card, the U.S. version of an exclusive card that it launched in the United Kingdom six months ago.

The Centurion card targets a small niche of consumers -- the rich and famous, who can afford the $1,000 annual fee. Amex said the card is available by "invitation only" to a select group of its Platinum card members. Platinum cards cost $300 a year, and they were Amex's most exclusive products heretofore.

U.S. Centurion cardholders are entitled to upgrades on flights on the Concorde, access to airport clubs, hotel room upgrades, private shopping excursions at exclusive stores, and discounts on investment products that Amex offers. Other perks include personal shoppers and personal assistants, who help cardholders plan special occasions, select gifts, and arrange trips.

The Centurion card is geared toward "cardmembers for whom individual attention and access to previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest," said James Bush, senior vice president consumer marketing at American Express.

-- Lisa Fickenscher

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