Also known as the Centurion card, the American Express "black" card is so prestigious that you have to be invited to use it. Yes, you read that right — you can't just apply for it and expect to get approved. You have to receive a private invitation from American Express.
So, how do you get an invite for a black card? While the requirements aren't officially published, rumor has it that you have to be a high earner who has spent and paid off between $350,000 and $500,000 across all of your American Express accounts in a calendar year. And once you're approved for the card, there's a $7,500 initiation fee, and a $2,500 annual fee. It makes premium credit cards like the Amex Platinum ($550 annual fee) and the Amex Business Platinum ($595) look downright affordable.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
Benefits of the Amex black card
Aside from the status symbol that comes with simply carrying an Amex black card in your wallet, you can enjoy these perks by having one.
Hotel elite status
With a black card, you can lock in hotel elite status at four major hotel chains: Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Relais & Châteaux. Hotel elite status gets you sweet benefits like room upgrades, late checkouts, resort and spa credits, and free breakfast.
The Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum offer status with Hilton and Marriott, but not with IHG and Relais & Châteaux.
Delta elite status
According to The Points Guy, the black card also offers cardholders Platinum Medallion elite status with Delta. You can't get this benefit with any other credit card, and it offers you perks like complimentary upgrades and bonus miles.
Airport lounge access
There's nothing better than knowing you have access to a comfortable airport lounge while you're traveling, especially if you have a long layover. The Amex black card gets you free access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world, including Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when you're flying Delta, and Priority Pass airport lounges. You can sit back and relax on the comfortable chairs while indulging in some good food and drinks.
The airport lounge access you get as a Centurion cardholder is virtually identical to the lounge access you get with the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum.
24/7 concierge service
An Amex black card gets you your own personal concierge whenever you'd like one. You can count on the round-the-clock concierge service to help you make travel plans or reservations at exclusive restaurants. This service can also get you tickets to just about any event and/or purchase gifts on your behalf.
Once again, the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum also offer concierge services. However, Centurion cardmembers are definitely the top priority for Amex concierge, and they get the best access to restaurant reservations and more.
International arrival service
If you travel abroad often, you'll love the black card's international arrival service. As long as you fly business or first class via American Express Travel, you'll be assigned to your own personal guide who will make the immigration and customs process a breeze. This isn't a benefit you can replicate with any other Amex card.
No spending limit
There are no preset spending limits with the black card, so you can easily buy big-ticket items that you may not necessarily be able to pay for with other credit cards. Keep in mind, however, that since the black card is technically a"charge card," you must pay off your balances in full every month. (The Amex Platinum and Business Platinum are also charge cards.)
Other lifestyle perks
Beyond offering elite status with more travel partners, international arrival service, and the top tier of Amex concierge service, the black card stands out from the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum with its selection of wine-related benefits, such as consultations with a wine specialist and wine-buying offers.
Black cardholders also get several shopping perks, including special offers and VIP benefits with Net-a-Porter.
The Amex Platinum is more attainable, and offers many of the same perks
If you don't get an invite for the American Express black card, don't fret. As you can see, many of the benefits it offers are available on the Amex Platinum, which has a $550 fee. You'll get no preset spending limits, hotel elite status, complimentary access to airport lounges, and concierge services.
If you're a business user, the Amex Business Platinum is worth a look. It offers most of these benefits as well, and has a $595 annual fee.