The American Express Centurion Card has long been lauded as the world’s premier rewards card.
Widely known as the Black Card, Centurion offers dedicated concierge access and a number of benefits with elite travel companies and hotels. But for most the card is far out of reach with a required minimum annual spend of $250K, $2.5K annual fee, and $7.5K initiation fee. SELECT, a NY-based startup aims to bring benefits similar to – and perhaps even beyond what’s found on Centurion to innovative professionals across the globe.
Since launching just over a year ago the company has quickly grown its premier black card community to over 9000 members, with thousands more on the waitlist.
According to Founder & CEO Carlo Cisco, creating SELECT is a way to provide members with unlimited access to premier benefits and high-quality, bespoke experiences while providing top-tier brands and businesses with a sustainable and profitable way to build lasting relationships with their target clientele.
In order to receive SELECT benefits, prospective members must apply through a fairly competitive process where they cite biographical, educational, and career information as well as general interests. Cisco notes approximately 30 percent of all applicants are ultimately offered membership. He also notes that the company’s average member boasts a six-figure income but stressed that income is far from the company’s only criteria for membership.
Once accepted to the SELECT community, members receive a personalized black metal card that can be linked with any of their current credit or debit cards. Additionally, they can access all of their benefits through the members-only website and mobile apps for iPhone and Android. Members even have access to a text-based concierge directly through the app. The concierge team helps members make any bookings at SELECT partners and provides recommendations for restaurants, hotels and activities that best suit a member’s needs. SELECT’s dedicated in-house concierge staff is trained to be in the know and connect members with the personalized experiences for any occasion. SELECT hires local concierges for each city in which they operate to ensure expert local knowledge.
SELECT benefits include sizable discounts or complimentary drinks for your entire party at top-tier restaurants, VIP access and upgrades at premier nightlife venues, unpublished rates at top hotels (such as the Mondrian LA, Delano South Beach, and the Standard Highline), ongoing special offers at retailers like Brooks Brothers, and even up to 50 percent off most movie tickets. A few other noteworthy brands participating in SELECT include Kimpton Hotels, Bliss Spas, David Barton, Priceline, and AVIS, to name a few.
The SELECT community is also invited to curated members-only events, which include private dinners, speaker series, panels, complimentary cocktail hours, gallery openings, galas and more. Members have also enjoyed complimentary and/or VIP access to events with brands like Veuve Cliquot and Johnnie Walker and musicians such as Norah Jones and Steve Aoki.
Those accepted pay an annual fee of $250 to keep the benefits active, a tiny fraction of the fee charged by Centurion and even less than other premier membership cards such as FoundersCard.
Members can access benefits and attend events in any of SELECT’s current or future markets. With NYC, DC, Miami, and now San Francisco live, Cisco expects the community to continue to grow and says that at least 2-3 more cities are on the way in 2016.
“After seeing the membership and utilization grow exponentially in all of our East Coast markets, we decided it was finally time for the West Coast, starting with San Francisco” said Cisco. “We chose SF because it’s a city that’s on the pulse of innovation, a city full of go-getters and thrill-seekers, a place we felt would immediately become part of the broader community. Many of our existing members have friends and family in San Francisco and many travel here frequently.” Cisco notes that San Francisco is one of the top three cities members travel to.
SELECT will have its official launch party in June and is hosting a reception for founding members and influencers in May. The company is already building its membership community and network of partners in SF and the Bay Area. Cisco says members have access exclusive benefits at dozens local hot spots including: Palm House, Acquerello, Ozumo, Farallon, Fly Trap, Serpentine and Hawthorn among others.