The Legendary Guide to the American Express "Black" Centurion® Card

Learn all about the exclusive, elite American Express Centurion (aka “Black” card). The card for luxury lifestyles is a status symbol offering the best of the best service. Get some tips on how to qualify and best use its exclusive benefits.

When you see someone pull out an American Express Black charge card, you know you're in the presence of someone who lives an extraordinary lifestyle.

Someone with immense spending power.

Someone who can sashay into a showroom, find a limited-edition Bentley or Bugatti, then put it on plastic (or, more accurately, black anodized titanium), and literally drive it out of the dealership the same day.

Someone who has a round-the-clock concierge on-call, ready to cater to their every whim and assist them in almost anything (think "I'm in London and my daughter left her favorite bunny in New York, can you please send it here?").

Simply put, the Amex "black card" is the embodiment of pure luxury and elite status.

The coveted black card—officially known as the "American Express Centurion" card after the Roman army commander whose likeness appears on the Amex logo—is a cultural icon that's risen far beyond being just another credit card.

It has become a status symbol of mythical proportions.

A card that represents a lavish lifestyle where only the best of the best will suffice.

A life with no limits, where people will happily bend over backwards to get you what you want.

It's patently obvious by now that the Black card is not intended for the ordinary individual—it's for the distinctively extraordinary.

In fact, calling it "exclusive" is still a massive understatement.


First off, even among long-time Amex Platinum cardholders, membership to the Centurion card is still "invite-only"—it's not something you can apply for, no matter who you think you are.

If American Express feels you've "arrived", then you'll get a personal invitation to become a member—well, probably.

If not, then you're simply out of luck.

Average Monthly Charges On AMEX Credit Cards 2017

You may have tried looking it up and noticed there's actually very little official information out there on exactly what it entails to get invited for an American Express Black card.

But as the old cliché goes, "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it."

You have to be someone who doesn't bat an eyelash upon hearing the $2,500 annual fee and someone whose yearly card purchases regularly exceed $250,000.

Oh, and have I mentioned its $7,500 membership initiation fee?

It doesn't come easy, and it certainly doesn't come cheap, but the Amex Centurion card will open doors (and velvet ropes) for you and get you places—but only if you and your status deserve it.

Its unlimited purchasing power is a privilege reserved for just 17,000 of the highest-end clientele in the world.

To put that number into perspective, there are a total of 2.1 billion major credit cards in the world, which means out of every 123,000 credit cards, only one is an Amex Centurion.

Later on we'll see what kinds of individuals qualify for the elite status of being an Amex Black cardholder.

I'll also share some advice on the first steps you can take today in case you want to join their ranks someday.

We'll also take a look at the rewards, privileges, perks, and benefits of the Black card.

Once you're done reading, you should get a better appreciation of what the American Express Black card is really about—living a lifestyle with first-class status, high-end service, and unlimited purchasing power.

What is a Black Centurion Card and Why Should You Care?

It catches people's attention. When you pull out your Amex Black to pay at a restaurant, the servers stand a little straighter.

The chef comes out of the kitchen to personally ask if you enjoyed your meal.

When you flash your Centurion card at the register of a high-end clothing store, you suddenly get treated differently.

The cashier might ask if you'd like the services of a personal shopper or custom tailoring.

They all know how much purchasing power you command.

Cardholders are known to use their Centurion charge card to buy houses, charter jets, and purchase yachts.

An Amex Black card communicates VIP status. It tells people you're a multimillionaire jet-setter who spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year living the high life.

And they know such privilege is well deserved—it takes a special person to be able to work their way up to the top of the heap. You're simply reaping the rewards.

Who wouldn't want something they could pull out of their wallet to instantly make people respect and admire them more?

The most exclusive card in the world

The coolest thing about the American Express Centurion card is also at the heart of its exclusive, even mysterious, reputation.

It's invitation-only.

Don't call Amex, they'll call you. Unlike the most prestigious, high-fee credit cards on the market, you can't get an American Express Black card unless Amex decides they want you to.

That's why there are only around 17,000 people in the entire world who are entitled to carry one around.

It's made available to just 0.1% of the population.

There are 304 million Visas in the world and 576 million Mastercard accounts.

American Express has 109.9 total million credit cards out in circulation.

Of those cards, only 0.0001% are Amex Centurions!

Yet the average annual spend on a Black card is estimated to be well into the six-figures.

A card of legend. There's even a myth surrounding the origin of the Black card.

Back in the 1980's, there was an urban legend going around that Amex had an ultra-secret card with no limits.

It was reserved strictly for the richest people in the world.

Rumor had it, the card was jet black.

One writer for the Wall Street Journal speculated about the mythical Black card in 1988 (11 years before it actually appeared):

"Suppose, for example, on a 3-o'clock-in-the-morning whim, you decided to book a round-the-world trip.

American Express would accommodate you with a travel service staffed 24 hours a day."

Rumors the writer had heard claimed the card gave people the purchasing power to buy any car they wanted:

"In the market for a red 1965 Ferarri? If you were a black card-holder, American Express would kick tires in the world's fanciest used-car lots."

Over-the-top service for high-end jet setters was also part of the legend:

"If you remembered in Singapore you left your favorite suit in a Hong Kong penthouse, the company would arrange to fetch it."

The myth became reality. Apparently, American Express caught wind of the rumor and decided it was actually a great idea.

After introducing its Gold card in the 1960s, and the Platinum card in 1984, American Express took its highest-end card to the absolute highest level with the creation of the Centurion card in 1999.

On October 14, 1999, American Express introduced the Centurion through a press release:

"We created the Centurion Card in response to customer research that identified a small but affluent group of cardmembers for whom individual attention and access to previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest."

American Express created the Centurion as part of a broader strategy to introduce a wider number of credit cards for every type of consumer.

In keeping with the urban legend, the card was made jet black—informally it became known simply as the "Black card."

Today, the Amex Black is made of anodized titanium.

It feels a little heavier than a regular plastic credit card, and it should—because it's unlike any other card out there.

The card became a cultural icon. Since its creation over 25 years ago, the Black card has left an indelible mark on the worldwide culture of wealth and on the lifestyles of the elite customers well heeled enough to be chosen to wield it.

When someone says "The Black card" people know they mean nothing else but the American Express Black card—not the wannabe Visa Black card or the Mastercard Black card that unabashedly try to ride on its prestigious coattails.

Anyone with a good enough credit score can choose and go with those other "black cards".

But you can't choose an Amex Black.

It chooses you.

Backed up by Amex's $2 billion annual brand advertising budget, the Centurion card continues to represent the lavish, luxury lifestyle, reserved for the ultra-wealthy.

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Understanding the Centurion Card

The cultural mystique of the Amex Black card is undeniable.

Part of it is due to the almost mysterious lack of information that American Express makes available about its ultra-elite card.

Invitation-only with very high criteria

The American Express Centurion card is invitation-only with very high criteria.

What are those criteria?

  • Reaching out to big spenders. The invitation is usually extended to people who are spending $250,000 or more on their existing Amex Platinum card.
  • Perfect credit behavior is crucial. Anyone who is offered an American Express Centurion card will have a spotless track record when it comes to credit behaviors. Especially when it comes to their existing Platinum account, the candidate will have a perfect payment history.
  • Strictly for millionaires. Other qualifications include an annual household income of somewhere around $1.3 million and a net worth of at least $16 million.

The Richest People In America In 2018

These qualifications are unofficial since Amex doesn't publicly disclose the requirements for getting an invite.

Three different types of Centurion cards. American Express offers three versions of their Centurion charge card: personal, business, and corporate.

Business and corporate cards are usually issued to executives and directors from Forbes 500 companies as an expense card for high-end business travel.

It's one thing for a giant multinational corporation to get approved for a Centurion account.

But it says much more when an individual qualifies for their own personal Black card.

It says you have arrived—that you are worthy of a life of privilege and status that only a few ever attain.

Your invitation is in the mail. Since people don't apply for the Amex Black card, there's not really an application process to speak of.

This is how it works.

A mysterious black box will show up in your mailbox.

If you receive the invitation through the mail, you've already been approved.

There will be no credit checks or inquiries on your income.

You just call the number provided to start the process of getting your Centurion card activated.

This will open up a world of privilege like no other.

It will also allow you to visit the online sign-in portal for Centurion card owners.

Unless you've been invited, there's no way you can enter.

The Amex Black is not your average credit card

Once you understand the card is by invite-only, the next thing you need to understand is that the American Express Centurion is not actually a credit card.

Credit cards lend you money. With a normal credit card, you use it to pay for purchases and get a statement at the end of the month.

If you pay the statement balance in full there is no interest charged.

You have the option to pay part of the balance (with a set monthly minimum payment) and you can leave some of the balance unpaid.

Cardholders pay interest at an annual percentage rate (APR) on the unpaid balance.

The Amex Centurion doesn't lend you money. The thing is, the Black card is anything but normal.

Rather than providing short-term loans to its cardholders, the Centurion is simply a charge card.

You still use it to pay for purchases, bills, or anything else you can use an American Express credit card to pay for.

The difference is, when someone with a Black card gets their monthly statement, they pay it in full.

APR is not an issue. Unlike regular credit cards, the all-important APR interest rate is not a factor when it comes to the Amex Black card.

Balances transfers are also irrelevant since you have to pay in full after every bill comes.

Since there's typically no balance carried over with a charge card, there's no interest to collect.

Extended payment is a possibility. There is an option to pay off a large purchase using the Pay Over Time feature.

With the approval of American Express, specific charges can be moved over to a special balance.

The interest rate charged on Pay Over Time expenses kicks in after 25 days past the normal billing cycle due date.

American Express charges a variable interest rate on Pay Over Time balances—the current Pay Over Time APR is just under 19%.

A charge card with no limits

One of the most legendary features of the Amex Black as a status symbol is that there is no preset spending limit.

Unlike with normal credit cards, Centurion cardholders aren't concerned about "maxing out" or exceeding a certain credit limit—because they have none.

Cardholders have used their Black card to purchase rare cars, condos, and even a painting worth $170 million.

For people willing to pay extra for the best of the best

Now you've learned how the Amex Black card works, it's time to let you know a final impressive detail: the fees.

Activate your unlimited purchasing power. The fee to activate an American Express Centurion card for the first time is $7,500.

A small price for having such privilege. The annual fee is $2,500. For a multimillionaire, that's pocket change.

The American Express Black isn't like other cards where the priority is rewards points or sign-up bonuses.

It's about a lifestyle with the highest level of status and service, and you've got to pay to be rewarded with such privileges.

How to Build Your Eligibility

Since there is no opportunity to formally apply for an Amex Black if you want one, your best bet is to do whatever you can to achieve the eligibility standards.

Being a multimillionaire helps. Obviously, the best way to get the attention of the folks at Amex who reach out to potential Centurion card clients is to have a lot of money.

Remember, it's in their interest to keep the circle of Centurion cardholders small.

They simply won't offer the privilege to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.

The company needs to see you live the kind of lifestyle that suits the power of the card, where you purchase a lot of high-end goods and services on the card.

Not a multimillionaire at the moment? There are still some steps you can take to become more eligible for an Amex Black card.

While you wait for your ship to come in, here are a few things you can do to bring yourself closer to getting the black box invite in the mail:

Apply for the Amex Platinum card

No one gets a Black card invitation unless they have a proven track record with the American Express Platinum charge card.

Suddenly the Platinum card's annual fee doesn't seem like such a big deal. The Platinum card's $550 annual fee is just a little over one-fifth of the annual fee for the Centurion.

And with no activation fee, getting started with the Platinum card costs $9,450 less than the Black card.

But of course, you don't get the status or the service you get with a Centurion card.

Think of the Platinum as your practice Black card. Many of the incredible perks and benefits of the Amex Black are enhancements of features you get with the Amex Platinum.

Even though it costs a lot less than the Centurion, you still enjoy no preset spending limit.

Also, like the Amex Black, the Platinum is a charge card, not a credit card, so the balance needs to be paid in full every month.

Enjoy many of the same travel benefits. While it doesn't give you the instant status of the Centurion card, the Platinum card does qualify you for many of the same travel benefits and perks you get with the Amex Black.

Use your Amex Platinum correctly to increase your odds of being invited

If you are hoping to someday graduate to an American Express Centurion card, you need to use your Platinum card in the ways the company wants to see.

Spend as much as possible using your Platinum Amex. One behavior Amex is looking for in a Black card candidate is high spending.

They want to see the kind of person who spends $100,000 on an around-the-world cruise or buys first-class flight tickets every month.

The expectation that you purchase $250,000 or more per year on your Platinum (and pay it off in full) sets the bar high.

But then again, exclusive treatment for only the highest of high-rollers is exactly what the Black card is all about.

Global Ocean Cruise Passengers 2009-2017

Shopping spree, anyone? Preference is also shown toward candidates spending on luxury items, travel, and fine dining.

Spending on boring stuff like office supplies, groceries or paying bills won't cut it.

Amex wants to see you buying bling, taking world-class trips, and going out for chefs' tasting menus before you'll be invited

If you can afford such a lifestyle, make sure everything you spend is charged to your Platinum card.

The more you spend on the card, the better your chances of getting invited to the next level.

Put it on plastic. Even if you're not part of the jet-set (yet) you can charge big-ticket items to your Platinum card to increase your likelihood of getting a Black card.

For example, if you're buying a car for $40,000, you can purchase it using your Amex Platinum and then either pay the balance off in cash or with a $40,000 car loan.

In addition to padding your annual Platinum card expense total, you'll also earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points.

Pay your balance in full religiously every month. The other behavior American Express is looking for is payment history.

The company needs to know you'll be able to pay back high balances without carrying them into the next months.

You can demonstrate your creditworthiness and trustworthiness by paying off your Platinum card balance in full immediately after you get your monthly bill.

Do everything you can to increase your credit score. Your credit score will also be considered by American Express before you're invited to join the exclusive Black card club.

There are many techniques you can use to increase your credit score or to make sure it stays at the level of "Excellent" (a FICO score of 800–850).

Paying off your existing credit card balances (even if they're not Amex) will help your credit score and therefore help your chances of being offered a Centurion card.

Once you've paid them off, keep them active, since your credit score gets hurt when you close an account.

Getting a personal loan and paying it back in full and on time helps your credit score.

Cross your fingers! Even after you've taken all these steps to qualify for an invitation for a Centurion card, it still might never come.

There is nothing you can do to "apply" in the traditional sense.

But if you think you could qualify—today, or maybe in the future—the only way you'll ever get an invite is if you follow the steps we just outlined.

All the Perks and Benefits

Use the Centurion to earn and redeem Membership Rewards points

The Black card is all about status and service.

People don't sign up to earn lots of reward points or for balance transfers like regular credit cards.

But that doesn't mean they can't be rewarded for spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on their card.

High spending can earn high points. With a one-point-per-dollar-spent rate for earning Membership Rewards points, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on the Black card means earning hundreds of thousands of points.

The Chinese multi-billionaire who used their Centurion card to purchase a $170 million painting earned 170 million Membership Rewards points.

If redeemed at the value of one cent per point, those points would be worth a cool $1.7 million.

He says he's planning to fly first class for the rest of his life!

Multiple options for redeeming points. You can use your points for gift cards, merchandise from partner retailers, and travel reservations and purchases.

You can redeem your points at a higher value when you spend in certain categories.

For example, if you book travel directly through the American Express Travel service, your points are worth 1.3 cents each.

Here's how it might work. Let's say you spent $100,000 using your Black card and earned yourself 100,000 Membership Rewards points.

If you redeemed them at the one-point-to-one-cent ratio (for example, through many of the gift cards you can purchase), they'd be worth $1,000.

But if you redeemed 100,000 points for travel booked through the American Express Travel website, they'd be worth $1,300.

Big spenders will recoup the annual fee. It's appropriate American Express looks for Black card customers who spend at least $250,000 a year on their credit card.

$250,000 is exactly how much you'd spend to earn enough Membership Rewards points to cover your annual fee (if redeemed at one cent per point).

Better value for booking travel. If you redeemed for travel through the American Express Travel site (at a rate of 1.3 cents per point), you'd only have to spend a little over $192,000 to recoup your membership fee.

Transfer points to other frequent flyer programs. It's also possible to transfer American Express Membership Reward points to other airline miles programs.

Different airlines have different points transfer ratios, which means the same amount of points can be worth more or less depending on the airline.

For example, 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards points can be transferred into 1,000 Avios points with British Airways. Those same points would total 800 TrueBlue points with JetBlue Airways.

Keep an eye out for transfer bonuses. American Express also regularly offers bonuses for transferring points to specific airlines.

For example, a 30% bonus has been offered recently for transferring Membership Rewards points into Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles.

Transferring 1,000 points into a program with a 30% transfer bonus would make them worth $1,300.

Use your points for hotel loyalty programs. The Membership Rewards points you earn by spending on your Amex Centurion charge card can also be converted into hotel rewards points.

1,000 Membership Rewards Points can be transferred into 1,000 Choice Privileges Points with Choice Privilege Hotels, 1,500 points with Hilton HHonors, and 333 Starpoints for Starwood Hotels' Preferred Guest program.

1,000 Amex points can also be transferred into to 800 Ritz-Carlton rewards points.

Each hotel program has different values for redeeming points for different options.

For example, points can be worth more when redeeming for upgrading a hotel room than when making the original booking.

In 2014 a Chinese collector bought an ancient Chinese cup for $36 million.

They earned 422 million American Express points.

But the real power of the American Express Centurion isn't its ability to earn points.

Its power is in the affluent lifestyle its many benefits help you maintain.

With your own personal concierge, all flight and hotel arrangements (including redeeming points) are done for you.

You don't have to lift a finger.

Most Valuable Hotel Brands Worldwide (2017)

Receive the best treatment at the finest hotels with the Centurion Hotel Program

If you're a Black card member, you're probably spending a lot of nights in hotels all around the world.

And we're not talking about Motel 6.

For a Black cardholder, only the best will do, and that includes the hotels where they choose to stay.

Palaces, castles, spas, resorts, golf courses and other luxury accommodations are all par for the course for the Centurion owner.

Centurion cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Centurion Hotel Program, which has partnered with the world's best luxury hotels including Aman, Belmond, Oetker Collection, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, St. Regis, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

Many of those chic hotels offer standard rooms at $1,000 and up per night.

Get treated like royalty. With the Centurion Hotel Program, Black card owners receive a package of benefits including early check-in/late check-out, complimentary breakfast, room upgrades, and food and spa credits worth hundreds of dollars.

Some partners even offer complimentary third or fourth nights to Centurion Hotel Program members.

Elite status with other hotels. In addition to getting the full VIP treatment at some of the best hotels in the world, Black card members are offered elite status with four major hotel loyalty programs.

Starwood, Hilton, IHG, and Relais & Chateau Club 5C, all upgrade Centurion cardholders to the highest possible membership status for their customer appreciation programs.

The American Express Centurion's best value is for unbelievable air travel benefits

I've spent 18 years getting to know everything there is to know about credit cards.

In all that time, I have never seen anything even close to the travel benefits offered to people with the American Express Centurion charge card.

It's truly like they are in a league of their own.

For jet-setters who travel all the time, it's the air travel benefits that really make the Black card such a joy and privilege to have.

Let's start with the free companion tickets. It would be easy to make back the $2,500 annual fee every year just by taking advantage of the Black card's complimentary companion ticket program.

Now you may think that the Amex Platinum's complimentary companion ticket offer is pretty good—and you wouldn't be wrong.

It offers a complimentary companion ticket once a year on a full-fare, business class flight (actually, it's not really complimentary as there is a $39 fee).

That's an amazing benefit, but it pales in comparison to what the Black card offers.

The companion tickets aren't just free, they're also unlimited. That's right—for Centurion cardholders, the number of companion tickets is unlimited.

They still get charged airline fees and government taxes, and there might be better deals on discount flights.

But when a full-fare flight with a complimentary ticket costs less than two discounted tickets, this benefit delivers some serious value.

Access to over 900 airport lounges worldwide. Most people holding a Black card wouldn't dream of sitting on a bench at the gate waiting for their flight to arrive.

The dreary experience of waiting for a flight delay becomes a fun time having drinks and eating snacks at the bar with the multiple business airport lounges Centurion cardholders are eligible for.

They include Amex lounges exclusively for Platinum and Centurion customers at major airports.

Other lounges include the Delta SkyClub and the Priority Pass Select network.

The $200 annual airline credit fee comes in handy for incidental costs. Like the Platinum card, all Centurion cardholders receive a $200 airline credit every year to cover costs like baggage fees and in-flight food and beverages.

The red carpet is rolled out when you land. That means arrival services and pre-clearance membership. A credit for applying for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check makes customs a breeze for Centurion owners.

International arrival services also expedite Black card customers through customs and help coordinate ground transport.

The travel benefits don't stop at flights and hotels

Centurion cardholders are afforded the best possible experiences every step of the way.

Car rentals? How about a Lamborghini? Having a Black card means inclusion in elite car rental programs like the Avis President's Club and Hertz Platinum.

High-rollers with a Black card can rent luxury high-end automobiles at preferred rates.

Cruise privileges are available for over a dozen cruise lines. They include $100–$500in shipboard credit and additional amenities.

With the Centurion Concierge service, no request is denied

It's hard to put a price on the Centurion Concierge service.

Black card members are assigned a personal concierge to help with everything from making travel arrangements to buying gifts and setting up dinner reservations and ticket purchases.

The service is always available and just a phone call away.

The finest of dining experiences. Of course, if you're flashing a Black card you're only eating in the hottest restaurants in whatever city you are in.

Centurion Concierges have access to standing reservations at over 1,000 of the most exclusive restaurants in the world.

You can't have fine food without fine wine. Wine tastings, special purchase offers, and Napa Valley wine tours are offered exclusively to Centurion cardholders.

Top wine grape varieties growing in Napa county

Invite-only sports and entertainment experiences. American Express also organizes sports, fashion, and entertainment experiences offered only to its Black card customers.

In the past, these have included private boxes at the Kentucky Derby and Wimbledon and watching the Monaco Grand Prix from a private yacht.

The Black card also comes with shopping perks. Luxury shopping retailers give Centurion owners access to exclusive offers like gift certificates, private invite-only sales, events, and customized shopping experiences and services.

The benefits are worth more than the $2,500 annual fee

The rich jet-setters who are offered a Black card can take advantage of far more than $2,500 worth of value by using the Black card.

The benefits add up if you use them. Let's do a quick tally of some of the benefits offered and their value.

If you use the $200 annual airline credit and the $500 cruise ship credit, you're already at $700.

Joining the Hertz Platinum club for high-end car rentals at the preferred rate is worth $1,500, which brings us to $2,200.

The free first-class tickets push it over the top. Then you add in the complimentary companion tickets and we are going way beyond covering the $2,500 annual fee.

A domestic full-fare first/business class ticket pretty much anywhere is going to start at over $1,000.

If it's an international flight, it could be much, much more.

If you could take advantage of the complimentary first/business class companion ticket just a couple of times, that alone would cover the $2,500 annual fee.

You can't put a price on service. The thing is, the people with a Black card don't care about making back their annual fee.

They can more than afford it, and it's a small price to pay to be treated like royalty when traveling around the world.

The main reason they get the card is for the VIP services it affords them.

Privileges money can't buy. How do you put a price on a sports experience that no one else can even access?

What is it worth to have a concierge available to book you a table at the hottest restaurant in town?

Can you add up what it's worth to relax comfortably in an airport lounge, sipping a cocktail while you await your flight?

People with the Amex Black card live life on a whole other level, where price doesn't matter, and service is everything.

One of the most expensive purchases ever made on an Amex Black card was a private jet bought by tech billionaire Victor Schvetsky for $52 million.

For those who don't want to own their personal private jet, Amex has partnered with Delta Private Jets to give members exclusive access and benefits.

Notable Black Card Holders

Considering there are only 17,000 or so people in the world with a Black card in their wallet or purse, and they are indeed the richest of the rich, it's not surprising you've heard of some of them.

Ever heard of Beyoncé and Jay Z? Showbiz's hottest couple bring their Black card along when they're traveling the world and staying at 6-star hotels.

Jay-Z once paid a $250,000 bar bill with his Amex Black card.

He rented an entire lounge for his friends after a Coldplay concert and one wall was covered in bottles of the finest champagne.

One bottle was a 30-liter Midas, which was so big it took two men to deliver it to the party.

Jerry Seinfeld got first dibs. Today he's a spokesperson for American Express, but word has it Jerry Seinfeld was the first person ever to be offered the Black card when it came out in 1999.

John Mayer flashes the Black. Whether he's touring the world or filling up at the gas station, fans have noticed when the musician pulls out the Centurion.

Robert DeNiro has close ties with Amex. He was a Centurion owner when he made a commercial for American Express.

The company thanked him by signing on as the presenting sponsor of his Tribeca Film Festival.

Noel Gallagher can fulfill his every whim. The Oasis guitarist once pulled out his Black card in an interview and speculated:

"I could walk into a showroom and buy a Boeing 747.

You could have literally gone out and bought a house on a whim.

And I have a lot of whims."

Kanye even raps about his. You know the Centurion card has reached the status of cultural icon when it makes it into Kanye West's lyrics:

I went to the malls and I balled too hard / Oh my god, is that a Black card?!?

Of course, his famed wife, Kim Kardashian, is also a Black card owner.

Kim and Kanye are fabled to take their Black cards on "insane" shopping sprees after he signs a record deal or when her show gets renewed.

Kim has been known to drop $50K on designer dresses and spent $1 million on hand-stitched bedding for them to sleep on.

The Black list is the A-List. The celebrities who carry a Black card also include J-Lo, Ellen DeGeneres, Gordon Ramsay, Denzel Washington, Kate Moss, Lil' Wayne, Tiger Woods, and Martin Scorsese.

Advanced Strategies

The Black card is so elite, there isn't a lot of advice published on how best to actually use it.

Add a user for huge points (or, how to get a Black card without an invite)

There are so many people out there who would kill to own a Black card but simply aren't invited.

Major spending power, but no Centurion. Some of these people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Sign them on as an additional user and get their points. Centurion cardholders can add an additional user to their account.

If you know and trust someone who wants a Black card and spends big bucks every year, you can add them.

All the additional user has to do is pay a separate $2,500 annual fee.

Get a Black card with no invite. They will get the status, service, benefits, and prestige associated with having the Black card.

The original, invited cardholder will earn all of the added user's points when they use their Black card to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

For another premium credit card with a lower annual fee try the Chase Sapphire Preferred

Anyone would love to live the kind of luxury lifestyle people with the Amex Black lead.

Centurion owners live a life of true financial freedom, with the confidence of knowing they can buy anything they want at any time.

Other options are available. If you're unlikely to be invited to the Amex Black any time soon—or even qualify for the Amex Platinum—there are other premium travel cards you can consider.

Avoid cheap knock-offs. Don't go for the wannabe copycats, like the Visa Black or Mastercard Black. You'll be embarrassed when people realize the black card in your wallet is not Amex.

For a premium travel rewards credit card with a lower annual fee, a great option is the Chase Sapphire Preferred.

There's no annual fee or sign-up fee in the first year, and after that, it's only $95 a year.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card also comes with a massive 50,000-point sign-up bonus, redeemable for $500 in cash or $625 in hotels or airfare.

Convert Membership Rewards points into air miles for the greatest value

The travel rewards aficionados who carry a Black card almost always transfer their Membership Rewards points into air miles.

Airlines offer premium flights through points at a much lower price than normal.

Travel Class Preferred by Affluent Americans (2017)

Reduced air prices. For example, a member of the Star Alliance airline group (ANA of Japan) has offered a round-trip, business-class flight from the U.S. to Africa for 104,000 miles ($1,040 dollars if redeemed at one penny per point).

Normally the same flight would cost $5,000–$10,000.

When converted to airline travel miles, the points become much more valuable than they would have been worth if redeemed for gift cards, shopping, or booking travel.

Transferring into hotel points can work too. You can also look for exclusive deals offered to members of hotel loyalty programs, like Ritz-Carlton rewards, where your points can be stretched further than face value.

Now you've learned everything you need to know

I wish I could tell you to go right out and apply for one.

Unfortunately, that's not an option.

But you can use what you've learned here and take the right steps to improve your chances of someday getting invited.

Apply for the Platinum card today and take the first step everyone needs to take if they ever hope to get an invite.

Let's visualize what it will be like when your invitation arrives.

You'll check your mail, and in it will be a sleek, black box.

If you look closely, the American Express logo has been engraved on the box. It's hard to see because it's completely black.

You open it and there is a letter inside.

Dear [Insert Your Name Here],

The letter in your hands is incredibly rare.

It is one of a very limited number that will ever be printed because only a select few will be invited to join Centurion.

You keep reading and realize you've finally been invited to have your own Black card.

Your Black card has arrived—and so have you.

If you follow the steps we've provided in this Amex Black card review, your vision could become a reality.

Even if it seems out of reach today, take the first step and apply for the American Express Platinum today.

I've helped millions of people sign up for the credit card that's right for them.

The American Express Black card is the most exclusive one out there.

You deserve to have the very best, and someday it will be within reach.

I'd love it if you could take what you learned here, apply it, and come back someday with your own story of getting invited to sign up for a Centurion.

What do you think about the Black card?

Is it something you would personally aspire for?

Do you know any information about this ultra-exclusive card we've missed?

Let us know in the comments below!

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Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.