American Express has long been associated with luxury; just having an American Express credit card in your wallet can convey a high credit score and overall history of good credit card usage.
While some Amex credit cards are considered elite, such as the Centurion Card from American Express, the issuer also carries a number of more accessible options, opening the door to a new pool of consumers whose credit scores are more often “good” rather than “very good.”
Before you rush to submit an application, you may want to consider checking for prequalification. In addition to giving you a better idea of your eligibility for an Amex card with no hit to your credit score, you might qualify for promotions — for instance, a 0 percent introductory APR or welcome bonus — that you otherwise wouldn’t without preapproval. Here’s how to do it.
Which American Express cards can you get preapproved for?
Here are some of our favorite American Express cards that let you gauge your approval odds ahead of time:
|Rewards||Welcome bonus||APR||Annual fee|
|Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express||6% cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases (on up to $6,000 in annual spending, then 1%); 6% back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions; 3% back on transit and U.S. gas station purchases; 1% on all other purchases||$350 statement credit after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months||0% intro APR on purchases for your first 12 months (then 15.49% to 25.49% variable APR after)||$95|
|American Express Gold Card||4X points at restaurants; 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via AmexTravel.com; 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on everything else||60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within first six months of card membership||17.49% to 24.49% variable APR||$250|
|The Platinum Card from American Express||5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com (per calendar year); 2X Membership Rewards points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases||100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.||17.49% to 24.49% variable APR for Pay Over Time feature||$695 annual fee|
|Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express||3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1 percent); 2% back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores; 1% on all other purchases||$200 back when you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card within the first six months||0% intro APR on purchases for your first 15 months (then 15.49% to 25.49% variable APR after)||$0|
How to get preapproved for an American Express credit card
If you’re wondering how to prequalify for an American Express card, you’ll be happy to know the process is fast and easy regardless of the prequalification tool you use. Supplying a few pieces of basic information is all it takes to find out whether you might be eligible for a particular card. And since you’re not submitting a formal application, you won’t have a hard inquiry placed on your credit report, either, saving your credit score from taking a dive of up to 10 points.
Keep in mind that prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval; you’ll still need to apply for a credit card and go through the credit approval process to get a firm yes-or-no answer from Amex.
Check for offers on CardMatch
Bankrate’s CardMatch™ tool is a painless way to see if you prequalify for an American Express credit card. Here’s how it works:
- Navigate to https://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/cardmatch/.
- Provide your full name, home address and email address.
- Create a password for a free Bankrate account to save your progress and get faster access to future CardMatch offers.
- Enter your phone number. (When you do, you’re giving Bankrate permission to text you special offers and other info about your matches, but don’t worry — we’ll only text you occasionally, and you can opt out of these communications at any time.)
- Input the last four digits of your Social Security number. (This is required for a soft credit pull, which doesn’t impact your credit score in any way.)
- Agree to the terms and conditions and click Get matches.
In less than a minute, you’ll see a list of credit cards from all of Bankrate’s participating partners — not just Amex — that have been matched to your credit profile:
If you prequalify for an American Express card, you’ll be able to submit your application directly through CardMatch. And if you don’t, you may find that you prequalify for other offers, including one of the many rewards and travel credit cards from issuers such as Chase and Citibank.
Check for offers on the Amex site
You can also look for prequalified credit card offers from Amex through its own website. The process is largely similar to that of CardMatch:
- Head to https://www.americanexpress.com/us/credit-cards/check-for-offers/.
- Provide your full name and home address.
- Input the last four digits of your Social Security number.
- Optional: Enter your total annual income. (Doing so helps American Express calculate your debt-to-income ratio and ascertain your overall ability to make payments, which may improve your odds of prequalifying for a card.)
Heather Norton, vice president of corporate affairs and communications at American Express, told Bankrate that the majority of the issuer’s personal credit cards extend prequalified offers to “select eligible consumers.” So, if you’re hoping to prequalify for the American Express Platinum card, for example, this could be your chance to find out. (Because offer details and available cards can change at any time, Amex was unable to provide a full list of credit cards that allow for preapproval.)
Tip: American Express and other issuers sometimes send prescreened credit card offers via snail mail. To make sure you’ve opted in to receive them, go to OptOutPrescreen.com, scroll to the bottom of the page and select “Click here to opt-in or opt-out.”
How to boost your chances of prequalifying and getting approved for an Amex card
Although Americans’ credit card debt has fallen in the last year (as have credit utilization and late payments), card issuers have been more cautious about approving new applicants during the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, you can boost your chances of prequalifying and getting approved for an Amex card by staying informed and practicing good credit habits.
Check your credit score
Although American Express doesn’t specify any minimum credit score requirements, you’ll need good credit (or better) to qualify, which means a FICO score of at least 670. A premium Amex card — say, the American Express Gold Card — likely requires a “very good” FICO score, somewhere in the range of 740 and above.
Tip: Be realistic. If you knowingly apply for a card whose credit score requirements you don’t meet, chances are good that you’ll have a new hard inquiry added to your report but no new card to show for it.
Always pay your bills on time
Your payment history accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score and is an “extremely influential” factor in your VantageScore. In other words, having an on-time payment history is the best way to keep your credit score in tiptop shape and increase your chances of prequalifying for an Amex card.
Keep your card balances low
“Amounts owed” is the second most important component of your FICO score. This element encompasses several factors, but your overall debt isn’t as important as your credit utilization ratio or the percentage of credit you’re using relative to the total amount of credit available to you.
Keeping your card balances low not only lowers your credit utilization ratio (and boosts your score) but also reduces the interest charges you pay — a win-win.
Be mindful of application restrictions
In May 2020, The Points Guy reported that American Express had enacted new limits on the number of Amex cards consumers can hold at once. More specifically, customers are capped at four Amex credit cards and 10 Amex charge cards. Further, you can’t be approved for more than one Amex card every five days (or more than two cards in any 90-day period).
Use household income vs. individual income
So long as you’re at least 21 years old and have “reasonable access” to a partner’s income, providing your household income instead of your individual earnings could make it easier to get approved for an American Express card. (The more money you make, the more likely you are to repay your debts, at least from Amex’s perspective.) Household income can include wages, retirement income, investments, rental properties, alimony, child support and more.
Should you get a preapproved card from Amex?
The decision to get a preapproved card from Amex — or any issuer, for that matter — is highly personal. Preapproval can be a risk-free way to see which American Express cards you might be eligible for, but people who struggle to manage debt might be tempted to overspend if they add another credit card to the mix. Even applying for a card for which you’ve prequalified can land you in hot water if, say, you already have too many recent inquiries on your report.
Let’s assume you prequalify for the Amex Blue Cash Everyday. Before you officially apply, consider what’s in it for you. In other words, does the Blue Cash Everyday have a lower interest rate than one of your existing cards (and can therefore save you money if you need to carry a balance)? Are the gas station and supermarket rewards better than what you already earn? Is the welcome offer really worth it? These are all factors you should think through ahead of time, whether you’re applying for a preapproved Amex card or a card from a different issuer.
The bottom line
If you’re unsure of your chances of getting approved for an American Express credit card, checking for prequalification through Bankrate’s CardMatch tool or the Amex website can help take the stress out of the process. Taking steps to improve your credit ahead of time could boost your chances of being offered special perks at the time of application, too. And with no risk to your credit score, what do you have to lose?