Back in the 1980's, in the era when Gordon Gekko famously proclaimed in the movie“Wall Street” that greed is good, rumors abound that there was a credit card issuedby American Express that was capable of purchasing anything anywhere. Urbanlegend had it that the card was extremely exclusive and was all black. It was amagic card with absolutely no credit limit.
In 1999, the company decided that real life should imitate fiction. They took in theelements of the story and made a credit card that reflected all these – from the colorto the exclusivity. It was called the Centurion Card, but it is more popularly known asthe Black Card.
4 The Top of the Who’s Who
Not everyone can get the Black Card. As a matter of fact, the card is issued out byinvitation only. You should not only be affluent, but rather, you should have extremewealth. You should not just be a member of the who’s who, but instead, you shouldbe on top of the already exclusive list.
Just as a guide, Black Card members have an average of around $16.3 million inassets and a household income of $1.3 million. Even if you meet those figures, itwill still not guarantee you an invitation. Your credit rating and spending habits willalso be scrutinized to check if you are eligible for the card.
The card is available to clients from anywhere in the world except those in theAfrican continent. It is available in 24 countries worldwide, specifically in thefollowing: North America (United States, Canada, Mexico), South America (Brazil,Argentina), Europe (United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark,Sweden, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Russia), Asia (Japan, Hong Kong,Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Taiwan, Lebanon) and Australia.
3 Black is Beautiful
After meeting the eligibility requirements, American Express may send you aninvitation to own a card. Unlike other credit cards that offer incentives like freemembership and waivable annual fees just to get your signature, the Black Cardwill charge you with quite hefty dues. In some countries, American Express evencharges an initiation fee for those who want to have the card. In the United States,the fee amounts to $7,500. There is also an annual fee of $2,500. The amountdiffers depending on the country, with some charging an initiation fee while othersdo not. Some of the countries that also have joining fees include the United Kingdomat £2,500, Canada at C$5,000, Germany and Austria at €2,000, and Australia atA$5,000.
The card is black and made of anodized titanium. Your information and numbers are then imprinted in carbon fiber. There are some markets, however, that still make use of the old plastic version of the card.
2 Centurion Benefits
The card offers numerous benefits to users. It is actually more like a clubmembership rather than just a mere credit card. Benefits include the following:
• Dedicated concierge• Dedicated travel agent• Complimentary companion tickets after purchase of full ticket on selectedairlines• Personal shopping services at Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Escada, Neiman Marcus,Saks Fifth Avenue and other top class retailers• Access to airport clubs and VIP lounges• Flight upgrades to first class• Membership to Sony’s personal shopping program• One night complimentary stay for every paid night in any Mandarin Orientalhotel other than the one in New York• Special privileges at the Ritz Carlton• Special privileges at Amanresorts• Access to the Gulfstream Aerospace Private Flyers Club• Access to the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club gold• Access to US Airways Platinum Preferred• Access to Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion status• Access to American Airlines Admirals Club• Free enrollment to Hertz Rent-a-Car No. 1 Club Gold• Complimentary enrollment to Avis Rent-a-Car President’s Club
Note, however, that the benefits provided might vary depending on the countrywhere your Black Card was issued.
The Black Card also used to provide its users benefits to Continental Airlines,Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum and Hyatt Diamond Elite. These, however, havebeen discontinued.
1 Keeping in Touch with the Centurion Black Card
Users of American Express Centurion Black Card are regularly sent variouspublications in both magazine and online forms. Among the publications are thefollowing:
• Departures – This is a magazine that the company has been sending out to all its members since 1999.
• Black Ink – This magazine actually started out without a name. it was received in the mail by holders of cards issued in the United States starting in2004. In 2007, American Express decided to name it the Black Ink. It was firstseen in the publication’s Spring Edition for that year. The magazine, however,is only available to individual cardholders. Clients who got the card as a resultof their business were not provided the magazine.
• Centurion – This magazine is available to those with cards issued in Europe,Asia and Australia. It was first issued in 2001 It is sent out on a quarterly basis and is published by the Journal International GmbH based in Munich in Germany. It has a circulation of 64,000, with 44,100 coming from Europe and the Middle East, 13,900 in Asia and 6,000 in Australia.
• Centurion Online – This is the online edition of the magazine. The site was launched in June 2011 and provides daily updates to all Centurion Black Card holders. Studies have shown that most of the visitors are from Europe and the Middle East. Further demographic analysis reveal that the site visitors are predominantly male pushing 50 years old and with an average ownership of more than three properties. Average household income is at €653,000, average total net worth is €4.5 million and average disposable monthly income is €8,800. Take note that these numbers do not reflect the actual net worth of card users as they were taken as a result of an online survey.