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Credit One Bank American Express® Card review: Decent benefits for a fair-credit Amex

This Credit One Amex card adds a few additional benefits to a modest credit-building card.

 /  14 min
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Snapshot

3.0

Bankrate rating
Info
Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Bottom line

This card stands out from other Credit One card options because of its fairly low annual fee and Amex perks and benefits. However, plenty of other credit cards for fair credit offer better long-term value.

3.0
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Bankrate score
Info
Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Recommended Credit

N/A

Intro offer

Info

$39

Annual fee

29.74% Variable

APR

Credit One Bank American Express® Card Overview

The Credit One Bank American Express Card offers benefits like shopping protections, travel perks and Amex Offers, which makes it a good option to help boost your credit score. But you may be able to find higher cash back rates and potentially more valuable benefits with other cards for fair credit or even secured credit cards.

  • Credit Card Cash Back

    Rewards

    • 1 percent cash back on all purchases

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Card Search

    Rates and fees

    • $39 annual fee
    • Regular APR: 29.74 percent variable
    • No intro APR for purchases and balance transfers
    • Late payment fee: Up to $39
    • Returned payment fee: Up to $39
    • Cash advance fee: Either $5 or 8 percent (whichever is greater)

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Credit Fair

    Credit-building features

    • Free online credit monitoring

    Expert Appraisal: Typical
    See our expert analysis

  • Congrats

    Other cardholder perks

    • Amex Offers
    • Amex entertainment access
    • Retail protections
    • Primary car rental loss and damage insurance
    • Travel accident insurance
    • Zero fraud liability

    Expert Appraisal: Good
    See our expert analysis

Credit One Bank American Express Card pros and cons

Pros

  • Checkmark

    The Credit One Bank Amex has fewer fees than the other Credit One Bank cards.

  • Checkmark

    It offers solid American Express benefits for a fair credit card, such as shopping and travel perks.

  • Checkmark

    It earns unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases, adding value to its credit-building features.

Cons

  • The card’s $39 annual fee can reduce your cash back earnings and is counterproductive to building credit.

  • Your earned cash back is automatically redeemed for statement credits, limiting flexibility.

  • The minimum credit line can be as low as $300.

Why you might want the Credit One Bank American Express Card

If you're looking for a credit-building card that earns rewards, this card may be an appealing choice for you to consider since it has a simple flat cash back rate and the benefits of an Amex card may be worthwhile.

Rewards: Easy flat-rate structure

The Credit One Bank Amex card makes cash back easy if you want a no-frills way to earn rewards while building credit. You earn unlimited 1 percent cash back on all purchases. This isn’t bad considering it’s a credit card for average credit, but you can do better once you qualify for credit cards for good credit

Despite this low rate compared to most other cash back credit cards, the Credit One Bank American Express card’s flat-rate cash back could encourage credit building through healthy spending rather than chasing rewards. 

Cardholder perks: Plenty of protections and benefits due to Amex

Thanks to its American Express benefits, this card offers more features than other Credit One Bank cards. They’re standard American Express card features for the most part, providing solid perks and shopping protections for cardholders with fair credit.

Why you might want a different credit-building card

Even though the Credit One Bank American Express provides many features for a credit-building card, few genuinely focus on boosting credit. On top of that, it has no welcome bonus, has limited redemption options and poses too many fees.

Welcome offer: No sign-up bonus or intro APR offers

The Credit One Bank American Express doesn’t have a welcome offer. Although credit cards for fair credit rarely extend welcome offers, a few secured cards do and it’s a perk you might expect from a card that carries an annual fee. The card doesn’t come with any intro APR offers for purchases or balance transfers either, meaning you could pay interest immediately if you carry a balance.

Redemption: There are limited options

As a cash back card, your rewards are worth 1 cent per dollar. You can only redeem your cash back as an automatic statement credit to your account. It’s an easy way to keep your balance and credit utilization ratio low if you prefer straightforward rewards while you build credit, but you won’t find any other redemption options to give you flexibility.

Rates and fees: Has annual fee and high APR 

The Credit One Bank American Express card’s $39 annual fee seems to be a common price point among cards for average credit, but options with no annual fee are also easy to find with that credit level. You should avoid annual fees when possible if you’re focused on building credit.

Unfortunately, the low 1 percent cash back rate makes it hard to offset the annual fee. You’d have to spend $325 a month, which could make keeping a low credit utilization ratio difficult, considering the minimum credit line is $300. These factors could slow your credit-building until you can increase your credit limit.

The card also charges a 3 percent (or $1, whichever is greater) foreign transaction fee and a fee for its optional Credit Protection Program. On top of all that, the high APR is punishing if you carry a balance.  Other cards for fair to average credit that don’t have an annual fee, high APR or foreign transaction fees may be a better option. 

Credit-building: You only have online access to your credit report

When it comes to features to help you increase your credit score, the Credit One American Express falls short. The only credit-building benefit of this card is the ability to access your credit report online for free. Even though this is a common feature for most cards in this category, other credit-building cards include more credit education tools, such as tips and information on improving your credit score or clearly defined timeframes to qualify for a credit line increase.

Staff experience: Here's what our experts say

Bankrate editor Nouri Zarrugh sees the appeal of this card: Though it's available with only a fair credit score, it doesn't require a security deposit, gives you a chance to earn rewards (albeit at a low flat rate) and comes with a few perks not typically found on credit-building cards.

Based on his experience building credit from scratch, however, he thinks it's possible to avoid annual fees and earn rewards with a limited credit history, even if you want an unsecured card. He got started with a no-annual-fee store credit card. 

Even when I had a limited credit history, I was able to qualify for an unsecured card that earned rewards and carried no annual fee. The catch? It was an Amazon store card that couldn't be used anywhere else.

Looking back, though, I think it was a great starter option thanks to its low cost, $0 deposit and even its low starting limit, which kept me from getting into trouble.

While a card like the Credit One Bank Amex isn't crazy expensive, I'm sure you can find an unsecured, rewards-earning alternative that carries no fee at all. I think store cards are especially underrated as credit-building options. They may not be the best value long term, but they can be a great starting point if you already do some of your everyday spending with the store.

— Nouri Zarrugh, Senior Editor, Credit Cards

 

Why you might want a different credit-building card

Even though the Credit One Bank American Express provides many features for a credit-building card, few genuinely focus on boosting credit. On top of that, it has no welcome bonus, has limited redemption options and poses too many fees.

Welcome offer: No sign-up bonus or intro APR offers

The Credit One Bank American Express doesn’t have a welcome offer. Although credit cards for fair credit rarely extend welcome offers, a few secured cards do and it’s a perk you might expect from a card that carries an annual fee. The card doesn’t come with any intro APR offers for purchases or balance transfers either, meaning you could pay interest immediately if you carry a balance.

Redemption: There are limited options

As a cash back card, your rewards are worth 1 cent per dollar. You can only redeem your cash back as an automatic statement credit to your account. It’s an easy way to keep your balance and credit utilization ratio low if you prefer straightforward rewards while you build credit, but you won’t find any other redemption options to give you flexibility.

Rates and fees: Has annual fee and high APR 

The Credit One Bank American Express card’s $39 annual fee seems to be a common price point among cards for average credit, but options with no annual fee are also easy to find with that credit level. You should avoid annual fees when possible if you’re focused on building credit.

Unfortunately, the low 1 percent cash back rate makes it hard to offset the annual fee. You’d have to spend $325 a month, which could make keeping a low credit utilization ratio difficult, considering the minimum credit line is $300. These factors could slow your credit-building until you can increase your credit limit.

The card also charges a 3 percent (or $1, whichever is greater) foreign transaction fee and a fee for its optional Credit Protection Program. On top of all that, the high APR is punishing if you carry a balance.  Other cards for fair to average credit that don’t have an annual fee, high APR or foreign transaction fees may be a better option. 

Credit-building: You only have online access to your credit report

When it comes to features to help you increase your credit score, the Credit One American Express falls short. The only credit-building benefit of this card is the ability to access your credit report online for free. Even though this is a common feature for most cards in this category, other credit-building cards include more credit education tools, such as tips and information on improving your credit score or clearly defined timeframes to qualify for a credit line increase.

Staff experience: Here's what our experts say

Bankrate editor Nouri Zarrugh sees the appeal of this card: Though it's available with only a fair credit score, it doesn't require a security deposit, gives you a chance to earn rewards (albeit at a low flat rate) and comes with a few perks not typically found on credit-building cards.

Based on his experience building credit from scratch, however, he thinks it's possible to avoid annual fees and earn rewards with a limited credit history, even if you want an unsecured card. He got started with a no-annual-fee store credit card. 

Even when I had a limited credit history, I was able to qualify for an unsecured card that earned rewards and carried no annual fee. The catch? It was an Amazon store card that couldn't be used anywhere else.

Looking back, though, I think it was a great starter option thanks to its low cost, $0 deposit and even its low starting limit, which kept me from getting into trouble.

While a card like the Credit One Bank Amex isn't crazy expensive, I'm sure you can find an unsecured, rewards-earning alternative that carries no fee at all. I think store cards are especially underrated as credit-building options. They may not be the best value long term, but they can be a great starting point if you already do some of your everyday spending with the store.

— Nouri Zarrugh, Senior Editor, Credit Cards

 

How the Credit One Bank American Express Card compares to other cards for credit building

You should carefully weigh the value of the included American Express benefits. While helpful for shopping and travel, these benefits probably won’t save you money regularly. Here’s how the card stacks up against similar offerings.

Image of Credit One Bank American Express® Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Credit One Bank's secure site

Annual fee

$39

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Image of Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Annual fee

$39

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1.5% - 5%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

Fair to Good (580 – 740)
Info
Image of Discover it® Secured Credit Card
Bankrate Score
See Rates & Fees , Terms Apply
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

Cashback Match™
Info

Rewards rate

1% - 2%
Info

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History
Info

Who is the Credit One Bank American Express Card right for?

Depending on your circumstances, the Credit One American Express card may be the best option if you fit either of the following descriptions. 

Bankrate’s Take — Is the Credit One Bank American Express Card worth it?

The Credit One Bank American Express Card provides modest cash back for a $39 annual fee and is a decent option for shopping protections and American Express benefits if you’re building credit. However, several cards for fair credit and even secured credit cards carry similar or better cash cash back and benefits.

All information about the Credit One Bank American Express® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.

How we rated this card

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We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for students and people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score and scored each based on where its key features stood in relation to others in its category. 

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Frequently asked questions

Written by
Re'Dreyona Walker
Associate Editor, Credit Cards
Re'Dreyona Walker is an editor for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, focusing on product guides and reviews. As a personal finance expert, she is dedicated to providing honest product reviews as well as in-depth, comprehensive guides to assist readers in building credit and finding the best credit cards for their needs.
Edited by Senior Editor, Credit Cards

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Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.