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Getting A Black Card for Dummies Book (yes, we are scared too)

What does $199 get you? A semi-decent hotel room, probably a good dinner, plenty of drinks for a night (so long as you’re not drinking a really nice wine), or some crazy book on how to get a Centurion card? Our guess is that the only thing this book “Getting A Black Card For Dummies” gets you, is $199 closer to your $250,000 required annual spend (in a rolling 12 month period) with American Express. Ever hear the expression if it is too good to be true it probably is? Well, if you could get the card by spending $199 everyone would have it, and it wouldn’t be worth anything anymore would it? Worried about Madoff Ponzi schemes of late? If yes, steer clear, if not, hey, buy this book that alleges “no need to increase your spending”! Although hey, we don’t know first hand, since we haven’t read the book, but it does remind us a lot of our previous post on the “black card kit” that you too can buy for $75 or $29.99 (is it even metal??). So now you can look like you have money, even though you really don’t, but paid $29 to look like you do? We think it would be best if to focus on actually making money, and if you do want a Centurion Card, then you should read our guide, which many of our readers and (Centurion card holders) helped write.

If you don’t believe us regarding the “Black Card for Dummies Book“, feel free to prove us wrong (prove that the books truly are meant for dummies), and buy the book (good luck).

We welcome you to submit your stories and comments to us when you get your Centurion Card, or if you’d rather waste a little less (it is the time to save) spend $29.99 and get the black card kit?

Don’t worry, we have nothing to do with either of these schemes!

Centurion Card for Dummies Book

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Visa CEO Loses Wallet

Wonder what other plastic he’s got in there? Think Centurion/Black AmEx Card and a MasterCard World Elite! Keep in mind, if he did have the Centurion Card, he could have had all of his cards replaced through the card replacement program, although, I’m sure he’s got enough personal assistants to take care of that.

“I’m supposed to start off, and say that I’m very happy to be here, and I guess I am. But it’s 4:15 in the morning as far as I’m concerned, and I lost my wallet on the way here,” Saunders said. “It’s rather embarrassing when somebody steals my credit cards.” The comment prompted laughter.
Saunders began his presentation at 7:15 a.m EST.

via Reuters

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Harrison Gevirtz, 16 year old Black Card Holder

Sorry Bow Wow, Harrison Gevirtz likes the Black Card Travel Benefits the best, see these interviews with him.

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Black Card How-To Guide

How to Get an American Express Centurion Card (Black Card)



The Centurion Card aka Black Card aka Black AMEX started out as an urban myth regarding a credit card that turned reality on October 14, 1999. “There had been rumors going around that we had this ultra-exclusive black card for elite customers,” says Doug Smith, director of American Express Europe. “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.” This is where it gets a bit crazy, as many people still know more than of the rumor than the actual card, whose requirements have adjusted since it’s original inception in 1999.

Despite all the mystery and hooplah, the Centurion Card is simply a higher form of the American Express Platinum Card; If you’re familiar with traditional American Express cards, they work the same way, there is no “specific limit” per se, but the limit is set according to your relationship with American Express, just as with the Green, Gold, and Platinum cards. As for benefits, well the Centurion Card has a long list of benefits the other cards don’t, most notably automatic elite status on multiple airlines such as Continental, Delta, US Air, Virgin, etc. (Please see the benefits page for more detail)


American Express has changed the Centurion Card back to Invitation only as of 10/2009.

  • The American Express Centurion Card is Invitation Only Again
  • Have been an existing American Express Platinum cardholder for a minimum of 1 year.
  • Spend $250,000 USD (and pay off) within a rolling 12-month period.

Starting from zero?

If you’re starting from zero, the best thing to do is probably sign up for traditional American Express Card. By traditional card I mean the Green, Gold or preferably the Platinum Card. Keep in mind that if you are not approved for the Platinum Card out of the gate it is still best to get a Green card, as you can work towards getting upgraded to Platinum over time.

Secondly, a point often looked over is that the $250,000 is counted in aggregate spend across all personalAmerican Express Corporate Card spending is not eligible spend. Finally, should you trust others, you may choose to add them as additional card members on your account, as this spending counts against the primary card holder as well. American Express cards under the account holder. This means that you do not have to run everything across your American Express Platinum Card, you may choose to, for example, run charges on your Clear from American Express Card, and pay them later (traditional American Express cards, Green, Gold, Platinum, Centurion, are dull in full each month). Further, if you have a traditional American Express (Green, Gold, Por latinum) Business Card, this is considered personal, as it is essentially derived from your personal credit report and history. Please note:

  • Sign up for a traditional American Express Card (Green, Gold, preferably the Platinum Card).  Requirements for the Platinum Card are a minimum annual income of $100,000, and a minimum credit score of 630 (at least that is what it was before the credit crunch started). Click here to get FICO Scores and Credit Reports from, instantly.
  • Sign up for a traditional Credit Card with American Express such as the Blue American Express Card (to allow flexibility with payments, like normal credit cards).
  • Add additional cardmembers, spouses, siblings (someone you trust, this is your credit!)
  • Spend $20,833.33 a month over a rolling twelve month period.

Spend a lot, and make sure it’s all via AMEX

It may seem somewhat impossible at first, unless you truly do make a fortune like Jay Z and Britney Spears, but it can be done. Keep in mind some of the following:

  • Pay rent or mortgage if possible with your American Express card.
  • Use Bill Pay features and pay all possible bills with the card: Wireless, Utilities, Telephone, Internet, Insurance.
  • Avoid using all other cards if possible and make all charges across your personal American Express cards.
  • If you own your business charge all possible business expenses on the cards, if you work for a company run all corporate expenses that are eligible to be expensed via personal credit card (airfare, hotel, car rental, meals, etc)
  • If you are a small business owner run all expenses possible through the card.

Apply for the Card

It’s no longer invitation only, so if you have the American Express Platinum card, and you think you’ve spent over 250k in the past 12 months, then call up and find out 1-800-528-4800. The Platinum Representative will gladly tabulate your spend and see if you qualify for the card.

If you’re accepted congratulations! And by the way, you’ll be billed $5,000 initiation fee, and $2,500 for annual membership, for a total of $7,500 due at the end of the first billing cycle after having received the card (approximately 30 days).

Also, here are some books that might be helpful:

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Wall Street Journal 5/13/1988 – An American Express Black Card?

The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright (c) 1988, Dow Jones & Co., Inc.)


It was the ultimate in plastic — while it lasted, which wasn’t long, because so many of its holders found it easy to leave home without it.

The card was held by an ultra-select group of consumers who numbered fewer than 1,000 around the world. As a complement to their garden-variety American Express credit cards, it offered services as freebies.

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. In the market for a red 1965 Ferrari? If you were a black-card holder, American Express would kick tires in the world’s fanciest used-car lots. If you remembered in Singapore that you had left your favorite suit in a Hong Kong penthouse, the company would arrange to fetch it.

After a trial that lasted nearly four years, American Express abandoned the card in 1987. “It just wasn’t worth keeping it up,” says Lee Middleton, a company spokesman.

The card was never advertised. It was unobtainable by a large part of the world’s population, among them poor people and Americans. The card was given only to clients who had what Mr. Middleton calls a “substantial banking relationship” with American Express Bank Ltd., the New York parent of American Express’s bank subsidiaries in Switzerland. Because the Bank Holding Company Act kept the bank from doing business with Yanks, the card went only to rich foreigners.

While the card offered high-class ID for check-cashing, and free services, nothing could actually be charged on it. For charges, the card-holders were billed on their platinum- or gold- or green-card accounts.

Clients who did use their black cards got highly personal treatment. So few were the users that when they phoned American Express the “people at the other end of the phone would know who they were dealing with,” says Mr. Middleton. Typical chores included dispatching limousines or helicopters for clients, booking their vacations and finding medical care in exotic places. But Mr. Middleton says the platinum card, which didn’t exist when the black card was introduced, now offers “about 95%” of the black card’s services.

Ms. Rothman is a staff reporter in The Wall Street Journal’s New York bureau.

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