If you are considering applying for an American Express card, you need to know if you have a good chance of being approved before applying. It starts with understanding the credit score you need for a card.
What credit score do you need for an American Express card?
Unlike some other issuers, American Express does not offer cards aimed at people who have poor credit or are rebuilding their credit. In other words, you’ll likely need a score at least in the “good” range to qualify for an AmEx card. Other American Express cards will generally require even higher scores.
According to FICO score ranges, this means American Express applicants typically have at least a score of 670:
- Exceptional. 800 and more.
- Very well. 740-799.
- Good. 670-739.
- Fair. 580-669.
- Poor. 300 – 579.
Why are credit scores important to card issuers? “Consumers with lower credit scores are more likely to have a history of missed payments, high credit card balances, or more serious things like collections or bankruptcy,” says Rod Griffin, senior director of the education and consumer advocacy at Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus. “Consumers with higher credit scores are more likely to have a well-established history of on-time payments, as well as low utilization rates and no default history.”
As such, lenders will look at an applicant’s credit score to determine whether they will make an offer of credit and to determine appropriate credit limits, interest rates and other terms, Griffin adds.
Beyond scores, credit card companies also have a unique set of requirements that a consumer must meet in order for companies to extend a card offer, and these will differ by issuer and specific card. .
How to get your credit score
There are many ways to get your free credit score online. Here are three routes you can take:
- Use a free service. Sign up for a service like MyCredit Guide from American Express or CreditWise from Capital One, both of which are open to everyone.
- Check with your issuer. If you have a credit card, your issuer or bank probably allows you to view your credit score through your online account.
- Sign up for Experian. The credit bureau includes a monthly credit report and FICO score for those who sign up.
American Express cards for different credit ratings
The specific credit score needed for a single American Express card is not made public, but you can make an educated guess. “In general, most card issuers offer many different types of credit cards with different features and terms and may have different risk thresholds depending on the features of the card,” says Tom Quinn, vice president of scores at FICO.
And your credit score is only part of the assessment made by American Express. “While the exact requirements vary between American Express products, we look at things like payment history and total number of cards with American Express, if any, overall debt, reported income, office scores and other information from credit bureau reports,” the company said in a statement.
In general, you will need to have good to excellent credit, with some cards being more difficult to obtain than others.
“You can assume the cards with the best benefits and rewards will require an average credit score of 700 or higher to qualify,” Griffin says. “Higher scores may be required to receive the best terms. Scores of 750 and above, as a rule of thumb, will usually result in receiving the best terms.”
Here are three American Express cards at different tiers to consider:
AmEx EveryDay Credit Card. It’s a no-fee rewards card that offers two points per dollar on groceries and one point per dollar on all other purchases. This is a solid entry-level rewards card that requires good credit, but since there are higher-end products, it would probably be easier to get.
Blue Cash Preferred card from American Express. This card offers a wider variety of benefits, including 6% cash back on groceries (on the first $6,000 spent annually) and 3% cash back on gas stations and public transit. common. It also charges an annual fee of $95.
The Platinum Card from American Express. Platinum Card rewards and benefits are aimed at high spenders and frequent travelers with excellent credit who are looking for a VIP-like experience. The card charges an annual fee of $695.
How to Get Pre-Approved for an American Express Card
First, you need to understand the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification. Quinn says the terms are used interchangeably, even though they are different. “Pre-approval generally means that the credit card issuer has reviewed your information and, based on that review, has determined whether they will make a firm offer of credit to you. Pre-qualification generally means that the issuer has reviewed your financial information and makes a ‘best estimate’ if you’d be approved if you apply,” he says.
American Express encourages applicants who want to know which cards are best for them to check online prequalification offers with the issuer. After entering your basic information, you will receive personalized offers.
Alternatively, you may receive an unsolicited pre-approved credit card offer in the mail, which means the lender has performed an automated review of your credit history and other criteria and determined that you meet the terms of this offer, Griffin said. “Pre-approved offers are a good thing because they expand the market for consumers.”
Although these offers do not affect credit scores, when you accept an offer you are officially applying for the credit card, at which point the lender will remove your credit.
Of course, you don’t need a formal pre-approval offer to apply for a card. However, it’s wise to research the particular card you’re interested in to get an idea of the requirements.
How to improve your credit score before applying
For most people, the two most important things they can do to improve their scores quickly are catch up on late payments and reduce existing credit card balances, says Griffin. In fact, the payment history and the amounts due represent respectively 35% and 30% of the calculation of the FICO score.
It’s also good to keep an eye on your progress. If you visit annualcreditreport.com, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies once a week until the end of 2022. “Checking your credit report will help see where you stand from a credit perspective,” says Griffon.