AMEX for a wealthy individual w/ no credit history?

I just finished speaking with a college friend of mine who works in private wealth management in London. He mentioned that he has a client who recently immigrated from Thailand to the UK (but will still be a Thai citizen for the time being, six year wait, I believe). I don’t know the details, but this person is worth somewhere in the mid eight figures (in GDP) from a recent inheritance and wants an American Express Card. My friend’s understanding is that you need to live in the UK for 3 years in order to be approved by AMEX’s UK branch. However, he was wondering if card issuers such as AMEX would be willing to be more flexible on this if he offered to meet with, or at least speak with, someone there and verify the clients financial situation, as opposed to the traditional ways that people usually apply for a credit card, i.e. online, through a call center, responding to a direct mail solicitation, etc.

Does anyone here have any knowledge or experience with this type of situation? I know, many of you are rolling your eyes and wondering why my friend doesn’t just call AMEX and ask himself, and I suggested this as well (with more than a little sarcasm). However, he thinks it would make more sense to know if this is a viable option first, and, if so, maybe gain some insight into the specifics, in order to avoid getting the run around. I understand that a good answer may hinge on some details that I haven’t provided here, however this is really just an idea that my friend just casually bounced off me because I used to work in a similar field, so I don’t know all of the specifics. Anyway, just knowing whether or not this is actually doable would be extremely helpful. Thanks!

FYI, here’s a link to Amex’s Thai website. It says, “For your reference, the minimum age requirement is 20 years and the minimum annual income requirement is 300,000 Baht for the Charge Cards and 480,000 Baht for the Credit Card.”

But doesn’t the friend in “private wealth management” have someone from Amex on speed dial?

Nitpick: Amex isn’t a credit card but a charge card. This is actually an important distinction under U.K. law.

They offer both credit and charge cards, at least in the US, the UK and Thailand.

I don’t know about the UK, but in the US “Amex isn’t a credit card but a charge card” hasn’t been true in a really long time. People still seem to say it, but it’s not the case.

Wouldn’t a Visa (such as Barclaycard) or MasterCard be more useful in the UK? I don’t recall ever seeing anyone with Amex.

It is still the case for their classic products, (the green/gold/platinum line). But they now offer credit cards under a variety of brands as well. (I think the first was their “Blue” line and now there are others, especially including their airline/hotel cobranded loyalty cards.)

My understanding is that the individual wants or needs to apply as a UK resident, perhaps because he no longer has an address or other physical presence in Thailand.

Less likely in Britain than the U.S. My understanding is that over there the big thing is to have a “black” Visa/MC issued by a private bank. In fact, I believe that this is where AMEX got the idea for their Centurion (black) Card.

That would make more sense to me as well, although I’m sure he has his reasons.

No specific info, but:

I know of some very wealthy people from Asia who paid into credit card accounts for their children. This is just like a the pre-paid type of credit card. They were maintaining a $25,000 positive balance on the cards, which had an even higher credit limit, and this was establishing a credit history for their children. For some reason the parents didn’t want their own finances investigated and this was simply easy to do. I would think AMEX would do something like this.

If it was me, and I had that sort of bank balance, I wouldn’t be messing about I would be over at somewhere like Coutts, the Queen’s bank. They know how to manage wealth of that magnitude because that’s all they have done for centuries.

Coutts was the first word that popped into my head as well, but maybe this guy wants a Centurion card to wave around when he travels to the U.S. Thanks for your responses everyone. Anyway, when I was in college this friend was notorious for mooching off of others for notes, homework answers, outlines, etc., so I’m not going to put myself out trying to solve this problem for him, and I hope no one else here does either, especially when there are much more interesting and pertinent topics being discussed on the SDMB as I speak.

Well he won’t get a Centurion card until he gets a platinum card and demonstrates that he’s a big spender, only then will they invite him to join their little club.

Yeah, I think it takes a year of wretchedly excessive consumption as a “regular” AMEX cardholder before the AMEX gods are satisfied that you are gullible enough to pay the $7,500 initiation fee/$1,500 annual fee. Also, word to the wise, I’ve heard that the cards are too thick to swipe through those card readers they have at Wal-Mart.

Damn. If I were rich enough, I’d get a Centurion card just so I could bust it out at Wal-Mart.

There’s a very good chance that if you have charges from Walmart, Target or other such shops on your Amex bill, they won’t be inviting you as you won’t “fit their demographic” no matter how rich you are.

I doubt Amex cares about what merchants you patronize. They get their merchant cut no matter what. If you’re spending a million bucks a year between Wally-World, Fatburger and Scores, they’ll probably happily invite you to pay 20x the annual fee of your platinum card.

I’m not so sure about that. The kind of people that flaunt their Centurion cards are the kind of people that really prize the exclusivity of it, and therefore Amex will protect the image of the card…otherwise those people will just go elsewhere for their exclusive credit/charge card and there are other options, Coutts, for example, has a “World” card which offers a concierge service that can basically get you anything with a phone call.

Image means a lot to some people.

Are you sure? Where I live, you can buy a Rolex at Wal-Mart. Or, more specifically, behind Wal-Mart.

No, it’s just a suspicion I have.