What I Learned by Spending $650,000 on My Credit Card Last Month
Here is my recent credit card statement.
That $659,635.62 charge may seem like a lot (and it is!), but there’s a reason I’m spending that much, which is what I want to explain here: That explanation begins with what American Express calls its Centurion Card but is more popularly known as the “Black Card.”
Over the years, I've spent so much with Amex that the company gave me one.
Now, the Black Card has an aura of exclusivity -- it's something that mostly celebrities and mega-rich people have. Because of its pros and cons, I've had one three separate times, weird as that may sound.
The Black Card! People think it's amazing. That’s why I aspired to have one when I was a kid. I wanted to be cool, and I thought a card would make me cool. Celebrities have a Black Card. It’s hyped up on TV. You think you can gain access to amazing places, and live an exotic life. People seem to respect you.
Well, I quickly learned that you attract the wrong kind of attention. True, some people will look at you differently. For example, when I go to the airport and use my card, people often ask me, “What do you do for a living?”
Yet what I learned is that this kind of attention does not make you a better person. For example, in my early 20s, I went to Nordstrom to buy some shoes and got asked out on a date . . . because of my Black Card.
I was planning on hiking with friends. It had just rained, and I’m OCD about mud. My plan was to buy a new pair of shoes to go hiking in so my old ones wouldn’t get muddy. (I know. Crazy.) I went to pay for the tennis shoes I'd picked out, and used my Black Card at the checkout. When the cashier saw the Black Card, she started flirting.
She asked me what the shoes were for, started laughing, touching my hand, complimenting me on my style and even offering to clean the shoes if they got muddy!
Then she handed me a slip of paper containing her phone number and said, “Hey, you should give me a call.”
She hadn't talked to me for more than three minutes, hadn't gotten to know me, hadn't even spent time helping me find my tennis shoes. Nor do I think she was making much of a commission from a $79 pair of shoes.
But she saw the card, and asked me on a date.
Now, some entrepreneurs see the card (or know that I have one) and try to ally with me so I can help them get a Black Card of their own! And that doesn't work with me: I don’t want to work with someone who's impressed simply because I own a card they see as a sign of wealth.
Another story: I was at a conference, and an attendee asked me, “Hey, how did you get a Black Card? I spend, like, $150,000 a month, and I’d really like to get one, to bust one out whenever I’m hanging out with celebrities, and totally get on to their level. What did you do to get yours?"
I felt his pain. So, I made him an offer: “Why don’t I give you a Black Card under my account? You pay your portion of the bill, and you can spend your $150,000 a month. Just send me a screenshot of your bill, so I know what kind of expenditures you have.”
Now, if he spent as much as he said he did, I would have benefited from the extra points for having him on the card.
But he wouldn’t give me the screenshot. I’m positive that he didn’t spend $100,000 a year on his credit card, either, let alone $150,000 a month. Who cares about getting on a celebrity’s level, anyway? Just do what makes you happy, and pursue success as best you know how.
In short, a credit card doesn’t build a true reputation for success. People in business -- your true peers -- don’t care if you have a Black Amex or not. Sure, the card might seem special because of the way our society has hyped it, but it’s just a black and titanium card, nothing more.
And there’s nothing impressive about spending a lot on a credit card. Someone spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on a credit card might be barely making that much in his or her business, and so only breaking even.
Credit-card spending doesn't mean that a business is profitable or a person is rich. Besides, most people waste money on useless expenditures. In my experience, any time someone spends more than $200,000 per month, there is some wastage happening.
For this reason, I create a spreadsheet recording every payment that I make with my American Express credit card.
Why? I want to know where every dollar goes. By listing out my expenses, I see the wastage, and know how to save money and increase my profitability.
Increasing profitability is what business is about. If your numbers aren’t positive, who cares if you’re a big credit card spender?
If you’re wondering, “Okay, Neil, why do you have a Black Card?” there are two main reasons:
1. The points: I charge a lot to my Black Card. In return, I get points, which I can redeem for airfare. I tend to look at everything as a mathematical formula. For my expenditures, the Black Card nets me the highest returns.
With the Black Card, for every purchase over $5,000, I get 1.5 times the points. Because of this, I’m earning an extra 225,000 points per month. That 225,000 extra points means at least one free international business class ticket, which has a value of $5,000, to be conservative. That’s $60,000 worth of free yearly airfare.
It’s worth paying the yearly fee of $2,500 for the card when I’m getting an additional $5,000 per month, right?
2. The helpful concierges: Another reason I hang on to my Black Card is the helpfulness of its concierges. For me, the biggest advantage of the card has nothing to do with money or points. It has to do with people.
For example, if I’m looking for a Thanksgiving dinner reservation somewhere, but all the restaurants I call are booked, the concierge can probably secure a reservation for me somewhere. These people can also fine-tune my spending to achieve my goals.
As my own expenditures with Amex increased, I needed more guidance on which Amex cards to spend money on in order to gain the best returns for the points. One concierge said, “I see that you’re spending a lot on advertising. You should consider getting a gold Amex card, because it provides three times the points, for up to $100,000 in advertising.”
I spend way more than $100,000 on advertising each month, so I opened up several new gold cards to take advantage of the "three times the points" deal on the first $100,000. But that action ended up tanking my FICO score! I went from an 807 to 731.
Still, the advantages outweighed the disadvantages, and now I’m getting three times the points for each advertising dollar I spend on my gold cards.
What's more, the concierge team members are super friendly. They go above and beyond to accommodate your requests.
Most Black Card perks are either useless or available on the Platinum Card.
When you look at some of the “exclusive9rdquo; benefits, they aren’t that useful. I’ve heard that Black Card holders can close down a mall store to shop privately. Seriously, how conceited do you have to be, to do that? (I’m skeptical that an Amex would even do that for you. The company doesn't make that claim, either.)
Another perk is access to exclusive events, such as the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. Sure, an Amex concierge might be able to make some calls and help you out. But you can do a quick Google search yourself to find out what to do to gain access. It’s much more convenient, quicker, and cheaper.
One of the famous perks of the Black Card is access to airport lounges. Because I’m constantly traveling, I spend a lot of time there. But I don’t need the Black Card; those popular Black Card perks are already available on the Amex Platinum Card. It’s not as popular or sexy as the Black Card, but its benefits are just about equal.
- You don’t want the kind of attention that a Black Card brings.
- You should control your spending, cut waste, and focus on profitability. Having high business expenses is meaningless.
- You should never let society’s expectations or material stuff control who you are, and the decisions you make in life.
When I was younger, I would grab for material possessions. I wanted it to seem like I was a cool person, or that I had achieved success.
I eventually learned that these things are useless, however. Stuff shouldn’t dictate what I do or the decisions that I make.
IELTS Mentor "IELTS Sample Answer & IELTS Preparation"
IELTS Speaking Part 2: IELTS Cue Card/ Candidate Task Card.
And explain why you like to spend your free time this way.
- What are some constructive leisure time activities?
- How leisure time activities have changed in the last 10 years?
- What type of activity would you suggest to your kids?
I have classes 5 days in a week, I attend a diploma course on Computing and I do some tuitions as well and all of those activities and my study make my days busy. However, I maintain some leisure activities and in my day-off, I go through a different routine.
I love to read books and maintain my own blog. Whenever I get time either I read books or write/ moderate my blog. Besides reading and writing for my blog, I play some indoor games with my friends and family members like chess, computer games etc. If it's an outdoor game, I play with my neighbours or friends.
I read book mostly in my study room and sometimes in the nearby library. I work on my computer to update my blogs. I mostly read fictions and historical books. The blog I maintain is mostly technology related and I add the details with images for my blog readers. Two friends of mine are now the moderator of this blog and they contribute to this blog as well.
I like to utilise my leisure time and enjoy very much what I do. Reading book is the most prudent investment of leisure time and I learn many things from reading. Maintaining a blog is a great way improving the writing and sharing knowledge and that helps me greatly to explore new things as I need to read a lot to generate ideas to write.
The indoor game like chess is a great way of passing time and also helps doing some brainstorming. I take part in the outdoor games to both enjoy the game and to keep my body and mind fresh and fit.
Q. What types of leisure activities are popular in your country?
Q. Why it is important for people to have time for leisure activities?
Q. Why are some leisure activities more popular than others?
Q. Are the types of leisure activities that are popular today the same as those that were popular when your parents were young?
Q. What types of leisure activities may become more popular in the future?
Q. What type of leisure activities helpful for children? Why?
Q. Some people do not have any leisure activity. Why it is the case?
Pick a leisure time activity that you usually do. You can talk about one of the following topics or the one you really do:
- Take your parents or children outside for walking.
- Play indoor games like chess, computer games etc.
- Go out for walking, running or for other forms of exercise.
- Take care of the garden you have.
- You visit your friends and spend time with them.
- You watch TV, movies or listen to music.
- You learn something like singing, playing musical instruments, cooking, dancing, sports, art etc.
- You do some freelancing jobs.
- You write for your blogs and surf internet.
- You read books.
- You visit your relatives.
- You spend time with your family members, help them completing their household chores etc.
- You actively participate in social works.
- You go to the nearby park or open space for fresh air.
- You have a hobby and you spend time for that.
Not necessarily you have to talk about one particular thing you do in your leisure time, you can say a combination of things you do in your leisure time like sometimes you surf the Internet, sometimes you go out for a walking and sometimes you spend time with your family members and help them on their tasks.
People usually do their leisure activities from their interest, passion and need. So describe your reasons for doing things you do in your leisure time. Besides describe how you enjoy doing it and how it is beneficial for you.
You should also be able to talk about the following cue card topics you get prepared for this cue card:
1. Describe you hobby.
2. Describe how you like to spend your free time.
3. Talk about an activity you do.
4. Talk about how you spend your days-off.
5. Describe a thing you like to do.
6. Describe a healthy habit you have.
7. Describe how you help your family members.
8. Describe something you do besides your study or job.
9. Describe an outdoor activity you perform.
Ditch The Excuses: 15 Tips To Quit Spending Your Money
Chris is a performer living in the high desert of California, but his first love is writing. Full Bio
If you want to spend less money, you’ve got to go about it in the right way. You know you have to save for the future, but how do you make sure that it’s really gonna stick? Unless you have some great ideas and a plan, you might run into trouble. Follow these simple tips to curb your spending.
It’s always good to make a plan. Are you saving your money in order to buy a car? Perhaps you just want to pay down those credit card balances. Whatever the case, set your goals. Once you have a clear idea of what you are saving for, you will be prepared to work toward that goal. Think of your goals as a line of defense protecting you from spending inordinately.
Keep track of what you are spending, and log daily entries into a budget spreadsheet. Over time, you will see how much you spend every day, week, month, and year. If you need some help, there are many effective budget planners that you can find using a search engine. You can analyze your budget, and pinpoint exactly where your wallet is hemorrhaging. You can also keep track of your income in the same manner – make sure that you are not spending more than you earn! In any case, simply cut out the expenses that aren’t doing anything for your savings, and watch your earnings grow.
Pay all of your bills before you leave the house to go out. When you are unaware of your financial condition, you are more likely to spend money frivolously. When you have a good idea of your finances, however, your awareness will help you when you go out. Balancing your checkbook will provide you with the willpower to avoid spending too much.
Whenever you are tempted to make a big purchase, wait three days. While you’re waiting, consider whether or not you need what you want to buy. After the rush of impulse shopping wears off, you will know if it’s something you actually want to purchase.
Don’t go out to eat. There’s food in your fridge that’s probably better for you, and you will save big bucks by staying home. Check your pantry before you take another trip to the store: you probably have some food in there too. And when you do go to the store, eat before you go – a hungry shopper is a spendy one! Remember, only go to the store when the food is gone. You’ll take fewer trips and lower your grocery bill, effectively saving you some money in the process.
Many people spend their money daily on expensive restaurants and food trucks. Avoid this trap by making a sack lunch before you leave the house for work. You will eat healthier, and you’ll save a great deal of money by following this tip.
Make a list of what you need to buy before you leave the house. This will galvanize you when you are out – just stick to the list. In this manner, you can easily avoid impulse buys. Just remind yourself that you can’t buy anything that isn’t on the list.
Retailers are sending you emails and catalogs all the time. They want you to open them so that you will be mesmerized by their latest deals. Don’t open them! Unsubscribe from these emails (usually there is a link to opt-out right at the bottom of the email). Call retailers that send you catalogs and ask them to remove your name from their mailing lists. In these ways, you can allay your temptation to check out the latest deals (saving you some hard-earned cash!).