What is a black credit card?

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So-called “black credit cards” may be the ultimate status symbol, but there’s a lot of confusion surrounding what they actually are. The most popular black credit card is from American Express, but across the board, these exclusive cards offer superior perks and luxury rewards that other cards just can’t match.

Before you decide between a black credit card or simply one of the best rewards credit cards, read on to learn what black cards are, how they work and why they’re so hard to get.

What is a black card?

A black credit card is a type of extremely exclusive credit card that is almost solely reserved for the ultrawealthy. Typically, the cards are available on an invitation-only basis. The threshold for entry into this elite echelon of card ownership is incredibly high, as are the annual fees. In some cases, black credit cards require you to spend tens of thousands—or even hundreds of thousands—of dollars on your card each year just to be considered.

Best black credit cards

Funnily enough, black cards aren’t necessarily black in color. Not only that, but many also go by different names, including the black credit card from American Express, which is also called the Centurion Card from American Express.

If your spending is high enough and you want access to exclusive perks, keep an eye out for an invitation to these top black cards and all they have to offer.

Centurion Card from American Express

The Centurion Card from American Express is offered by invite only (although you can request to be considered for the invitation) and has a steep entry price. Not only do you have to pay a $10,000 initiation fee to get your hands on this card, but a $5,000 annual fee applies as well. Cardholder benefits include airline status with Delta, broad airport lounge access that includes Priority Pass and American Express Centurion Lounges and an airline fee credit. You can also access an exclusive 24/7 concierge program and you’ll receive automatic elite status with various hotel and rental car programs.

In terms of rewards, reports note that you’ll only earn 1X Membership Rewards points, although some say you’ll earn 1.5X points for all purchases over $5,000. You may also earn a hefty sign-up bonus, although reports vary on just how many points you can receive and the spending requirement.

Mastercard Black Card

The Mastercard Black Card, which is offered through Luxury Card, is a black-coated metal credit card that exudes exclusivity. However, applying for this card isn’t overly difficult since it’s available online, and the $495 annual fee (plus $195 for each Authorized User) makes it a lot more affordable.

If you do opt to sign up for this black card, you’ll earn 1X points. However, your rewards are worth 2 percent when redeemed for airfare with any airline, and you get 1.5 percent back in value when you redeem your rewards for cash back. This makes the Mastercard Black Card a lot different from other premium travel credit cards that let you transfer your rewards to specific airline and hotel partners. The Mastercard Black card does let you redeem your points with any airline, however, which makes the rewards earned just as flexible.

J.P. Morgan Reserve Card

The J.P. Morgan Reserve Card (formerly known as the Chase Palladium Card) comes with a $595 annual fee. You have to be a private banking client of J.P. Morgan in order to qualify, and it’s generally believed, though unconfirmed, that you need to have $10 million worth of assets managed by J.P. Morgan. This card is strictly by invitation only.

The J.P. Morgan Palladium Card reportedly comes with United Club access and a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership. You also receive 3X points on travel after your annual $300 credit, 3X points on dining, and 1X points on all other purchases, as well as a fee credit for Global Entry. Some reports also mention an annual haul of bonus rewards when you meet a minimum spending requirement each year.

Also, Chase recently introduced some newer benefits for the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card. For example, cardholders now earn 5X points on flights and 10X points on hotels and car rentals booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards. Further, cardholders also earn 10X points on dining options through Chase Dining.

Other new benefits include 10X total points on Peloton equipment purchases and up to $120 back on an All-Access Membership or a Peloton digital membership.

The information about the Centurion Card from American Express and the J.P. Morgan Reserve Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Don’t see the card for you? Our CardMatch feature can help you find a card that best fits your needs.

How to get a black credit card

While it’s only natural to want an exclusive credit card, card issuers tend to be tight-lipped when it comes to how to receive an exclusive invite to a black credit card. Unfortunately, getting an invite is typically the only way to get a black credit card of your own. With the exception of the Mastercard Black Card from Luxury Card, you can’t simply hop online and apply for a black card just because you want one.

However, there are some steps you can take to get an invitation for black card membership. For example, past media reports have suggested that you can get an invitation to apply for a black credit card from American Express once you spend an average of $500,000 annually on another American Express credit card.

Other black credit cards, including options from Chase, may only be available to select banking clients who have a high dollar amount on deposit or invested with the bank. Once again, however, no one knows for sure the internal dollar figure required by card issuers for a formal invitation to black card status.

Should you accept the invitation to get your own black credit card?

If you’re on the verge of considering a black credit card, we would actually advise against it. Unless your main goal is having a credit card few other people have, you’re probably a lot better off with a premium travel credit card that is less exclusive.

For example, rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express tend to offer a ton of value in exchange for the financial commitment. Not only can you earn valuable rewards and a hefty welcome bonus, but you also get access to perks like annual travel credits and airport lounge access—both of which can bring hundreds of dollars of value to the table.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, for example, you get 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. You also earn 3X points on travel and dining and 1X points on other purchases along with exclusive benefits like airport lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and $60 in DoorDash credits in 2021. You also get a Lyft Pink membership and 10X rewards on Lyft purchases (through March 2022). Further, this card also comes with 10X points on car rentals and hotels booked through Chase, 10X total points on dining purchases through Chase Dining and 5X points on flights booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

A $550 annual fee applies, but you can get considerably more value out of this card the first year and each subsequent year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve may not be invite-only, but it’s much better value for almost anyone.

The bottom line

Black credit cards are the crème de la crème of the credit card industry. With high entry requirements and high fees, black credit cards have a well-earned reputation for exclusivity.

Though card specifics, like invitations, are hard to come by, it’s likely that aside from bragging rights, you’ll be better served by a premium rewards credit card instead.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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