Also known as the Black Card, the Centurion Card from American Express is one of the most elite credit cards available today. Not only do you need an invitation to open an account, but you need to pay a $10,000 initiation fee and a $5,000 annual fee for it.
Why would anyone pay so much for a credit card? Quite frankly, some do because of the card's elite status. It is considered the most exclusive card on the market and having it in your wallet can certainly give you a sense of prestige.
However, the Centurion Card from American Express also comes with a bevy of benefits that make it valuable, especially for frequent travelers. The company keeps a tight wrap on the specific benefits offered, but according to reports from members, they include elite status in a variety of loyalty programs, a number of insurance services and access to a personal concierge service.
While these are all great perks, you don't need to pay $15,000 to get them. Instead, you can find many of the same benefits on other, less expensive credit cards.
Keep reading to learn how to snag elite credit card perks without waiting for an invitation or paying the high price of the Amex Black Card.
But first, here are answers to some common questions about the Centurion Card from American Express.
How to get the Amex Black Card?
The Amex Black Card is available by invitation only. Normally, American Express would extend an offer to existing members who spend a significant amount on their current accounts - we're talking six-figure spenders here.
More recently, American Express has made it possible to request an invitation. You can visit the Centurion website and request membership. To do so, you'll have to provide your current American Express card number and security code.
Of course, submitting a request is no guarantee you'll get an invite either.
Can you add someone to your Black Card?
Like most credit cards, you can add authorized users to your Amex Black Card. However, doing so will reportedly cost you $5,000 per user.
Can authorized users get into Centurion Lounges?
The Centurion Network includes 40 locations worldwide that provide a comfortable lounge space for airline travelers to enjoy before their departure. Access to these lounges is one perk of being a Centurion member.
While the Centurion Network website doesn't specifically address access by authorized users, typically, those named on an eligible credit card account - including Amex Black Cards - get lounge access if it's a card perk.
Can I bring my family into Centurion Lounges?
Right now, the Centurion Network allows Centurion members to enter a lounge with two guests or their immediate family for no additional charge. Additional guests are subject to a $50 day-pass charge.
However, on February 1, 2023, the guest policy at Centurion Lounges will change. Lounges will charge $50 per adult guest and $30 for children ages 2 to 17, with proof of age required. Children age 2 and younger will continue to have free access to lounges so long as their parents can provide proof of age or a "lap infant" boarding pass for the child.
How to get elite hotel perks without a Centurion Card from American Express
The Centurion Card from American Express reportedly gives its members the following hotel elite statuses:
- IHG Platinum Elite
- Hilton Honors Diamond
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold
Having elite status means having access to perks such as free upgrades, earlier check-in, later check-out, guaranteed rooms, service and food credits and so much more. But multiple credit cards out there - some that carry no annual fee - also offer cardholders some of the same benefits.
Here are some of your options:
IHG Platinum Elite: If you want IHG Platinum Elite status, you can get it for free for the first year using the IHG® Rewards Premier Credit Card. It has a $99 annual fee. Right now, new cardholders can also get 140,000 bonus points once spending $3,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening an account.
Hilton Honors Diamond: With a $450 annual fee, the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) isn't the cheapest credit card on the market, but it is significantly more affordable than the Amex Black Card. With it, you'll get complimentary Hilton Honors Diamond status, weekend night rewards, statement credits and bonus points for travel spending. American Express is a CardRatings advertiser.
Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite: The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card provides complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. It also comes with a $450 annual fee, but card perks include up to $300 in statement credit each year of card membership for eligible purchases on your card with participating Marriott Bonvoy properties, 15 elite nights, up $100 property credit when you book a two-night minimum stay at St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton properties through marriottbonvoy.com (terms apply); and complimentary airport lounge access through Priority Pass Select. Enrollment may be required for select benefits; See Rates and Fees; terms apply.
If you want to get elite status at two hotel brands with a single card, try The Platinum Card® from American Express. It comes with Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. It has a $695 annual fee, but that is offset by perks such as the opportunity for up to a $200 hotel credit (conditions apply), $200 airline credit for incidental fees with a pre-selected airline, up to $200 in Uber savings and $189 Clear credit. Enrollment may be required for select benefits; See Rates and Fees; terms apply.
How to get elite travel perks without a Centurion Card from American Express
The travel perks that come with an Amex Black Card are varied and reportedly include:
- Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program
- Access to the Global Lounge Collection of airport lounges
- Elite status in Hertz and Avis car rental loyalty programs
- Free, unlimited Wi-Fi access through the Boingo American Express® Preferred Plan
- Centurion Concierge service
- Access to exclusive dining, concerts and events
These are all valuable perks, but you can get similar benefits - at a lower price - with The Platinum Card® from American Express.
As mentioned before, The Platinum Card has a $695 annual fee, but it isn't hard to cover that cost if you use the many statement credits that come with the card. Plus, Platinum cardholders get access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program as well as the same lounge access as Centurion members.
If you want an even cheaper card that provides luxury travel benefits, try the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It has a $550 annual fee but comes with a $300 annual travel credit, 24/7 access to customer service specialists, complimentary airport lounge access and benefits through The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ will also give you many elite travel benefits for a $495 annual fee. These include a $100 annual air credit, VIP airport lounge access, 24/7 concierge services, airport meet and assist service and more.
Another option to consider is the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. It gives cardholders a $300 annual travel credit, complimentary airport lounge status, Hertz President's Club status and more. The cost? Just $395 a year.
How to get elite shopping perks without a Centurion Card from American Express
Buy something with your Centurion Card from American Express that gets lost, stolen or damaged within 90 days of your purchase, and get up to $10,000 per incident, with a $50,000-per-year cap, on eligible claims. That benefit, by the way, is also available with the The Platinum Card® from American Express.
What's more, a variety of credit cards offer some form of price protection, which means that you can be refunded the difference should an item you purchased on the card drop in price within a certain time frame. The perk basically extends a retailer's price adjustment period to 60 or even 90 days. Be sure to check your card agreement for details.
Think you'll miss out on VIP event invites? Concierge services? Travel services? Think again! You can also get access to those benefits when you use The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Mastercard® Black Card™.
Plus, there are many other cards that offer other shopping benefits. For example, you could get the Citi Premier® Card, which has an annual fee of just $95, and earn 60,000 bonus ThankYou® points after spending $4,000 in purchases within three months of opening an account. Those points can be redeemed for $600 in gift cards. The card also comes with a $100 annual hotel saving benefit and access to exclusive events through Citi Entertainment. Citi is a CardRatings advertiser.
The bottom line is this: It may feel cool to get a secret invitation to a specially made titanium credit card with amazing benefits, but that may not be a good enough reason to spend $15k to get the Centurion Card from American Express. Isn't it just as cool to pocket that astronomical annual fee and find another credit card that works just as well for your lifestyle while offering some sweet, high-end perks at a much lower annual cost?
The Platinum Card® from American Express (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (See Rates and Fees; terms apply); Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card ( )