Tuesday, March 29, 2011
The American Express Centurion Card In France
Finding accurate information about the American Express Centurion card (aka The Black Card) is not easy. Localized information is even harder to find, so as a follow-up to my Luxury Travel 101 post, here's some detailed information about the American Express Centurion card in France.
- By invitation only: unknown spending threshold but likely less than the American threshold (US$ 250,000 charged on one Amex account in 12 months).
- Annual fee: € 3000 (with an initiation fee of €3000) as of March, 31st, 2012. No fee for additional cardholder (as opposed to the US).
- What you get: 1 main Titanium Centurion card, 1 supplemental Titanium Centurion card (for Business expenses which will however be debited from the same bank account than the main card), 1 additional Titanium Centurion card (for spouse for instance), 4 additional Platinum cards (for family members who will benefit from the same service and insurance than the main cardholder).
- Priority Pass: 2 top-tier Priority Pass memberships for both the main and supplemental cardholders. The Priority Pass program comes in handy when flying economy or domestic in the US as both cardholders will have unlimited free access to Priority Pass lounges worldwide. Both Priority Pass cardholders can invite a guest at no additional cost every time they use a lounge.
- American Airlines Admirals Club, Delta & US Airways Lounges: Access the lounge by showing the Centurion Card even when booked on a flight with the corresponding airline.
- Complimentary dedicated service to accompany you in Charles-De-Gaulle or Orly Paris airport when flying to or from these aforementioned airports if flight is non-domestic and was booked through American Express Travel Services
- Mandarin Oriental Hotels: Stay one night, get one night free once per property per year per Centurion cardholder (it usually works to use this benefit for both the main and supplemental cardholders).
- Airline status: Cathay Pacific (CX) Diamond status. This translates into One World alliance top-tier Emerald status
- Hotel status (only for main cardholder): Hilton Diamond, Starwood Gold, Priority Club Platinum, A Club Gold. Centurion cardholders will keep their hotel status for as long as they spend at least one night per year in one of the properties associated with each program.
- Eurostar lounge: access to the lounge regardless of class of travel
- Relais & Chateaux: Top-tier Club 5C membership. Although most Relais & Chateaux properties don't qualify as luxury properties in my book, there are some nice exceptions to the rule and service as well as recognition for Club 5C members is top notch.
- Car rental status (only for main cardholder): Avis President's Club (great deal!), Hertz #1 Club Gold President's Circle
- Great travel insurance: you will, for instance, get € 500 per person for emergency purchases if your bags get to your destination later than four hours after you when flying a commercial airline.
- Access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts (FHR) American Express program (same than for Platinum cardholders): this program is great as Amex has special agreements for almost all the best hotels in the world. They sometimes have preferred rates but not always. Most of the time, they will match the best available rate with special FHR perks: Late checkout, upgrade at check-in upon availability, free breakfast and a special amenity (depending on the property it can for instance be US$ 100 food & beverage credit, or US$ 100 Spa credit or free afternoon tea...).
- The Amex Companion Airline program: Buy 1 business class ticket, get the second one free. This is basically useless as most the time the initial ticket is at least twice as expensive as what you can find anywhere else.
- Centurion Travel Service: you will have to book through them if you want to take advantage of the FHR program. They aren't top notch in France and their English is less than average. Every reservation they make should be double checked as they are error-prone (which is a shame when you think that they advertise themselves as the best of the best).
- Centurion Concierge Service: once again, they're supposed to make the impossible possible but they can't be compared to top of the line private concierge services such as Mint or Preferred. Basically they're good if you want a last minute table reservation at a restaurant with which they have an agreement or if you want last-minute tickets to a show. Bear in mind, that most of the restaurants in France that are part of their fine dining program are located in Paris. Other requests are hit and miss.
- Special gifs and promotion: in 2011, they, for instance sent cardholders a €1000 gift certificate to be used at the Arije jewelry stores in Paris as well as a US$ 500 gift certificate to be used at a an Orient Express Hotel & a US$1000 gift certificate to be used for an Orient Express cruise or train ticket.
- Cruise perks: with some cruiselines, you'll get onboard credit and an upgrade.
There's a lot of controversy as to the value of this card. The FHR program & travel insurance can pay for the fee depending on your travel pattern. If you're looking for more information, visit the Flyertalk American Express forum.