Centurion Card

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The titanium Centurion Card

The Centurion Card, popularly known as the Black Card or the Monte Card, is a charge card issued by American Express. The card is available on selected American Express markets only, mainly the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. The Centurion Card provides access to a range of exclusive benefits, depending on the country where the card is issued.

To become a Centurion cardholder, one must meet American Express's strict criteria. Cardholders are required to pay an annual fee, and in some countries also an initiation fee.

As of 2007, the annual fee in the United States was $2,500, with a one-time $5,000 initiation fee for the first year.

The benefits of the UK Centurion card were upgraded in December 2008, and the annual fee rose from £650 to £1,800 .


[edit] Availability and fees

As of August 1, 2007, in the United States, stated requirements to become a card holder included minimum spending of $250,000 in a 12 month period, and exceptional credit history. In the UK, there was no minimum annual spend although it is reported that spending £10,000 a month was standard.[citation needed] Requirements for acceptance in other countries differ.

The International Euro (IEC) or Dollar (IDC) Centurion cards issued by Amex UK for customers in Europe, Middle-East and Africa offer up to 22 cards included in the annual fee, including a titanium Centurion Card for the main cardholder, an additional Centurion Card in black plastic for the main cardholder, a supplementary Centurion Card in black plastic for a family member, and up to 19 supplementary cards in green, gold or platinum for family members.[citation needed]

Hong Kong Centurion Invitation Kit
Centurion Card Annual Fees
Country Annual Fee Equivalent to
United States US$ 2,500 + One-time joining
fee of US$ 5,000
US$ 2,500
+US$ 5,000
United Kingdom £1,800 (from January 2009) US$ 2,800
Canada CDN$2,500 + One-time joining
fee of CDN$5,000
+US$4,000 (1:1.25 rate)
France, Italy, Spain,
The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden
€ 2,000 US$ 2,600
Germany € 1,000 US$ 1,300
Switzerland CHF 2,000 US$ 1,700
Australia AU$ 4,300 US$ 2,800
Japan ¥ 367,500 US$ 3,900
Hong Kong HK$ 19,800 + One-time joining
fee of HK$ 23,800
US$ 2,600
+US$ 3,000
Singapore SG$ 5,000 US$ 3,300
Mexico About 33,000 pesos US$ 2,500
International Dollar Currency Card
US$ 2,800
International Euro Currency Card
€ 2,800 US$ 4,200
Israel US$ 2,000 US$ 2,000
Russia 85000 Rubles US$ 3,100
Brazil R$4.500 US$ 1,900

[edit] Features

The card, available for personal and business use, offers numerous 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 Escada, Gucci, and Neiman Marcus, access to airport clubs, first class flight upgrades, membership in Sony's Cierge personal shopping program, and dozens of other elite club memberships. 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 (except for the New York City property),[1] and privileges at hotel chains like Ritz-Carlton, Leading Hotels of the World, and Amanresorts. All of the benefits mentioned above are for United States-issued cards. American Express Centurion cards issued in other countries may include different benefits. The card has recently added new amenities, including access into the Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Gold, as well as US Airways Platinum Preferred status as of June 1, 2007. As of August 14, 2007, American Airlines Admirals Club access was added to the long list of amenities.[2] The card also features complimentary enrollment in Hertz Rent A Car #1 Club Gold and the Avis Rent A Car Presidents club.[3]

A new Centurion card crafted from anodized titanium was issued as a replacement for all plastic U.S. Centurion cards in the first half of 2006, with the titanium version being rolled out to certain other countries as well. This new card is slightly thicker than a standard credit card, and therefore is sometimes difficult to insert and remove from some card readers, such as the ones found on gas station pumps, and point of sale terminals.

[edit] Concierge

The concierge service allows Centurion (and Platinum) Card holders to call or email requests for tickets, dinner reservations, and shopping research[citation needed]. Centurion Card holders will typically have a higher success rate in more difficult situations due to the prestige of the "black card"[citation needed].

[edit] Publications

Since the inception of the card, members have received a copy of Departures magazine, which is also sent to all Platinum cardholders. However, in 2004, American Express Centurion members began to receive an exclusive "no name" magazine which was not available by any other means. Starting with the Spring 2007 edition, this magazine has been officially titled "Black Ink". The reason given by Ed Ventimiglia, the publisher, was that "now the magazine will be easier to identify when discussing it with like-minded readers." European, Asian and Australian Centurion members receive quarterly the Centurion magazine, published by Journal International GmbH (Munich, Germany).

According to Journal International, the average age of a Centurion cardholder is 49 years. 94% of primary cardholders are male and they have an average of 3.3 properties. Their average household income is €653,000 and their average total net worth is €4.5million. They have an average disposable monthly income of €8,800. Centurion Magazine 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.[4]

[edit] In Popular Culture

Due to the mystique of the Centurion Card, it has been often referenced in popular culture. For example, in Mercedes Lackey & Rosemary Edghill's 2001 fantasy novel Beyond World's End, the half-elven Ria Llewellyn "pulled out her card to pay. Nothing as paltry as a platinum AmEx for Ria Llewellyn: what she placed on the server tray was an indigo-and-black Centurion AmEx. The user fees alone for the card were over ten thousand dollars a year, with all charges due in full at the end of each month.".

In Lauren Weisberger's 2005 novel Everyone Worth Knowing, a co-worker of the main character, Bette, pays for dinner with a black card: "There it was, the mythical American Express black card. Available by invitation only to those who charged a minimum of $250,000 per year. I had only just learned about it myself."[5]

Likewise, in Kresley Cole's 2006 novel A Hunger Like No Other, the half vampire/half Valkyrie character Emmaline Troy is noted to have a black Centurion AmEx, which is confiscated by her Lykae mate Lachlain MacReive. In Sherrilyn Kenyon's 2008 Novel Acheron, the main character, a God, provides one of his underlings with a Black American Express and tells her to "go shop."

Also in Stuart Woods's 2008 novel "Santa Fe Dead", Eleanor Keeler is mentioned as having a Black Amex Card. In John Ringo's 2007 Technothriller, "A Deeper Blue", Mike (Ghost) Jenkins purchases a Ford Mustang GT and 10 Black Ford Expeditions in Orlando Florida for himself and his Keldara Spec Ops troops with his Titanium Card. Business Executive and Entrepreneur Samir N. Ghazal, when wanting to pay, tells everyone he has a gift card, and hands over his card.

In the film version of Quantum of Solace, James Bond has his Centurion Card rejected at the airport after "M" revokes all of his passports and credit cards. The card is black and the AMEX logo is very visible in the scene. James Bond's Centurion Card is also seen in the previous film Casino Royale, when Bond uses it to pay for a villa at the Ocean Club in the Bahamas. The black card is visible as he hands it over to the receptionist.

In the TV series Zoey 101 Logan is seen on occasion using his black "United Express" card, a takeoff of the Centurion Card.

In the HBO series Entourage, Vincent Chase lives off his "Black Card" after the fictional film "Medellin" bombs.

In the HBO series Eastbound & Down the Tampa agent offers his American Express "black card" as credentials.

Music artists like Nickelback ("Shakin' Hands"), Chamillionaire ("Pimp Mode"), Pink (Boring), Jay-Z (30 Something), Kanye West (Last Call), Bow Wow (Marco Polo , Oh I Think They Like Me , and Get Money), Lil Wayne (Get It Shawty Remix), Fabolous (Yep, I'm Back), MC Chris (Blastic), Swizz Beatz (That Oprah), and Ludacris (I Know What Them Girls Like), Clipse (Re-Up Intro), and Joe Thug (GD LIFE) reference the card in their songs.[6]

[edit] Competitors

The Centurion Card was the first "Black Card", but other card issuers are attempting to enter this lucrative high-end market.

In the UK NatWest bank launched a "Black Card" in 2002, and MasterCard's Signia, which is issued in the United Kingdom by Coutts & Co bank. Barclays offers the i24card and there is also the Carbon card from Halifax, all designed to provide similar benefits to its wealthy clientèle. Wachovia Bank N.A. also has capitalized upon the trend by offering its Wealth Management clients black-colored Visa Signature cards with concierge service and no pre-set spending limits, along with 1.5% back on all transactions.

The Mastercard Moments website[7] mentions the following card types: Diamond, Black, World and Titanium.

As of 2008, Visa has released their Black Card to a range of limited members (1% of US citizens). For an annual fee of $495, members will receive a variety of "luxury gifts" and have access to the Travel Lounge Priority Pass which allows VIP access in certain airports around the world,for a fee of $27 each time for each person. Furthermore, the card is made of black carbon graphite, giving it a slick look. [8] Scott Blum (Buy.com founder) has shown involvement in the card as well. Blum's ThinkTank Holdings LLC announced in 2007 that they would be launching a high-end credit card business with a credit card made out of carbon fiber (patent pending), codenamed “Next Card," which ultimately launched in December 2008 as the "Visa Black Card" instead. This high-tech credit card is aimed at both individuals and corporations for an annual fee of $495. The card has been launched including 24-hour concierge service, points, rewards, and other benefits. [9]

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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