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How to Activate American Express Cards Online, By Mobile Or Over the Phone

It’s fast, easy and convenient to activate an American Express card. American Express offers three ways for users to activate their American Express credit card in no time at all. You can activate your American Express card online, using the AmEx mobile app, or directly through customer services by phone.

Got questions before you activate your American Express credit card or charge card? American Express has a reputation for providing excellent and informative customer services.  Find out how to contact AmEx customer service 24/7.

Otherwise, read on for details on how you can activate an American Express credit card without delay.

Why Activation is Required

After you apply for your American Express card, you can usually expect to wait 3 to 5 business days before receiving your new card in the mail. Once you receive it, you are required to “activate” your card as a way of confirming with the card issuer that you have received it. 

Activation also allows American Express to verify your identity as the appropriate primary user while onboarding you into its online services and mobile app experiences. As you’ll note below, American Express not only offers both its online and mobile app channels as ways to activate your credit card but it also stresses the value of using these valuable account management resources regardless of how you choose to activate your American Express card.

Activate Your Card Using the American Express Website

American Express online services make it easy to activate your credit card using your home laptop or PC. You can do this in three easy steps:

  1. Register your account at
  2. Create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) that you can remember. You will need this four-digit PIN again in the future to verify your identity or access special features such as Cash Advances.*
  3. Activate your card.

*Want to learn more about the cash advance feature through American Express? Jump to our article to find out if a cash advance is really the right move for you.

American Express also advises users to download the AmEx mobile app for their smartphone or mobile device in order to manage account settings and access additional features.

Activate Your Card Using the AmEx Mobile App

Speaking of the mobile app, you can actually just skip right to this step and activate your American Express gift card through your smartphone or mobile device. This can be completed in five easy steps:

  1. Download the American Express® App on your Smartphone or device.
  2. Enter your card details into the corresponding fields.
  3. Create and save a user ID and password.
  4. Set your Personal Identification Number (PIN), if you haven’t already. And again, make sure this is a number you can remember and access later.
  5. Activate your card.

As long as you’re adding valuable mobile apps to your smartphone, we also recommend adding a solid spending or budgeting app to your arsenal. Jump to our list of some of the best mobile apps for managing your money.  

Activate Your Card Over the Phone

If you prefer to activate an American Express credit card by phone, this is also a quick and easy three step process:

  1. Call the general, toll-free American Express helpline at 1-800-419-2122.
  2. Follow the prompts to create your Personal Identification Number (PIN) if you haven’t already done so.
  3. Activate your card.

Once again, even if you do plan to activate your American Express Card by phone, AmEx recommends either registering and creating an online account at, downloading the AmEx mobile app, or both. This gives you a lot more options and access when it comes to managing payments, redeeming rewards, requesting an increase to your credit limit, or upgrading to a premium rewards card like the American Express Gold or Platinum cards.

Renewing Your American Express Credit Card

If you have renewed an expired card, or received a replacement card for one that has been lost or stolen, you will need to activate this new card. You may do so using the same three channels as you would use for a new card:

  1. American Express Online Services at;
  2. The AmEx app on your mobile device; or
  3. The toll free American Express customer service helpline at 1-800-419-2122.

You will need your Personal Identification Number (PIN) to activate your replacement card. If you have not requested a new PIN, this four-digit number will remain unchanged from your original card. If you have requested a new PIN, you will need to reset your PIN using one of the channels above.

Need to Activate an American Express Gift Card?

Are you here because you’ve received an American Express gift card? It’s also easy and convenient to activate your gift card online or over the phone:

  • Activate your AmEx gift card online at;
  • Activate your AmEx gift card over the phone by calling the toll-free number listed on the back of your Card (1-888-846-4308).

Whichever option you choose, you will be required to provide several basic details:

  • The Card number listed on the center front of the card.
  • The Expiration Date, usually listed on the bottom left front of your card.
  • The four-digit security code, which may be located on the back or front of your card, depending on its design.

As a precautionary measure, it’s also a good idea to record those numbers and keep them in a safe place. If your gift card is ever lost or stolen, you may be able to use this information to request a replacement.

If your card is lost or stolen, American Express advises you to immediately reach out by phone at 1-888-846-4308 to report the incident. As long as you can produce the Card number, Expiration Date, and four-digit security code, American Express will be able to issue a replacement card in the amount of any remaining balance.


While you’re activating that new American Express card, you may be wondering how many AmEx cards you can have in your wallet at any one time. Well, the answer to that question depends on a few factors, including the types of cards you carry and the time frame within which you apply for each card. Learn more with a look at our article which asks the question–how many American Express credit cards can you apply for?