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Guide to black credit cards
Compare travel credit, airport lounge access and other luxury perks for these elite cards.
Black credit cards are the top rung of the status ladder, offering more premium features and services than platinum, gold or standard options. You’ll find they’re designed for the highest earners and spenders — with features ranging from generous rewards programs and insurance policies to dedicated concierge services, travel credits and more.
What's in this guide?
How do black credit cards work?
A black credit card is a premium credit card that offers more status and benefits than standard, gold or platinum credit cards. The use of the term “black” for this type of credit card refers to the level of the account, similar to how airline and hotel programs have different status levels. In the case of credit cards, black is generally the best you can get.
What benefits can I find with a black credit card?
Black credit cards offer a range of exclusive features that vary between cards. A few notable features may include:
- Higher credit limits.
- Special card construction — such as titanium or carbon.
- Greater travel insurance coverage.
- Complimentary status upgrades for hotel and airline programs.
- Special upgrades at select hotels.
- Travel credits.
- Access to hundreds of airport lounges around the world, often through complimentary membership to Priority Pass Select.
- 24/7 concierge service.
- Access to special events and experiences.
How much does a black credit card cost?
A black credit card typically has a higher annual fee than other cards. Expect to pay at least $450 a year for one.
Annual fees can be sky-high: The Centurion® Card from American Express, for example, has a $2,500 annual fee on top of a $7,500 initiation fee. And there are other prestigious, invitation-only cards with undisclosed annual fees.
Who should get a black credit card?
Black credit cards are designed for people with high incomes and high monthly charges. They’re also usually reserved for those with excellent credit scores.
But meeting the application requirements doesn’t necessarily mean you should get a black credit card. If you never travel, for example, you won’t leverage perks like travel credits, airport lounge access and status upgrades in hotel and airline programs. In that case, it might not be worth paying a high annual fee.
On the other hand, if you travel often and love accessing special events through your card, you might find your card pays for itself many times over.
Compare black credit cards
Breakdown of popular black credit cards
Black cards have typically been an invite-only premium options above both gold and platinum cards. In the past few years, however, many black cards ranking close to the Amex Platinum Card have emerged. Here’s how they compare:
Black credit cards
|Citi Prestige||Sapphire Reserve||United MileagePlus Club||Citi AAdvantage Executive World Elite|
|Welcome offer||50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Now, through December 2021, supermarket and restaurant packages will also count towards the $250 Travel Credit
|60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months, a value of up to $900 through Chase Ultimate Rewards.||50,000 miles after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months||50,000 miles after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months|
|Rewards||5x points on flights and dining, 3x points on hotels and cruises and 1x points on all other purchases||10x points on Lyft rides, 3x points on dining and travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 1x points on all other purchases||2x miles on United and 1.5x miles on all other purchases||2x miles on American Airlines and 1x miles on everything else|
|Checked bag free||N/A||N/A||First and second bag||First bag on domestic flights|
|Lounge access||VIP lounge access through Priority Pass Select||VIP lounge access through Priority Pass Select||United Club membership each year on card renewal and access to participating Star Alliance affiliated lounges worldwide||Admirals Club membership|
|Travel credit||Up to $250 travel credit each year||$300 annual credit each year||N/A||N/A|
|Hotel benefits||Complimentary 4th night stay after a minimum 4 consecutive nights booked through ThankYou.com, limited at 2 nights annually||The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection benefits||The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection benefits||N/A|
Overview of black credit cards
Centurion® Card from American Express
- Available by invite only.
- Made of anodized titanium.
- Earn 1x Membership Rewards points on all purchases.
- $200 in airline fee credits per calendar year after selecting an airline.
- Credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
- Complimentary upgrade to Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Hilton Honors Diamond, IHG Priority Club Rewards Platinum Elite and Relais & Châteaux 5C with enrollment.
- Complimentary upgrades when you stay at properties in the Centurion Hotel Program and Fine Hotels & Resorts collection.
- Airport and airline perks like Centurion International Arrival Services and International Airline Program.
- Access to first-class experiences, including special events such as the Grand Prix de Monaco, The List, Centurion Wine and the Centurion Dining Program. Contact the Centurion Concierge whenever you need help securing reservations.
- Access to airport lounges around the world, including the best-in-class Centurion lounges.
- Baggage insurance and car rental insurance.
- $7,500 initiation fee, $2,500 annual fee.
Luxury Card Mastercard® Black Card™
- Made of stainless steel and carbon.
- Earn 1x points on all purchases with 2% point value when you redeem for airfare and 1.5% for cash back
- $100 annual airline credit.
- $100 Credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
- Access to airport lounges.
- Access to Luxury Card Concierge and Luxury Card Travel perks.
- Trip cancellation and interruption, trip delay, baggage delay, lost luggage and car rental insurance.
- Access to invitation-only events through Mastercard Priceless.
- $495 annual fee.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®
- 50,000 American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of card membership.
- 2x miles on American Airlines purchases and 1x miles on other purchases.
- Complimentary Admirals Club membership.
- Credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
- American Airlines perks: Priority boarding, priority check-in and airport screening, first checked bag free and more.
- $450 annual fee.
How to compare black credit cards
Take into account these major factors when comparing black credit cards.
Black credit cards often don’t have the most powerful rewards, as their main value lies in their benefits. If rewards are important to you, consider a travel card or look into cashback credit cards.
When evaluating a black card, check if it offers elevated rewards for certain categories. Then consider your spending in these categories.
Compare benefits based on what’s valuable to you. Black cards tend to offer certain features across the board, such as Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credits and access to airport lounges. But you’ll see differences between products, such as varying values of airline fee credits and perks in specific loyalty programs.
Preferably, your card’s benefits will outweigh the annual fee. Consider whether you’ll use perks like airport lounge access and travel credits. Additionally, look into your spending and see whether you’ll earn enough rewards to offset the annual fee.
Compare concierge credit cards
What’s an alternative to a black credit card?
You don’t necessarily have to get a black card to enjoy black-card features.
For example, the PenFed Pathfinder® Rewards Visa Signature® Card offers a $100 annual air travel credit and a $100 credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application. It offers better rewards than many black credit cards. And it has no annual fee for PenFed Honors Advantage members.
If you’re not quite ready for the most exclusive black cards — such as the Centurion® Card from American Express — The Platinum Card® from American Express is an excellent choice. It has a hefty $550 annual fee, but it has expansive features that include:
- Welcome offer. 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases within 6 months of your account opening. You’ll also earn 10x points at US gas stations and supermarkets, up to $15,000 within your first 6 months of account opening.
- Travel credits. Up to $200 in annual Uber credits, up to $200 in annual airline fee credits and a $100 credit every four years for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
- Rewards. 5x points on flights booked through American Express Travel or directly with airlines and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel.Starting January 2021, this accelerated rate lasts until you’ve spent $500,000 in combined purchases annually and will then revert to 1x points. You’ll also earn 1x points on other eligible purchases.
- Airport lounge access. Access more than 1,100 airport lounges, including the highly regarded Centurion Lounges.
- Special benefits at Fine Hotels & Resorts properties. Enjoy daily breakfast for two, complimentary room upgrades when available, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout and more.
Chase doesn’t have a black card but the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the closest thing as it offers luxury benefits.
Not everyone can get a black credit card — that’s part of the appeal. This type of card comes with a high annual fee and robust luxury features, and might be available by invitation only.
However, you don’t have to get a black card to enjoy high-class travel benefits. Compare travel credit cards and you might find the perfect alternative.Back to top
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