American Express Centurion Card Review 2021: Black Card with Plenty of Perks for a Luxury Life

GOBankingRates Score

4.5
Our Take: The American Express Centurion Card is unrivaled among all other credit card brands. If you're seeking an elite status, it doesn't get better than this. However, the card is so exclusive that the average person can't get one. Even if you wanted to, you can't apply for the card. American Express offers its Black Card by invitation only.
  • Benefits
    5.0
  • Rewards
    5.0
  • Ease of Applying
    4.0
  • Rates and Fees
    4.0
How did we calculate this?

Pros

  • Most exclusive credit card available
  • Elite travel planning and benefits
  • Concierge and shopping services worldwide

Cons

  • $10,000 initial fee to activate your card
  • $5,000 annual maintenance fee
  • No bonus rewards

About the American Express Centurion Card

The American Express Centurion Black Card, also known informally as the American Express Black Card or just the Black Card, boasts some of the most incredible benefits available on a credit card. It’s considered by many to be an elite status symbol. There may be around 82, 300 American Express Centurion Card members worldwide, as indicated by the total copies in circulation of Centurion, a publication provided only to cardholders.

The American Express Centurion Card

Credit cards have notoriously high interest rates, and the Black Card is no exception. But if you manage your credit correctly and pay off your balances each month, the benefits can greatly outweigh the risks.

Advice

If you’re an existing American Express® Card Member, you can request an invitation by filling out a short form on the Centurion website.

American Express Centurion Card Rewards

Similar to other credit card rewards, the Black Card offers one point for every dollar you spend. If you spend more than $5,000 in a single transaction, you’re rewarded with 1.5 points for every dollar.

While earning a point per dollar may seem low compared to other credit cards, the Black Card elevates its rewards by offering benefits geared toward their cardholder demographics. These benefits include:

  • An Equinox all-access gym membership valued at $3,120 per year. You can use the membership at any of their 300 locations worldwide when you travel.
  • A Saks Fifth Avenue credit of $1,000 each year, which is awarded as a $250 credit each quarter.
  • A CLEAR membership for the Black Card member and their family for $179, plus $50 for family member added on. This allows for biometric identity recognition when you travel.
  • Delta executive platinum status, including flight upgrades, waived fees, increased baggage allowance and more rewards for your flight miles.
  • Hertz Platinum, which you can usually only get by invitation, just like the Black Card. You’ll benefit from VIP dropoff and pickup service plus vehicle upgrades, when available.
  • Hilton Diamond status, which is Hilton’s highest offering and includes suite upgrades, late checkout times, breakfast options and earning more points for your stays.

Other Benefits of the American Express Centurion Card

Because it takes an elite status to achieve the American Express Centurion Card, you are treated like an elite member whenever you travel. Being a cardholder entitles you to:

  • Personalized concierge services
  • VIP arrival options at 32 major airports worldwide
  • Elevated rewards status with other hotel brands, including Marriott Bonvoy Gold status and IHG Platinum status
  • Access to exclusive lounges in airports, including the Centurion Clubs that offer conference rooms, family rooms and spa services, among other amenities

Rates and Fees

This exclusive card may reward its members with exclusive benefits, but you’ll pay for the elite status. To establish an American Express Centurion membership, the initial fee is $10,000. Then, you’ll pay $5,000 per year to maintain your status.

It’s estimated that cardholders on average spend $250,000 or more annually. If your annual credit card spending is in that range, these fees may be worth the value they earn you.

Additionally, you’ll pay a 25.24% variable APR, as of July 20, 2021, on all purchases.

How Does the Black Card Compare to Other American Express Credit Cards?

The American Express Centurion Card is an elite status symbol. If it’s out of your reach right now, consider applying for another American Express card to establish yourself as a member.

Blue Cash Everyday Card by American Express

  • Earn up to $250 back in your first six months
  • Earn 3% of the first $6,000 you spend each year at supermarkets in the U.S., then earn 1% on remaining supermarket purchases
  • Earn 2% back at gas stations and 1% on all other eligible purchases
  • No annual fee required

American Express Gold Card

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in your first six months, with enrollment in the Membership Rewards program
  • Earn four Membership Rewards points per dollar on restaurant purchases made worldwide and on your first $25,000 in purchases at supermarkets
  • Earn three Membership Rewards points per dollar as many membership rewards points on flights you book directly with an airline or through American Express
  • Earn one Membership Rewards point for every dollar you spend on other eligible purchases
  • $250 annual fee

American Express Platinum Card

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 in your first six months, with enrollment in the Membership Rewards program
  • Get 10 Membership Rewards points per dollar on restaurants up to $25,000 in your first six months
  • Earn five Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights you book directly with an airline or through American Express, up to $500,000 per year
  • Earn one Membership Rewards, plus four additional points, which totals five points per dollar on prepaid hotel bookings made through American Express
  • $695 annual fee

Is the American Express Centurion Card Right for You?

If you’re an existing American Express® Card Member with a high credit card spend each year, then Centurion membership may be right for you. To get an idea of who the 82,300 card members are, here is some demographic information from American Express:

  • Average total net worth of $11.4 million
  • Average household income of $1.8 million
  • On average, they own six properties
  • 53% are business owners or co-owners
  • On average, they’ve been Amex cardholders for 20 years
  • They take an average of 14 leisure trips per year
  • They take an average of 11 business trips per year
  • They’re 52 years old, on average
  • 54% are male and 46% are female

Good To Know

Being an American Express Platinum Card Member also gets you many similar perks, with travel perks such as access to Centurion lounges. Several other perks are available, such as for dining, with up to $200 per year in Uber Cash, or entertainment, with up to a $240 Digital Entertainment credit for subscriptions such as The New York Times, Audible or Peacock.

American Express Centurion Card FAQ

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the American Express Centurion Card or the Black Card.
  • Can I apply for an American Express Centurion Card?
    • Although the American Express Centurion Card, or the Black Card, is by invitation only, you can request consideration if you're an existing American Express cardholder.
  • Is there a fee to add authorized users?
    • Yes. Additional cardholders you add to your account cost $2,500 per year for up to two people.
  • Does American Express offer a comparable card that is less expensive to maintain?
    • Yes. Consider the American Express Platinum Card, which costs $695 per year and carries similar benefits, although doesn't have the same exclusivity as the Centurion Black Card.
  • Does the Black Card have a credit limit?
    • There is no credit limit, although you are expected to pay your charges every month and not carry a balance from month to month.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone and have not been endorsed by American Express.

Our in-house research team and on-site financial experts work together to create content that’s accurate, impartial, and up to date. We fact-check every single statistic, quote and fact using trusted primary resources to make sure the information we provide is correct. You can learn more about GOBankingRates’ processes and standards in our editorial policy.

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About the Author

Katy Hebebrand is a freelance writer with eight years of experience in the financial industry. She earned her BA from the University of West Florida and her MA from Full Sail University. Since beginning to work full-time as a freelance writer three years ago, she has written on topics spanning many fields, including home building, families and parenting, legal and professional/corporate communications.

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