When it comes to symbols of power and wealth, the Amex Black Card is second to none. It all began in the 80′s with rumors of a no-limit black credit card that would allow you to get a Concorde for yourself or purchase the horse Kevin Costner used in the Dances with the Wolves (1990). They said it was easier to acquire than George Clooney’s cell phone number.
It’s not impossible that the urban legends about American Express’s top-tier-card were bestowed upon the market by Amex’s own marketing team.
The real card, the Amex Centurion, incarnated the myths and hit the market in 1999 and to make it more exclusive they made it out of (and still does) anodized titanium.
Initially it was “invite only” and it was estimated that the top 1% of American Express’s clientele received an invite.
• Blemish-free credit history
• An annual spending of at least 250.000 dollars
• Accept an introduction fee of 5.000 dollars along with an annual fee of 2.500 dollars
• Have a “major” net worth.
The Benefits that comes with Amex Centurion has varied some over the two last decades:
Amongst the most famous benefits offered to Centurion Cardholders is the state of the art Concierge-service. They hold the keys to almost everything in the world. It is no problem getting a table at a fully booked restaurant, getting on the guest list for any hot nightclub, or front-row tickets for the Vienna New Year’s Opera.
A few years ago, my friend’s car broke down on the way to a ski resort and the Black Card concierge team had a tow truck and a rental car there within the hour.
Originally the Black card featured automatic first-class upgrade on any airline and sometimes holders even got a free complimentary ticket with one first class ticket purchase, however, the amount of airlines currently offering these services has dwindled noticeably.
You still, however, get access to all V.I.P.-lounges and platinum status with most car rental services. You also get one of the most extensive travel insurances around and priority at check-ins and security controls at airports.
Centurion Card Exclusivity:
Often as a Centurion cardholder you don’t even need the concierge service, just the mere sight of a black card unlocks a lot of closed doors.
As a cardholder you will receive invites to very special events around the world such as champagne tasting and dinners with Sir David Attenborough (of course at your own expense).
Over the years the Black Card has received some criticism, mainly the cost/benefits ratio being to degressive.
Since 2010 the Black Card has gone from invite-only to being a card you can apply for. This has led to a growing membership base – but also the loss of some exclusivity feel.
The hefty card can also bring troubles. A friend, different from the one above, were renting skis in the Alps of France when his black card got stuck in the card machine, it took the staff almost two hours to get it out.
In one of the more fashionable parts of Stockholm, supermarkets has put up notices saying that they’re not being able to handle black cards, stating that the cards have destroyed too many terminals.