When you see someone pull out a black American Express charge card, you know you're in the presence of someone who lives an extraordinary lifestyle. Simply put, the Amex "Black Card" is the embodiment of pure luxury and elite status. The coveted black card—officially known as the "American Express Centurion" card after the Roman army commander whose likeness appears on the Amex logo—is a cultural icon that's risen far beyond being just another credit card.

In fact, calling it "exclusive" is still a massive understatement. Why? First off, even among longtime Amex Platinum cardholders, membership to the Centurion card is still "invite-only," meaning it's not something you can apply for, no matter who you think you are. You may have tried looking it up and noticed there's actually very little official information out there on exactly what it entails to get invited. But as the old cliché goes, "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it."

Since people don't apply for the American Express Centurion Card, there's not really an application process to speak of, but this is how it works: A mysterious black box will show up in your mailbox, which indicates that you've already been approved. There will be no credit checks or inquiries on your income. You just call the number provided to start the process of getting your Centurion card activated, and just like that, a world of privilege like no other is yours to enjoy.