The American Express Centurion Card’s precise origin is shrouded in as much mystery as the very requirements one must fulfil in order to carry it, but if you asked Jerry Seinfeld, he’d paint you a pretty straightforward picture of how the highly-coveted Black Card (supposedly) came into existence.
The billionaire comedian claimed full responsibility for pulling the no-limit, invite-only, adonized titanium status symbol out from the paradigms of urban myth and into material reality during an episode of his Netflix series Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee featuring fellow stand-up comic John Mulaney.
And let’s just say it takes the whole “customer is always right” sentiment to a completely different level.
How Jerry Seinfeld “created” the American Express Black Card
During the late 90s, around the time when Jerry Seinfeld was an American Express spokesperson, he’d been filming an advertisement for the brand when the following exchange occurred…
“I was waiting for them to move some cameras, and the crew guy comes up, he says, ‘You got the Black Card?’ And I go ‘No, what’s the Black Card?'” Seinfeld recounted to Mulaney.
“He says, ‘There’s only three in the world – this is just the camera operator [Chuckles.] – The Sultan of Brunei has one, the president of American Express has one, and I thought you would have the third one.”
“Next morning I call the president of American Express. I go, ‘Is there a Black Card?’ He says, ‘It’s just a rumour. It doesn’t exist.’ He said, ‘But you know what? It’s not a bad idea.’ And so they developed it, and they gave me the first one.”
“So what about the Sultan of Brunei?” asked John Mulaney.
To which Seinfeld replied with a signature shrug: “That was just made up.”
Fact or episodic fiction?
While the Black Card was indeed launched in 1999, which perfectly aligns with the timeline of events as purported by Jerry Seinfeld, in the years since this eyebrow-raising revelation, American Express has consistently been unwilling to confirm or deny that’s what actually happened.
When approached for both comment and clarification by The Points Guy, our de facto modern authority on all things credit cards, here’s what a company representative stated for the record:
We cannot attribute the existence of the American Express Centurion Card to just one Card Member, as we take a great deal of customer insights and feedback into account when we develop our Card products, benefits and services.
It does, however, make for a better story if we take Seinfeld at his word. Plus, let’s not pretend that was a resounding “no.”
So how does a punter without the last name ‘Seinfeld’ get a Centurion Card? Most forums online suggest starting with an American Express Platinum Card, spend six-figures annually, and hope for a call from the Centurion team. You’ve gotta start somewhere…