You Can Request To Be Considered For An Amex Centurion (Black) Card Online

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The American Express Centurion Card, colloquially known as the Black Card, has a certain legendary status although I have tended to believe the personal card isn’t worth the high cost. There’s a $7500 initiation fee and a $2500 annual fee, so you pay $10,000 in your first year for the privilege. The small business Centurion Card, at least, is likely to be a business expense that may be deductible.

Historically it’s taken around $250,000 – $350,000 in spend in a year across American Express products to be able to request an invitation by phone to the Centurion card ($500,000+ to request a Business Centurion card).

However American Express updated the Centurion web page and current American Express cardmembers can request to be invited online. (HT: One Mile at a Time)

The card’s annual fee went up to $5000 per year in April 2020 and the card lost its $200 annual airline fee credit. So they’re going to need strong benefits to compensate.

Most of the benefits of the Black Card are really similar to those of the Platinum Card® from American Express.

For instance, the Platinum card comes with:

  • Airport lounge access: American Express Centurion lounges, Delta lounges (when flying Delta same day), Priority Pass (registration required), Plaza Premium lounges, Escape lounges, Airspace lounges
  • Elite status: Hilton Gold, Marriott Gold, National Car Rental Executive, registration required
  • Hotel and concierge: American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts privileges on stays at participating hotels booked at the Fine Hotels and Resorts rate, plus concierge service.
  • Discounted premium cabin interational airfare: Savings on some itineraries and carriers can be hundreds of dollars
  • $200 airline fee credit which has become more restrictive in the last year, opt-in required
  • TSA or Global Entry statement credit

The Centurion card gets you all of this plus:

american express centurion lounge hong kong sit down dining
Centurion Cardmember Dining Room, American Express Centurion Lounge Hong Kong

Now with the Black Card you’re really paying for prestige and exclusivity. It was cool when Kanye West dropped references to it in 2004. But that was… 2004.

I went to the malls and I balled too hard/ ‘Oh my god is that a black card?’/ I turned around and replied, ‘Why, yes/ But I prefer the term African-American Express’

American Express has added several new Centurion Card benefits.

  • Complimentary CLEAR membership both for the cardmember and for family members
  • $1,000 Saks credit per year, so 10x the Platinum card benefit
  • Equinox Destination Access Membership
  • The Private Suite at LAX membership (cardmembers still pay per visit)

Of these I really only see value in the Saks credit, though I wonder whether it’ll replace surprise and delight gifts and gift cards from other merchants.

CLEAR usually isn’t necessary when you have PreCheck but at some airports during peak times the ability to cut to the front of the PreCheck line can be useful. I have to imagine that the sudden American Express-CLEAR partnership is a result of the Delta contract extension since Delta owns a piece of CLEAR.

The Private Suite celebrity terminal at LAX terminal offers discrete security and tarmac transfers. The Private Suite benefit sounds prestigious but doesn’t really add much, and is probably more American Express getting paid to market the terminal to cardholders. Members receive lower per visit pricing than non-members, and can pre-order meals, have their car cleaned while they’re gone, and receive complimentary spa services. However it’s cheaper to access via United Airlines or the American Airlines partnership.

It’s the unpublished benefits of the card though that can make a difference. The Centurion Card was said to have saved a man’s life when it stopped a bullet.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Keeping fingers crossed that this means discounted (or credited) CLEAR is coming to Plat and/or Gold card too.

  2. They are doubling the annual fee to $5k and dropping the $200 airline credit and boingo-Gogo benefits. 🙁

  3. I’m still waiting for my Sperbank 24kt gold Visa infinite for $100000 . I wonder it I could keep reporting it lost and get free replacements.

  4. Clear is a pointless intrusive of your privacy.

    I will never understand why somebody willingly give up biometric info to a private company, paying money for it, all for a time saver of 1min, in 1% of the airport security check.

  5. Isn’t Equinox Destination membership worth $3,000 a year by itself? That seems like a very valuable addition if you live or work close to an Equinox club and would otherwise buy your own membership.

  6. @Chris: You can’t board a lot of international flights without facial recognition.
    Besides, it’s not just these companies that have all your data, it’s all the black hats that have hacked those companies that have it too.

    You could of course , live off the grid and use cryptocurrency to have food and water delivered to you by drones operated by smart contracts.
    Wow, I just found something more boring than a week in The Maldives!

  7. I had Clear and gave it up. It is just too annoying that instead of actually having a Clear line, they vet you and then escort you to the front of the line and have you cut in ahead of the other TSA Precheck passengers. If you enjoy butting in line and bearing the wrath of those poor souls who are now being pushed back so you can take their place, then Clear is for you. If there was a Clear line and you didn’t have to jump the queue, then I could see the value but for me, I felt to much like I was behaving in a DYKWIA manner.

  8. If you already have an equinox membership, the card could actually make a lot of sense.

  9. I just cancelled my Platinum Card that I’ve had for 26 years. Not going to be traveling much anytime soon, and the travel benefits have been severely limited in any case. Was surprised that they offered me just a small token retention offer to keep the card, and made it so easy for me to cancel it.

    I was going to open a Green card to snag a 45K MR offer, but then thought 1) Will I even be spending the small minimum in the next few months while sheltered at home; and 2) what am I going to do with another 45K MRs anyway, given that I have no way to burn those I already have? I stopped filling out my Green application halfway through and instead opened up a free Blue card.

    I predict a disaster for Amex’s high margin products as people come to the same conclusion I did that these benefits are no longer worth what they were just a month ago. They’re clearly hoping that people won’t pay attention and just renew cards without thinking it through, but I suspect they’re wrong. The Centurion changes seem particularly ill-timed.

  10. I submitted it. My spend is low 6 figures on Amex a year. But that’s cause I have to spend $75k on Ritz, $30k+ on Chase, $30k+ on Barclays Aviator Business, and a lot of Citi Double Cash. The equinox membership offsets a good amount even though in Texas, equinox is way cheaper than NY.

  11. In before the “waste of money posts” flood the comments. The majority of people who have this card aren’t using calculators to determine if they are getting ROI.

    The annual fee for most holders is a rounding error to them.

  12. I was one of the original Centurion members. I dropped it years ago, when renewal went from $1000 to $2500. At that time, it provided high status on both Delta and Virgin Atlantic, and I felt that that just wasn’t worth $2500. Now, useless status on Delta’s useless frequent flyer program alone makes it even less appealing. At this point, they’re not trying to sell the steak, they’re just trying to sell the sizzle.

  13. I really don’t get these cards. I have retired at an early(ish) age, and well off enough never to fly coach but can’t justify private travel (yet). And I hate the ‘exclusive’ lounges because they are certainly not exclusive and have long lines, AND you still have to pay to get anything decent!! Just give me the Piano bar at O’Hare, or the Prime in Philly, or the Farm Table at MSP, among dozens of other spots in dozens of other airports. Yes, it’s $40-$50 a visit, but since I travel about 15 times a year, that’s $750, not $5,000.

    All the other benefits you just use the universal card… CASH. 🙂

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