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The AMEX Centurion card, colloquially known as the Black card, is the most feature laden card out there.
But it’s a shadow of what it used to be.
The card’s annual fee started off at $1,000 before climbing to $1,500, $2,500, and as of next April, a whopping $5,000 per year. The additional user annual fee will also go up to $5,000 per year.
The initiation fee for new Centurion cardholders will go up from $7,500 to $10,000.
The benefits though have crumbled. The card used to offer top-tier status on Continental, USAirways, Virgin Atlantic, Hyatt, and Starwood. Those are all gone. The card does still offer Delta Platinum, Hilton Diamond, and Hertz Platinum status.
In addition to the annual fee climbing, the cards will lose their $200 airline fee credits, unlimited free GoGo inflight WiFi passes, and unlimited Boingo WiFi. It will also lose free premium roadside assistance.
In its place cardholders will get:
- $250 Saks credit every quarter, up to $1,000 per year.
- Equinox Destination Access membership. These upscale gyms normally cost $300/month.
- LAX Private Suite Membership, which discounts access from $3,500 to $2,700 for domestic flights and provides some extra benefits.
- CLEAR Membership for you and up to 3 additional adult family members. Delta Platinums normally pay $109/year for membership and $50 per additional adult.
Unless you’re already paying for Equinox membership, those benefits hardly justify a doubling of the annual fee. It’s a shame they couldn’t provide more elite status benefits to make up for it.
Other benefits, like meet and greet at select airport, and random gifts, should remain. But even those gifts aren’t what they used to be. For example DDFB admin Handoneh Bizamat got this gift of a night in the Encore with his Centurion renewal the same day as he got back from a trip to Vegas. But back in the good old days even regular old Platinum members got 2 free nights in the Encore and 2 free nights in the Wynn.
In the good news department, the Business Centurion card will continue to offer its killer benefit: An unlimited 50% points rebate on all airfare redemptions.
Overall though, most people would be better off with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Sure you won’t get Delta and Hertz Platinum status, but Hilton Gold is nearly as good as Hilton Diamond. And you’ll still get a 35% points rebate, a $200 airline fee credit, 10 annual GoGo passes, Boingo internet, and you’ll save some $4,400/year in annual fees. Plus you’ll still keep Centurion lounge access.
Then again if you have a Centurion card in the first place, you’re probably not worried about the annual fee. At least that’s what AMEX is betting.