What Is a Black Credit Card? How It Works

By Jennifer Calonia · November 17, 2022 · 6 minute read

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What Is a Black Credit Card? How It Works

Colloquial references to a black credit card typically refer to the American Express Centurion Card that launched in 1999. It quickly developed a reputation for being more than a credit card — rather, it became a status symbol of ultra-wealth and limitless spending power reserved only for the elite.

The rumored black card requirements — such as a steep minimum spending criteria — add more intrigue to this luxury card. Here’s a look at how to get a black credit card, as well as the black credit card’s benefits and drawbacks.

What Is a Black Credit Card?

A black credit card is an ultra-luxury private banking credit card product that’s designed to support the credit needs of the world’s upper-echelon, including A-list celebrities, professional athletes, and multi-millionaires..

Although the black credit card meaning was originally derived from the AmEx Centurion Card, it now includes other luxury cards that have since come to the market. The list of exclusive card products include the Dubai First Royale Mastercard and the J.P. Mortgage Reserve Card.

Although the Mastercard Black Card might have the phrase “black card” in its name, it’s more accessible and arguably not in the same caliber as the aforementioned cards. That’s because consumers can submit an application online for this card without first being invited, which is more in line with typical credit card rules.

How Black Credit Cards Work

Unlike other consumer credit cards, the most exclusive black credit cards aren’t available for online applications. Card issuers publish very limited details — if any at all — about how to apply for the card or what it takes to receive an invitation. All of the elusiveness only enhances the allure of black cards.

Aside from their exclusiveness, black cards are generally known for having no credit limit, allowing members to spend freely. However, credit card issuers have already determined who they feel is financially capable of wielding the black card’s limitless buying power.

Recommended: Does Applying For a Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Requirements for Getting a Black Credit Card

Specific black credit card requirements and thresholds vary between black card products. However, they generally include the following factors:

•   Minimum annual spending

•   Income and/or net worth

•   Creditworthiness

If you believe that you meet the criteria for a black credit card, you can reach out to the card issuer directly to see if you’re eligible. American Express, for instance, offers an online form for its Centurion Card for those who want to request consideration.

What Kinds of Perks Do Black Credit Cards Offer?

Whether you’re still learning how credit cards work or are experienced with credit, you likely know that different cards offer varying benefits, including rewards, travel and shopping credits, and more. The perks of a black credit card also differ depending on the type of black card.

For example, the AmEx Centurion Card, offers the following black card benefits:

•   VIP airport lounges. Access to AmEx’s Global Lounge Collection, including the coveted The Centurion Lounge.

•   Travel accommodation enhancements. Upgraded bookings and credits through AmEx’s Fine Hotels and Resorts and The Hotel Collection programs.

•   Airline loyalty status. Complimentary top-tier status through airline partner loyalty programs.

•   Unique experiences. Access to one-of-a-kind travel experiences around the world.

•   Travel inconvenience credit. Up to a $250 credit per traveler for carrier-related inconveniences, like cancellations, delays, and more.

•   Travel insurance. Up to $100,000 in travel medical assistance, and up to $1 million in travel accident insurance.

•   Rental car insurance. Up to $75,000 in car rental loss and damage insurance.

•   Lost baggage insurance. Up to $1,200 per trip for lost checked baggage.

•   Saks Fifth Avenue credit. Quarterly $250 shopping credit, up to $1,000 per year.

•   Equinox fitness club membership. Access to clubs in multiple countries.

•   Additional buying protection. Purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty for goods purchased on the card.

•   Personalized support. Access to personal shoppers and 24/7 personal concierge service.

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Pros and Cons of Using a Black Card

As a card that’s not intended for the masses, the card’s pros and cons highly depend on which side of the eligibility spectrum you fall under. Here’s a closer look at black credit card benefits and drawbacks:

Pros of Using a Black Card Cons of Using a Black Card
No credit limit Accessible by invitation only
Status symbol High initiation and annual fees
Luxury perks High spending requirement
Tailored service experience High income requirement

Is a Black Credit Card Worth It?

With a reputation of having excessively high annual fees and high minimum spending criteria, an important credit card consideration for a black card is ensuring that you can afford it — that is, assuming you’ve received an invitation in the first place.

Weigh the black card benefits, and consider if you’d actually be using a credit cardin such a way that it would be worth it for your needs.

Recommended: When Are Credit Card Payments Due?

The Takeaway

Black cards are reserved for elite customers who have demonstrated the ability to spend thousands of dollars and repay that amount with ease. If you’re an everyday consumer or it’s your first time getting a credit card, a flashy black card probably isn’t a practical credit card solution.

However, a card with solid perks can be a reliable daily option. The SoFi Credit Card lets you earn generous cash-back rewards points.

The SoFi Credit Card offers unlimited 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. There are no spending categories or reward caps to worry about.1

Take advantage of this offer by applying for a SoFi credit card today.


What does it mean to have a black credit card?

Being invited as a black card member means that you’ve met the card issuer’s underwriting criteria in terms of having a high income, high net worth, high spending activity, and more. It’s perceived as being a card that’s only accessible to the ultra-wealthy and elite.

How much does a black credit card cost?

Black credit card fees vary between card products but often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars in annual fees each month. The AmEx Centurion Card, for example, has a $10,000 initiation fee and a $5,000 annual membership fee thereafter.

Are black credit cards actually black?

Generally, black credit cards are designed with a black color scheme. However, some elite private banking cards that fall into the exclusive black card circuit aren’t black. For example, the JP Morgan Reserve card is made of brass and palladium, and has a silver metal finish.

What is the difference between a black card and a platinum card?

The AmEx Platinum Card is more accessible to consumers than the AmEx Centurion Card, also dubbed the black credit card. Members who want to apply for a Platinum Card can do so on their own online, while the black card is offered by invitation only. The requirements and annual membership fees of both cards also vastly differ.

Photo credit: iStock/Lemon_tm

1Members earn 2 rewards points for every dollar spent on purchases. No rewards points will be earned with respect to reversed transactions, returned purchases, or other similar transactions. When you elect to redeem rewards points into your SoFi Checking or Savings account, SoFi Money® account, SoFi Active Invest account, SoFi Credit Card account, or SoFi Personal, Private Student, or Student Loan Refinance, your rewards points will redeem at a rate of 1 cent per every point. For more details please visit the Rewards page. Brokerage and Active investing products offered through SoFi Securities LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. SoFi Securities LLC is an affiliate of SoFi Bank, N.A.

1See Rewards Details at SoFi.com/card/rewards.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

The SoFi Credit Card is issued by SoFi Bank, N.A. pursuant to license by Mastercard® International Incorporated and can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Mastercard is a registered trademark, and the circles design is a trademark of Mastercard International Incorporated.

Third-Party Brand Mentions: No brands, products, or companies mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third-party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.


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