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The Centurion Card from American Express is perhaps the most desirable piece of plastic anodized titanium out there, due in no small part to the shroud of secrecy that surrounds it. Unless you’re invited to apply and accepted (more on how that happens later), Amex keeps a tight lid on the numerous benefits and exclusive perks available to cardholders.

Luckily, though, thanks to some kind TPG sources who are lucky enough to be part of the Centurion “club” (including TPG himself — he has the business version), we can share a comprehensive rundown of the benefits. And since not everyone can meet the big spender requirements to score this top-tier card, we’ll highlight other cards that offer some of the same benefits along with better rewards for travel spending.

Getting the Card

First thing’s first: There are two versions of the Centurion Card — a business one and a personal one. It’s potentially much more feasible to get the card as a business owner, but either way it requires racking up significant charges.

There’s no official requirement for Centurion eligibility, but we’re talking big bucks. Amex reportedly extends invitations to apply for the business card only if you’ve spent (and paid off) at least $450,000 (or $500,000 — we’ve heard both) across all your Amex accounts in a calendar year. For the personal card, the bar is set around $350,000. Note that these amounts aren’t officially confirmed, and just because you spend enough and have good standing across accounts doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be invited to apply. Part of the exclusivity of the Centurion Card is that there’s a secret formula behind who gets invited.

Fees and Payments

The initiation and annual fees for the Centurion Card make the charges for other top-tier cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Citi Prestige ($550 and $450 respectively per year) look like child’s play. There’s an initiation fee of $7,500 along with an annual fee of $2,500. You’ll pay $2,500 for an additional cardholder, and you’re only allowed to add two. There are no foreign transaction fees.

Card Benefits

Like with the Amex Platinum and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, the Centurion Card really delivers when it comes to non-spending benefits. You’ll earn one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent (worth 1.9 cents, according to TPG’s latest valuations), and there are no bonus categories, though you do get 1.5x points on all purchases over $5,000 up to 1 million extra points per year.

Many of the perks you’ll find below fall under the lifestyle and luxury experience categories, though there’s also a selection of travel-related benefits, from hotel status to airport lounge access and baggage insurance. Frequent travelers looking to be rewarded for their airline and other transportation spending should check out cards such as the Amex Platinum, which offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve (with a $450 annual fee), which offers 3x points on travel and dining purchases.

Hotel Elite Status

St Regis Saadiyat Featured
Receive Starwood Preferred Guest Gold perks at properties like the St. Regis Saadiyat Island.

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold — Enjoy room upgrades at check-in (when available), 4pm late checkout and the ability to earn 3 Starpoints per dollar on your stays. The Points Guy values SPG Gold status at $690 per year. Note that SPG Gold status will be converted to Gold status in the new Marriott program, which is launching in August 2018.

Other Ways to Get it: The Platinum Card from American Express automatically grants account holders SPG Gold status, which will convert to Gold status in the new Marriott program in August 2018. If you don’t travel enough to meet the requirement of 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights, the Platinum card is your best bet to get Gold. For those who hit the road frequently, the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express (both with a $95 annual fee; waived the first year) are good options — each card gives you credit for 5 nights and 2 stays each year. But the cards will be changing at the start of 2019, when these credits will become a flat 15 elite nights per year per member instead of per credit card.

Hilton Honors Diamond — Get space-available room upgrades, 48-hour room guarantees, free premium internet (on reservations booked directly with Hilton), a 50% bonus on all Hilton Honors base points you earn and the fifth reward night free. TPG values Hilton Honors Diamond status at a whopping $1,915.

Other Ways to Get it: With the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express ($75 annual fee until January 2018, when the card will change and the fee will raise to $95), you’ll automatically earn Gold status and can earn Diamond status if you spend $40,000 or more on the card in a calendar year. You can also earn automatic Hilton Gold status with Amex Platinum. Frequent Hilton guests can also earn this highest-tier status by logging 30 stays, 60 nights or 120,000 base points in a calendar year. Considering that Hilton Honors Gold status affords you many of the same benefits as Honors Diamond, it could still be worth it to get these cards without meeting the higher spending requirements.

IHG Priority Club Rewards Platinum Elite — Receive priority check-in, complimentary room upgrades, late checkout, guaranteed room availability, complimentary weekday newspaper and a 50% bonus on base points earned during your stay. Earn 10 Priority Club points or 2.5 airline miles per dollar spent on your stay.

Other Ways to Get it: The IHG Rewards Club Premier Credit Card ($89 annual fee), currently offering a bonus of 80,000 points after $2,000 in spending in the first three months, includes Platinum Elite status among its cardholder benefits. Alternatively, you can earn this status after staying 40 nights or earning 40,000 qualifying points in a calendar year.

Relais & Châteaux 5C — Automatic elite status to enjoy at properties in this collection of luxury hotels and resorts. Benefits include room upgrades subject to availability, a VIP welcome, a unique perk at each property and concierge service.

Other Ways to Get It: With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you get accelerated access to 5C status. If you stay two nights in a 12-month period, you’ll be upgraded to this membership.

Centurion Hotel Program

The grounds of the Amansara Resort.
Cardholders receive even more benefits at Centurion Hotel Program properties, like the Amansara in Siem Reap.

In addition to offering members status with partner programs, the Centurion card has its own hotel benefits, packaged as the Centurion Hotel Program. When staying at properties across eight luxury brands — Aman, Belmond, Mandarin Oriental, Peninsula Hotels, Rosewood, Waldorf Astoria, Oetker Collection and St. Regis — Centurion cardholders can enjoy the following:

  • Noon check-in (when available)
  • Room upgrade at time of booking (when available)
  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • In-room Wi-Fi (at most properties)
  • Guaranteed 4pm checkout
  • Special amenity unique to each property, such as a $100 credit to use on site or a complimentary hotel transfer
  • Additional Centurion benefit of $100 or $200 in food and beverage or spa credit (on paid stays of two nights or more)

Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

The Grand Hyatt Tokyo, an Amex FHR property.
The Grand Hyatt Tokyo, an Amex FHR property.

In addition to the Centurion Hotel Program, cardholders can leverage Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts to enjoy a number of on-property benefits when paying with an eligible card. These include:

  • Noon check-in (when available)
  • Room upgrade upon arrival (when available)
  • Daily breakfast for two people
  • 4pm checkout
  • Special amenity unique to each property, such as a $100 credit to use on site or a complimentary hotel transfer
  • Additional Centurion benefit of $100 or $200 in food and beverage or spa credit (on paid stays of two nights or more)

Other Ways to Get it: Unlike the Centurion Hotel Program, Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts isn’t unique to the Centurion Card. The Platinum Card from American Express, with a $550 annual fee and a current welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months, also offers access to FHR.

Airline Status

Delta_Air_Lines_New_Livery_Boeing_757-232_with_Winglets_N703TW_(1850694316)
Enjoy Delta Platinum Medallion status as a Centurion cardholder. Photo courtesy of Bryan Correira/Wikipedia.

Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion — Get complimentary upgrades, priority waitlisting, a bonus of 4 miles per dollar spent, waived award reissue fees, priority check-in and boarding, your pick of Choice Benefits and more. We value Platinum Medallion status at $4,025.

Other Ways to Get it: This benefit is exclusive to the Centurion card, though you can currently earn 10,000 MQMs (Medallion Qualification Miles) and 40,000 after spending $3,000 within the first three months with the Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express ($450 annual fee), along with another 15,000 after spending $30,000 and an additional 15,000 after spending $60,000 in a calendar year. If you maxed out those spending bonuses, you’d be more than halfway toward Platinum Medallion status. There’s also the Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express ($195 annual fee), which currently offers 5,000 MQMs (along with 35,000 bonus miles) when you spend $1,000 in the first three months, plus 5x on all purchases for the first 6 months you have the card, up to an additional 35,000 SkyMiles. You’ll also earn 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $25,000 in a calendar year, plus another 10,000 MQMs and 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $50,000 in a calendar year.

Airport and Air Travel Perks

Centurion International Arrival Services — When you travel in business or first on international flights, you’ll be greeted by a personal guide who will expedite you through customs and immigration. When possible, Centurion can coordinate ground transportation as well, and baggage porters are available for a fee. These services are available for you and up to eight travel companions on eligible flights, and at 32 international airports.

Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi — Receive complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi access on Gogo-equipped planes. Gogo single-flight passes cost $16 each, while an unlimited monthly pass costs about $60 — meaning this benefit is worth about $720 in a given year.

Other Ways to Get it: Those who hold the Amex Business Platinum Card get 10 Gogo in-flight internet passes per year.

Boingo — Enjoy free Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than a million hotspots at airports, hotels and more worldwide. A monthly Global pass costs $39, so you’re getting about $468 in value from this perk.

Other Ways to Get it: Complimentary Boingo access is a feature on several premium credit cards, including the Amex Platinum, the Amex Business Platinum, the Starwood Preferred Guest card and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business card. For more information, see our post on which cards offer Boingo and Gogo access.

50% Airline Bonus — Receive 50% of your Membership Rewards back as a statement credit when you redeem points for all or a portion of any flight. To receive this benefit, you must book through American Express Travel or Centurion Travel Service. This is better than the 35% rebate you get with the Business Platinum Card.

The Amex Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL). (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)
The Amex Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL). (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)

Centurion Airport Lounge Access — Access to the Centurion Lounges, with locations at Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Miami, New York LaGuardiaSan FranciscoSeattle, Houston, PhiladelphiaHong Kong and more. Centurion Lounges include high-quality food, craft cocktails and wine, and an overall posh atmosphere that rivals some of the best international airline lounges. Additional lounges are in the works for Denver, Los Angeles and New York’s JFK.

Other Ways to Get it: Cardholders of the Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum also receive complimentary Centurion Lounge access. Customers with other Amex cards used to be able to purchase a day pass for $50, but the issuer has cracked down on access and eliminated that option.

Priority Pass Select — Complimentary access for you and guests to hundreds of airport lounges worldwide, regardless of which airline or class you’re flying. An annual Priority Pass Prestige membership, which entitles you to unlimited lounge visits, costs $399 a year.

Other Ways to Get it: With the American Express Platinum and Business Platinum, you’ll receive free access, though you’ll still need to pay a $27 fee for guests beyond the first two. The Chase Sapphire Reserve also comes with a Priority Pass membership, but guest privileges will be limited to two free guests per visit starting in August. Finally, the Citi Prestige card offers holders free Priority Pass access for themselves and immediate family/up to two guests.

Lufthansa First Class Lounges — Through March 31, 2019, when you’re flying on a Lufthansa Group flight (Lufthansa, SWISS or Austrian), you get access to Lufthansa First Class, Senator and Business Lounges in Frankfurt (FRA) Terminal 1 Concourse B, and through May 31, 2019, the same set of lounges in Munich’s (MUC) Terminal 2. You have access to these lounges regardless of what ticket class you’re flying in.

Other Ways to Get it: The personal Amex Platinum and the Business Platinum come with access to Lufthansa Business Class lounges in the same sections of the Frankfurt and Munich airports when you’re flying on a Lufthansa Group airline, regardless of ticket class, as well as access to the Senator Lounges in those areas when you’re flying in business.

Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application — Receive a credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck priority screening ($85) every four years. The obvious choice here would be Global Entry, since the program comes with PreCheck access.

Other Ways to Get it: Amex offers a few other cards that include this same benefit. Paying for your Global Entry or PreCheck application with the Platinum Card or The Business Platinum Card will get you a statement credit wiping out the charge. A number of other credit cards also offer this perk — for a list of the top options, check out our story on “The Top Credit Cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck.”

$200 Airline Fee Credit — Select an eligible airline and receive up to $200 per year in statement credits to cover fees such as checked bags, in-flight purchases and change fees.

Other Ways to Get it: This is one case where other credit cards have a leg up on the Centurion. The Citi Prestige offers a $250 air travel credit per year, while the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card ($450 annual fee) and the Chase Sapphire Reserve come with $300 annual credits. Meanwhile, the Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express each offer a $200 statement credit, and the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express ($195 annual fee; waived the first year) comes with a $100 airline credit.

International Airline Program — Save when you purchase a qualifying business or first (or premium economy) ticket for international travel, or enjoy an upgrade from business class to first class.

Other Ways to Get it: Again, cardmembers who have either the Amex Platinum or the Business Platinum have access to this program as well, but those cardmembers have to pay a $39 booking fee each time they use it. That fee is waived for Centurion cardmembers.

Baggage Insurance — Most travel fares purchased on an eligible card entitle you to up to $2,000 in coverage for checked baggage and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage.

Other Ways to Get it: A number of cards from American Express as well as Visa Signature cards include baggage coverage. For more information, read our story “Comparing the Baggage Insurance of Premium Travel Cards.”

Cruises

hollandamerica
Enjoy perks on Holland America Line cruises. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

On bookings of five nights or more, received $100 to $500 in credit per stateroom, additional amenities exclusive to each cruise line and one extra Membership Rewards point per dollar spent through Amex Travel.

Cruise partners include:

– Ama Waterways
– Azamara
– Crystal
– Cunard Line
– Holland America Line
– Norwegian Cruise Lines
– Oceania
– Princess Cruises
– Regent
– Royal Caribbean Cruise Line
– Seabourn
– Silversea
– Uniworld
– Windstar

Car Rentals and Insurance

Make sure when renting overseas your country is not excluded from your credit card policy.
Centurion cardholders get complimentary elite status with Avis and Hertz, among other perks.

Centurion Auto Program — Access to premium car purchasing, luxury rentals and a variety of “driving experiences” (such as on track and off-road, with preferred pricing and/or exclusive perks).

Hertz Platinum — Car upgrades at time of rental, courtesy pickup and delivery of car to select private plane terminals, first priority availability for cars at participating locations and complimentary child seats and ski racks.

Avis President’s Club — Guaranteed car at corporate locations even without a reservation, complimentary double upgrades, lowest applicable rates on domestic reservations and up to 30% off standard rates at participating locations worldwide.

Primary Car Insurance — Get coverage if your rental car is lost or stolen when you pay with an eligible card and decline the collision damage waiver. (Exclusions apply.)

Other Ways to Get it: The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve offer primary car insurance, as do the Ritz-Carlton Rewards Credit Card, the United Explorer Card and the United MileagePlus Club Card. For more information, see TPG’s post on cards that offer primary rental car coverage.

Premium Roadside Assistance — 24/7 emergency services like towing up to 10 miles, jumpstarting a battery and changing a flat. Up to four services a year are complimentary.

Exclusive Offers

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Go to the Kentucky Derby with exclusive offers with the Centurion card.

Travel — Get 50% Membership Rewards points back when you use Pay with Points for all or part of your flight through American Express Travel or by calling Centurion Travel Service. This excludes flights that are part of a travel package.

Lifestyle — Access to exclusive sales and events, such as the Kentucky Derby, Coachella VIP tickets, the Grand Prix de Monaco and the Wimbledon Club Experience.

Dining and Wine

napa-valley-wine-tour
Enjoy exclusive wine experiences in Napa.

Centurion Dining Program — A table is held for Centurion members every day at 1,000 of the world’s top restaurants. Reservations are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Other Ways to Get it: Amex Platinum and Amex Business Platinum cardholders also receive access to concierge services, which can secure a table at most top restaurants. Centurion reservations take top priority, however.

Centurion Wine — Insider access to private tours and tastings in Napa. Through Centurion’s partnership with Crush Wine & Spirits, Cellar Advisors and Porthos, members also get preferred buying and collecting opportunities.

Wine Buying — Monthly wine-buying offers on Centurion.com; dedicated wine-buying specialist; complimentary annual tasting experience at Crush Wine & Spirits for two people; complimentary shipping upgrades; complimentary storage for up to one year for all wine purchased through Crush Wine & Spirits; quarterly Centurion Crush Journal featuring wine-buying news and opportunities.

Wine Collecting — Complimentary annual one-hour consultation with wine collecting specialist; complimentary annual appraisal of up to 100 unique wines; complimentary one-year subscription to CellarTracker.com ($150 value); preferred rates for storage and logistics at Domaine Wine Storage facilities; 10% off rates for consultations, storage and logistics.

Napa Tours — Three exclusive Napa Experience packages that can be customized, including private tours and tastings with hosts such as Tim Mondavi.

Tuscany Tours — Three exclusive Tuscany packages in the Chianti Classico region and the historic village of Montalcino.

Events

TPG and a friend enjoying the Starwood Suite at the US Open, booked through the By Invitation Only program.

By Invitation Only — Access to sports, music, fashion, fine dining and other events that provide VIP experiences. (Events require reservation and payment.)

Other Ways to Get it: By Invitation Only access is also available with  — you’ve guessed it — the Platinum Card from American Express and the Business Platinum Card from American Express. For more information, see TPG’s post on attending the US Open via the By Invitation Only program.

Shopping

Centurion Shopping Program — Exclusive offers for luxury brands, including gift certificates, customized shopping experiences and access to events including the opportunity to meet designers.

InCircle — Receive InCircle rewards in addition to Membership Rewards points when you register your Centurion card and make eligible purchases at Bergdorf Goodman, Cusp, Horchow, Last Call and Neiman Marcus. Receive a $100 InCircle Point Card for every 10,000 InCircle points you earn.

Other Ways to Get it: Shoppers with a Bergdorf Goodman or Neiman Marcus credit card earn two InCircle points per dollar. Holders of the Amex Platinum card can earn one InCircle point per dollar (the same earning rate as with the Centurion Card) once enrolling.

Purchase Protection — Protection for up to 90 days when you purchase an eligible item with your Centurion Card and it’s stolen, lost or damaged. Coverage limit of up to $10,000 per occurrence and up to $50,000 per card member per calendar year.

Return Protection — Amex may refund an item (up to $300) if you try to return it within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, with a maximum of $1,000 per year per card account.

Other Ways to Get it: Amex recently improved purchase protection coverage across all its cards, including the Starwood Preferred Guest Card and the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN.

Shopping shutterstock 227913877
Luxury shoppers will find plenty of perks to love with the Centurion Card. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Extended Warranty — Up to three extra years of warranty when you purchase an eligible item (with five years of warranty or less) with your Centurion Card.

Other Ways to Get it: Quite a few cards offer extended warranty, including Chase Sapphire Preferred, the United Explorer Card and several Amex cards.

NET-A-PORTER Shopping Services — Access to personal shoppers at luxury clothing site NET-A-PORTER.COM, along with free Express and Premium shipping; same-day delivery in Hong Kong, London and NYC; and access to private end-of-season sales.

MR PORTER Shopping Services — Access to a personal shopper at luxury men’s clothing retailer MR PORTER, along with free Express and Premium shipping; same-day delivery in NYC and London; and private early access to sales.

The List

Use The List
Use The List to find the best spots in some of the world’s top cities.

The List is the Centurion card’s exclusively curated list of where to visit in some of the world’s top cities. It’s updated regularly, and members can access The List and search by destination city. In each of the cities, you’ll find a list of the top restaurants, hotels, cultural destinations, shopping and more.

Bottom Line

Most of us will never get to decide whether or not the Centurion Card is “worth it,” since the barrier to entry is both high and the requirements are very mysterious. Still, for businesses and individuals who are lucky enough to get invited to apply, the exclusivity and the cushy lifestyle exclusives make this card quite enticing.

At the same time, even if you don’t qualify for the Centurion Card, there are plenty of other cards that will get you some of the same perks, from elite hotel status to annual airline fee credits, along with much greater earning potential and welcome bonuses to boot.

In fact, for frequent travelers, The Platinum Card from American Express is a much more practical choice. For one, it comes with a bonus of 60,000 points (or even 100,000 points or more if you’re targeted), and includes many of the same travel perks as the Centurion for an annual fee of $550 versus $2,500. It’s even more powerful when paired with the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, which earns you 3x points on airfare and 2x points at gas stations and supermarkets.

Hopefully, all of the above has given you a taste of the good life — while showing you that it’s available via other more attainable cards as well!

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.