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Centurion® Card from American Express: What You Need To Know

Centurion® Card from American Express
Centurion® Card from American Express

Centurion® Card from American Express: What You Need To Know

This invite-only card provides plenty of luxury benefits that can greatly benefit frequent travelers, including airport lounge access and free elite membership at hotels and airlines.
Editor's Rating: 3.5/5.0
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Editor's Rating

{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

3.5/5.0

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

The information related to the Centurion® Card from American Express has been collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

The Centurion® Card from American Express, sometimes called the Black Card, can be a worthwhile option if you are interested in luxury experiences rather than saving money. Unlike traditional credit cards, the Centurion Card isn't about saving you money on every purchase, and instead focuses on providing luxury benefits to frequent travelers. It does this through perks like granting complimentary elite-tier membership at various hotel chains and airlines. Whether that’s worth this card’s $2,500 annual fee is ultimately up to you to decide. Check out our breakdown of what the Centurion Black Card has to offer below.

Note: The Centurion® Card from American Express is sometimes known and referred to as the Black Card, due to its appearance. Do not confuse this with the Mastercard® Black Card™, which is a very different card as we explain below.

Review: Is The Centurion® Card from American Express Worth $10,000?

The Centurion® Card from American Express is a good option for those who highly value elite status with Delta, Starwood, Hilton and IHG, airport lounge access and other small perks that will make their everyday travel more enjoyable. The Centurion® Card from American Express caters to the very wealthy, and is therefore focused on delivering experiences, rather than pure dollar value. This card comes with all the premium amenities you'd normally get with The Platinum Card® from American Express, including access to American Express Centurion® lounges.

American Express Centurion® Lounge at Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Photo Credit: American Express

There is very little confirmed information about how to get the Centurion® Card from American Express, and the card in general. It’s consistently reported, however, that you need to make at least $250,000 in purchases and payoffs within a calendar year using a card like The Platinum Card® from American Express. Only then will you receive an invitation to the Centurion card.

Once you’re approved for the Black Card, the next big hurdle that may prevent most people from applying is the exuberant fees. To apply, you need to pay a $7,500 initiation fee, and a recurring $2,500 annual fee. This is orders of magnitude greater than what you pay for other credit cards.

Bottom Line: The Centurion® Card from American Express won’t be an option for most people. This invite-only credit card is reportedly only offered to those who charge over $250,000 to their card each year. However, it's by no means a bad card. In the hands of select individuals, the Centurion® Card from American Express can save thousands of dollars on business and first class flights. If you were offered this card, we suggest you weigh all its benefits and features against the $2,500 annual fee.

Centurion® Card from American Express Benefits & Features

As we explained in the review above, the primary function of the Centurion® Card from American Express is to provide luxury travel benefits. On rewards side of things, the card grants just 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar on all purchases. When you redeem your points for travel statement credit, you also get a 30% bonus. Given that we value each point at about $0.01, that puts the card’s ultimate rewards rate at anywhere between somewhere between 1% and 1.3%.

Centurion® Card from American Express

  • Complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold & Hilton Honors Diamond Status
  • IHG Priority Club Rewards Platinum Elite
  • Centurion Hotel Program which includes various benefits at Aman, Belmond, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula and St. Regis Hotels
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion
  • Centurion International Arrival Services
  • Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi
  • Boingo Wi-Fi
  • 30% Membership Rewards Bonus when you use points for airline statement credit
  • Centurion Airport Lounge Access
  • Priority Pass Select
  • Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit
  • Complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold & Hilton Honors Diamond Status
  • IHG Priority Club Rewards Platinum Elite
  • Centurion Hotel Program which includes various benefits at Aman, Belmond, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula and St. Regis Hotels
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion
  • Centurion International Arrival Services
  • Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi
  • Boingo Wi-Fi
  • 30% Membership Rewards Bonus when you use points for airline statement credit
  • Centurion Airport Lounge Access
  • Priority Pass Select
  • Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit
Annual Fee
$2500
Regular APR
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Excellent
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The Centurion® Card from American Express has one of the highest annual fees we’ve seen on any card to date. You pay a $7,500 initiation fee for accepting the invitation, and a $2,500 annual fee each year. It has no APR, since it's a charge card. That means you are required to pay off everything you put on the card every single month. You can't carry a balance like you would with a credit card.

As you can see in the box above, the Amex Black Card comes with a lot of other luxury features. Instead of going through all of them, we decided to focus on the ones you can't get through The Platinum Card® from American Express, or other credit cards. For example, the Centurion® Card from American Express comes with IHG Platinum Elite Status. However, you can also get that perk through the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card -- a card that comes with just a $49 annual fee (waived year one).

Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion

Centurion® Card from American Express cardholders automatically qualify for Delta SkyMiles Platinum status upon approval. Those with Delta Platinum Medallion status get things like unlimited Comfort+ upgrades and more miles from Delta ticket purchases. One of the best parts about Delta SkyMiles Platinum Status is the fact that you can cancel an award ticket at least 72 hours prior to a flight at no fee. Lower membership classes must pay $150 per ticket. This benefit is invaluable to people whose schedules frequently shift and who don’t want to worry about scheduling an award flight well ahead of time.

Hilton Honors Diamond

Diamond status is Hilton’s highest membership level, and Centurion® Card from American Express users get it with their card membership. Normally, you’d need to book 30 stays or accumulate 120,000 Hilton Honors points to qualify. With Diamond status, you get a 50% bonus on any Hilton Honors Base Points you earn. Furthermore, every 5th night with the hotel will be free when you book reward stays of five nights or more. Other Diamond benefits include:

  • Late check-out
  • Executive floor lounge access
  • 2nd guest stays free, on bookings that would normally charge for double occupancy
  • Exclusive discounts and refundable rates

Centurion Hotel Program

Another exclusive perk for Centurion® Card from American Express cardholders is the Centurion Hotel Program, which offers exclusive benefits when staying with select luxury hotel brands. Currently, users get special perks at Aman Resorts, Belmond, Mandarin Oriental Hotels, the Oetker Collection, The Peninsula Hotels, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, and the St. Regis.

The exact benefits you’ll get will differ from hotel-to-hotel, and even day-to-day. For example, whenever available, you may get early check-in options or free room upgrades upon arrival. Some hotels may also throw in a $100/$200 credit towards things like food and beverages, or spas.

These perks are very similar to those you get through Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) that come with The Platinum Card® from American Express. The major difference is that the Centurion Hotel Program includes hotels and resorts not available through FHR.

Centurion International Airline Program

Last but not least, if you have a Centurion® Card from American Express you can get companion tickets and upgrades on certain international flights. On qualifying international flights where you book a business or first class seat, you may be granted one free companion pass for someone traveling with you. Additionally, on certain flights where you booked a business-class seat, you can receive a free upgrade to first class.

Note that we were unable to receive any confirmation on what kinds of flights will be eligible, so this benefit may be sporadic. However, if you are someone who frequently flies internationally, you are more likely to take advantage of a perk like this. Also, even if you manage to use this once per year, this can be potentially worth thousands of dollars.

How Does The Centurion® Card from American Express Compare To Other Luxury Cards?

While few people will ever have the choice between the Centurion® Card from American Express and other cards, it’s still worth looking at how it differs from other offers.

Centurion® Card from American Express vs The Platinum Card® from American Express

Outside of the benefits we outlined above, The Platinum Card® from American Express is very similar to the Centurion® Card from American Express. There are two major points of differentiation: the former is significantly easier to get and has a much lower annual fee. In our opinion, there is very little reason to prefer the Centurion® Card from American Express over The Platinum Card® from American Express. Ask yourself: are the extra benefits you get with the Black Card worth paying $1,950 more each year?

In our view, The Platinum Card® from American Express is much more cost-efficient when looking at the benefits you get out of it compared to the annual fee paid.

The Platinum Card® from American Express Highlights

  • $550 annual fee (See Rates & Fees)
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts Benefits
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber Credit
  • $200 annual airline fee credit

For rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

Centurion® Card from American Express vs Mastercard® Black Card™

The Mastercard® Black Card™ is often confused with the Centurion® Card from American Express due to its name, though it’s much more similar to The Platinum Card® from American Express. This card, issued by Barclays, doesn’t offer quite the same value as those other two. For example, the Black card gives just a $100 annual airline credit, as opposed to the $200 you get with the Centurion® Card from American Express. This card will also give you access to fewer airport lounges. Therefore, anybody with excellent credit should likely pass over this card in lieu of other options.

Mastercard® Black Card™ Highlights

  • $495 annual fee
  • Priority pass lounge access
  • $100 annual airline credit

Centurion® Card from American Express vs Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® is one of the newest premium credit cards to hit the market and one of the best. From a rewards standpoint, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® blows the Centurion® Card from American Express out of the water. You will save more money from day-to-day spending with the Chase card.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also tries to deliver luxury experiences, though it doesn’t match the scale of those you get through the Centurion® Card from American Express. The Chase card provides you with things like access to airport lounges, benefits at participating luxury hotels and a Visa Infinite concierge. There are no elite hotel or airline memberships that come with the package. If you care about those types of benefits you’d have to go for either the Centurion® Card from American Express or The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Highlights

  • $450 annual fee
  • Rewards rate between 1.5% and 4.5% (3 points on travel after you earn the $300 travel credit)
  • $300 annual travel credit

Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).