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New York’s Black Card Startup SELECT Expands to Chicago

The American Express Centurion Card has long been lauded as the world’s premier membership card. Often referred to as the Black Card, Centurion offers dedicated concierge access and a number of benefits with elite travel and ticketing companies. But for most the card is far out of reach with a required minimum annual spend of $250K, $2.5K annual fee, and a $7.5K initiation fee.

SELECT, a NY-based startup aims to bring benefits beyond what’s found on Centurion and other premier cards to innovative professionals across the globe. Since launching just over two years ago the company has quickly grown its premier black card community to over 15,000 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 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.

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. 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 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drinks for your entire party at  top-tier restaurants, guest list access and upgrades at premier nightlife venues, unpublished rates (as high as 60% off) at over 500,000 hotels, including top hotels such as the Mondrian LA, Mr. C Beverly Hills, 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, Indochino, 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, fashion shows, 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, Steve Aoki, Alesso, and Laidback Luke.

Members enjoy VIP seating for Style Fashion Week LA photo: Style Fashion Week

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.

Members 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 and West Coast markets, we decided it was time for Chicago” said Cisco. “We chose Chicago because it’s a city full of go-getters, foodies, and thrill-seekers, a place we felt would immediately become part of the broader community.” Cisco notes that Chicago had the highest density of members outside of SELECT’s existing markets.

This spring, SELECT will host their official launch event for members. The company is rapidly building its membership community and network of partners across Chicago. Cisco says members have access exclusive benefits at dozens local hot spots including:

Gibsons Steakhouse, Hugo’s Frog Bar, Siena Tavern, Bar Siena, Prime & Provisions, Public House, Fig & Olive, Le Colonial, TWO, Roka Akor, and STK.

Learn more about SELECT or apply for membership

Written by David Matlock

David Matlock is a senior in high school at Stratford Academy. He is currently writing his first book and is a contributor on the Huffington Post. Matlock is a freelance writer and young entrepreneur.

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