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American Express Centurion: The Black Card
Available Only To A Select Few
For those of you that are wondering, my name is not Cheung Chun Keung and that is not my hand holding that Amex Black Card...But I kind of wish that the card did belong to me and that my name is Cheung Chun Keung! Why? Because this card can buy a person's SOUL if you wanted it to. Just kidding. What would one do with a person's soul anyway, Satan?
And for those who are wondering what this card is, I'll explain it to you, as I have only had two encounters with it my entire life: It's the most exclusive card this side of the solar system. But more on that later. Some swear that this ridiculously elite card has no set spending limit. From what I've read, among some of the toys people buy with its purchasing power are Boeing Jets.
In the beginning of 2006, American Express replaced all plastic Centurion cards with anodized titanium cards, exacerbating the fact that their cards are truly unique in every which way. Back in the early 1980s, rumors circulated about a "black credit card" in our midst. So, in 1999, American Express decided to use this to their advantage and so created a Black Card of their own and so gave it only to a select few. Please take a look:
- Upfront cost for your first American Express Centurion card is $5,000
- As of 2007, the annual fee to keep the Black Card as of 2007 is between $2,500 to $5,000
- The annual fee for each additional card is $1,500
There are only two kinds of Amex Black Cards, by the way: Personal and Business. In either case, in terms of upholding your responsibilities as a member, you're required to spend AT LEAST $250,000 within a 12 month period. Those are the rules! Gosh, you could buy a Detroit suburb nowadays with that much lettuce Pam Grundy! One Amex Black Card member that i read about confessed that he had to pay $9,000 in upfront costs his first month, but then argued that it was worth it. When giving his additional card to his 16 year-old daughter (whom he made promise to not flash around so as to avoid theft) and to not "go crazy" with it, she then proceeds to buy a Mercedes for herself anyway, which made her proud papa mildly upset over the entire ordeal. "Ha! Kids!"
From what I researched and from what I know, in order to get this Plutocrat Charge Card, you need to be invited. to join: "Don't call us, we'll call you," seems to come to mind in this instance. The term, "Invitation Only" is the mantra here. Pictured below is what a "American Express Centurion Invitation" package looks like:
Please click to enlarge
From the Grapevine
One of my finds tells the story of a little rich kid that was researching a school project involving the Dead Sea. After a pleading to his parents, they dutifully made several phone calls which equated to his getting a couple of handfuls of sand from the Dead Sea via Black Card! The sand was shipped overnight and junior got his Dead Sea sand for his project. He got an "A" for his little project in case you're wondering.
In another story, one man was so interested in the pony that Kevin Costner rode on during the shooting of the movie "Dances With Wolves," that he made a few calls and so was able to obtain the same pony for his collection. Talk about your everyday movie buff.
American Express Centurion Amenities
Neil Patel, who was able to acquire a American Express Centurion Business card (in which was privileged to having and so did not have to pay neither the upfront costs, nor the annual fees) certainly enjoys his Black Card amenities. While living in a suburb when needing a tailored suit, he called up the Centurion concierge service to inquire about getting a suit as he desperately needed one for a business trip. Not only was the concierge able to get him a suit, she sent a tailor to his home and had the Gucci suit from Beverly Hills shipped to him. Here is just a short list of some of the other amenities an Amex Black Card entitles you:
- Personalized Service: Provides members with a personal concierge and a travel concierge to help you at any time. The personal concierge will aid you in shopping and fine dining while the travel concierge will book you a flight, a hotel room and a rental car. You can also extend your concierge service to your friends and relatives as well.
- Air Travel: While flying Delta, US Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Northwest, using your Amex Black card entitles you to elite status in which will bump you up to first class at no extra charge. Up to four times a year, you can bring a friend or family member with you at no extra charge and in addition, if you purchase round-trip airfare, you can bring back a companion on your return trip at no extra charge
- Lodging: Much like air travel, members will enjoy a host of privileges when using Amex' approved hotels, such as a free gift voucher to shop inside the hotel's shops upon arrival, free suite upgrades, free breakfast, free spa treatments, and a free lunch. Aside from the hundreds of domestic hotels Amex also provides privileges in over 550 international hotels and resorts, including the Ritz-Carlton, the Mandarin Oriental, Oriental Express Hotels, Aman Resorts, Peninsula Hotels and Centurion Villas.
- Cruises and Land Vacations: If ever you want to take a cruise on a yacht, Amex will happily help you by giving you a $500 credit towards your meals and in addition, on trips of 6-days or longer, they'll credit you another $500 towards your entire bill. Keep in mind too that your concierge will bargain hunt for the best available deals as well.
- Additional Travel Benefits: If your needs ever require a limo, your Amex concierge will make sure that you get one to ride around in and if you prefer to rent a vehicle, Hertz Club Gold and Avis President's Club offers you complimentary discounts and free service upgrades for you. Also, should you wreck your car, yacht, or jet, Amex will cover you up to $1.5 million in liability coverage.
- Retail Shopping: If you love to shop at Escada, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Gucci, you can request a personal assistant to help you to find everything to fulfill your heart's desire. And should you hate long lines, red tape, and hoards of other shoppers, you can request that Amex close down certain stores so you'll be able to peruse them at your leisure.
- Entertainment and Dining: If your looking to gain admission to special events, such as tickets to a Broadway musical or even the Super Bowl, Amex will certainly see to it that your desire be met because you are after all a privileged member through their concierge service. There are over 1,000 restaurants that cater to the stringent demands of Amex who will see to it that you get a table at their fine-dining establishment without the hassle of a reservation.
- Financial Solution Provider: On top of all of these benefits, Amex takes into consideration that their elite members spend a king's ransom running their multiple business and pay much in the form of taxes. If you decide to do a business transaction, they are available to assist you to make sure that everything goes smoothly.
- Branding: Through consistent use of your card and renown that is instantly attached to you, as your name is indeed emblazoned on the front of your anodized titanium card, you create a buzz in your own right by simply using your card to purchase esteemed goods and services. So without knowing so or trying to, you become the face of the American Express Centurion Card.
My Amex Black Card Story
Okay, I did mention that I actually had two instances in which I came across an Amex Black Card, but I'll only mention one of them--the more entertaining one. It happened several years ago when I was working for a rental car company straight out of college. I was wet behind my ears and cold in my feet. I didn't know what the hell I was doing when up at the counter and on a computer system which program could have easily been in Greek due it being so new and awkward to me. I remember that it was a Saturday and it was only myself and my manager in the entire office. Our college intern was out that day.
I was told through my manager that a man was coming in whose Lamborghini was being towed away simply because he found a "bubble" in the tire. Sure, it doesn't sound that serious, this bubble, but such issues, if not taken cared of pose as a serious problem, namely a blow out and a cataclysmic wipe-out sure to follow. Except my manager didn't say Lamborghini, as he referred to the Italian marvel as being a "Lambo," which costs more than some people's houses. I've never before even heard of someone owning a "Lambo" back then. When this man walked in (let's just call him Lambo), he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and canvas shorts and didn't look much like anything. He said hello to me and handed me his driver's license and credit card (I don't have to tell you which). Holy shit. I've never before seen this card in all my life. When I turned around and looked at my manager, he walked on over to see what was wrong. When he saw what I was looking at, he too was quieted. It was so quiet in our office that you could've heard a mouse fart.
"Is there something wrong?" Lambo asked. Both of us shook our heads and proceeded with conducting the transaction. My hand must have been shaking because I dropped the heavy card on the counter, which crashed like an iron skillet--clang! I think that I was sweating too. When I finished the transaction, I went to swipe the card which I didn't think for some stupid reason, wouldn't work. I was surprised when it did go through.
"Probably won't decline, huh?" I joked with Lambo. He gave me a shit-eating grin and winked at me.
"That card is a Black Hole, my friend," Lambo said.
He was right. He could have bought every single car in my lot and have enough to payback my student loans...Easily. When I asked him if he wanted to purchase additional protection for his rental car he laughed at me.
Life certainly was good.
Cheesy, but entertaining song...
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