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What Is a Black Card & Black Credit Card Alternatives

What Is a Black Card & Black Credit Card Alternatives

A select few credit cardholders in Canada benefit from the exquisite benefits of a credit card known as the black card. You can’t apply for a black credit card – it’s invite-only, and the bar to qualify is set pretty high.

When most people bring up the black card, they likely refer to the American Express Centurion Card. While Amex doesn’t publish the cardholder requirements, it’s believed that you must have a 7-figure annual income, spend mid-six figures every year on a different American Express credit card, have a high net worth, and of course, have impeccable credit.

In this article, I’ll give you the lowdown on the Black cards offered by American Express and Luxury Card. I’ll also cover several other luxury credit cards, which act as “black card alternatives.” But first, if you are one of the privileged few to be selected for an Amex Centurian Card, here are some of the rumoured benefits you can expect to enjoy.

American Express Centurion

The American Express Black Card (Centurion) comes with a hefty $5000 one-time setup fee and a hefty $2500 annual fee for Canadian cardholders. Of course, that’s unlikely to be a deterrent for well-heeled Black card clients looking for the highest level of travel perks and other benefits.

AMEX Black Card Features

  • One-time signup fee of $5000
  • The annual fee is $2500
  • 24/7 concierge service
  • Dedicated concierge and travel agent
  • No set credit limit
  • Elite hotel status
  • Entrance into the Centurion hotel program
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotel privileges
  • Hilton Honors Diamond Status
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status
  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite Membership
  • Delta Skymiles Medallion Status
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle
  • Global Lounge Program access
  • Unlimited access to Priority Pass Lounges
  • Full access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges
  • Access to personal shoppers at select retail outlets
  • AMEX Front of the Line Benefits
  • Hotel check-in at noon (when available)
  • Room upgrade upon arrival (if available)
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Guaranteed late checkout at 4 PM

And the benefits go on and on, much more than I can list here. I should note, I can’t confirm that all of the black card features listed above are available to Canadian cardholders.

Mastercard Black Card

Hot on the heels of the American Express Centurion, Luxury Card boasts a black card of their own – the aptly titled Mastercard Black Card. The Mastercard version of black isn’t on the same level as Centurion, but it compares well to other Centurion alternatives (see below), including the American Express Platinum Card.

Let’s take a look at the features and benefits of Mastercard Black:

Mastercard Black Features

  • Black PVD-Coated Metal Card
  • $495 Annual fee
  • $195 for each Authorized User card
  • 2% redemption rate for airfare
  • 1.5% cash back redemption rate
  • $100 annual airline credit
  • 24/7 concierge service
  • Priority Pass Access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Curated Luxury Card experiences
  • Mastercard Special Offers

Black Credit Card Alternatives

While most Canadians will never receive an American Express Centurion invite, several prestigious credit cards are available, offering a wealth of rewards and other benefits. Let’s look at some of the Black credit card alternatives you can consider.

American Express Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum Card is arguably the most prestigious credit card in Canada, aside from Centurion and the Mastercard Black Card. Unlike most credit cards, it doesn’t come with a pre-set credit limit. But according to Amex, “that does not mean unlimited spending. Your purchases are approved based on various factors, including your credit record, account history, and personal resources”.

In addition to the long list of card features below, Platinum cardholders enjoy free lounge access at more than 1,200 private airport lounges worldwide and elite status at several different hotel loyalty rewards programs, including Marriott Bonvoy, Radisson Rewards, and Hilton Honors.

Key Features

  • $699 Annual Fee
  • $175 for each Authorized User
  • No Pre-set spending limit
  • 90,000 Welcome Points (Limited-time, conditional offer)
  • 3X points on eligible dining & food delivery purchases
  • 10X points on eligible travel purchases (Welcome offer, first 6 months)
  • 2X points on eligible travel purchases (standard earn rate)
  • 1X points on everything else
  • Platinum Concierge Service
  • Emergency Medical Insurance
  • Trip Cancellation Insurance
  • Trip Interruption Insurance
  • Flight Delay Insurance
  • Baggage Delay Insurance
  • Hotel Burglary Insurance
  • Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
  • Travel Emergency Assistance

American Express Aeroplan Reserve

You’ll need an excellent credit score to qualify, but if you collecting Aeroplan points is your thing, you may be interested in another card from American Express. The Amex Aeroplan Reserve is a premium Aeroplan card with an annual fee of $599. For that price, you get a generous welcome bonus, 3 points per dollar spent on Air Canada, 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants, and 1.25 points per dollar spent on all other purchases.

American Express Aeroplan Reserve Features

  • $599 annual fee
  • 3 points per dollar spent on Air Canada purchases
  • 2 points per dollar spent at restaurants
  • 1.25 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • First checked bag free on Air Canada
  • Priority check-in, boarding, and baggage handling
  • Worldwide Air Canada companion voucher (with $25,000 annual spend)
  • Unlimited Maple Leaf airport lounge access

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege

As of 2018, TD Bank acquired the Aeroplan program in partnership with Air Canada, CIBC, and Visa, so it should come as no surprise that TD has it’s own top-of-the-line Aeroplan credit card. The TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege is one of TD’s most prestigious credit cards, and this is reflected in the annual fees ($599 + $199 for each additional card).

But as they say, you get what you pay for, and in this case, that means a high Aeroplan earn rate and a huge number of travel-related perks and other benefits.

TD Aeroplan Visa Infinite Privilege Features

  • $599 annual fee
  • $199 for each additional card
  • Welcome bonus valued at up to $2800 (limited time, conditional offer)
  • 2 points per dollar spent on Air Canada
  • 1.5 points per dollar spent on eligible gas, groceries, travel, and dining purchases
  • 1.25 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • Maple Leaf Lounge Access
  • Annual, round-trip companion pass starting at $99
  • Access to priority airport services
  • 50% more Aeroplan points and 50% more Stars at participating Starbucks
  • Up to 8 travel-related insurance coverages
  • Optional TD Auto Club Membership

BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege

BMO customers can get their luxury credit card, the BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege. The annual fee is $499, and you will require a minimum yearly income of $150,000 personal or $200,000 household. The income requirements are steep, but on the plus side, a $200 annual lifestyle credit offsets the annual fee. One thing that stands out about this card is the multiple large spending categories that get the highest earn rate: 5X points on groceries, dining, drugstore, gas, and travel. If you’re like most Canadians, you’re spending a lot of money on groceries and gas these days.

BMO Eclipse Visa Infinite Privilege Features

  • $499 annual fee
  • $99 additional card fee
  • Minimum income requirement $150,000 personal/$200,000 household
  • 5X points for every dollar spent on groceries, dining, drugstore, gas, and travel
  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases
  • Priority Pass membership and six airport lounge visits annually
  • Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection
  • Visa Infinite Concierge access
  • Purchase Security Protection
  • Extended Warranty Protection
  • Mobile Device Insurance
  • Several travel insurance coverages
  • Visa Zero Liability

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege

Not to be outdone by its banking rivals. RBC has a black card alternative of its own, with the RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege Card. The annual fee is a competitive $399, and you get the same Visa Infinite Privilege benefits as with the TD and BMO cards. Some RBC-exclusive perks include Petro Canada fuel discounts, bonus Petro Points and RBC Rewards on Petro Canada purchases, and 50 Be Well points per dollar spent at Rexall Drug Stores.

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Privilege Features

  • $399 annual fee
  • $99 additional card fee
  • Generous welcome offers
  • Priority Pass membership with six lounge passes (annual)
  • Visa Infinite Luxury Hotel Collection
  • 24/7 concierge service
  • Visa Infinite Food and Wine Experiences
  • 1.25 RBC Rewards points per dollar spent
  • Minimum personal income of $200,000
  • Flexible travel rewards, book flights on any airline or flight
  • Redeem points for vacation packages, cruises, hotels, car rentals, etc.
  • Extensive insurance coverages
  • Exclusive credit card offers
  • Global airport lounge access

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite

The Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite offers more value than many other premium credit cards. For starters, the annual fee is only $139. There is usually a generous welcome bonus, and Scotiabank offers a range of travel and insurance benefits. You can also earn Scene points (movie rewards), a Scotiabank staple. Here are some of the features to expect with this card:

Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Features

  • $139 annual fee
  • The first additional user card is free
  • $5000 minimum credit limit
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 2 Scene points per dollar spent on grocery, dining, entertainment, and transit purchases
  • 1 Scene point on all other purchases
  • Up to 11 different insurance coverages

HSBC World Elite Mastercard

At the moment, HSBC will waive the first year’s annual fee for the HSBC World Elite Mastercard (the standard fee is $149). You can qualify for up to 80,000 bonus points. While it’s a limited-time offer, HSBC usually has a generous welcome bonus for new customers. Another nice feature is the waiver of foreign transaction fees when purchasing outside of Canada. With many card issuers charging up to 2.5% per transaction, you can save a lot of money with the HSBC World Elite. Here’s a look at the full range of premium benefits

HSBC World Elite Mastercard Features

  • $149 standard annual fee
  • Annual minimum income threshold $80000 personal/$150,000 household
  • 6 points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases
  • 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases
  • 2.5% foreign currency fee waived
  • Complimentary membership in Mastercard Airport Experiences by Loungekey
  • $100 annual travel enhancement
  • 10% discount on select hotel bookings
  • Redeem points towards travel (preferred), merchandise, gift cards, and more
  • 11 types of travel insurance

Final Thoughts on the Black Card

After reading, you may be wondering if an invitation-only card like the Amex Centurion black card is worth it? It certainly has some high-end rewards (the ones we know about), and while it’s a decision most of us will never have to make, top executives and high-flying celebrities will likely get their money’s worth for signing up.

The good news for the rest of us is that other exclusive credit cards are available for ordinary Canadians, like the ones featured in this article. The choice for the best luxury credit card is an individual one and depends on the types of benefits you enjoy. If you travel frequently, the Amex or TD Aeroplan branded cards are a great choice; if you like staying at fine hotels, choose a card that will give you elite hotel status.

A couple of things to keep in mind: the annual fees and your annual personal and household income – if you’re applying for a premium credit card, it will have a minimum annual income requirement, and the annual fees on all of these luxury cards are relatively high. If you’re not maximizing your spending with the card, it may not be of value.

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