is the undisputed leader at creating exclusive "clubs" of
cardholders. However, the exclusivity and cost of these clubs
have evolved over the years.
Currently, the most exclusive and coveted credit card in the
world is the American Express Centurion card, more commonly known
simply as the "black card." While the card does offer some pretty
amazing perks, it may not be worth the price of admission. Many
of these benefits can be had with another American Express charge
card, and for a small fraction of the cost.
The black card and how to get one
The card is "by invitation only", and to even be considered
you'll need to have spent $250,000 on another Amex charge card
over the past year. Needless to say, this requires a very high
level of income. According to one report, Centurion cardholders
had an average annual household income of about $1.3 million and
had a net worth of about $16 million.
And once you qualify, the card is quite expensive. After
paying a $7,500 initiation fee, the card comes with a $2,500
which is more than five times the cost of any other Amex product.
Note that I said "per card", so if you want one for your spouse,
the annual fee jumps to $5,000. And, in order to maintain your
membership, you are expected to maintain that high level
($250,000 or more) of spending.
The Centurion card definitely has some nice perks. The card
allows you access to pretty much any airport lounge you want to
go to, including the
at the few airports that have them. You can also bring a
companion along on international flights with a paid refundable
Cardholders also get automatic platinum status on Delta and US
Airways, as well as a $200 statement credit to offset airline
expenses. They also get elite status with certain rental car
companies and hotel chains, as well as Amex's "Fine Hotels and
Resorts" program, which gives special perks at partner hotels
like room upgrades and free breakfast.
Finally, the 24/7 concierge service is perhaps the best
benefit of the card. Circles, the company that runs the service
for Amex is rumored to be able to arrange for any restaurant
table, airline seat, hotel room, or accommodate any over-the-top
request you may have.
But you can get most of them with the platinum card
Sure, all of these benefits sound nice, but the fact is that most
of them come with American Express'
, which is much easier to qualify for and costs a lot less.
You'll get the same airport lounge access (even to the
Centurion lounges) as well as the airline fee credit. You won't
get the automatic platinum status with some airlines, and while
this can be a very valuable perk, in reality people who travel
enough to make it worthwhile
have elite status with an airline.
Platinum cardholders also have their own concierge service,
and while it's apparently not quite the same thing as the
Centurion's concierge, all reviews I have seen indicate it's very
So why get the black card?
Sure, it's not actually made of titanium and won't instantly draw
attention as soon as you take it out like the Centurion card
does, but the Amex Platinum card seems to be a much better value
for the money.
The benefits are comparable, and the fees are much cheaper.
And, you won't be expected to spend more than a quarter million
dollars every year just to maintain your account.
If you crave the absolute best perks possible and the
attention that comes with having the most exclusive charge card
on the planet, get the Centurion. If all you want are great
perks, you may be surprised at how similar the benefits of the
Platinum card are.
Your credit card may soon be completely worthless
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Is The American Express Black Card Really Worth
originally appeared on Fool.com.
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