American Express Centurion (Black) Cardholder Review – India

By | August 11, 2017

The American Express Centurion Card from Amex is perhaps the most desirable piece of anodized titanium, an invitation-only charge card issued by American Express to platinum card holders after they meet certain criteria. This “secret” card is made for the wealthy few and so the benefits are in parallel to the lifestyle of the super rich.

This is the review contributed by an actual Amex Centurion Card holder in India. Here you go: I have held the American Express Centurion Card for three years now and here is my review of this card.

Amex Centurion

Joining Fee and Annual Fees of Amex (India) Centurion Card:

  • One Time Joining Fee: Rs. 2 Lakhs
  • Annual Fee: Rs. 2.5 lakhs
  • Supplementary cards are chargeable

This card is offered via invitation only and American Express has not explicitly mentioned anywhere as to what is the exact criteria one must meet before being eligible for this card. (more on this later)

Benefits of American Express Centurion Card:

Complimentary Memberships to:

  1. Hilton Hotels Diamond membership
  2. Accor Hotels Platinum membership
  3. Shangri La Inner Circle Gold membership
  4. British Airways Gold Membership
  5. Etihad Airways Gold membership

Other notable benefits includes:

  1. A Centurion Relationship Manager
  2. 24×7 access to Concierge service / Travel Desk
  3. 7 Amex Platinum Supplementary cards at no cost
  4. Special rates and deals at select hotels and restaurants globally (this usually includes some discount on room rates, free upgrades, early check in, late checkout and some credit to be availed at the dining outlets at the particular hotel).
  5. Free ‘Meet and Greet’ service every-time you book a Business class or First class ticket through American Express at 18 cities including London, Dubai, Singapore, etc. (great value)
  6. Unlimited Priority Pass access to airport lounges
  7. Travel Desk: They can usually help with applying for visas for entry into other countries
  8. ‘No limit’ on spending
  9. Limited time promotional offers on air tickets (for example 25% on Air India Business and First Class tickets)
  10. Low airfares compared to any other OTA’s (on economy class too)
  11. Many other benefits including golf/spa and others are also there.
  12. Foreign Currency Markup Fee: 3.5%+GST

Some of the above mentioned benefits can change from one year to the next.

The Concierge Service:

There is much hype surrounding the Centurion concierge service. There are a number of stories circulating on various forums about how the Centurion concierge has pulled off seemingly impossible tasks just to keep their clients happy. There is no way to verify any of these claims (at-least in India).

Some of the things that the Centurion card can definitely do is help you get tables at popular restaurants around the world on very short notice.

While the Centurion Concierge is quite highly regarded globally, from my personal experience I can tell you that the Indian team is not up to the mark, especially not after charging an eye popping R+ lacs of annual fees.

I have personally had many instances when I have called up the Centurion concierge and there have not been enough customer service staff to take my call. Even after leaving multiple messages to be called back, the team would not follow through. I have also had emails go unanswered for days. The one thing that the Concierge is quite good at is helping you book flight tickets.

Somehow I have found Centurion to have the best prices on flights 99% of the time.

Out-dated Technology:
Even though the Centurion is the most expensive credit card available, American Express is shockingly unable to do the simplest of tasks where technology is concerned.

For example, if a supplementary cardholder wants to execute an online transaction, they are unable to do so on their own, as the OTP will only be sent via SMS (not even email) only to the Primary cardholder.

Even for any regular transactions at a point of sales such as a restaurant/retail store/petrol station, the supplementary holder will not receive any email or SMS confirming their transaction, and this information will only go to the primary cardholder.

American Express Centurion Black Card – The REAL card

The CARD Material:

It is made of a very special Titanium material. It is quite thick, heavy and definitely feels very premium. The only problem is that in case you lose the card, it takes a couple of weeks to receive the replacement as it is not made in India (I believe it is sent from Australia).

How to get the Amex Centurion Card:

I have had the Platinum Charge Card for a number of years now. Prior to receiving the invitation for the Centurion card, i had made a large number of high value transactions on my Platinum card (probably in the range INR 3 Crores) in a short timeframe. – Of course I duly paid off the entire bill on time.

Tip: You can increase the chances if you hold Amex Platinum Charge card for 5 Years with good spends. Spends has to be in “luxury” or “non-business expense” category to be eligible for the personal card. You may chase Business variant if your expense is related to business.

Day to Day Experiences with Amex Black Card:

I have often presented this card while checking in at hotles or dining at high end restaurants. Many times people will comment how heavy and solid the card feels (due to the Titanium material).

The card is more iconic overseas, and in India very few people know the meaning and value of this card – so don’t expect to be treated like a celebrity everytime you flash it around.

Conclusion:

The Centurion card is more about vanity than anything else. Even after all the various perks and benefits given by the card, it is almost impossible to get back the value of the annual fees. Moreover, the highly underwhelming service provided by the concierge team makes matters worse.

The only way a user of this card can really extract true value is if they are flying EXTREMELY frequently (at least 20 international flights annually). Had the concierge service been better, I would have also recommended this card to busy individuals who could have delegated various tasks to the concierge team – but unfortunately in India this is not the case so far.


So guys, for most of us, this card stands nowhere in value compared to the super premium credit cards in India, even some of the most popular credit cards of all time has better benefits in some aspect or other. Though, we’ve to understand that this card is made only for the super rich and so are the eligibility & benefits aligned in that way.

For those wealthy few, they don’t need to chase the 5x or 10x programs to save money, infact, saving money isn’t a thing they look for as a primary benefit as they have enough already. What they need is to save “time” which is more important, especially during travel as this can make more “money” for them.

The free ‘Meet and Greet’ service every-time you book a Business class or First class ticket through Amex – is indeed a lot of value for that type of traveler as they seem to help you through immigration, etc which saves a lot of time. For most others, its very hard to get the value for the fee paid.

  • Editor’s Rating: 3.5/5

Would you opt for one if you get an invite to American Express Centurion Card? If i get, i would – Atleast to add some titanium piece to my credit card collection. What about you? 🙂

P.S. Did i miss something? Feel free to ask in comments below, i’ll try my best to have a word with the card holder and update the article accordingly.

Author: Siddharth

I'm a Credit Card freak minting reward points and cashback for years. Obsessed with aviation, airport lounges and luxury travel at affordable cost.

33 thoughts on “American Express Centurion (Black) Cardholder Review – India

  1. Captain Bishuddha Bharatiya

    Wow wow wow. You meet with a Centurion card holder. Amazing .

    Reply
  2. Srikrishna Raajan

    OTP/Transaction SMS section of centurion card seems a little unbelievable for me as my basic supplementary card does provide them separately.
    This is a great eye-opening article for those who are unaware of this card. Thanks to the Author and the editor of this article.

    Reply
  3. Srikrishna Raajan

    If anyone working with Amex following this website. You had a big blow from the most prestigious card’s member on your company’s service. It is time to escalate this feedback to the authorities and revise/improve the necessary services.

    Reply
  4. Praveen Perumalla

    Under benefits, it is written that seven supplementary cards are available at no cost. But under the annual fees it is written that supplementary cards are chargeable. Which is correct?

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Praveen,
      1. Supp. Centurion cards are chargeable, but
      2. 7 Supp “Plat charge cards” are free
      So you can spoil the entire family with Plat charge cards 😀

      Reply
      1. Praveen Perumalla

        Thanks for the clarification, Sid.

        Well done in getting a genuine review. Probably the first ever I read of such a premium card.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth Post author

          Glad i was able to help!

          Credit goes to the cardholder who’s kind enough to share his review 🙂

          Reply
  5. Vyom aggarwal

    I have Amex gold charge card and OTP for online transactions goes to supplementary card holders as well if they wish

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Yes, but it seems Centurion card is configured in a unique way which isn’t allowing this to happen.

      Reply
  6. ND

    Thanks Sid. Keep up the good work.

    Great to have this review. Very little is available about this card and customer treatment varies significantly country to country.

    Reply
  7. Ram

    This is exactly the kind of content that makes you stand out from the crowd Sid. Keep going!

    Reply
  8. Saravanan R

    Very useful info. Paying that much amount as annual fee and not having proper team for the card holder is really bad.

    As of the otp issue, even sbi started offering otp to be delivered to the add on card and it can be changed in their website itself. It shows how amex poorly manages Indian amex.

    But if these issues sorted out, it would be the best card for ultra rich ppl.

    Reply
  9. Abhishek Roy

    One thing that I missed reading in the review is that there is no mention of Reward point rate. Is there any? Benefit of spending? I know it might not matter to the card holder but just for the information.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      I’ve asked that, i’m yet to receive the info. Will update as soon as i get it.

      Reply
  10. Sahil

    Great review and very in line with my research on this card from friends and family that have it. Most of which are abroad hence their take on it are more positive thanks to the brilliant concierge services provided such as getting seats to sold out sports events or reservations at the best restaurants last minute. None of that works in India, the “Super Rich” have their personal contacts to open these doors, Amex’s contacts can’t compare.
    I evaluated the Centurion in more detail recently when I had to decide whether I should retain my Platinum Charge card or not. I was only keeping it as I would eventually become eligible for the centurion but finally decided it’s not worth it. Instead, I have cancelled my Platinum charge card and shifted to Infinia and loving it!
    I don’t agree with your comment that saving money is not a priority and Centurion saves you time. I have mentioned Infinia point benefits to more than 2 centurion holder and they have been envious. One of them even mentioned that he couldn’t even get it when he tried ! So HDFC Infinia might well be more hard to get than a Centurion. Moreover, the Amex concierge is not good in India, the review says it and my experience with Platinum Charge card concierge haven’t been good either in fact it has made me waste time more than save. Their rates have not been the better, only at par with my travel agent or other websites. The hotel upgrades are not guaranteed and
    The only thing the Centurion is good for is SNOB value. If you are looking to make a statement that I have arrived in life then this is THE card for you. However, I personally find it very in your face flashy and new money appeal. Personally, I would rather EARN 5 lakhs in reward points using Infinia,etc than PAY that in fees for a card that only yells out “Look at me, I am rich”

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Well said. Yes, there are many cards that can get better value, not just limited to Infinia.

      This is more of a luxury item. And when we talk about luxury, only thing that matter is the “affordability”. More the cost, more the “flashy” part goes up but not necessarily the value in parallel to the cost. 🙂

      Reply
  11. Vikram

    I’m afraid some of the terms are being used interchangeably here. There are supplementary cards and then there are add-on cards. They are not the same. Supplementary cards will be issued in the primary card holders name itself. These are just cards issued alongside the primary card if the customer wishes to have separate cards for different types of purchases. For example if one were on a official trip and will pay for all his official expenses himself and then later get those reimbursed. In this case he/she can use one of the supplementary cards to make the official expenses. The primary card’s bill will have all expenses of itself + supplementary cards + add-on cards too. But there will also be a separate bill for the supplementary cards. This means that when they submit to their finance department they can just submit the bill of the supplementary card they used for official expenses. This way they don’t have to expose all their personal expenses unwillingly.

    The add-on cards on the other hand are cards that you can get for your family members. These will be issued directly in their names and though the primary card holder’s liable for all expenses on that card, these cards can still be linked to contact details of the member holding it.

    So supplementary cards will have OTPs reach only the primary card holder’s mobile. But add-on cards will have OTPs delivered to the contact provided for that card.

    I used to have an Amex Kingfisher First card. The package itself came with a supplementary card (in my name). This was free. However add-on cards in the names of family members, if needed, were provided at additional cost. I believe that this is still the case with Amex at least. If not then maybe the thin line vanished.

    Reply
  12. Vikram

    It all depends on the mindset of people and the banks play accordingly. In most countries there’s no concept of a free credit card at all and in some just very very few options. In many countries (I think including US) if you have a Visa Infinite/Signature or a Mastercard World Elite/World card and rent a car with that then the car by default is covered by insurance against accidents and some other misfortunes. And these high tier cards provide purchase protection too. In India they don’t, especially since there’s much demand only for free credit cards. People don’t mind these services not being offered.

    As for Amex, they are the only card providers in India that offer purchase protection (not sure if it’s available on all cards but definitely on some like Platinum Reserve). They are also the only ones that unconditionaly offer zero lost card liability after reporting a stolen card and a maximum of just Rs 1000 before reporting. And they are the fastest at replacement card anywhere in the world. I’ve had people tell me that they received a card in just 2 – 5 days even when abroad. In Europe it does take a little longer. In comparison I know a person who had to travel several 100 miles to an SBI bank to get a replacement card and that too after a very tidious process.

    Their platinum reserve credit and gold charge cards come with points that never expire which is again quite unique because with most other banks the points expire in 3 years. I do agree that thir rewards scheme is not the best though, still never expiring points are good thing.

    And their customer care is simply the best by far. HDFC has improved a lot in the last 4 years but still they’re no match. I’ve never had to call Amex customer care more than once ever for the same thing. And the customer care executives are very well informed. In comparison the average wait time for ICICI is easily close to 10 minutes, used to be even worse in the past.

    People who’ve been in emergency situations abroad have had great things to say about how Amex conceirage/travel assist services came in more than just handy. In comparison I and 4 of my colleagues have been through hell in such a situation abroad. We had an Axisbank traveller currency card and the management of the hotel couldn’t even reach the bank in days of trying. And all this happened when we were checking out, with just one day of visa left, it was certainly very distressing and embarrassing. To add to that we missed the flight next day and were stranded at the airport. We used the last of our coin reserves to call and inform our office and it took them more than 4 hours to load my card. All this while we had no clue what was going on. We just kept regularly trying to use the card to pay extra charges on rebooking in the next flight. All this happened in China which means the languages that we spoke was understood only by a very few around. But people with Amex corporate cards who’ve been in similar situations, had to simply call their assist services. Interim hotel booking, flight booking assistance etc all were provided by way of this service and they didn’t have to run from one end of the airport to another end several times like we did (Shanghai international airport had more than 26 counters each 150 – 200 feet wide and we had run across at least 23 of them to and fro almost 5 times). Still most small companies stick to cheaper alternatives coz they get more attention from these other banks that they don’t get from Amex. But most bigger companies stick to Amex and don’t turn any other direction.

    All that said, it’s still not the most beneficial card for all. If you are a frequent traveller then the you could make great use of some of their cards. I think Siddharth itself is one such. 🙂 My first company’s chairman had a Platinum Charge Card, back when it was purely invite only. The annual fee was 50k plus taxes. But he used to tell me that on the average he gets back well over 2 lakhs in benefits every year out of it.

    HDFC Infinia card / Diners Black etc are the only cards I would compare with Amex in terms of quality and luxury. They are of better value in terms of rewards, lack a little bit in customer care but that is acceptable. I’ve not heard much about ICICI Diamant but that may be a good comparison candidate too. There maybe others that are better in terms of rewards but beyond a level that alone won’t suffice.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      The comment itself worth posting as an article.

      Thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge with us Vikram. It should help lot others!

      Reply
      1. Vikram

        Thank you Siddharth! There’s one more thing that’s different about Amex cards. Unlike Visa/Master/Dinersclub cards which have the pin verification happen at network level, in case of Amex it happens at the terminal level. If you were to use Visa/Master/DC card after you insert the card and enter the amount and proceed the machine connects with the network of the issuing bank through the Visa/Master/DC network and then the pin is asked for. Once you key it in the transaction is authorized and completed.

        In case of Amex the pin is stored in the chip itself and in order to negotiate with the bank itself the pin is needed. This is why you can never change the pin of an Amex card. With cards issued by Amex there is no pin fixed by default. You need to create an online account and then set a pin for yourself. This pin will get written to the chip in your card on the first transaction at a POS terminal. So the first transaction can happen without a pin. For further transactions the pin must be entered or else the chip won’t provide details required for the transaction. And upon entering the pin you will immediately see a “PIN OK”. In case of Amex cards issued by other banks (at least ICICI) the pin is already written into the chip of the card when it is couriered. So you can never change it. If you want to change the pin then you will have to contact the bank and have a new card with a new pin in its chip sent over to you.

        So while you may see an upfront message in the terminal if you try to use a DC card on a POS that doesn’t accept DC cards, the same terminal may ask for your pin and even display a “PIN OK” message. But the transaction will still not go through. You might see some strange error that’s not so explicit. If that happens just get back the Amex card and use a Visa/Master instead.

        Reply
        1. Siddharth Post author

          Yes, you’re right – PIN is programmed to chip after first swipe (in case of Amex proprietary cards)

          But i doubt about other bank issued Amex cards. When i requested for a PIN reset on my ICICI AMEX card, i got a new PIN physically mailed to me and i was able to use it without changing the card.

          Reply
          1. Vikram

            Oh is it? Which ICICI Amex card is that? I haven’t tried it but the instructions that I received with the card stated that every time I wanted a PIN reset they’ll send a new card. I haven’t tried it anyway and so can’t vouch for it.

          2. Siddharth Post author

            ICICI Jet Sapphiro Amex. However, the thing is, i didn’t use the first pin.

          3. Vikram

            You know what, I think you’re right. I checked the conditions again and looks like they won’t send a new card but just a new PIN. Don’t know what the mechanism is.

          4. AS

            ICICI has enabled the PIN change facility on Amex cards recently. You can call CC from your RMN to change PIN.

  13. MD saleem

    I am self employed with ITR of 10 lacs.

    What limit will i get on this card with the above income?

    Reply
  14. Rahul

    Hi, Amex does allow the PIN to be changed as per your preference. Trick is to do it within 24-48 hours of receiving the card.

    With add-on & all, I have some 5 Amex Card & all barring 1 have my preferred PIN.

    Only for one card, I was late in setting the PIN & now I am stuck with the default PIN they decided.

    Amex being Amex , kindly offered me to send in the replacement of the card in question, which I declined.

    Reply
    1. Siddharth Post author

      Do you mean 5 Amex Proprietary cards? Very much loyal to Amex! 🙂

      Reply
    2. Vikram

      Yes it does allow. But just once. After that you can only see the already set PIN and you can no longer change it.

      Reply

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