I just heard a story about this guy in London (let's call him Howard) who went to Madrid for an athletic event but found when he arrived in Spain that he had left his tickets behind on the kitchen table. So, what to do? No panic whatsoever. Howard was an American Express Centurion cardholder so he simply called the card provider.

Amex than contacted a neighbor of Howard who had the key to his house; they retrieved the tickets from the kitchen, and off they went to Spain. Actually, they got to Howard just outside the stadium's gates.

So, is this the latest in credit card service? Appears so. Of course, such service doesn't come cheap. For example, it can run to some $50,000 a year for the Bill Gates' of the world which, I imagine, is not even pocket change to him. But it certainly does have its attributes.

It was American Express, which started this seven years ago. Capital One has since jumped into the fray although there are certain minimum income requirements that can reach $150,000 a year. Amex now has that infamous Black Centurion card and NatWest has begun Quintessentially Beyond Black. It does smack of a Disney cartoon. And then there is Morgan Stanley with a very modest white card called i24.

Naturally, you pay more for these ultra-high net-worth cards than the normal run-of-the-mill kind but consider what you get for your money: free automotive breakdown service, travel insurance, airport lounge passes, hotel upgrades, access to member-only events, hotel discounts, more upgrades, rental car discounts, more upgrades, and remember that 24/7 concierge service.

Bottom line? Travel itineraries, restaurant reservations, tickets to hit shows and concerts, admission to special clubs, even interpreters or translators (if you're in a foreign land), are all at your beckon call. Need a birthday present for your spouse? Call the concierge.

Paul McDevitt is a certified financial planner at Grant Thornton. He specializes in dispensing advice to lottery winners. He says that if people get a lot of money they get incredibly lazy and can't be bothered to do things they used to such as obtaining car insurance. "They like someone else to do things for them." The Amex Centurion Black card can get you designers on call and after-hours private shopping.

Incidentally, American Express developed the Black Centurion for its very best customers. It is so exclusive that you won't even find details of it on the American Express website. It's available by 'invitation only' and reputedly requires card spending of $5,000 per month.

This kind of action brings plenty of benefits, including a personal travel counselor to handle all your travel needs, and that ubiquitous concierge to help with anything from special occasion planning and selecting ideal gifts, to locating unusual items.

James Bush, senior vice president of consumer marketing at Amex, said at the launch of the card: "We created the Centurion Card in response to customer research that identified a small but affluent group of card members for whom individual attention and access to previously unavailable elite travel benefits was of great interest."

As part of the service, Amex has, for example, arranged for a band to play outside a woman's apartment on Valentine's Day and let's not forget those European Cup football tickets that were hand delivered outside a stadium in Spain.

So, when are you applying for yours? And, has your financial planner provided for its heir in your will?

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