It’s not for the points. It’s certainly not for the status. But I am seriously considering an American Express Centurion Card, more popularly known as the AMEX “Black” card.
For many years, I’ve chuckled at clients who put tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars per month on the card. It’s one of the worst cards in terms of points earning. You’ll earn one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent. In many categories, you’ll earn far more points using a Gold or Platinum card for the same purchase.
It’s also not cheap. Even if you can score an invitation, you’re looking at a $10,000 initiation fee and $5,000 annual fee. That’s huge. And many of the perks like Hilton Diamond and Delta Platinum status are nice, but nothing that would approach that monetary value threshold for me, especially when that status is achievable much cheaper through other credit card spending.
So why? Why would I want this card?
It’s About The Personalized Service + Protection
My import/export business is heavily invested in American Express. By that, I mean large purchase orders are placed every month on my American Express cards and I also tap into American Express Working Capital to fund deals that cannot be paid by credit card. Most of these purchases are in categories that would not qualify for a category bonus. Many are for amounts too high to put on more conventional personal credit cards.
Much of the spending is placed on my Platinum Card (even though my Blue Business Plus card would offer double points) simply for the protection it provides. I have a wallet full of American Express cards, but the customer service on the Platinum card is so much better than for the other cards.
Recently, though, I’ve run into an annoying problem. I had a six-digit purchase order for handbags with a company in Italy. The bags arrived damaged, even though they were carefully packed. The terms and conditions of my purchase order clearly gave me the right to return this product. I mailed back the product via UPS. But the vendor never refunded the money. A chargeback was initiated…but the whole process has languished for months…approaching one year. This may make an interesting separate post, but the American Express Platinum team has failed me over and over in mediating this dispute. It seems they do not even examine the documentation I have repeatedly uploaded.
In short, I love American Express but would love one dedicated concierge who will take the time to get to know me and my business and provide commensurate customer service. That alone would be worth the annual fee.
I’m fortunate to work in a high-revenue business. Meeting the spending thresholds will not be a problem. But I need a credit card company who truly has my back when something goes wrong. In my business, things go wrong…ask any importer/exporter and they will tell you the same thing.
50% Off Travel Redemptions
While the Delta Platinum and Hilton Diamond status make me shrug, there are also two other perks I really like that would come with holding an American Express Business Centurion Card.
One is a 50% rebate on Membership Rewards points when you use your points to book airfare. With domestic premium cabin prices generally reasonable, this often marks a better deal than redeeming points.
For example, say you want to fly from Los Angeles to New York and can take advantage of an advance purchase $700 fare. When you redeem points, you pay 70,000 points upfront, but get the 35,000 miles back. 35,000 AMEX points for a transcontinental business class fare that earns miles and elite status is a great deal.
More and more, I am finding value in these sorts of redemptions.
Oh Yes, And Lufthansa First Class Lounge Access…
And there’s another reason too.
American Express Centurion Lounge members have access to Lufthansa First Class lounges in Frankfurt and Munich. That’s a tremendous benefit to me since I spend so much time in Germany. I’d love to be flying from Frankfurt to Amsterdam and have lunch in the First Class Lounge prior to my flight!
The first time I ever saw a Centurion Card was in 2009. I’ll never forget that day. I was flying TAP Business Class from London to Lisbon and my seatmate took it out of his wallet, set it down on his tray table, and just looked at it. Clearly, he was showing off. I am to be supremely pitied if I ever have to seek validation through antics like that. But for the first time, I am seeing that a Centurion card, whether the business or personal variant, may make smart business sense for me.
What do you think? If you are a Centurion cardholder, have you been satisfied with the customer service?