to a personal shopper, invitations to exclusive events at popular retailers, and even after-hours access at select stores.
- International arrival service: If you travel internationally often, a black card can be very beneficial. When you fly business or first class with American Express Travel, you'll be assigned a guide who will help you expedite the immigration and customs process when you fly into one of 32 international airports.
- No spending limit: Because the Centurion® Card has no preset spending limits, you can use it to buy big ticket items that you may not be able to purchase with other credit cards. Since a black card is a charge card rather than a credit card, charges must be paid in full each month.
American Express Black Card Alternatives
If you don't get an invite to the American Express Centurion® Card or decide it's not right for you, consider these credit card alternatives.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card: With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, you can earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points for spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. You can redeem these points for $750 in travel purchases.
- Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Black Card™: The Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Black Card™ offers airline credit, free access to airport lounges, and a number of other travel perks. Unlike the American Express black card, you don't need an invitation to get the Luxury Card™ Mastercard® Black Card™.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: You don't have to be as much of a big spender to apply for the The Platinum Card® from American Express. It's similar to the black card, as it offers complimentary access to airport lounges, concierge services and hotel elite status.
While the black card has a lot to offer, it's not an option for everyone. If you do happen to get an invite for one, do your research and consider alternatives to make sure you're making the right choice for your lifestyle needs and preferences.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.