American Express Black Card - Centurion Card Benefits
What is an American Express Centurion Black Card?
The American Express Centurion Card, commonly known as the black card, is a special American Express charge card that has a spending limit of $250,000. It also has an annual fee of $2,500, but with that high fee comes some pretty nice benefits. Although seen as many as a symbol of rap moguls and irresponsible spending, the black card can actually make a lot of sense for regular people who just happen to handle very large budgets. I'll show you how you can get one, and the benefits you'll be able to take advantage of once you have one.
How do I get an American Express black card?
You can't just ask American Express for a black card, you have to be invited by them. Well, you can suggest it to them, but they aren't going to accept you until you do a few certain things. Most of my suggestions here are for business owners, because most personal credit card users aren't going to accrue the charges necessary to warrant an invitation to the black card club.
First off, you need to spend $250,000 in a year with your American Express platinum card, or with another American Express that you've got a high spending limit on. This might seem impossible if you've only got a $15,000 a month spending limit, but there is a way around this. You can send American Express a check for more than the credit charges due, and they'll credit your account with the extra money. In a sense, you are increasing your own spending limit. Send them $25,000 when only $10,000 is due, and the next month you'll be able to spend $30,000 instead of the $15,000 limit. If you're a business owner, the easiest way to spend money like this without just throwing it away is to have a payroll processing company charge your payroll through your American Express card.
Alright, now why do I want an American Express Black Card?
I know what you're thinking. Why should I go through all these hoops just so I can pay American Express $2,500 to have their credit card? Well, the benefits are huge, especially if you travel.
Here is a short list of some of the benefits you'll receive for having a black card:
- Free roadside assistance anywhere in the world. Sort of like AAA, except better
- Insurance protection for events canceled or missed due to an emergency
- Hotel upgrades at a long list of hotels around the world
- Free upgrades on many major airlines, including Delta, Continental, and US Airways (HUGE benefit if you travel multiple times a year)
- Gold status for US Airways Dividend Miles, Continental Onepass, and Delta Skymiles AUTOMATICALLY! You do not have to accrue the required miles, you're Gold status as soon as you have the black card
- Priority and/or private boarding on most airlines
- Access to the first class lounges offered at major airports
- Bonus air miles
- Extra insurance for baggage in addition to the airline's insurance
- Complimentary guest tickets on most U.S. airlines for multiple flights each year (!)
- Elite club status for Avis and Hertz car rentals
- Free single night stays at some Mandarin Oriental hotels
- Steep discounts on luxury cruises
- A complementary international cell phone. You'll only be charged for the minutes you use
- Centurion travel service. Essentially, a private travel agency just for card holders. $100 credit for each trip booked through the service, $500 credit for a cruise booked through the service
- Personal concierge service. You call them and tell them what you want, like tickets to the Super Bowl, and they'll find them so you can buy them at or near retail and not have to pay the huge mark-up that resellers charge. They can get tickets for almost any event, even if it's sold out.
- Membership reward points offered with fantastic rewards and bonus points for purchases at several luxury stores
- Extended warranty on items purchased with the Centurion card
- Access to many private golf clubs around the world
- Access to a free personal shopper
- Ability to get reservations at nearly impossible to book restaurants through the personal concierge service
- Private shopping after hours at select stores
- Quarterly magazine "Black Ink" only given to black card holders
- Random gifts to keep card holders happy
Is it worth it?
It all depends on how you use it. If you're a traveler, the type of person who travels for business and makes a trip at least once a month, this card is definitely worth it. The free upgrades and lounge access will have you traveling in style, never again having to squeeze in with the muggles in coach. Also, the hotel upgrades and discounts are huge. The personal concierge is something most people have never experienced, but it's basically like having a personal assistant available by phone at any time. On the other side of the country on business and you've just ruined your suit and need one quickly? Just call up your personal concierge and he'll find you the closest store with nice suits, and even schedule a personal fitting for you immediately. Regular people can't just do that without jumping through hoops. Businesses know the power of the black card, and they give special privileges to members when a concierge calls them on their behalf.