What is the American Express Black Card?

Finance Journalist · 30 September 2021
The American Express Centurion Card, known colloquially as the Amex Black Card, is an invite-only card. It’s thought to be the most exclusive card in the world with consumers being kept in the dark when it comes to its eligibility criteria.

What is the Amex Black Card?

The Amex Black Card is an invitation-only charge card thought to be reserved for Amex’s biggest-spending customers. The card itself is made from anodised titanium and is identifiable by its distinctive black colour.

The idea of Amex having an exclusive black card started as a myth in the 1980s. But in 1999, Amex decided to act on the rumours and create one.

“There had been rumours going around that we had this ultra-exclusive black card for elite customers,” the director of Amex Europe, Doug Smith, told fact-checking website Snopes. “It wasn’t true, but we decided to capitalise on the idea anyway.”

The card has taken on a life of its own since then, cementing itself as a status symbol in pop culture, from James Bond flashing a Centurion Card in Quantum of Solace to Kanye West rapping about using a black card. In 2015, Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian used his Amex Black Card to purchase a US$170 million painting.

How do I get an Amex Black Card?

You cannot apply for an Amex Centurion Card. In fact, the card is not even listed on Amex’s website. You can only get an Amex Black Card if you receive an invitation. While the exact eligibility requirements are not publicly known, based on reports from existing Australian cardholders, Australian Frequent Flyer says you will need to:

  • Have a high income
  • Have held an Amex Platinum Card for at least six to 12 months
  • Be spending at least $100,000 a year on your card

If you meet the eligibility criteria, Amex may send you an invitation to apply for a Centurion Card. You can also request an invitation by contacting Amex.

What is the limit on an Amex Black Card?

As a charge card, the Amex Black Card is thought to have no pre-set spending limit. However, this doesn’t mean there is an unlimited spending limit. Amex says purchases on any of their charge charges will be approved based on a variety of factors, including current spending patterns, payment history, credit records and financial resources.

Charge card cardholders also have to pay off the balance on the card in full each month. This is different to credit cards, where cardholders can choose to pay off the balance in full or in part (which incurs interest). Credit cards also come with a set spending limit.

How much does the Amex Black Card cost in Australia?

According to industry sources, the Amex Black Card is thought to charge a $5,000 initiation fee and a $5,000 annual fee. However, according to some cardholders quoted in online forums, you may be able to get the initial $5,000 fee waived in some circumstances.

As it is a charge card, this type of card would not incur interest. However, charge cards require you to pay your balance in full every month or you will be charged a fee.

What are the benefits of an Amex Black Card?

The Amex Black Card is rumoured to come with significant perks. While Amex does not publicly provide information about the benefits, based on reports from existing cardholders and media sources, benefits are speculated to include such things as:

  • The ability to earn Reward Points that can be transferred to the airline points, including Qantas Frequent Flyer and Virgin Frequent Flyer points
  • International Airfare Program which can give you discounted First and Business Class airfares with airlines like Qantas, Virgin, Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airlines
  • Access to airport lounges, including the Centurion Lounge
  • Qantas Club membership
  • Emirates Skywards Gold Tier membership
  • Accor Plus membership
  • Hotel Elite Status including Hilton Honors Diamond Status, Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Shangri-La Gold Circle Diamond membership
  • Avis President’s Club and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle
  • Concierge services
  • Travel insurance

Keep in mind that these are unconfirmed reports, which have not been verified by Amex itself.

The table below displays a snapshot of American Express platinum or higher credit cards listed on Canstar’s database. 

What is the difference between the Amex Black Card and Amex Platinum Card?

As some commentators have pointed out, Amex’s Platinum Card offers some of the features rumoured to be attached to having the Amex Black Card. The Platinum Card has a cheaper annual fee (of $1,450) than the rumoured Amex Black Card fee.

Like the Amex Black Card, the Platinum Card is a charge card so it comes with no pre-set spending limit. The Platinum Card is also aimed at high-income individuals and requires cardholders to have a minimum annual income of $100,000.

The Platinum Card currently offers features including the ability to earn Reward Points which can be transferred to airline points, access to airport lounges (including the Centurion Lounge), the International Airline Program which gives discounts on some First and Business Class fares, Platinum Card Concierge services, complimentary travel insurance and Hotel Elite status.

Unlike the Amex Black Card, you can apply for an Amex Platinum Card online as long as you meet the eligibility requirements which are publicly available on the Amex website.

Considering a premium credit card? Compare a snapshot of the current market offerings for premium credit cards in the table below, based on products on Canstar’s database sorted by Star Rating (highest to lowest), then by provider name (alphabetically). The Star Ratings shown are based on a monthly spend of $5,000. 

Cover image source: hfng/Shutterstock.com

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This content was reviewed by Finance and Lifestyle Editor Shay Waraker and Digital Editor Amanda Horswill as part of our fact-checking process.

Tamika covers personal finance for Canstar, specialising in banking and general insurance. She joined the team after completing a Bachelor of Journalism and Bachelor of Laws (Honours) at QUT. She has previously written for a range of news, music and arts publications.

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