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

credit card advice

Linsey Knerl
By: Linsey Knerl
Posted: June 16, 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 American Express Black 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

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

5.0/5.0
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • Use your rewards instantly at Amazon.com checkout.
  • No annual fee.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
0% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

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 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
  • 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
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
5.0

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime
  • Travel when you want with no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0 intro for first year; $95 after that
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
  • Enjoy new 5% categories each quarter like gas stations, restaurants and drugstores
  • 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 15.99-24.74%. Balance transfer fee is 5% of the amount transferred, $5 minimum
  • No minimum to redeem for cash back
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 15 months
0% for 15 months
15.99% - 24.74% Variable
$0
Excellent/Good
Discover it® - 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate.
  • Redeem your cash back for any amount, any time. Cash rewards never expire.
  • 100% U.S. based customer service.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 6 months
0% for 18 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent
Wells Fargo Cash Wise Visa® Card Review

at Wells Fargo'ssecure website

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.9/5.0
  • Earn a $200 cash rewards bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases
  • 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 13.99%-25.99% variable APR; balance transfer fees apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 12 months
0% for 12 months
13.99%-25.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent/Good

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

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 from account opening, 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; 12.99%-22.99% 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
12.99% - 22.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good
Discover it® Miles Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • We'll match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles.
  • Unlimited 1.5x Miles per dollar on all purchases, every day, with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
  • Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 14 months
10.99% for 14 months
11.99% - 23.99% Variable
$0
Good/Excellent

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • One-time $150 cash bonus after you spend $500 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Use your Quicksilver card and get 50% back as a statement credit on your monthly Spotify Premium subscription, now through April 2018
  • No rotating categories or sign-ups needed to earn cash rewards; plus, cash back won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how much you can earn
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that
  • Balance transfers also have a 0% intro APR for 9 months; 13.99%-23.99% variable APR after that; a 3% fee applies to each balance transferred
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
0% for 9 months
13.99% - 23.99% (Variable)
$0
Excellent, Good

EXCELLENT CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.8/5.0
  • Earning unlimited 1.5% cash back could mean thousands of dollars each year going back into your business
  • Plus, a one-time $200 cash bonus once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening
  • Save on interest with 0% intro APR on purchases for 9 months; 13.99%-21.99% variable APR after that
  • No annual fee
  • Use Spark Cash Select across all your business spend, with no categories to limit your purchasing
  • Rewards won't expire for the life of the account, and you can redeem your cash back for any amount
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
0% for 9 months
N/A
13.99% - 21.99% (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