Amex Platinum Card vs. Centurion Card [Detailed Comparison]

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Few credit cards come with the exclusive bragging rights of the Centurion® Card from American Express. And rightly so as this elusive titanium charge card, known as the Black Card or Amex Black Card, remains available only to select individuals of wealth and only by exclusive invitation. One estimate is that there are just over 100,000 existing Centurion cards worldwide of which 20,000 have been issued in the U.S.

We may never know exactly how many Centurion cards have been issued, but there is certainly a lot of hype surrounding the card. This attention presents an opportunity for us to explore the attributes of its allure, and compare it to another valuable travel rewards card, The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Because the Centurion card comes with an extraordinarily high acquisition fee and subsequent annual fees, we suspect there must be more to its substance than just the prestige of having the card. This premise alone is prompting our need to compare this sought after instrument with the card we know represents great value for the frequent traveler.

And so, for your practical economic knowledge, and perhaps some entertainment, we’re going to proceed with our comparison of a card you have a relatively slim chance of ever having, with a travel rewards card you should ultimately consider.

Welcome Bonuses

The information collected and presented below regarding the Centurion Card is independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided by the issuer. 

The Value of a Welcome Bonus

Amex Platinum Card

Welcome bonuses do vary but you can count on receiving a value of 1 cent per Membership Rewards point when redeeming points for travel via Amex Travel. This valuation equates to a 50,000 point welcome bonus having a value of $500 and an 80,000 point bonus having a value of $800.

You may, however, receive additional value by transferring Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel partners. Access our guide for some great ideas on getting the most value when transferring your points.

Centurion Card

The Centurion card does not offer a welcome bonus.

Membership Rewards Points

Both the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card earn valuable Membership Rewards points.

Comparing Earning Potential

CardEarnings
Amex Platinum card
  • 5x Membership Rewards points for flights purchased directly with the airlines, flights or prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, and premium flights booked with the International Airline Program
  • 1 point/$1 spent on all other purchases
Centurion card
  • 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent

Bottom Line: The Amex Platinum card clearly offers better earning potential than the Centurion card. In addition, you have the opportunity to earn a generous welcome bonus after meeting initial spending requirements, in the first 90 days after card approval, with the Amex Platinum card. 

Comparing Redemption Options

Since both the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card earn Membership Rewards points, redemption options are similar. One noticeable difference is that points on the Centurion card are worth 30% more when redeeming for flights on Amex Travel.

CardBest Redemption OptionsAdditional Redemption Options
Amex Platinum card
  • Transfer to airline partners
  • Redeem for flights on Amex Travel (1 cent per point)
Redeem for travel (other than flights) on Amex Travel, transfer to hotel partners, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, Amazon, Ticketmaster, donate points
Centurion card
  • Transfer to airline partners
  • Redeem for flights (1.3 cents per point) on Amex Travel
Redeem for travel (other than flights) on Amex Travel, transfer to hotel partners, statement credits, gift cards, merchandise, Amazon, Ticketmaster, donate points

 

Las Vegas Centurion Lounge Seating
Receive complimentary Centurion Lounge access with both the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card. Image Credit: American Express

Airport Lounge Access

The American Express Global Lounge Collection

Both the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card come with complimentary access to over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. With either card, you’ll have access to all of the lounges in The American Express Global Lounge Collection. Complimentary access is valid for the cardholder plus up to 2 guests, except where noted.

With either card you’ll have access to the following lounge networks:

Comparing Authorized User Lounge Access

Authorized users added to either the Amex Platinum card or the Centurion card receive the same lounge access benefits as the primary cardholder including the same guest access privileges.

Bottom Line: The Amex Platinum card offers far better value than the Centurion card with complimentary worldwide lounge access to the same lounge networks at a far lower annual fee. 

Fine Hotels & Resorts
Receive upgraded rooms and more with hotel program benefits offered on the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card. Image Credit: Fine Hotels & Resorts

Airline, Hotel, and Rental Car Program Benefits

Airline Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum card does not offer any specific airline program benefits.

Airline Program Benefits — Centurion Card

Delta Platinum Medallion Elite Status

The Centurion card comes with Delta Platinum Medallion Elite status which delivers a long list of benefits. You’d normally have to fly 75,000 miles each year (or 100 segments) and spend $9,000 on Delta tickets to achieve Platinum status.

Here are some of the benefits Delta Platinum Medallion elites can expect to receive:

  • Unlimited complimentary upgrades
  • Choice Benefits — select from a list of regional upgrades, shopping certificates, gift Medallion status, or choose 20,000 SkyMiles
  • Earn bonus miles on flights
  • Waived fees for checked bags and ticket changes
  • Discounted CLEAR membership
  • Priority boarding, security, and baggage
  • Dedicated phone line

Centurion International Arrival Services

You’ll be greeted by a personal guide who will expedite you through customs and immigration when you travel internationally in first or business class.

Hotel Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum card offers a wide range of hotel program benefits including elite status, on-site property amenities, and elevated service.

As a cardholder, you’ll enjoy the following hotel benefits with the Amex Platinum card:

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status

Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite members receive upgraded rooms when available, free Wi-Fi, welcome bonus points, a 25% bonus on earnings, and late checkout.

Hilton Honors Gold Elite Status

Gold elite members receive upgraded rooms, free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and earn 18 Hilton Honors points per dollar spent at Hilton properties.

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts

Cardholders who stay a minimum of 2 nights receive the following benefits:

  • Room upgrade, subject to availability
  • Breakfast each day for 2
  • Early check-in and late checkout
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • An amenity valued at $100

The Hotel Collection

Book your prepaid stay of 2 nights or more and receive a $100 credit towards an on-site qualifying dining, spa, or resort activity. You’ll also earn 5x Membership Rewards on your booking.

Hotel Program Benefits — Centurion Card

The Centurion card offers the same hotel program benefits as the Amex Platinum card with a few exceptions:

Hilton Honors Diamond Status

In addition to all the benefits of Hilton Honors Gold status, Diamond Status offers additional earnings on Hilton hotel stays, complimentary lounge access, and suite upgrades when available.

The Centurion Hotel Program

Receive the same benefits and amenities as with the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts plus receive an extra $100-$200 Centurion Hotel Program credit to spend during 2 night stays or more.

Rental Car Program Benefits — Amex Platinum Card

  • Avis Preferred Club — receive a 25% discount on base rates and a 1 car class upgrade when available
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards — receive a 1 car class upgrade on a rental of an intermediate size vehicle, or greater
  • National Emerald Club Executive — a 1 class upgrade when renting a full-size vehicle or greater, elevated earnings, preferred car selection, and easy returns

Rental Car Program Benefits — Centurion Card

  • Avis President’s Circle Club — complimentary double vehicle upgrades, walk-up car availability (even without a reservation), discounted rates
  • Hertz Platinum Status — elevated personal service, vehicle upgrades, and delivery of rental car to select private airports
Car on Road Unsplash
Both the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card offer valuable travel benefits and protections. Image Credit: Alex Mares via Unsplash

Statement Credits and Additional Benefits

Statement Credits

Both the Amex Platinum card and the Centurion card come with statement credits for specific purchases:

The Amex Platinum has 2 additional statement credits:

  • $200 annual Uber credit
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit

Travel Benefits and Protections

Following is a sampling of highlighted benefits and a brief description of how the benefit works on each card:

  • Car Rental Insurance — the Centurion card comes with primary car rental insurance while the Amex Platinum card offers secondary car rental coverage. However, the Amex Platinum card offers the option to purchase Premium Car Rental Protection that includes primary car rental coverage for a flat fee (maximum $24.95) for the entire rental period.
  • International Airline Program — both Amex Platinum and Centurion cardmembers receive access to discounts and upgrades in this premium airfare purchase program, however, the booking fee is waived for the Centurion card members
  • Baggage Insurance — both cards carry this protection with up to $2,000 for lost, stolen, or damaged checked bags and $3,000 for carry-on
  • Trip Cancellation, Interruption, and Delay Coverage — the Amex Platinum card will be adding this coverage effective January 1, 2020. Purchase a round-trip ticket with your eligible card and receive up to $10,000 per trip/$50,000 per year for covered events and up to $500 if your trip is delayed more than 6 hours.

Shopping Benefits and Protections

While the Centurion card has its own set of additional shopping benefits, which we’ll discuss shortly, both cards offer a multitude of basic shopping benefits and protections.

  • Amex Offers — ongoing special offers that provide rebates and bonus points for specific purchases
  • American Express Presale and Preferred Seating — members receive early access to event tickets and priority seating.
  • Entertainment Access — receive access to member-only events and special experiences.
  • Return Protection — if an item you purchased is not accepted as a return by the merchant within 90 days of purchase, the purchase price could be refunded.
  • Extended Warranty — 2 additional years ( 1 year after January 1, 2020 with the Amex Platinum card) are added to the manufacturer’s warranty of 5 years or less on eligible purchases.
  • Purchase Protection — pay for your eligible purchase with your card and receive up to $10,000 per occurrence, $50,000 per account per calendar year if the item is accidentally damaged, stolen, or lost. Coverage is provided for 120 days (90 days in New York) from the date of purchase.

Additional Perks of Centurion Card

With a list of benefits nearly too long to describe, the Centurion card steps it up a notch or 2 above the Amex Platinum card with perks and services that cater to every potential aspect of the cardholder’s daily life and travel activities.

  • Private Concierge and Travel Agent — receive personalized assistance with any reservations, transportation assistance, event planning, travel disruption, and so much more
  • No Pre-set Spending Limits — your card does not come with a spending limit but it does need to be paid off at the end of each monthly statement period
  • CLEAR Membership — speed through security with complimentary CLEAR membership (coming in 2020)
  • Elite Wine Services and Centurion Wine — special wine discounts, complimentary free wine storage, wine appraisals, consultations, and more
  • Centurion Dining Program — enjoy access to a pre-reserved table for Centurion members at 1,000 fine dining establishments worldwide
  • Special Tour Packages — select from exclusive 3-day Tuscany or Napa Valley customized tours
  • Special Access and Invitation Only Events — get VIP invitations and treatment at events such as concerts, sports, and even special events such as the Kentucky Derby or the Grand Prix de Monaco
  • Centurion Shopping Program — enjoy a personal shopper and free express shipping, with access to NET-A-PORTER shopping services
  • Surprise Gifts — members receive unexpected gifts such as shopping certificates and luxury merchandise
  • Centurion Auto Program — access and preferred pricing when purchasing, leasing, or renting luxury vehicles
  • Elevated Centurion Lounge Experience — Centurion cardmembers receive unrestricted access, a reserved seating area, and special top-shelf beverages at Centurion Lounges

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Annual Fees

The initiation fee for the Centurion card is a staggering $7,500 (increasing to $10,000 in 2020). You’ll also be charged a $2,500 annual fee (increasing to $5,000 in 2020) at each card anniversary.

The Amex Platinum card has an annual fee that is a fraction of the Centurion card fee. Annual fees can change but you can access the Amex Platinum card’s current fees and rates here.

Authorized Users

It costs $175 total each card year to add up to 3 authorized users to the Amex Platinum card while the Centurion card charges $2,500 for each additional user for each card year.

Travel Accessories And Products
Select a travel rewards card that provides good value for your situation. Image Credit: photobyphotoboy via Shutterstock

Centurion Card Alternatives

In addition to the Amex Platinum card, which is an excellent alternative to the Centurion card, there are several travel rewards cards that rival the Centurion card with arguably better overall value.

Alternative Personal Travel Rewards Card

Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a generous welcome bonus, an annual $300 travel statement credit, Priority Pass Select worldwide lounge membership, and 3x earnings on travel and dining. Additionally, you’ll receive 50% more value when redeeming your Ultimate Rewards for travel.

Alternative Business Travel Rewards Cards

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

With the same 5x earnings on flights and prepaid hotels and worldwide lounge access as the Amex Platinum personal card, the business version is a fine choice. You’ll also receive a 35% rebate when using your Membership Rewards points for premium travel and flights on your pre-selected airline.

Ink Business Preferred℠ Credit Card

Our favorite business credit card comes with a generous welcome bonus, top-level earnings on select business categories and 25% more value for your Ultimate Rewards points when redeemed for travel.

Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card

While not a premium travel rewards card, the no annual fee Ink Business Unlimited card serves business owners well with unlimited earnings. The card earns 1.5% cash-back (earned as Ultimate Rewards points) on every purchase without regard to caps or complicated bonus categories.

Additionally, business owners can combine the earning power of the Ink Business Unlimited card with the redemption power of Chase Sapphire Reserve card or Ink Business Preferred card to receive up to 50% more value when redeeming points for travel.

Bottom Line: While none of the alternatives to the Centurion card have the same panache and prestige, you’ll still be receiving stellar value with any of these alternative cards. The best card for you will depend on how you spend on the card, whether you use the benefits offered, and your willingness to pay an annual fee. 

Final Thoughts

At this point, you might be wondering why we featured a card that few are likely to be invited to have. One reason is for the informational value, but the bottom line for the comparison is to illustrate the tremendous value of the Amex Platinum card and alternative travel rewards cards and you won’t have to spend thousands of dollars for the privilege of having these cards.

Also, please note that Amex does not publish information on the Centurion card so the data in this article was gathered from those who have the card, bulletin boards discussing the benefits, news articles, and Wikipedia.

If you have the Centurion card and can add information from your own personal experience of using the card, we encourage you to do in the comments section.

 


FAQ

Is the Centurion Card worth it?

With $10,000 in acquisition fees the first year, the card will not be worth it for most people, from an economic perspective.

Fortunately, there are other travel rewards cards that offer similar benefits for much less outlay.

With that said, the Centurion card may offer intrinsic value for cardholders who desire the prestige of saying they have the card.

Receiving an invitation to apply for the card can signify your success. If you can utilize the benefits that the card offers and you’re comfortable paying the fees, you may determine that the card is worth it for you.

How can I get a Centurion Card?

The Centurion card is offered by invitation-only from American Express.

There are no published guidelines for qualifying but several sources say you need to spend upwards of $500,000 a year on a current American Express card to be invited, and some sources say $1,000,000 a year.

What we know for sure is that you need to be wealthy, have excellent credit, and have had a previous lucrative relationship with American Express to receive an invitation.

Does the Centurion Card earn Membership Rewards Points?

Yes, the Centurion card is a Membership Rewards earning card.

The card earns 1 Membership Rewards for each dollar spent on the card and offers redemption options such as purchasing travel via the Amex Travel portal.

You can also transfer points earned on the card to airline and hotel partners for potentially more value.

Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as you have an active Membership Rewards earning credit card.

What is the spending limit on the Centurion Card?

The Centurion card, also called the Black Card, has no preset spending limit.

It is a charge card, however, and needs to be paid off in full each statement period.

Is the Amex Platinum card worth it?

Yes, the Amex Platinum card is worth it if you can utilize the benefits offered by the card.

One of the most beneficial perks of the card is the worldwide lounge access. Annual lounge memberships can cost hundreds of dollars each so if you can use just this one benefit, the card would be worth it.

The card also comes with statement credits for Uber, Saks Fifth Avenue, and airline incidentals, all of which provide economic value if you make these purchases.

You’ll also receive travel benefits such as hotel and rental program elite status, travel and shopping protections, and flexible redemption options.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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