With acceptance in over 170 countries, American Express is a key worldwide card issuer and payment processing network. And while Visa is the most accepted card network globally, a recent Nilson report found that American Express cards are accepted at 99% of places in the U.S. that accept credit cards.
The increased acceptance is positive, but you’ll also find that American Express produces a uniquely diverse lineup of cards aptly suited for any consumer who has good to excellent credit. We’ll dive deeper into what it takes to qualify for an American Express card shortly, but first, we consider the value of doing business with the company and some of the benefits you can expect. Then, we’ll review some of the best cards American Express has to offer.
Let’s move forward with the information you’ll need to have the best chance of being approved for an American Express card.
The Value of an American Express Relationship
While earnings, redemption options, and benefits vary by card, you’ll find a wide range of value-added features and benefits on American Express cards.
Credit Card Earning, Redemption, Travel/Shopping Benefits & More
Bottom Line: Selecting any American Express card and developing a positive credit history with the card issuer can lead to a long-term relationship of rewards-earning, good-value travel redemptions, savings, protections, travel benefits, and more.
The Minimum Requirements for an American Express Card
Minimum Requirements for an Amex Card Approval
While it is possible to be approved with a lesser score, you will generally need excellent credit to qualify for the best (premium) American Express cards. Leading credit bureau Experian defines excellent credit as 800 or better and good credit as a score of 700 or better. American Express has been known to pull credit primarily from Experian.
There is also a limit to how many Amex cards you can have. Amex confirms verbally that there is a limit of 4 consumer or business credit cards, and additionally, a limit of 10 charge cards.
Welcome bonuses may be limited to once in a lifetime and not be available if you have previously had the card for which you are applying.
Additional Requirements Based on Data Points
You cannot be approved for more than 2 consumer cards within a 90-day period. Plus, you cannot be approved for more than 1 consumer card every 5 days.
You can apply for a business card and a consumer card on the same day and Amex could combine the credit inquiries.
Some consumers may currently hold 5 or 6 Amex credit cards but then would be declined for any further additional cards.
In addition to having good to excellent credit and the rules on how many cards you can have or apply for, American Express will also review credit report information including your payment history and credit utilization.
Bottom Line: You will need good to excellent credit to be approved for an Amex card. You can generally not receive a welcome bonus if you have had the same card in the past, and there is a limit to how many Amex cards you can have.
Prior to applying for any card, there are risk-free steps you can take to improve your chances for approval.
Check To See if You Have Offers
One way to find out if you have American Express card offers available to you is to utilize the CardMatch tool. You’ll find the risk-free CardMatch tool simple to use, the results appear instantly, and there is no effect on your credit score.
Having offers available does not guarantee you will be approved for those specific cards, just that you may be more likely to be approved for these cards.
American Express has its own tool for finding out if you have existing card offers.
Know Your Credit History
Knowing where you stand when it comes to credit history is critical to qualifying for a new credit card. You’ll want to obtain a copy of your credit report, mostly to check it for any errors. You can get a free copy of your credit report via annualcreditreport.com.
Additionally, you’ll want to determine your credit score. You can do this for free via tools provided with existing credit card issuers or through Credit Karma, which is also at no cost to you.
Bottom Line: Prior to applying for any credit card, you should do a risk-free search for any existing offers you may have available to you, and also obtain your current credit report and credit score.
The Best American Express Consumer Cards for Good to Excellent Credit
Hailed as the best-of-the-best in the premium travel rewards card circle, the Amex Platinum card comes with worldwide lounge access to over 1,300 locations, travel and shopping benefits/protections, and hundreds of dollars in statement credits.
Plus, the card recently added cell phone protection with up to $800 in coverage for stolen or damaged cell phones. There is a limit of 2 claims per 12-month period and a $50 deductible applies to each claim. Additional terms and conditions apply.
The Amex Gold card is a travel rewards card that functions well as an everyday spending card.
You’ll get the best of both worlds with elevated earnings at supermarkets, on dining, and on travel. Plus, at redemption time, you can use your points for flights via Amex Travel or transfer to airline and hotel partners.
While you’ll earn cash-back on every purchase you make, purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations, and select department stores earn more. You’ll also save with access to Amex Offers, premium car rental protection, and the ability to redeem rewards for statement credits.
With a generous welcome bonus and the ability to earn valuable Membership Rewards points, the Amex Green card is a good entry-level choice. The card also offers 3x earnings at restaurants and on travel and has statement credits for LoungeBuddy purchases and CLEAR membership.
Pair it later with a premium American Express card to expand Membership Rewards redemption opportunities for travel and flights.
The Best American Express Business Cards for Good to Excellent Credit
We like that the Amex Business Platinum card rewards common business expenses, offers statement credits that deliver savings, and comes with the same worldwide lounge access as the consumer Amex Platinum card.
The card also offers a unique 35% rebate when points are used to purchase flights.
With 4% earnings on 2 of 6 common business purchase categories each statement period, up to $150,000 in purchases each year, you’ll earn lots of Membership Rewards quickly. The card, like the Amex Business Platinum card, also offers a rebate (25%) when using points to purchase flights via Amex Travel.
Bottom Line: Applicants with good to excellent credit will have dozens of Amex cards from which to select. In addition to Amex consumer and business cards, it can often be easier to get approved for Amex hotel or airline-branded cards such as the Hilton Honors American Express Card or the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card.
American Express Cards for Bad Credit or No Credit
American Express, similar to Chase, does not offer a public card option for consumers with no credit or poor credit. If you are in this situation, however, there are plenty of card options that can help you build, or rebuild your credit.
We cover many of those options in our article on the best credit cards for bad credit or no credit and in our overview of the best secured credit cards.
Even if your American Express card application is denied, all is not (yet) lost. Calling the Amex reconsideration line at 800-567-1083 could provide you with an opportunity to determine the reason for the denial and to provide any additional information that may reverse the decision.
Making the effort to speak with a representative could possibly change the outcome or at least allow you to learn more about the reason for denial and what you can improve prior to applying in the future.
You can read more about how to check the status of your Amex card application in our informative article on that topic.
There’s no doubt that the collection of cards offered by American Express is diverse. You’re sure to find a match regardless of your preferences if you have good credit or better.
Keep in mind that the requirements we’ve mentioned are simply guidelines and that Amex could deny you a card even if you have good to excellent credit. Decisions are solely dependent on Amex’s internal decision criteria.
Contrarily, Amex could also approve you with less than a 700 credit score, after considering all other factors.
Doing your homework upfront to find qualifying offers, reviewing your credit report, and knowing your credit score can increase your chances for success.
The information regarding the American Express® Green Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.