It’s THE Choice Worth Making
I don’t recall how I came across learning about SELECT, but I am sure glad that I did. New York’s Black Card startup SELECT has now launched in Los Angeles. The American Express Centurion Card has long been lauded as the world’s premier membership card. Most commonly referred to as the Black Card, the Centurion card offers dedicated concierge access and a number of benefits with elite travel companies. For most the card is far out of reach, requiring a minimum annual spend of $250,000, $2,500 annual fee, and a $7,500 initiation fee. That’s a lot of Benjamin’s.
As an New York based startup, SELECT aims to bring benefits beyond what’s found on Centurion and other premier cards to innovative professionals and traveler’s across the globe. Having launched only two years ago the company has quickly grown its premier black card community to over 10,000 members, with reportedly thousands more on the waitlist. SELECT transforms any existing credit or debit card into a black card that unlocks VIP perks, pricing, and experiences at thousands of premier destinations around the world.
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 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 to 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 available directly through the app, which is one of my favorite features. The concierge team helps members make bookings at SELECT partners and provides recommendations for restaurants, hotels and activities that best suit a member’s needs wherever they are. Their dedicated in-house concierge staff is trained to be in the know and connect members with the personalized experiences for any occasion.
SELECT benefits include sizable discounts or complimentary drinks for your entire party at top-tier restaurants, guest list access and upgrades at premier nightlife venues, unpublished rates (as high as 60% off) at over 750,000 hotels, including top hotels, ongoing special offers at retailers like Brooks Brothers, and even up to 50 percent off most movie tickets.
A few noteworthy brands participating in SELECT include Kimpton Hotels, Bliss Spas, David Barton Gyms, Priceline, and AVIS. 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 and DJs such as Norah Jones and Steve Aoki.
Those accepted pay an annual fee of $300 to keep the benefits active, a tiny fraction of the fee charged by Centurion and less than other premier membership cards such as FoundersCard. As members you can access benefits and attend events in any of SELECT’s current or future markets. With NYC, DC, Miami, San Francisco and now Los Angeles live; Cisco expects the community to continue to grow and says that many more cities are on the way in 2017.
“After seeing the membership and utilization grow exponentially in all of our East Coast markets and in San Francisco, we decided it was time for Los Angeles” said Cisco. “We chose Los Angeles because it’s a city full of go-getters and thrill-seekers, a place we felt would immediately become part of the broader community.” Cisco notes that Los Angeles had the highest density of members outside of SELECT’s existing markets and that LA has quickly become one of the company’s fastest growing markets in history.
In December, SELECT hosted their official launch event for members at Bootsy Bellows in West Hollywood which was a very memorable event, as I had just received my card in the mail days before.
The company is rapidly building its membership community and network of partners across Los Angeles. Cisco says members have access exclusive benefits at dozens local hot spots including: Toca Modera, Fig & Olive, The Larchmont, Barrel & Ashes, Crustacean, and Inotheke.
As I am writing this and looking at the app, I noticed they had included Red O & Fig & Olive on the app in Newport Beach, so it looks like an Orange County launch might not be too far down the road. I have my finger’s crossed but I can’t wait to use this card around the country!