Unadvertised Perks of the Invite-Only Amex Centurion Card

Feb 18, 2019

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There’s no credit card more exclusive than the invite-only Amex Centurion Card, which offers some of the highest spenders out there — Amex won’t confirm a hard number, but we’re talking $250,000-$500,000 a year just to be invited — an unmatched level of personalized service and luxury experiences.

TPG himself has the business version of the Centurion card and was happy to share some of his favorite benefits with us, but the card also offers a number of lesser-known perks. Many of these fall under the category of “surprise and delight,” and while they probably aren’t reason enough to get a card with a $7,500 initiation fee (on top of the ongoing $2,500 annual fee), they sure go a long way toward keeping some of Amex’s top customers happy.

An Elevated Centurion Lounge Experience

One of the only problems with Amex Centurion Lounges is that they can get crowded quickly, as smart travelers seek out a better food and drink experience than what most comparable airport lounges offer. Amex has imposed some access restrictions to try and curb the overcrowding, but Centurion card holders will never have to worry about this. Not only do these new restrictions not apply to them (only to holders of the Platinum Card® from American Express and the Business Platinum® Card from American Express), but Centurion lounges also include a reserved seating section for Centurion card holders so they won’t have to fight the crowds.

The American Express Centurion Lounge at Hong Kong international airport. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images For American Express)
The American Express Centurion Lounge at Hong Kong international airport. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images For American Express)

The elevated experience doesn’t stop there. If you’ve ever tried to order a glass of Champagne in a Centurion lounge and been a little confused to be served prosecco instead of the Veuve Cliquot staring at you conspicuously from behind the bar, you should know that those bottles are reserved for Centurion card holders. Some lounges offer other premium drink selections as well, including high-end scotch or tequila, though this often varies by location.

Holiday Gifts

Amex has a history of surprising some targeted Platinum card holders with unexpected gifts, but Centurion card holders can look forward to a much better offering. In the past TPG has received a crystal decanter set from Tiffany & Co, but the options he was given this year might have been even better. There was a huge emphasis on lifestyle experiences over material gifts, with some of the best options including the following:

  • Bottega Veneta Nero Intrecciato card case ($270 value)
  • A private oyster farm tour at the Four Seasons Hualalai
  • Sunset sail on a catamaran at the Four Seasons Lana’i
  • A private dinner for two at the Four Seasons Maui
  • A limited-edition bottle of Laurent-Perrier Grand Siecle Champagne and two crystal flutes from Baccarat
  • A complimentary night at up to two of the four Four Seasons properties in Hawaii
  • A $200 charitable donation to the International Rescue Committee, Children’s Health Fund, or Mission Blue

The gift options averaged about ~$250 in value, essentially knocking 10% off the annual fee. Unfortunately the limited-edition Champagne was out of stock by the time TPG made his selection, so he ended up opting for the limited edition Bottega Veneta card case.

This limited edition Bottega Veneta card case is only one example of luxury gift options the Centurion card offers. (Images via Bottega Veneta)
This limited edition Bottega Veneta card case is only one example of luxury gift options available to card holders. (Images via Bottega Veneta)

Pre-emptive Restaurant Reservations

The concierge service that many premium credit cards now offer is a valuable and underutilized perk, but Amex takes it one step farther for its Centurion card holders. While concierges will do their absolute best to accommodate dining requests from Platinum customers, they also reserve a table for Centurion card holders every day at 1,000 of the world’s top restaurants. Reservations are on a first come, first served basis, and this small act means Centurion card holders will have a better chance at getting some otherwise hard to get reservations.

Guests at Coi restaurant enjoy a first taste of chef Daniel Patterson
Guests at Coi restaurant enjoy a first taste of chef Daniel Patterson’s new menu for The Centurion Lounge at SFO in 2016. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for American Express)

Wine Buying & Collecting Offers

In addition to private tours and tastings in Napa, Amex runs monthly wine-buying specials only for Centurion card holders. They also have access to an annual tasting experience at Crush Wine & Spirits for two people, complimentary storage for up to one year for all wine purchased through Crush Wine & Spirits and access to a dedicated wine buying specialist. For serious collectors, the Centurion card also offers a complimentary annual appraisal of up to 100 unique wines and preferred rates for storage and logistics at Domaine Wine Storage facilities.

Wine available for tasting at the American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for American Express)
Wine available for tasting at the American Express Centurion Lounge at SFO. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for American Express)

Dedicated Concierge Service

The personal, dedicated concierge that each Centurion card holder receives is one of the most compelling and well-known perks of the card, but the lengths they’ll go to help their clients is hard to imagine. There’s a reason TPG says that his concierge, Ray, is worth over $20,000 a year to him. And TPG also has the perfect story of just how valuable a concierge can be. He was stranded in Bali during the Mount Agung volcano eruption, which of course closed the airport indefinitely and stranded thousands of passengers. Ray was able to work with an Amex employee based in Singapore to string together a series of vans, ferries and planes to get TPG off the island at a time when most other people were out of options.

This of course is in addition to the more “standard” duties Ray performs, such as finding TPG an exceptional tour guide to take his family around the Great Wall of China and Tiananmen Square, and landing him front-row seats for a Celine Dion concert.

Amex
The Amex Centurion’s member benefits may be unmatched. (Photo by Billy H.C. Kwok/Getty Images For American Express)

Bottom Line

Everything about the Centurion card program — the secrecy, exclusivity and incredibly expensive luxury — is designed to keep it limited to the high spender who would actually benefit from it. In addition to the gifts, premium drinks and reserved lounge seating, it’s best to think of this card as a lifestyle concierge service. As such, it shines the most in highly personal and specific circumstances where the team at Amex gets a chance to cater to your specific needs.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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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.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • 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®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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