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

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl
By: Linsey Knerl
Posted: April 21, 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  |  10 “Easier to Get” Alternatives

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.

10 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 Card'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
11.74% – 23.74% Variable
$0
Excellent, Good

BEST OVERALL 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 15.74-24.49%. 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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

BEST OVERALL 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 15.74-24.49%. 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
15.74% - 24.49% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval, equal to $200 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day and pay no annual fee
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Enjoy a low intro APR on purchases for 12 months; 12.74%-22.74% variable APR after that
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
N/A
12.74% - 22.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 2% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $500 cash bonus once you spend $4,500 on purchases within 3 months of approval
  • Use Spark Cash across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $59 after that
  • Rewards don't expire, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount, anytime
  • Get employee cards at no additional cost, and earn rewards from their business spend
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.74% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $59 after that
Excellent, Good Credit
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL 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
11.74% – 23.74% Variable
$0
Excellent, Good
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • New! Earn a $200 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
  • No category restrictions or sign ups and cash rewards don't expire as long as your account remains open
  • Get up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card
  • 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
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Our Take: "If you're looking for a card that gives you air miles, your search is over. This card helps you earn free flights with multiple airlines, awards very generous bonuses, and offers a low APR to boot.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles on every dollar spent
  • Cover travel costs by redeeming the miles in any amount for a statement credit
  • Fly any airline, any time
  • No blackout dates
  • At the end of your first year, the card automatically matches the miles you've earned (only for new cardmembers)"
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
11.74% – 23.74% Variable
$0
Excellent, Good
Barclaycard CashForward™ World Mastercard® Review

at Barclaycard'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase
  • Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
  • Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50
  • Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on Balance Transfers made within 45 days of account opening. After that, a variable APR will apply, 15.74%, 20.74% or 25.74%, based on your creditworthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months (on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening)
15.74%, 20.74% or 25.74% Variable
$0
Excellent

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earn 1.5 miles per $1 on every purchase, every day
  • Plus, a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months of approval
  • Miles don't expire, and there are no categories to limit where or what you buy
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.74%-21.74% variable APR after that
  • Pay no annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • Get online Quarterly and Year-End Summaries
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
13.74% - 21.74% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good Credit

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