When people talk about a black credit card, they usually mean one very expensive, high prestige, hyper-exclusive card with black coloring: the American Express Centurion Card. You need an invite to get THE black card, unfortunately. And while Amex doesn’t disclose the requirements, online reports say you have to spend at least $250,000 a year on an Amex card to merit consideration. The Centurion Card also is rumored to have a $7,500 initiation fee and a $2,500 annual fee. And its main perks, aside from the prestige, appear to be hotel benefits, Delta Platinum status and a do-anything, round-the-clock personal concierge.
But if you’re looking for a black card that you can actually apply for, there are some alternatives. They won’t carry the same weight socially, but their fees aren’t as astronomical, either.
Here are some notable black credit cards:
Mastercard Black Card: The annual fee is $495. You get 1 point per $1 on all purchases. You can redeem points for airfare at a value of 2 cents point, and for cash back at 1.5 cents per point. You’ll also get a $100 annual travel credit, a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership worth $359 per year, and a $100 credit to cover the cost of applying for Global Entry. You need good credit or better.
RBC Bank Visa Signature Black Credit Card: There’s no annual fee. You get 1 point for every $1 spent. You need good credit to get approved.
Marriot Rewards Premier Credit Card: This black-in-color credit card has an $85 annual fee, waived for the first year. It gives you 75,000 points for spending $3,000 in the first three months, plus a free night every year on your account anniversary. You also get 5 points per $1 spent at Marriott hotels. And that’s in addition to 2 points per $1 spent on airline tickets booked directly with airlines, car rentals, and dining at restaurants (1 point per $1 on everything else. You need at least good credit.
American Express Centurion Card: This invite-only card is apparently reserved for Amex cardholders who spend at least $250,000 a year.
A black credit will always have a certain amount of mystique because of the secrecy and exclusivity of the Amex Centurion Card. But you can’t just apply for the real thing, and most of us don’t spend enough to qualify, anyway. Plus, it doesn’t really matter what color your credit card is, as long as it offers good terms. So you’re probably better off with a regular rewards card like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Citi Double Cash or Capital One Venture. Some credit card companies, including Discover, also let you customize your card’s appearance. So you can turn lots of credit cards into black cards if you want.