Is the Amex Business Centurion Card Worth It?

Jan 19, 2018

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The time of year has come when I’ll start cleaning out some of many credit cards, getting rid of some and keeping others. The Business Centurion Card from American Express is one of my top credit cards, and that’s one I’ll definitely be renewing for the coming year, despite the hefty $2,500 annual fee. The combination of points I earn with the card as well as the outstanding perks I receive as a cardmember make the card totally worth it to me — and then some. Here’s why:

1. Ray (Over $20,000 in value annually)

Yup, my first reason is a man — but not just any man! All Centurion cardholders are assigned a personal concierge to help with booking travel and mine is Ray.

Ray is a jack of all travel trades: he always knows my preferred seats on planes based on their layouts, he advises hotels of my arrival and departure times and successfully coordinates my airport pickups. He’s always available to help book or make changes, and it’s not an easy task, considering the amount I travel.

It’s not just hotels and flights Ray helps with, though, it’s anything related to my travel and purchases. He’s arranged numerous tours for me, the most recent being on my trip to Beijing. He arranged for Summer, who was a phenomenal guide, to lead my family and I through several famous Chinese tourist attractions such as the Forbidden Palace, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. He’s gotten me theater tickets, great seats at concerts (including the very front row at Celine Dion) and restaurant reservations. Ray even takes on particularly cumbersome tasks, like locating my headphones when I lost them 10,000 miles from home.

If there’s ever an issue with my charges or purchases, Ray always seems to find the solution. He’s one of the most organized and helpful people I work with, and we’ve never even met! So yes, Ray, you are the number one reason I’m renewing (and no, it’s not because you sent me that nice bottle of champagne during my last check in, though it certainly didn’t hurt).

Ray isn’t the only Amex employee that’s gone above and beyond to help me out, though. I’m not sure I would have made it out of Bali during the Mount Agung volcano eruption if it weren’t for Vernon, a Singapore-based Amex employee who was able to get me off the island via van, ferry and plane — a near-impossible feat as thousands were trying to get off the island and the airport was closed. Before that frantic rush off the island, though, Ray was able to arrange a pickup at Denpasar airport (DPS) through the Centurion International Arrival Services perk that comes with the card. Personal contacts at Amex can do this for you as well at participating airports.

2. I’m Rewarded for Spending Big With Bonus Points ($10,000 in value annually)

My Centurion card is a business one, therefore, I spend a lot of money on the card for various business expenses. For purchases of $5,000 or more, I get 1.5X Amex Membership Rewards points (on up to one million points), which I value at 1.9 cents per point. The best part is (and this is only available to Business Centurion card holders) is the ability to pay for travel using points and then receiving 50% of those points back — when we book my travel as well as employee travel using this method, I’m getting at least $10,000 in value from this perk alone. The Business Platinum card has a similar perk, but you’ll only get 35% points back with that card. Don’t worry, though, as much as I love this Centurion card perk, I still put all my air travel costs on my Platinum Card from American Express for 5X the points.

3. Waived American Airlines Change Fees ($5,000 in value annually)

My schedule is definitely not simple. Besides being constantly on the road, I often have to change flights multiple times per trip. Amex has a partnership with American Airlines that waives change fees on AA tickets which is extremely useful, not only for myself but also for employees, who are also traveling frequently. While this is also available to other Amex members, I don’t pay the Amex booking fee for being a Business Centurion cardholder.

4. Delta Platinum Medallion ($3,700 in value annually)

Although I sometimes fly Delta, I don’t fly the carrier enough to earn Platinum status by simply flying, but luckily the Centurion card gives it to me. Delta’s Platinum Medallion elite status allows me to get to change award tickets for free, as many times as I want, up to 72 hours prior to departure. Plus, I earn more SkyMiles per dollar spent as a Delta Platinum. The other cool thing is that I can add two authorized users (say, my parents) for $2,500 each, and they’ll receive Delta status (and other select benefits) as well.

5. Access to Special Events ($750 in value annually)

While simply being an Amex cardholder already gives me special access to cool events, like the recent at Art Basel in Miami, the Centurion card gives me access to events that are even more exclusive, like the time I got to see Stevie Wonder in concert. I was also able to get Hamilton tickets before even Platinum card holders could get them. The TPG team was pretty pumped to see Hamilton together!

6. Additional Amex FHR Benefits ($5,000 in value annually)

It’s no secret I’m addicted to fancy hotel suites, and I love booking hotels with Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts because of the perks you get like room upgrades, free Wi-Fi, a $100 amenity benefit and late checkout. I just recently was upgraded to a Penthouse Fountain View Suite at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and as you can see below, that definitely didn’t suck. As a Centurion cardholder, these perks go a step beyond, and most upgrades will be confirmed at booking. I also get an additional $200 benefit per two-night or longer stay.

7. Cool Holiday Gifts ($500 in value annually)

Amex gives holiday gifts to their Centurion cardholders and this year I got the Tiffany & Co. Plaid Crystal Decanter and two glasses. Not only does Amex give me amazing travel benefits that allow me to sip cocktails at 38,000 feet, but now I can sip them in style in my very own home too.

8. Unlimited Gogo In-Flight Wi-Fi Passes ($720 in value annually)

Gogo and Amex have a partnership which gives Centurion card holders unlimited Gogo internet passes. Other American Express cards like the Amex Business Platinum give cardholders just 10 passes per year,  but the Business Centurion gives me unlimited, which is extremely useful considering I am in the air way more than just 10 times a year. Having unlimited passes makes it easy for me to connect to the internet for both work and leisure while flying.

9. Amazing Purchase Protection ($2,800 in value annually)

I recently lost my brand new Moncler jacket, and after submitting the claim to Amex Centurion, I was awarded my $2,800 back. The claim time only took two weeks — I figured it would take at least a month to be processed. Amex Centurion (and Amex in general) has some of the best purchase protection out there, and that’s not the first time it’s saved me.

Back in 2016, the bezel broke off my Cartier watch. Cartier denied my claim to cover it even though it was under warranty, but Amex covered the $1,400 charge. It’s possible it would have been covered under the Business Platinum purchase protection, but I think Centurion definitely helped speed the process up — the approval and reimbursement cleared before my watch was even repaired.

Bottom Line

Overall, I get way more out of this card — more than $45,000 in benefits a year — than I spend on keeping it in my wallet. Granted, I do have a business with more than 20 employees, so not everyone will be able to get this much out of this card, but some may be able to get even more out of it. Having a dedicated concierge at Amex who is always available to me is essentially priceless. Combine that with the rest of the perks on this card and it’s well worth the $2,500 annual fee. It’s a very exclusive card, of course, so you can’t just apply for one — you have to be invited to apply by American Express. While nothing’s guaranteed, there are a couple of tricks that you can try that will (likely) get you on Amex’s radar. The first of these is to spend — a lot — on your Business Platinum card, and the second is to simply ask. As with so many other aspects of travel, it never hurts to make a friendly request for something you want — you never know what could happen!

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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