How Much Money Do Amex Platinum And Centurion Cardmembers Make?

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Six years ago I wrote about the data on American Express premium cardmembers that we could get based on what they were sharing with advertisers. Platinum and Centurion cardmembers received Departures magazine, and they shared demographic and income data on these subscribers to promote advertising.

The data at the time lagged about 18 months, but suggested around 5,000 to 7,500 new cardmembers per month on average and that the vast majority lived in the most populous states of California, New York, Florida and Texas – and just 745 in North Dakota.

The single biggest card market was New York City (261,484) dwarfing the second biggest market Los Angeles (115,864) and the third largest market Miami (53,710). (Houston was 7th, Dallas Fort-Worth 11th.) The average household income at the time combined for Platinum and Centurion cardholders was reported to be $741,170.

There’s now new data making the rounds. A year ago American Express halted print publication of Departures moving online only.

  • Platinum: average reported $474,000 income and $4.3 million net worth, 56 years old
  • Centurion: average reported $1.8 million income and $11.4 million net work, 57 years old

Data for the median cardmember (err, Departures subscriber) would be more interesting than the mean which may be skewed by billionaires and hundred millionaires. In general I’ve found Platinum cards – which are charge cards – surprisingly easy for readers to get approved for with good but not perfect credit and without such high incomes.

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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. Interesting but not particularly reliable or useful. Who could have guessed that Plat and Centurion card holders would generally be wealthy boomers?

  2. @Canphoenix – Got news for you, but 56 and 57 (born 1965-66) is now exactly on the border between Boomer and GenX. So half of the cardholders are GenX or younger. If you want to get finer about it, late Boomers aren’t really Boomers, they’re what’s called Generation Jones (1954-65) Barack Obama (born 1961) is the typical Generation Joneser. He’s got a lot more in common with GenX than Hillary Clinton.

  3. I was approved for the platinum card in 2017 (100,000 points bonus!), aged 29 with an annual income of ~$90,000 and a credit score of ~740!

  4. @GUWonder: Yup. All it takes is Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and/or a handful of Hedge Fund owners having a card and the average will be multiples of the median.

  5. Over at OMAAT, dozens of (heated) commenters are arguing about statistics. No one looked for reality-check data. And, certainly, none of them considered Chebyshev’s Theorem. Good Heavens.

    Here are a couple of reference points:
    – The top 1 percent of net worth in the U.S. *starts* at about $4.5 million.
    – The top 1 percent of household incomes in the U.S. *starts* at about $500 thousand.

    Now, couple this with the location statistics that Gary highlighted and the notion doesn’t seem so odd. Yes, there can be statistical biases in the sample population. But, as Gary suggests, advertisers won’t tolerate bogus data.

  6. @Reno Joe. That value and income in the Bay Area is quite a ways off from 1 percent.

  7. Nick, agreed. That’s why I referenced Gary’s location statistics. Card holders are concentrated in NY, LA, and other areas with significantly higher than average (or median) wealth and income. If one said that Amex targets the top 1 percent of wealth / income, fine. But, given the card holder location skew, it makes the numbers more believable. If one focuses not on the Bay Area but SF, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties, more so. There’s a lot of data on the web to support this.

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