The Amex Centurion Card (often called the “Black Card”) is one of the most exclusive cards out there. Not because it actually offers that many great benefits, but rather because it has become popular with celebrities, has been featured in all kinds of rap songs, and is also “invitation only.”
Well, some major changes have been announced to the card, including the annual fee doubling.
Centurion Card Annual Fee Increasing To $5,000
Currently the Centurion Card has a $2,500 annual fee, though that will be increasing to $5,000. That’s in addition to the $7,500 initiation fee.
For existing cardmembers, this won’t be changed until the renewal date, on or after April 1, 2020.
Centurion Card Adds Saks, CLEAR, And Equinox Benefits
Amex is adding several new benefits to the Centurion Card. For some people the new benefits will outweigh the annual fee increase, while for others they won’t. The new benefits include the following:
- Complimentary CLEAR membership; this would ordinarily cost $109 at most
- A $1,000 Saks credit per calendar year
- An Equinox Destination Access membership; this would ordinarily cost $300 per month
- A membership to The Private Suite LAX; you still have to pay for each visit, though, and it’s prohibitively expensive
If you’re someone who would otherwise pay for an Equinox membership, that’s a value of about $3,600 per year, so that’s quite a value-add. Then there’s also the Saks credit, which could be worth close to face value for many.
The CLEAR membership is relatively small compared to the other benefits, and I wouldn’t put a value on a membership to The Private Suite, since you still have to pay for each visit.
Centurion Card Cuts Airline Fee Credit
There’s one negative change, in addition to the annual fee doubling. Amex has cut the $200 annual airline fee credit from the Centurion Card, which is an odd cut to make at the same time that they increase the annual fee so significantly.
How Does This Change The Value Proposition Of The Centurion Card?
The Centurion Card continues to offer perks like Delta Platinum status, Hilton Diamond status, IHG Platinum status, Centurion Lounge access (with special seating and champagne), special privileges at Fine Hotels & Resorts properties, and a bit more.
Ultimately it’s stupid to spend money on this card. The card offers one point per dollar spent, so with every purchase you make with it you’re forgoing higher rewards rates on other cards. The only reason to spend money on this card is to “show off,” and that’s a pretty dumb reason to use a credit card.
So even if you do find value in the card, it shouldn’t be a card you use for spending. Ultimately whether or not the annual fee increase justifies the changes comes down to whether or not you’d otherwise pay for an Equinox membership.
If you don’t, the annual fee increase is awful. If you do, then the value proposition isn’t too bad here, taking out the initiation fee — you’re paying a $5,000 annual fee, but you’re getting a gym membership you’d otherwise pay $3,600 per year for, you’re getting a $1,000 Saks credit, you’re getting a CLEAR membership, you’re getting Delta Platinum status, and more.
What do you make to the changes to the Centurion Black Card?