Guide to Credit Cards and Loyalty in India.

The big boy of all charge cards out there. Something that only used to be a rumour and came into existence as the most exclusive card out there, the American Express Centurion or The Black Card.

One of my followers on Instagram (follow us @brown.points), who is a Centurion Cardholder, reached out to me to share an update on the Shangri-La Diamond status, and he was kind enough to share some insights and details on this super exclusive card.

I'm not going to be writing this as a review because I don't have it and can't say much without using it for myself. But I'll document everything that the Centurion Card offers to its Indian cardholders, and you can decide for yourself if it's worth the annual fee.

The Invitation

The Centurion introduction by Amex India CEO.
The Centurion introduction by Amex India CEO

As many of you may already be aware, one has to hit a few crores in personal spending to receive an invitation to apply for the Centurion Card. The categories you spend on are also important. However, if you are too big to be ignored by Amex, this may not even be a requirement.

You receive the invitation in a black box with a note from Mr. Adlakha, the CEO of American Express India, inviting you to the Centurion program. Once you accept the invitation, you pay a joining fee of ₹7 Lakhs + Taxes and an annual fee of ₹2.75 Lakhs + Taxes.

Ongoing Benefits

Some of the key Centurion India benefits.
Some of the key Centurion India benefits.

In terms of ongoing benefits, it's not very different from The Platinum Card. However, they do size it up to the Centurion level to make things better for its cardmembers.

Hotel Privileges

The Centurion card gives its members the elite statuses to the same hotel chains that you get with Platinum Card, but the tiers you get are different.

  1. Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite: Similar to Platinum, you get the Gold Status at Marriott. I believe Marriott is very conservative in terms of handing out their elite statuses to credit cardholders. However, they probably do this to ensure the people who stay at their properties get better perks.
  2. Hilton Honours Diamond: Unlike Platinum, you get the top tier with Hilton, which is of great value given you are eligible for Suite upgrades, lounge access, and free breakfast. These perks are also applicable to their top-of-the-line brands, Conrad and Waldorf Astoria.
  3. Radisson Rewards Gold Elite: You get the Radisson Gold which gives you room upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, and in-room welcome gifts with each stay.
  4. Taj InnerCircle Silver: The Centurion card offers the Taj Epicure membership which comes with the InnerCircle Silver tier. From my experience the Silver tier doesn't give you much benefits except a category upgrade.
Access to exclusive memberships with Centurion.
Access to exclusive memberships with Centurion.

On top of the memberships, you get free night stays at Taj and Oberoi properties every year:

  1. Get a complimentary suite night with breakfast at any of the Taj properties. Cardmember will have to pay the taxes.
  2. Get a complimentary room night without breakfast at Oberoi Hotels and Resorts as a birthday gift.

Some of the ongoing promotions include:

  1. 50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points at Ananda, Vana, RAAS, Atmantan, Ahilya Experiences, Kumarakom Lake Resort, The Postcard Hotels, and The Tamara on eligible bookings.
  2. Enjoy 30% savings on Suites and more at select Taj Hotels, Palaces, Resorts, and Safaris. Along with the discount, you get airport transfer on arrival, breakfast, welcome drinks, a bottle of house wine, curated meal experience, and club access at properties with a club.
  3. Get ₹50,000/- worth Taj Vouchers when you book a domestic trip worth ₹1 Lakh with the Centurion travel desk. You can avail of this benefit twice a year.

Centurion Fine Hotels & Resorts:

Similar to Platinum Card's FH&R, American Express tops it up with even better CFH&R for their Centurion cardholders.

The Centurion cardmembers you get up to $200 worth of room credits, dining or spa service compared to the $100 that you get with a Platinum Charge card. The rest of the perks remain the same.

Airline Privileges

Plan your getaway with the Centurion card.
Plan your getaway with the Centurion card.

The Centurion card's Airline perks are excellent and unique to this card. You get elite status along with preferential rates. The preferential rates overlap with what you get with the Platinum Card.

  1. Emirates Gold: The Gold tier with Emirates gives you a host of benefits, like 50% Skywards Miles, Business Class lounge access for you and a guest, priority check-in, etc. Read more about the benefits.
  2. Centurion Fare Guarantee: You always get the best fare when booking Etihad, British Airways, Lufthansa, Unites Airlines, and a few other member airlines.
  3. Private Charter: You get a $1000 Credit when you book a private charter flight using their Private Charter Program.
  4. Meet and Greet: Get expedited airport experience and one-way airport transfer when booking Business or First class with them.

Along with this, the Centurion card offers discounted fare similar to the Platinum card:

  • 25% discount on Virgin Atlantic Upper Class and Premium Economy
  • 15% discount on Vistara Business class and Premium Economy
  • 10% discount on Emirates First and Business Class
  • 14% discount on United First, Business, and Economy Class.

When you book a round trip international flight originating and terminating in India along with a hotel booking, this could be just a single night booking anytime during your trip. The flight has to be booked on a full service carrier You get to choose one of the following benefits:

  1. Taj Voucher worth ₹25,000/-
  2. 10x Membership Rewards points and Meet and Greet service.

Dining Privileges

Experience the best of fine-dining with the Centurion card.
Experience the best of fine-dining with the Centurion card.

Along with the invite-only tasting menu events organized by American Express, you get some year-long dining benefits, some of which overlap with the Platinum card.

  1. Taj Epicure: You get a complimentary Taj Epicure membership offering you happy hours and 25% back as points at any Taj properties. You may read our full review for more details on the benefits.
  2. ITC Culinary: Discontinued on the Platinum card. However, the Centurion Card still offers to its cardmembers. You get up to 25% as points on Dining, happy hours on Wednesdays, and experience vouchers. ITC Culinary program details.
  3. EazyDiner Prime: Also available on the Platinum card, the prime membership offers you a 25% discount on the partner restaurants.
  4. Diner Dines Free: Get up to 50% off on a minimum of 2 guests at various restaurants at Oberoi Hotels, Kimono Club, The Lodhi, Masala Library, Roseate, Bo Tai, Plum by Bentchair, Dragonfly, and more.
  5. Complimentary Wine: Get a glass of wine on the house when you dine at any of Taj Hotels restaurants.
Taj Epicure Membership Review.
Being a Taj Epicure member from the past two years here’s my attempt to analyze its benefits and tips to help you maximize the value.

Additional Perks

This is where things get a lot different when comparing Centurion with Platinum. Amex does go above and beyond to make sure they give more than what you pay for every year.

  1. Taj Chambers: One of the most exclusive clubs in India. With the Centurion, you get an invitation to join, 200k points, and three nights of complimentary stay at any of the Taj Palace properties when paying the fee with your Centurion Card.
  2. Club Quorum: You get a complimentary standard membership to the Club Quorum in Gurugram, priced at ₹3.5 Lakhs for the first year. They are soon launching a space in Mumbai as well.
  3. Hertz Gold Plus: You get a 20% discount on the bookings and priority service at the Hertz counter. The gold members can skip the at-counter part and simply go to the parking to collect the vehicle.
  4. Special Access Events: These include access to invite-only dining experiences, exclusive privileges at music concerts, etc.
  5. Google Play and App Store: Get 100% cash-back up to ₹10k a year on all your in-app purchases.
  6. Salon Service: Get 100% cash-back up to ₹5,000 on a wide range of grooming product and services at the leading salons such as Silhouette Salon at The Oberoi and UK based Truefitt & Hill chain of salons.
  7. Car Rental: Up to 50% discount on Eco Rent A Car. Choose from a selection of luxury cars like Chrysler Limousine, Mercedes S-Class, and more. This perk is also available to Platinum Cardholders.

Rewards Program

The Centurion membership rewards benefits.
The Centurion membership rewards benefits.

The Centurion card borrows a lot of reward program benefits from the Platinum card. You get 6 points per ₹200 spent on your card compared to 5 on the Platinum Card.

Apart from the regular earnings, the Centurion card offers you accelerated rewards in various categories.

  1. Rewards Multiplier: You get 10x MR points when you shop using the rewards multiplier platform.
  2. Luxury Shopping: Earn 10x MR points when shopping at Reliance Brands like Emporio Armani, Burberry, Coach, etc. Here's the complete list of participating brands.
  3. Centurion Travel: When booking an international trip worth ₹2 Lakhs you can opt for 10x points with meet and greet service.

The Centurion Concierge

Access to dedicated Centurion concierge and relationship manager.
Access to dedicated Centurion concierge and relationship manager.

The concierge service is very unpredictable on the Platinum charge card, especially in the times of COVID. It's handy when it comes to getting a runner service. However, there days services like Dunzo are available to serve these needs and at a much affordable rate.

Going by the words of Centurion cardholder, the service doesn't live up to the expectations here either. They are quick in taking up the requests, but the results are not always desirable. Similar to Platinum Charge Card, it's just like offloading minuscule work on their team to save you some time.

I know for a fact that for the Platinum Charge card, they can't get you a table at a fully booked restaurant. What they do is make a call to the property and check for availability. The outcome for this will not be different from that of you calling them directly. The only difference is that it'll take more time.

I would love to hear about any other experiences with the Centurion Concierge, both good and bad. So, please feel free to share them in the comments and help us improve the content.

Disclaimer: Rights to the assets used in this article are owned by the respective companies. BrownPoints doesn't claim ownership of any of those assets and only uses them for demonstration purposes.

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