Look At Warren Buffett’s American Express Card!

What is Warren Buffett’s net worth? As of March 2015 it stands at a humble $72.3 billion, still lagging behind his good friend and bridge partner Bill Gates.

Given that he hovers between being the 3rd and 4th richest person in the world (depending on Berkshire Hathaway’s stock price on a given day), he can obviously get any credit card his heart desires. And let’s not forget that Berkshire owns 151,610,700 shares of American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) – which is 13.7% of the company.

You would probably just assume he carries the AmEx Centurion a.k.a. black card, right? Or, at least something that’s not available to the masses like the J.P. Morgan Palladium card or the Merrill Lynch Octave. Perhaps even the elusive rumored “white card” from AmEx which is allegedly even more exclusive than the Centurion?

How about none of the above.

the Buffetts on Piers Morgan show

He was on CNN’s Piers Morgan this week and was asked what’s in his wallet. He pulled it out on camera. So what type of credit card does Warren Buffett have?

Warren Buffet's American Express credit card

That’s right… just a basic ol’ Green Card!

That may seem utterly ridiculous, but for the uber-wealthy, the Centurion may not be worth it. Why? Because a good chunk of the benefits are centered around commercial airfare.

For example, why would he need free access to the Delta Sky Club or Priority Pass Select lounges, given that he only flies by private jet – his Bombardier Challenger 600.

Bombardier Challenger 600

*That’s the type of jet he has, not his actual jet.

The card’s companion airfare perk for eligible international flights would also be useless to him.

That said, the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program could be useful – with that perk, you get complimentary room upgrades and other perks when available at nearly 750 participating hotels worldwide. Both the Centurion and Platinum Card come with this benefit.

But given Buffett’s celebrity status, he probably doesn’t need the FH&R program… I’m sure he gets room upgrades and the royal treatment wherever he goes regardless.

And the concierge service? That’s also on the Centurion and Platinum, but given that he has his own personal assistants, there’s no real need for that either.

That leaves the shopping benefits. It’s true that the Centurion offers higher limits of coverage for Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty, and Return Protection… but do you really think he’s going to hassle with making a claim for any of those?

Yes he’s frugal, but I don’t think he would go through the trouble of shipping back his TV to AmEx because it went kaput outside of the manufacturer’s warranty window.

And Warren is known to play up his frugality…

It’s worth mentioning that he presents it by saying “here’s my American Express card from 1964.” Perhaps he just keeps it for novelty’s sake?

In the interview, when then asked what other cards he has in his wallet, he responds by saying “well I have a variety of cards, but here’s a picture of the family” to quickly change the subject and not elaborate further. It’s anyone’s guess what those other cards might be hiding in there.

And unless you plan on pickpocketing this billionaire to find out, the best evidence we can go by is the brief moment on camera where we can see part of his open wallet. It was just a for a second and here’s the best frame during that moment…

close up of Buffett's wallet

Note: I adjusted the brightness, zoomed in, and sharpened it so you can see it better.

With the gray card at the top, if that is an orange circle in the middle of it, then it matches the standard design for the Discover More. Note: the Discover More Card is no longer available and any references are for information purposes only.
Discover More

I watched the video several times though and cannot confirm. (By the way, you can no longer apply for the Discover More, it’s been replaced with the much better Discover it.)

If indeed he did have something fancy hiding in there, it wouldn’t be surprising that he strategically chose to pull out his no-frills Green piece of plastic instead of the others. Warren does work hard at playing up an average Joe image, even when it’s not entirely accurate. After all, he’s not the flashy razzle-dazzle type of personality like Michael Jackson was…

Michael Jackson's American Express black card

Which AmEx would I recommend for Buffett?

He doesn’t need travel benefits and he needs rewards that are automatic and without hassle… that would mean straight up cash back rebates on spending. He also wants something that’s not flashy. Therefore, the best bet for him would definitely be the Blue Cash Preferred card. The gas rewards would certainly be handy since he still drives himself around Omaha (in a Lincoln Town Car, no less).

Written or last updated March 11, 2015

 
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When I was in high school, I worked at a drug store on 50th and Dodge in Omaha, NE. Every Saturday, Buffett would stop in himself, driving up in some late 70s sedan (it was 1991), and come in and pick up a Barron’s and a NY Times. Always paying cash. Sometimes, he would sit and have a soda at the soda fountain in the back. Very down to earth guy, at least back then. You could likely drop him to $20,000/yr and he’d be fine (or make it all back).