Gary from View From the Wing (H/T) has reported that there are changes coming to the American Express Centurion Card. It’s a shame that most of the changes are negative. But at the same time, not that many people will be affected by them.

The American Express Centurion Card (AKA the Black Card) is American Express’ top charge card. It’s not available to the public and potential applicants must be invited by American Express to apply.

However, accepting such an invitation (if you are lucky enough to receive one) is not the best idea. That’s because the Centurion Card is basically the same as the American Express Platinum Card. But the Centurion Card offers some additional benefits and a much higher annual fee.

 

Overview of the Centurion Card

The Centurion Card has no sign-up bonus and a terrible earning structure. It earns just one point per dollar on all purchases, which is what the Amex Green Card used to earn until recently. Furthermore, it has the same transfer partners and other redemption options as the other Membership Rewards (MR) Point-earning cards.

The Centurion Card comes with most of the perks from the Platinum Card. But it also comes with more perks that can also be found on other cards.

But what separates the Centurion Card from the Platinum Card is the extreme annual fee. The annual fee for the Centurion Card is currently $2,500. But there is also a one-time initiation fee of $7,500 when you get your card. That’s a total of $10,000 just for getting the card! For comparison, the Platinum Card has a $550 annual fee and no initiation fee.

 

What’s Going On?

The following changes are coming to the Centurion Card on April 1, 2020:

Annual Fee Increase

The first major change is that the Centurion Card is doubling its annual fee to $5,000. This makes the barrier to entry even larger for those who are invited. But American Express can practically do what they want because there is maybe only one other card like the Centurion in the United States. That card is the JP Morgan Reserve Card, which is similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Initiation Fee Increase

The Centurion Card is also increasing its one-time initiation fee to $10,000. That means that new Centurion cardholders must pay Amex $15,000 before they even get their new black card. H/T to Sebastian from Ask Sebby.

New Benefits

But the biggest changes are with the card’s benefits. American Express has added some credits and memberships to the Centurion Card.

The first new benefit is a $1,000 credit to Saks Fifth Avenue each year. That’s 10 times the amount that the personal Platinum Card offers. Use of this credit in full brings the Centurion Card’s “net annual fee” to $4,000.

Cardholders will also receive complimentary CLEAR membership for them and their family members. However, the Centurion Card also comes with Global Entry and Pre-TSA membership. That makes this perk redundant for some cardholders. But at least they get more options to pick a program to use.

Cardholders will also receive membership to Equinox, a high-end gym franchise based in New York City. Plus, they will receive membership to The Private Suite in LAX. This perk provides security and tarmac transfers at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). While it sounds prestigious, it is not a perk that many Centurion cardholders would use.

Benefits Being Removed

American Express is also removing the $200 Airline Incidentals Credit and the Boingo Wi-Fi credits from the Centurion Card. However, the former perk can be found on the personal Platinum Card. And the latter credit can still be found on the Business Platinum Card.

 

Final Draw

The American Express Centurion Card is one of the most high-end cards on the market. It’s so high-end that it’s not available to the general public. However, the Platinum Card or its business counterpart are better options than the Centurion Card.

For “just” $550 (or $595 for the Business Platinum Card), you will receive most of the benefits that come with the Centurion Card. And there are other individual cards that come with the benefits found on the Centurion Card. For example, the Centurion Card comes with Hilton Diamond Elite Status. But so does the Hilton Aspire, which is an amazing card that’s available to the public for just $450.

The Centurion Card’s changes are coming on April 1, 2020.