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American Express is known for their popular rewards credit cards, including their roster of cash back credit cards and those that earn Membership Rewards points. Not only do their top credit cards offer excellent earning rates, but many feature generous welcome bonuses consumers can earn when they meet a minimum spending requirement.
Still, many people wish they could gauge their eligibility for American Express credit cards before they apply. After all, applying for a credit card means having a hard pull placed on your credit report, and you’ll want to avoid this if you have no chance for approval to begin with.
Fortunately, this is where Amex preapprovals come in. You can actually see if you may be eligible for an American Express credit card ahead of time—but only if you’re willing to take a few simple steps.
What is credit card preapproval and how does it work?
If you’re wondering how to get preapproved or prequalified for an American Express credit card, you should know that at the core of this process is a screening procedure. Credit card preapproval takes place when a card issuer sets minimum criteria for their credit cards and actively informs consumers that they have met their standards.
Though many card issuers use the terms “preapproved” and “prequalified” interchangeably, American Express distinguishes between them and presents both kinds of offers. With Amex, “prequalified” offers are cards that are tailored to an applicant’s credit profile based on a soft pull to their credit. You can see these offers on tools like CardMatch or on the American Express website.
Preapproved offers, on the other hand, are a step beyond prequalified offers and signify the highest approval odds an issuer can offer without pulling your credit. These offers are a bit harder to qualify for, but also reduce the risk that you are denied when you submit a full application.
With either preapproved or prequalified Amex offers, the issuer uses information like your income to determine if you’re in the target audience for a particular card. Both are good indicators that you will be approved when you apply, though preapproved is a slightly better chance.
Keep in mind that neither credit card preapproval nor prequalification guarantees you’ll get a rewards credit card; it only confirms you may be an excellent candidate if you meet all the requirements card issuers set for approval.
To find out for certain if you can be approved for a credit card, you’ll have to formally apply.
How to get preapproved for an American Express credit card
If you’re wondering how to prequalify for American Express credit card offers, there are several strategies to consider.
Check for offers on Bankrate’s CardMatch tool
First, consider using Bankrate’s CardMatch tool to check your eligibility for the best rewards credit cards from American Express. Using this tool will not have an impact on your credit, and you can find out which offers you are eligible for without completing a full application first. Information required for the CardMatch tool includes your name, ZIP code, home address, email address, phone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
American Express recently launched a number of preapproved offers for some of its cards. In addition to higher approval odds, these preapproved offers could also come with elevated welcome bonuses. In some cases, you could be eligible for up to 150,000 Membership Rewards points, instead of the current 100,000 point-offer, after spending $6,000 within six months on your new Platinum Card® from American Express.
Prequalify on Amex’s website
American Express also has a dedicated page on their website for prequalified offers (though not preapproved at the moment). This page asks you to input your personal information before showing you any American Express credit cards you may be eligible for.
Once again, these prequalified offers from American Express only place a soft pull on your credit report, so checking your eligibility won’t have any impact on your credit.
Additional ways to prequalify for American Express credit cards
While you can use the CardMatch tool or the American Express website to check for American Express preapprovals and prequalifications online, you may also receive targeted credit card offers in the mail. These offers can include better welcome bonuses or cardmember terms than those available to the general public, so make sure to keep an eye out for them.
Best American Express credit cards for preapproved offers
Some American Express credit cards save their best introductory offers for customers who are preapproved, although you may have to use the CardMatch tool to see if you’re eligible. American Express credit cards that are popular for preapproval include the following:
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel
- Rewards rate: 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months
- Annual fee: $695 (effective Jan. 1, 2022 for existing cardmembers)
While the $695 annual fee on this card is high, keep in mind all the benefits you receive. As a cardholder, you’ll get up to $200 in airline fee credits per year, up to $200 in Uber credits annually, a fee credit for your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application (every four years), airport lounge membership, automatic gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy and more.
Rewards earned with this card also fall within the flexible American Express Membership Rewards program, which means you can redeem your rewards for gift cards, merchandise, travel through AmexTravel.com or even transfers to Amex airline and hotel partners.
On top of all of these perks, the Amex Platinum frequently targets CardMatch visitors for a higher welcome bonus. You might score 125,000 or even 150,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first six months, up from the card’s typical 100,000 points.
American Express® Gold Card: Best for dining and travel rewards
- Rewards rate: Earn 4X points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S., plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com and 2X points on rental cars through amextravel.com plus 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within first six months
- Annual fee: $250
The American Express Gold is a good pick for those who spend in lifestyle categories like dining and travel. For the extreme foodie that likes to cook, there’s also 4X back on U.S. supermarket spending (up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X).
With this card, you’ll get 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within the first six months and up to $120 in dining credits, plus up to $100 in hotel credits—all of which more than justifies the $250 annual fee if used the right way.
Like the Amex Platinum, the Gold card occasionally offers targeted offers when you apply through CardMatch—so keep an eye on your matches for up to 75,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first six months.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for groceries
- Rewards rate: 6 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent); 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3 percent cash back on transit; 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases; 1 percent back on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Earn a $350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits
- Annual fee: $95
The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is one of the best credit cards for groceries due to its exceptional earning rate of 6 percent cash back in this category (up to $6,000 in spending per year, then 1 percent). Not only will you earn a high rewards rate on grocery store purchases, but you’ll also earn an unlimited 6 percent back on select U.S. streaming services, 3 percent back at U.S. gas stations as well as 3 percent back on transit purchases like ride-sharing, parking, trains and buses.
You can also earn a generous welcome bonus. Just remember that this cash back card only lets you redeem your rewards for statement credits.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express: Best cash back card for families
- Rewards rate: 3 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent); 2 percent cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; 1 percent cash back on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: Earn $200 back after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits.
- Annual fee: $0
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of the best credit cards for families due to its great rewards rate offered on common family spending categories like U.S. supermarkets, gas stations and select department stores. With no annual fee and the option to get $200 back after spending $2,000 in purchases in the first six months, you’ve got an added incentive to jump-start your rewards earnings.
How to increase your chances of getting preapproved
If your goal is getting approved for any credit card, including options from American Express, the best thing you can do is keep your credit score in tiptop shape. Generally speaking, the best credit card offers go to those with “very good” or “excellent” credit, or FICO scores of 740 and higher. However, you may also be able to get preapproved with a “good” credit score (any FICO score that falls between 670 to 739).
If you check your credit score and find it needs some work, you can improve it by using credit responsibly. For example, make sure you pay all your bills on time each month and pay down debt to decrease your overall credit utilization. Also, make sure you’re not opening or closing too many accounts at once, which are both factors that can impact your credit score.
The bottom line
American Express preapprovals aren’t that hard to come by if you have a good credit score and can prove your ability to repay.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait around for an offer to show up in the mail. With Bankrate’s CardMatch tool, you can fill out some basic information and take matters into your own hands.