It can be hard to get an American Express Credit Card if you have less than excellent credit. American Express offers great rewards packages and excellent customer service for the ideal candidate. But not everybody will qualify for an American Express card, or for the full welcome packages offered to the most qualified borrowers. The most qualified borrowers for an American Express Credit Card will have a very good or excellent credit score, a clean credit history, a low credit utilization ratio, and a steady income.
Not sure your credit score is high enough to qualify for an AmEx card? Take a look at our checklist of 21 things you should do to make sure your credit is in order.
Otherwise, read on to find out how you can anticipate, prepare for, and prevent difficulty in qualifying for any number of excellent American Express credit cards.
What are your credit scores?
It may be easy to qualify for an American Express credit card if you have good or excellent credit credit scores. When you apply for your credit card, the card issuer will initiate a hard inquiry into your credit. The applicant’s credit score is the first line of consideration for your eligibility.
In most cases, you must have a good (670-739), very good (740-799) or excellent (800-85) credit score to qualify. Indeed, anything less than a 700 credit score would likely result in a rejected application. If you’re not sure what your FICO credit scores are, begin by signing up for a free credit monitoring service like Credit Karma or Free Credit Report. There, you can see your scores with the three major credit bureaus–Experian, Equifax, and Transunion. These scores inform your overall FICO score.
Find out how Credit Monitoring Services can also help protect you against fraud.
Do you have a clean credit history?
Part of the hard inquiry into your credit will include a look into your recent credit history. Your credit card issuer will look to see that your credit history does not include a track record of late payments, delinquent accounts, or accounts which have been sent to collections agencies.
These kinds of credit bureau red flags could disqualify you from consideration, especially for some of the more exclusive American Express Credit Cards such as the American Express Platinum Card and the American Express Gold Card. Before you apply for an American Express card be sure to review your credit history for any negative marks, and dispute any claims that you believe are inaccurate or suspicious.
How is your credit utilization ratio?
Card issuers will look for a lower credit utilization ratio. American Express Credit Cards are typically available to those with a strong payment history. Your credit utilization ratio is the balance of available credit to credit debt.
Those with a higher ratio are carrying a higher amount of debt relative to their available credit. Credit Card issuers will view this figure to determine how consistently you pay off your credit card balances. Carrying heavy balances forward may be seen as an indication that you are not an ideal candidate for the American Express card.
An ideal credit utilization ratio is generally considered 30% or lower. So, for instance, if you have a credit limit across all existing accounts of $10,000, you would be advised to carry less than $3,000 in debt at all times, across all cards. If this is not the case, you may want to pay off a few lingering balances before applying for an American Express card.
Do you have a steady income?
In order to qualify for an American Express card, you must also have a steady and strong income. American Express will check to ensure you have a steady paycheck rolling in before approving you. Those with a strong credit history and an income of around $100,000 per year should have no difficulty qualifying for a card.
However, it’s also possible to qualify with an income in the range of $40-50K per year if you can show a good debt to income ratio. In other words, there isn’t a specific salary requirement to qualify for an American Express card. Rather, it’s important to demonstrate a steady income. The size of that income will be taken into consideration along with other factors to determine your eligibility for an American Express card.
Conditions May Apply
One of the reasons that the American Express Card is a bit harder to get is because it comes with more rewards than many other cards. For instance, in exchange for an annual fee of $695, the American Express Platinum Card offers up to 150,000 membership points as a welcome bonus for those who make $8000 in purchases over the first six months as well as annual statement credit rewards for hotel stays, digital entertainment, retail shopping, and more.
But there is a catch. Not everyone will qualify for the new member welcome bonus. The same factors that can limit your qualifications for an American Express Card may also impact your qualification for certain rewards.
According to AmEx, you “may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer based on various factors, such as your history with credit card balance transfers, your history as an American Express Card Member, the number of credit cards that you have opened and closed and other factors. If you are not eligible for a welcome offer, we will notify you prior to processing your application so you have the option to withdraw your application.”
In other words, even if you do qualify for an American Express card, you’ll also want to consider whether or not you qualify for the full scope of rewards. If you believe you might now qualify for these rewards, you may want to consider credit card options with lower eligibility thresholds and lower fees.
These are all important factors to keep in mind before you apply for an American Express Card. If you have excellent credit, a clean credit history, a low credit utilization ratio, and a strong steady income, you may want to take advantage of the generous rewards programs that come with being an AmEx account holder.
If you don’t have higher credit scores, or you are carrying a bit of debt relative to your available credit, you may want to consider a more accessible alternative to the American Express card. For instance, Chase offers a variety of more accessible credit cards with low or no annual fees.
And if you really need help, check out our list of the best credit cards for people with poor credit.