American Express is known for their popular rewards credit cards, including their roster of cash back credit cards and those that earn American Express Membership Rewards points. Not only do their top credit cards offer excellent earning rates, but they 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 pre-approvals 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 the process works the same across all card issuers. 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.
Keep in mind that credit card preapproval does not guarantee 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 may be able to qualify for without filling out a full application.
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.
Prequalify on Amex’s website
American Express also has a dedicated page on their website for American Express preapprovals. 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 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 prequalified offers
Some American Express credit cards save their best offers for customers who are prequalified, although you may have to use the CardMatch tool to see if you’re eligible. American Express credit cards that are popular for prequalification include the following:
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Best for travel
- 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within six months of account opening
- Earn 10X points on eligible purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (up to $15,000 in combined purchases) during your first six months; 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights as well as prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com per calendar year; 2X points on prepaid car rentals through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on all other purchases
- Variable APR of 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent with the Amex Pay Over Time feature
- $550 annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express offers exceptional first-year rewards potential. If you’re able to maximize the 10X points bonus offer by spending up to $15,000 total at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets in the first six months, you’ll earn an additional 150,000 Membership Rewards points (not including the welcome bonus you can earn).
While the $550 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.
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express: Best for groceries
- $150 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases in the first six months; plus, get 20 percent back on Amazon.com purchases made with the card in your first six months (up to $200 in cash back, received in the form of statement credits)
- Earn 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 back on transit; 3 percent back on U.S. gas station purchases; 1 percent back on everything else
- 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months followed by a variable APR of 13.99 percent to 23.99 percent
- $0 annual fee for the first year, then $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, and there’s no annual fee for the first year. Just remember that this cash back card only lets you redeem your rewards for statement credits.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: Best for businesses
- Earn 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases per year (then 1X points); unlimited 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com
- 0 percent intro APR on purchases for 12 months followed by a variable APR of 13.24 percent to 19.24 percent
- No annual fee
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a business credit card geared toward small business owners and entrepreneurs. This American Express business credit card lets you earn 2X points on the first $50,000 you spend on your card each year, then 1X points. Plus, you can earn an unlimited 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com. There’s no annual fee, either.
Remember that the rewards you earn with this card fall within the American Express Membership Rewards program, and that you can pool all your Amex points from personal and business credit cards into one account. That’s one of the reasons this card is considered an integral part of the Amex trifecta—a combination of American Express credit cards that helps enthusiasts maximize their rewards.
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 pre-approvals 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.