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Technically referred to as the American Express Centurion Card, I had never heard this card discussed much except for the year I spent living in Las Vegas -- for some reason, people out there are obsessed with its supposed mystique.
It was launched in 1999 and appeals to a super-affluent demographic. Below, you'll see the invitation they send out to prospective cardholders: keep in mind, this is NOT even the welcome kit. It's just their promotional mailing. (Which is quite selective, obviously.)
Of course, if you're pitching a card with a $2,500+ annual fee, the promotional mailer better look pretty. For those in the market for a card of this caliber, your best chance of being invited to sign up is to own an American Express Gold or Platinum charge card -- use it regularly, make big purchases, and have an impeccable history of paying off your balance on time.
Here's what the Centurion Card looks like "in the wild," so to speak:
As the SavingAdvice blog explains, "When the invitations first arrived in 1999, the Black Card came with a $1000 a year fee. People that now have the card say that the yearly cost has risen to $2500 a year and a minimum of $250,000 a year needs to be charged to qualify."
If you can't spend $250K or more per year, don't bother. Assuming you are less affluent (or simply want a great credit card without an annual fee): here are our favorite credit card deals for this month, conveniently ranked and compared. Some are even offering 30,000 bonus miles, which can be used to book free flights this summer, or $100 cash back. You can also see real customer reviews, average credit line amounts based on various demographic factors, odds of being approved based on your credit score, and more.
But back to the Centurion Card: if you are considering this card, first ask your brokerage firm or private wealth management team at your bank if they have any credit card offers -- some brokerage firms, at least until recently, have extended competitive card offers to higher-income folks.
Also compare the Black Card/Centurion Card with some of its newer rivals, including the JPMorgan Chase Palladium Card (which is actually made out of the precious metal palladium, and "laser-etched," seriously) and the mysterious Citigroup Chairman Card (shown below). We have heard that those with more than $10 million in assets held at Chase are most likely to receive an offer for the Palladium card. The eligibility details for the Chairman Card are less clear.
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