Centurion Card


The Centurion Card, known informally as the ‘black card,’ is a charge card first issued by American Express in 1999. The card was initially only available to select users of the Platinum Card. Cardholders are required to pay an annual fee, and in some countries also an initiation fee. In addition to a variety of exclusive benefits, the card itself is made of anodized titanium (although the plastic version is still available in some markets).

American Express created the card line amid rumors and urban legends in the 1980s that it produced an ultra-exclusive black card for elite users who could purchase anything with it.

The ‘Centurion’ card is invitation-only after appropriate net worth, credit and spending criteria are met. American Express does not publicly disclose the requirements for getting a card. The card, available for personal and business use, offers services such as a dedicated concierge and travel agent, complimentary, companion airline tickets on international flights on selected airlines with the purchase of a full-fare ticket, personal shoppers at retailers such as Escada, Gucci and Neiman Marcus, access to airport clubs, first-class flight upgrades, membership in Sony’s personal shopping program, and dozens of other elite club memberships.

Hotel benefits include one free night when at least one paid night is booked during the same stay in every Mandarin Oriental hotel worldwide once a year (except for the New York City property), and privileges at hotel chains like Ritz-Carlton, Leading Hotels of the World, and Amanresorts. The card has recently added new amenities, including access into the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold, as well as US Airways Platinum Preferred status, in addition to Delta Platinum, and American Airlines Admiral’s Club. The card also features complimentary enrollment in Hertz Rent-A-Car #1 Club Gold and the Avis Rent-A-Car President’s club.

Since the inception of the card, members have received a copy of ‘Departures Magazine,’ which is also sent to all Platinum Card cardholders. However, in 2004, American Express ‘Centurion’ members began receiving an exclusive ‘no name’ magazine, which was not available by any other means. Starting with the 2007 edition, this magazine has been officially titled, ‘Black Ink.’

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