Supercharged credit cards deliver VIP benefits

Business Jet Traveler » February 2014
American Express Centurion Card
American Express Centurion Card
Wednesday, February 19, 2014 - 11:15am

In exchange for annual fees of up to $7,500, they offer benefits that even ultra-high-net-worth customers are likely to appreciate.

Before you began flying privately, you may have been that person who’d throw down your plastic at dinner and say, only half-jokingly, “Let me pay so I can get the miles.” Times have changed, and even if you still fly commercially sometimes, scoring frequent-flier miles probably ranks lower now on your list of priorities.

Nevertheless, some credit cards offer perks that even the highest-net-worth customers are likely to appreciate. First-class lounges remain essential if you use the airlines overseas (not much beats the Emirates lounge in Dubai with its spa services and sommelier), and the best credit cards will get you gratis access. Even better: a few cards offer concierge services that can rival the work of a personal assistant. 

One such card, the American Express Centurion, is made of titanium and available by invitation only and has no spending limit to speak of. Rumor has it that tech millionaire Victor Shvetsky purchased a business jet for $52 million on this card, which is also known as the Amex black card.

For a $7,500 initiation fee and $2,500 annually, card members enjoy perks that include preferred pricing on luxury exotic car purchases and dedicated concierge services to assist with everything from hotel arrangements to last-minute front-row concert tickets to personal shopping services all over the world. The card, which charges no foreign transaction fees, will also get you airline upgrades and access to the best airport lounges worldwide. (Contrary to popular belief, though, it won’t earn you membership in the “Gulfstream Aerospace Private Flyers Club”; in fact, no such club exists.)

Note to big spenders: we have heard of several cases where Centurion’s annual fee has been waived or reduced for cardholders with great credit who charge upwards of $150,000 a year.

Arguably even more exclusive than Amex black, J.P. Morgan Chase’s Palladium Card is made of palladium and 23-carat gold and features a smart chip for added security. Though the annual fee is a mere $595, there seems to be an unwritten rule that to qualify you must be a client of J.P. Morgan Chase’s private bank and have more than $25 million invested with the company. 

Once you pass that threshold, you can enjoy rarefied perks such as a 24/7 dedicated concierge service for travel, reservations and theater-ticket procurement and no spending limit. Also included in membership are complimentary airline companion tickets, first-class upgrades and access to most private airport lounges. According to Palladium’s 62-page brochure, card members will additionally benefit from insider access to Netjets flights through the Marquis Jet Card program.

The Citi Prestige card, which costs a relatively modest $450 annually, delivers many of the same benefits offered by Centurion and Palladium, including access to airport lounges and complimentary airline companion tickets (restrictions apply). Citi Prestige also offers price incentives at many luxury hotels and waived greens fees at more than 2,400 golf courses. n

 

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“[New billionaires in fast-growing countries] have to buy longer-range airplanes. If you’re flying from Mongolia to Nigeria, it’s either a three-day journey flying commercial or a nine-hour flight on your jet.”

-Steve Varsano