AMERICAN EXPRESS INTRODUCES THE CENTURION CARD (Original 1999 AMEX Press Release)

AMERICAN EXPRESS INTRODUCES THE CENTURION CARD

Black Card Sets New Standard For Premium Service With Free Upgrades on British Airways Concorde? and Enrollment in Elite Airline Frequent-Flier Programs


NEW YORK, October 14, 1999 — American Express today announced the introduction of the CenturionTM Card. The Centurion Card will be offered by invitation only to selected Platinum Card? members.

The black-colored Centurion Card offers customized personal service to help ease the busy and demanding lifestyles of cardmembers. It has been designed for individuals who travel frequently, entertain often and value single points of contact for service.

“We created the Centurion Card in response to customer research that identified a small but affluent group of cardmembers for whom individual attention and access to previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest,” said James Bush, senior vice president of Consumer Marketing at American Express. “Many of our prospective cardmembers are already frequent travelers receiving elite benefits on one airline. The Centurion Card is the only product on the market that can grant them elite status on four airlines, and much more.”

The introduction of the Centurion Card is part of a broader American Express strategy to introduce a wider array of card products to specific market segments.

“Our company’s innovation includes the creation of the world’s first Travelers Cheque more than 100 years ago, and has continued with unique services for the Personal Card and the invention of the first Gold and Platinum Cards,” added Bush. “With the Centurion Card, we’ve again set the standard — raising the bar in the premium card category.”

Centurion Card Benefits

The card provides customers with all the benefits and rewards they received with their Platinum Card, plus numerous additional travel, lifestyle and financial services benefits, including:

Elite Travel Benefits

Centurion members are eligible for upgrades and enrollment in the elite tiers of several airline frequent flier, hotel guest and car rental programs, without the rigorous mileage requirements usually needed to join. Examples include:

  • Upgrades to the Concorde at no additional cost with the purchase of a full-fare, first-class transatlantic ticket to or from London and any British Airways gateway in the United States.
  • Complimentary upgrades, dedicated check-in, priority boarding and mileage earning at an accelerated rate via complimentary enrollment in the Continental Airlines? OnePass? Gold Elite Program, Delta Air Lines Gold Medallion? program, TWA Aviators Elite 1 program and US Airways Dividend Miles? Preferred PlusSM.
  • Complimentary access to the airport clubs of Continental, Northwest and TWA airlines when flying those airlines.
  • Room upgrades, late checkout, complimentary use of fitness centers and other benefits through enrollment in Starwood Gold Preferred Guest program, Gold VIP membership in the Hilton HHonors? program, Diamond membership in the Hyatt Gold Passport program and membership in the Inter-Continetal Six Continents Club.
  • Confirmed room upgrades when available, at Ritz-Carlton and select Four Seasons properties around the world and more than 330 other fine hotels, resorts and spas.
  • Complimentary international cellular phones, which will be delivered directly to Centurion Cardmembers, who pay only the cost of the calls.

Personal Assistance

  • Each cardmember will be assigned a personal travel counselor to handle all travel needs, and their own concierge to help with anything from special occasion planning and selecting ideal gifts, to locating unusual items.

Retail Privileges

  • Special privileges will be extended to Centurion members at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, including personal shopper services, invitations to exclusive events, free consultation for restyling of precious jewelry (Neiman Marcus) and private shopping hours (Saks.)

Rewards

  • Fee-free enrollment in Membership Rewards PlusSM, the premium level of the Membership Rewards? program. This includes redemption of points for travel on any airline anywhere in the world, and for purchases charged on the American Express Card.
  • Fifty-percent Membership Rewards point bonus on all charges made with a Centurion Card at our Centurion partners. These partners include Delta Air Lines, Continental Airlines, TWA, British Airways, Hilton Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and others.

Financial

  • Complimentary two-hour consultation with Provident Financial Management, a subsidiary of American Express Tax and Business Services, which specializes in planning for high-net-worth individuals, including industry leaders and celebrities.
  • A 25 percent reduction in the management fee for investments and a reduced minimum investment requirement at Portfolio Management Group, a division of American Express Asset Management Group at American Express Financial Advisors.

American Express is a diversified worldwide travel, financial and network services company founded in 1850. It is a world leader in charge and credit cards, Travelers Cheques, travel, financial planning, investment products, insurance and international banking.