Are black credit cards a waste of money?

It used to be that a gold credit card was the top one you could…

It used to be that a gold credit card was the top one you could have. But nowadays, not even platinum is considered the cream of the crop. The new “must have” color is black. This trend started in the nineties with the American Express Centurion card, but since then several similar cards have also sprung up. Even if you can afford it, are these extremely high annual fees really worth paying for? Let’s take a look…

Costs vs. Benefits

At the end of the day, it all comes down to the cardholder benefits. If you’re not getting back the money you’re putting into it, the card isn’t worth it. The AmEx black card started out with a $1,000 annual fee, but now it costs an outrageous $7,500 just to get the card ($5,000 initiation fee plus $2,500 per annum). So it costs significantly more than in the past. So is it worth it?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to justify paying such an excessive annual fee. Recently AmEx has also stripped down the benefits significantly, like eliminating the free first-class airfare upgrades. Considering that the benefits have dwindled, it really doesn’t make sense that the annual fee has increased substantially.

There are several AmEx Centurion imitators on the market (like the Visa Black Card and Citi Chairman card) which have annual fees of $495 and $500 respectively, but it’s still hard to justify paying that much considering their lack of benefits. In all fairness, these cards do offer some enticing travel perks, but they’re only going to help the diehard traveler.


The AmEx Centurion, Visa Black Card, and Citi Chairman card appear to be a waste of money. It just doesn’t make sense to pay so much for so little benefits. These black cards appear to be good for only one thing… impressing people. But is it really worth paying hundreds or thousands of dollars every year just to do that?