How to Get a “Black Card” – American Express® Requirements

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl
By: Linsey Knerl
Posted: March 8, 2017
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

If you’ve heard the buzz surrounding the American Express® “Black Card”, you already know that it’s the velvet rope of consumer credit options. This invite-only charge card, formally known as the Centurion, has been used to proclaim status, both in spending and in credit-worthiness. But what is a Black Card? And what does it take to get an invite to this “members-only” club?

It’s an elite card used most often by celebrities and the ultra-rich, with the card itself being made of anodized titanium. While the information isn’t as readily available as the terms for more common cards, there are some rather strict requirements to be aware of.

Invitation Only  |  For the Ultra Rich  |  5 “Easier-to-Get” Cards

Black Cards are Invitation Only

Like most elite experiences, the card is invite-only at the moment, with no indication that this will change anytime soon. Loyal American Express® cardholders are most likely the target market for those on the VIP list, including both long-time business and personal charge card customers.

Since there is no way to officially “apply,” your best bet is to check out the requirements for members to see if your habits and qualifications match up. Most people realize that it’s not about knowing how to get a Black Card, but rather managing the very strict thresholds for eligibility.

Those wondering “What is a Black Card?” should also know that there are some unique perks for members, including access to airline lounges and VIP treatments at spas and hotels.

Black Card Requirements: For One, Be a Multi-Millionaire

Credit scores used to be one of the most important factors in getting a great credit card offer, and the Black Card is no different. The card, available to just 0.1 percent of the population according to The Motley Fool, would most likely only be offered to those who can handle its high-limits and spending power.

While the jury is out on what the exact cut-off is for a qualifying credit score, common sense would dictate that you must have an excellent and established history of spending and payments with an existing American Express® card to even be considered for this premium offer.

The typical card user won’t be using their card in a way that meets Black Card requirements because most people don’t spend that much.

A photo of the AmEx Black Credit Card

The American Express Centurion card, nicknamed the “Black Card,” is invitation only.

While it’s rumored that only Platinum Amex members would have the credit lines available to push spending to the limits of qualifying, the required $250,000 a year in purchases and payoffs can likely come from any qualifying card. No matter what card you use, however, it’s obvious that you need the income to both buy and repay a massive amount of goods and services to be Black Card material.

In addition to the high spending thresholds needed to be invited and maintain your status, there is a cost to join, as well. Annual membership fees are currently $7,500 for initiation. (This is on top of the $2,500 annual fee per card!) That means the perks you use must likely be high valued enough to make it worth the cost.

5 Easier Black Card Alternatives

If you haven’t received a Black Card invitation and don’t happen to be a millionaire with a near-perfect credit score, that’s quite alright. There are many other cards that offer robust credit lines, awesome rewards, and other great features for the rest of us.

Here are our favorite alternatives to the Black Card, along with links to each card’s online application:

Discover it® Cashback Match™ Review

at Discover'ssecure website

  • Our Take: "One of our favorite cards, with long 0% intro APRs, low ongoing APRs, awesome cash back rewards, and lots more.
  • 5% cash back in categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases
  • Matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.49% - 23.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase — it's automatic
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Redeem for cash — any amount, anytime
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
  • No annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.49% - 24.24% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn a $150 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening
  • Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases — it's automatic
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers, then a variable APR of 15.49-24.24%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months
  • Cash Back rewards do not expire as long as your account is open
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.49% - 24.24% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover'ssecure website

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Our Take: "With a ridiculously good deal on balance transfers, low APR's, and a generous cash-back program, we can see why this card is so popular.
  • 0% Intro APR on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 5% cash back in rotating categories that rotate quarterly, up to $1,500 per quarter when you sign up for the quarterly bonus
  • 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Matches the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year (only for new cardmembers)
  • No limit to the amount of cash back that can be matched"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
11.49% - 23.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Credit Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn $150 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on virtually every purchase
  • Enjoy 1.8% cash rewards on qualified mobile wallet purchases, like Apple Pay® or Android Pay™, during the first 12 months from account opening
  • Cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 0% Intro APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers, then a 13.74%-25.74% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.74%-25.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

Final Thoughts

For those wondering just how to get a Black Card, the answer is pretty obvious (and pricey!): spend often, and on big purchases, with the intent to pay back promptly. If you find that you can’t qualify for the posh requirements of the American Express® Centurion card, you may want to consider other “elite” options. VISA and MasterCard have their own cards with elite benefits, and they may be more open to new recruits.

Black Card images courtesy of BusinessTech and Vecer MK