Jump to content

Centurion Card

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The front of an American Express Centurion card.

The American Express Centurion Card, colloquially known as the Black Card, is a charge card issued by American Express.[1][2] It is reserved for the company's wealthiest clients who meet certain net worth, credit quality, and spending requirements on its gateway card, the Platinum Card.[3][4] The firm does not disclose the exact requirements to receive an invitation to carry the card. The Centurion Card is minted out of anodized titanium, laser-engraved, and accented with stainless steel. The card reports to credit bureaus and does not maintain a pre-set credit limit. It is considered a status symbol among the affluent,[5][6] but otherwise has an uncompetitive rewards system when compared to other credit cards.[7]


In 1988, an article in The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported that an exclusive black American Express membership card that was never advertised had been discontinued a year earlier. The article claimed that during a trial run that lasted almost four years, the card "was held by an ultra-select group of consumers who numbered fewer than 1,000 around the world."[citation needed] Lee Middleton, a spokesman for American Express, confirmed the card's existence to the Journal and said that it was given to clients who had a "substantial banking relationship" with American Express Bank Ltd., the New York parent of American Express's bank subsidiaries in Switzerland. Services included "dispatching limousines or helicopters for clients, booking their vacations and finding medical care in exotic places." Middleton said American Express abandoned the black card in 1987 because the newly introduced Platinum Card offered "95% of the black card's services." In 1999, American Express introduced the Centurion Card, a black charge card aimed at the company's wealthiest cardholders. Jerry Seinfeld claimed to be the first person to receive a Centurion Card, after contacting the company's president about the rumored existence of the black card. [2]

I was waiting for [the crew] to move some cameras, and the crew guy comes up to me, he says, "You got the black card?" And I go "No, what’s the black card?" He says, "There’s only three in the world. The Sultan of Brunei has one, the president of American Express has one, and I thought you would have the third one." Next morning I call the president of American Express. I go, "Is there a black card?" He says, "It's just a rumor. It doesn't exist." He said, "But you know what? It's not a bad idea."

Jerry Seinfeld, Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, "A Hooker in the Rain"

Doug Smith, the director of American Express in Europe, told the fact-checking website Snopes.com that there "had been rumors going around that we had this ultra-exclusive black card for elite customers. It wasn't true, but we decided to capitalize on the idea anyway. So far we've had a customer buy a Bentley and another charter a jet." The website lists unverified descriptions of cardholder requests, such as dispatching a motorcycle rider to the shores of the Dead Sea to retrieve a handful of sand and couriering it back to London for a child's school project.[8] In 2009, Luxury Card successfully registered "Black Card" as a U.S. trademark. American Express later sued as the name was similar to its Centurion Card, which it contended was widely known as the "Black Card."[9] The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Black Card, LLC's trademark of the name "Black Card" should be canceled on grounds that it was merely descriptive.[10] As of 2019, it uses the registered trademark under license.[11]

Since its introduction, the Centurion card has only been issued to clients invited by American Express to apply for it. The selection criteria the company uses to identify potential cardholders has been subject to speculation. Select media reports speculate an annual spending requirement of $500,000 to $1,000,000 on the Platinum Card to be considered for eligibility.[12][3] In most countries where the card is issued, it is made of anodized titanium[3] with the information and numbers laser etched into the metal. In some locations, such as Israel, EMV "chip" plastic cards, which also include the ExpressPay contactless payment technology, are issued. The Centurion Card comes in personal and business variants and with a Prada wearable[13][14]

The back of a Centurion Card with EMV chip, 2010

The largest known purchase made with the Centurion card is the Nu couché painting by Amedeo Modigliani, which businessman Liu Yiqian bought for US$170,405,000 at a Christie's auction in New York in 2015.[15][16][17]



Country/region Annual fee/limit
United States US$5,000 (US$5,000 for each additional card member) plus one-time joining fee of US$10,000[18]
United Kingdom £3,400 (US$4,658) (no pre-set credit limit) plus one-time joining fee of £3,400
Canada CA$2,500 (US$2,000) plus one-time fee of CA$5,000 (US$4,000)
India 275,000 (US$3,711) plus one time fees of 700,000 (US$9,447) plus 18% GST
France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands 4,000 (US$4,731) plus one time fee €4,000 (Netherlands)
Germany, Austria 5,000 (US$5,914) plus one-time fee of 5,000 (US$5,914)
Switzerland CHF 5,000 or 5,000 or US$5,000 and one time fee of CHF 5,000 or 5,000 or US$5,000 depending on version of card.
Australia A$5,000 (US$3,759) (increased from A$4,300 (US$3,233), effective 11 July 2012) plus one-time fee of A$5,000 (US$3,759), effective 11 July 2012
Japan ¥365,000 (US$3,326) (increased from ¥197,000 (US$1,795), effective 1 January 2008)
Hong Kong HK$38,800 (US$4,994) plus one time fee of 4994 (increase from HK$19,800 (US$2,548), effective 30 May 2013)
South Korea (Republic of Korea) 3,000,000 (US$2,622), no pre-set credit limit
China (People's Republic of China) Currently licenced to Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), China Merchants Bank (CMB) and China Minsheng Bank (CMBC).
  • CN¥ 36,888 (US$5,719) issued by ICBC (increased from CN¥ 18,000 (US$2,791), effective 11 December 2018)[19]
  • CN¥ 38,800 (US$6,016) issued by CMB (increased from CN¥ 18,000 (US$2,791), effective 12 March 2018)[20][21]
  • CN¥ 36,000 (US$5,581) issued by CMBC[22]
Singapore S$7,490 (US$5,590) (no pre-set credit limit) plus one-time joining fee of S$7,490 (US$5,590)
Kuwait US$4,000 for Titanium-based Centurion. Issued by American Express Middle East (Bahrain) (Same applies for Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Qatar)
Mexico Mex$56,000 (US$2,763)
Brazil R$25,000 (US$1,855)
Argentina ARS $388,320 (US$2,700)
Saudi Arabia ر.س 17,250 (US$4,600) plus one-time joining fees ر.س 17,250 (US$4,600) (Including VAT). Issued by American Express Saudi Arabia.
International Dollar Currency Card (IDC) US$3,000 (US$0 for the first additional card member, US$1,500 for each additional card member thereafter) plus one-time fee of US$5,000[23]
International Currency Card Euro (ICC Euro) 4,000 (US$4,731) plus one-time fee of 4,000 (US$4,731)
International Currency Card Dollar (ICC Dollar) US$4,000 plus one-time fee of US$4,000
Israel US$2,043 (~8,000), where payments can be made either in ILS or in US$.
Turkey 31,200 (US$3,525) provided by Garanti BBVA.
Russia (suspended due to the Ukraine sanctions) 150,000  (US$2,037)
Taiwan NT$160,000 (US$5,728) plus one-time fee of NT$160,000 (US$5,728) Note: minimum annual income (NT$3,500,000)[24]
Lebanon ل.ل 3,000 (US$3,000)
United Arab Emirates DH 11,000 (US$3,000)
Sweden kr 35,000 (US$4,079) plus one-time fee of kr 35,000(US$4,079)[25]


The card, available for personal and business use, offers services such as a dedicated concierge and travel agent; complimentary companion airline tickets on international flights on selected airlines with the purchase of a full-fare ticket; personal shoppers at retailers such as Gucci, Escada, and Saks Fifth Avenue; access to airport clubs; first-class flight upgrades; membership in Sony's Cierge personal shopping program and dozens of other elite club memberships.[3] Hotel benefits include one free night, when at least one paid night is booked during the same stay, in every Mandarin Oriental hotel worldwide once a year[3] (except for the New York City property),[26] and privileges at hotel chains like Ritz-Carlton, Leading Hotels of the World, and Amanresorts. The card also features complimentary enrollment in Easirent Car Hire Platinum Service and the Avis Rent a Car President's Club.[27]

Centurion card invitation set.

Centurion Card members, like Platinum Card members, get complimentary access to the American Express Centurion Lounges at several US airports. They also get no pre-set credit limit, access to Priority Pass lounges around the world,[28] plus additional lounge privileges based on the country their card is registered in. For example, Centurion cardholders in Canada also receive full access to Maple Leaf Lounges, a lounge network provided by Air Canada.[29] At busy times, Centurion members have access to areas reserved for them. There are also drink options at the bar that are exclusive to Centurion members. As of 2015, they have a Champagne option of Veuve Clicquot and a single malt scotch by Balvenie.[30] US cardholders earn 1 rewards point per dollar on all eligible purchases and 1.5 rewards points per dollar on purchases over US$5,000 (up to 1 million additional points per calendar year).[31]


Since the inception of the card, members have received a copy of Departures, which is also sent to all Platinum Card cardholders. In 2004, American Express Centurion members in the US began receiving an exclusive "no name" magazine, which was not available by any other means. Starting with the Spring 2007 edition, this magazine was officially titled Black Ink. The magazine is available only to individual Centurion cardholders, not to the business-edition customers. European, Asian, and Australian Centurion members receive quarterly the Centurion magazine published by Journal International GmbH (Munich, Germany).[32] In June 2011, the Centurion magazine website was launched, offering daily updates for Centurion Card members. According to Journal International, the average age of a Centurion reader from Europe or the Middle East is 49 years. Centurion has been published since 2001 and has a circulation in Europe and the Middle East of 44,100; in Asia of 13,900; and in Australia of 6,000.[14]

In popular culture[edit]

Famous cardholders[edit]

American Express does not disclose a list of Centurion cardholders but a number of celebrities have been associated with the card.[33]

In a 2018 episode of the Netflix show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld, who appeared in American Express commercials in the 1990s, claims to fellow comedian John Mulaney that he received the first Centurion card after contacting the company's president about the rumored existence of an exclusive black card.[2]

During the filming of a backstage interview at the 2007 BRIT Awards, Noel Gallagher held his Centurion card up to the camera and said "You have to earn a ridiculous amount of money per year to own one of those."[34] In a 2009 interview with Talksport, Gallagher said, "I do own a black Amex card that has no pre-set credit limit credit and cannot be denied anywhere. I could walk into a showroom selling Boeing 747s and, regardless of whether I could afford it, they'd have to accept the card."

Former Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson wrote in a 2004 article for The Times of London newspaper that he lied about his salary to obtain a Centurion card after reading "an interview with some chap who'd got a fist full of cards in his pocket and claimed that the more shiny examples, specifically the much-coveted black American Express, gave him certain privileges." Clarkson ultimately decided to cancel the card after being unimpressed with its benefits.[35]


The Centurion card has become a status symbol in the music industry, especially in hip-hop culture.[36] In 2002, Bloomberg News reported that rapper Sean "P. Diddy" Combs used the card to buy 400 cocktails at a bar in Los Angeles.[37] In the song "Doing It Way Big" (2003), Lil' Kim sings: "I smack niggas 'cross the face with a Centurion card / Who don't believe I'm (doing it way big)". Lil' Kim later posed with a Centurion card attached to a diamond-studded necklace for a Nylon magazine photoshoot.[38] In the song "Last Call" (2004), Kanye West refers to the card with the lyrics: "I went to the malls and I balled too hard / 'Oh my God, is that a black card?' / I turned around and replied, 'Why yes / But I prefer the term African American Express'". In "Welcome Back" (2004), Mase sings: "Amex black card / Shopper of the year". In "Get It Poppin'" (2005), Fat Joe sings: "I got that black no limit American Express card". In Einmal um die Welt (2012), German rapper Cro says his girlfriend can buy what she wants because he has "an American Express, and of course the black one." Other singers including Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Bow Wow, Nelly Furtado, Lil Wayne, and Nickelback, among others, also mention black cards in their song lyrics but not a specific American Express product.[citation needed]

Film and TV[edit]

The Centurion card has been used as an on-screen prop.

In Quantum of Solace, James Bond hands a Centurion card to a travel agent with a private jet chartering company to pay for a flight to Bolivia. The payment is declined by MI6 as the intelligence service seeks to strip Bond of his duties and revokes his credit cards and passports. The Centurion replica used in the film was part of the Bond in Motion exhibition at the London Film Museum.[39]

In two episodes of the HBO comedy-drama show Succession, Kendall and Siobhan Roy, heirs to a media fortune, use their Centurion cards at a bar and a coffee shop.[40]

In the pilot episode of the USA Network medical comedy-drama show Royal Pains, Tucker Bryant, the young heir to a family fortune earned from inventing the blender, injures himself crashing his father's Ferrari. He tells a doctor to "go into my wallet and get the little black card that says American Express on it" and flies by helicopter from the Hamptons to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan.[41]


In Lauren Weisberger's novel Everyone Worth Knowing, the protagonist Bette remarks on her coworker paying for dinner with the card: "There it was, the mythical American Express black card. Available by invitation only to those who charged a minimum of $150,000 per year."[42]

In Robert Crais's novel The Watchman, the daughter of a wealthy businessman is described as having a Centurion card.[43]

Video games[edit]

In Street Fighter 6's World Tour mode, Ryu reveals to the player character in a conversation that he has a black card given to him by Ken Masters, which holds money he's earned from winning tournaments, guest appearances, and solving local crises. It turns out that Ryu is wealthy and has more than enough money to last the rest of his life.

In the intro of Far Cry 3, protagonist's friend Oliver Carswell shouts: "To my father's black card to my black card!"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sullivan, Paul (2011-01-24). "American Express's New Service for Its Wealthiest Cardholders". Bucks Blog. Retrieved 2023-01-10.
  2. ^ a b c "The American Express Black Card May Exist Thanks to Jerry Seinfeld". cnbc.com. 11 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9.
  4. ^ Adams, Dia (January 12, 2023). "American Express Centurion Black Card 2023 Review". www.forbes.com. Retrieved 2023-01-14.
  5. ^ Mull, Amanda (2022-11-29). "Please Look at My Metal Credit Card". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2023-01-14.
  6. ^ MAx, James (July 29, 2022). "Rich People's Problems: Should I ditch my Amex Centurion card?". Financial Times. Retrieved January 14, 2023.
  7. ^ Schlappig, Ben (31 January 2022). "What Is The Amex Centurion Card (Black Card)?". One Mile at a Time.
  8. ^ "Black American Express Card". snopes.com. 3 March 2004.
  9. ^ American Express v. Black Card LLC - Complaint and Jury Demand, February 20, 2010; retrieved from Scribd, July 2, 2010
  10. ^ [1] AMEX Wins Cancellation of BLACKCARD Trademark Registration, Ryan Gile, November 22, 2011
  11. ^ Frankel, Matthew (24 August 2014). "Is The American Express Black Card Really Worth It? The Centurion card, or 'black card', is the most exclusive credit card in the world, but is it worth the high cost?". The Motley Fool. Retrieved 4 July 2018.
  12. ^ "American Express Centurion Black Card 2022 Review". Forbes. 20 July 2020.
  13. ^ a b pe.pdf American Express Centurion/Departures - Media Kit, Europe & Middle East 2010
  14. ^ Qin, Amy (17 November 2015). "With Modigliani Purchase Chinese Billionaire Liu Yiqian Dreams of Bigger Canvas". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "Billionaire Earns First Class Travel For Life By Putting Modigliani Nude on Amex". The Guardian. 24 November 2015.
  16. ^ "Why Is a Chinese Billionaire Charging a $170.4 Million Painting on an Amex Card?". Newsweek. 23 November 2015.
  17. ^ "Cardmember Agreement" (PDF). American Express. 2019-11-16. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-11-17. Retrieved 2014-06-18.
  18. ^ "关于牡丹黑金卡相关费用收取标准的重要提示". Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (in Chinese). 2018-09-11. Retrieved 2024-05-19.
  19. ^ "招商银行关于新增信用卡服务收费的公告". China Merchants Bank (in Chinese). 2017-12-08. Retrieved 2024-05-19.
  20. ^ "关于升级发行招商银行运通百夫长黑金卡产品的公告". China Merchants Bank (in Chinese). 2017-12-26. Retrieved 2024-05-19.
  21. ^ "Minsheng to offer new Amex cards|Business|chinadaily.com.cn". usa.chinadaily.com.cn. Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  22. ^ "Cardmember Agreement - The Centurion® Card - International Dollar Card" (PDF). 2019-09-30. Retrieved 2019-12-18.
  23. ^ Taiwan TV news 2015-11-24 on department clerk leaking client's card on Facebook
  24. ^ "Medlemsvillkor för American Express® - Kort" (PDF). 2021-07-03. Retrieved 2021-07-03.
  25. ^ "American Express". Archived from the original on July 24, 2011.
  26. ^ "Official American Express Centurion Card Interactive Tour". Archived from the original on 2011-07-08. Retrieved 2008-12-31.
  27. ^ "American Express Centurion Card Benefits". 2016.
  28. ^ "Amex Centurion 'Black' Card - The Complete Guide". Yore Oyster. 2019-09-20. Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  29. ^ "American Express Black Card: What Is This Secret Card?". fhrnews.com. Archived from the original on 2018-06-23. Retrieved 2015-08-29.
  30. ^ "American Express Centurion Black Card 2022 Review". Forbes. 20 July 2020.
  31. ^ "About Us". Centurion. Archived from the original on 17 August 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  32. ^ "Celebs Who Roll with the Amex Black Card". zimbio.com.
  33. ^ "I bet you haven't got one!!!". youtube.com. 25 April 2008. Archived from the original on 2021-12-15.
  34. ^ "Jeremy Clarkson: I'm a nobody, my jet set credit card tells me so". The Times. January 11, 2004.
  35. ^ "Hip Hop's Love Of The Black Card Celebrated Online". hiphopdx.com. 12 June 2009.
  36. ^ "American Express markets elite 'black card'". the.honoluluadvertiser.com.
  37. ^ "Full Article Lil Kim Nylon Magazine 2003". tumblr.com.
  38. ^ "American Express Centurion Card". jamesbondlifestyle.com. 25 March 2015.
  39. ^ Porrello, Steven (3 July 2023). "Here's What Is Most Likely in Kendall Roy's Wallet". www.fool.com.
  40. ^ "Royal Pains TV Pilot – Black Cards in the Hamptons". luxuryplastic.com.
  41. ^ Weisberger, Lauren (2 May 2006). Everyone Worth Knowing. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9780743262330.
  42. ^ Crais, Robert (29 January 2008). The Watchman: A Joe Pike Novel. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416514978.

External links[edit]