Definitive Guide To American Express Credit Cards

Definitive Guide To American Express Credit Cards

American Express Fast Facts

Credit Bureau Pulled

Experian & Transunion

Credit Score

640+

Prequalification Offer
Major Key

61/6/3x Rule

This will be a dedicated guide to American Express credit cards that I hope will be one of the only stops you have to make in getting all the information you need in order to get your very first or additional Amex cards.

American Express credit cards are considered the pinnacle of cards to get and its a huge deal to get your foot in the door with your first one, so we will cover everything we know at this point with what bureau Amex pulls from, the credit scores they like to see, how to get additional cards and of course CLIs!

Keep in mind that like many big banks that are building out their feature stacks there are many ways into the Amex ecosystem and they are relationship based so they are more likely to reward those who have built relationships with the higher limits and additional cards then someone brand new off the streets.

Be sure to bookmark this page as we will constantly be updating it as information changes!

American Express Data Points

Lets start off with some general basics and datapoints to help you get an overall grasp.

On brand new cards American Express will Hard Pull (HP) your Experian credit file 99% of the time and on a credit limit increase (CLI) they will soft pull.  If this is your first card with American Express they will HP both Experian and Transunion.

A 640-650 FICO is the low end that they accept into their cards, obviously as with any bank the higher the FICO score the better the credit limit and sign up bonus (SUB). This would get you in the door with a lower tier card (so not the gold, plat, rose etc) like a co-branded delta gold or hilton honors.

During normal times (non-corona) American Express likes to see a 650+ credit score, I have personally gotten approved for the Blue Cash Preferred card and Delta Gold co-branded cards at a 660 credit score, not to mention helped half a dozen others get personal/business Blue cards/co-branded. This was pretty universal pre-corona. I can also tell you that over a 720 got me preapproved for all the lower tier cards on up to a Gold card, so we opted for the Business gold.

American Express does NOT like to see an derogatory’s on your report, no late payments, no BKs (bankruptcies) or any negative remarks. This isn’t a 100% deal breaker but its close and everything else on the credit profile would have to be air tight (history/length, DTI, usage, etc).

The best way to think about a brand like Amex is to focus on getting into the ecosystem, good credit or not there is a way in. You could start with an American Express savings account and start to build that history/relationship with them and then pivot into co-branded cards, then regular cards-or if you are over 720 start with a business card.

The total amount of American Express cards you can have across consumer and business is 14! Yes you can have a total of 14 cards, that is 4 credit cards and 10 charge cards. Filtering that down more, the most cards you can have as a consumer (personal) is 4 or 5 (for most will be 4), and the rest would be business.

Lastly American Express has started to pull Transunion and Experian on brand new accounts. This started off as just a geo-location thing and now being reported pretty heavy across the boards.

Video covering American Express Datapoints

American Express CLIs (credit limit increases)

You can request a CLI at 61 days of brand new account or 6 months after your last CLI. This naturally is called the 61/6 rule.

If you jumped the gun before the 60 days/6 months rule, the reason for denial is considered ineligibility. If that is the case you can reapply after the original and correct 60day/6month timeline. You do not have to wait an additional 90 days, so the clock doesn’t get reset. If you were eligible and got denied due to other factors, then you are ineligible to reapply for another 90 days since the denial date.

If you get the message after requesting CLI, that a decision will be mailed within 7-10 days, it most likely means that the CLI has been denied. There is an outside chance that the letter that comes from Amex may ask for a signed 4506T in order to give further consideration to the CLI request but in 99% of the cases it is a letter outlining the reasons for denial.

It also provides the true FICO score from the bureau that was used in the decision making process. Most of the time it is Experian FICO, but Amex is known to use EQ and or TU in rare circumstances (personally have never seen this or met anyone who got EQ or TU pulled). Sometimes the reason(s) for denial is also sent via email immediately after the CLI request in addition to the letter in the mail.

 

You only get 1 CLI every 181 days no matter how many CC you have with Amex. That means if you get the Cash Magnet today and then a CLI on your BCP you will NOT be able to get the 61day 3X CLI on the Cash Magnet card

There are a few exceptions to the rules noted above:

a) CLIs for non-US cards are generally capped at 50% of the current limit 

b) The 181 rule only applies if the cardholder initiates the request, if Amex offers you a CLI at any point you can take that and get CLIs on other cards.

IE: Amex offers you a CLI on your BCP in June and you accept, there is nothing stopping them from offering you another CLI on another product, say the “Green” card a few months later in September or October (90+ days) < you can accept that offer too 🙂  — keep in mind that if YOU initiate a CLI request, it must be 181 days from your most recent CLI pre-approval, regardless of which card it was. Thank you @BossBogan

The “1 in 5” Rule

This is the one card rule in every 5 days, meaning you can’t be approved for more than 1 card every 5 days with Amex. This appears to apply only to credit cards and NOT charge cards.

This rule is in place to stop credit card fraud, in case your identity were to be stolen. 

Don’t take this as the absolute rule, we have heard several first hand accounts stating them getting multiple American Express cards in a 5 day period so like with many unwritten rules, your experience may vary. 

If you want this to work for you, then don’t try to apply for just credit cards, mix with charge cards and mix with personal and business. 

 

The “2 in 90” Rule

The 2 in 90 rule is, restricts customers to getting no more than 2 cards in 90 days, which builds on the 1 in 5 rule. Just like the 1 in 5 rule this appears to apply to credit cards, not charge cards.

These rules are supposed to stop not only identity theft but consumers layering on too much credit in a short amount of time before the institution can catch on. 

That being said, there are a lot of examples of consumers getting 2+ cards in a 90 day period (credit and charge mix).

Keep in mind this isn’t happening for people making $30k a year with a 650 credit score. These exceptions take strong credit profiles!

How To Get Additional Amex Credit Cards

When it comes to getting additional American Express cards, there is actually a pretty accurate and free way to check your odds of getting another card. First off check Credit Karma and Experian to see if there are offers for American Express cards showing in your account. Keep in mind that there is a big difference between co-branded cards like delta cards and Amex cards but check there first.

Next follow these steps…

  1. Login to your account
  2. Go to Menu (should be top left)
  3. Click on Cards option, then “Check for pre-qual credit cards” page
  4. Click on the apply button to any of the cards
  5. You will get one of two messages: “You are pre-approved”, this means you are ready to go and can apply, if you get “applying to expand your membership is easy with us” you should wait. You will see this at the very top

Video Explaining Amex CLIs & Getting Additional Credit Cards

Getting A Co-branded Amex Credit Cards

Conversely when it comes to co-branded Amex cards if you are pre-approved for one of them then chances are high you are approved for all co-branded cards from silver up to gold (on delta cards). It would seem that there is a different underwriter or process used for all co-branded cards, which makes total sense, as with all of this-no guarantees this will always be true or even true after corona. I personally experienced this end of 2019 and I used the above process, checked Credit Karma, Wallethub and Experian credit card suggestion engines.

Also this means if you applied for multiple co-branded cards within the same hour (use multiple tabs and submit both at same time) that there is a good chance you will only get one hard hit on your report and could get approved for both cards. Keep in mind that once you are in the Amex ecosystem they will soft pull you so this can be used to your benefit on any card you want to get.

How To Get Into The Amex Ecosystem

The beautiful thing is there are now several proven ways into the American Express ecosystem the first and most responsive way is to setup an American Express savings account. Let that season up for 3 months or so and then go and check to see if you are getting card offers. The next easiest way in is through the Serve prepaid debit card they now offer or through Bluebird which is a fintech company they bought out that offers the same thing (pre-paid debt card)similar to the Business Checking and Kabbage business checking, different products but same ecosystem. The whole points of this is to gain access to the ecosystem so they can start gathering data on you and your transactional history.

This works on the business side as well, you can setup a business checking account through Americanexpress.com direct or through Kabbage who they also bought out. 

American Express Jail,  Blacklisting & Triggering Financial Reviews + How To Get Out!

There is a downside to trying to maximize your rewards and experience with American Express and that is getting put in jail and worse getting blacklisted completely. There are only a few ways that I know of to get you blacklisted and that is if they catch you credit churning, manufacture spending or trying to get an inquiry removed and using fraud as the reason with the credit bureaus. Those are all sure fire ways to a blacklist (if caught of course on the first two). 
 
The bigger event to spend more time on here is triggering a manual review, which is where they will request more access to your filed taxes through a 4506. The things is, even after they do this, most of the time the cards will still get drops in limits and be bucketed so it didn’t matter if you numbers looked better or worse then they were expecting. 
 
Keep in mind that if the primary account holder is triggered for a financial review, all AUs will also get flagged for review as well.
 
This is what we call, getting put in Amex Jail, card limits get slashed and then bucketed. No more CLIs, no more product offers, the card just dies. 
 
Some tips to avoid getting put in American Express Jail
  • If you just got an “unlimited spend” card like Gold or Platinum cards, do NOT go run out making thousands of dollars in purchases right away, build up over time
  • If you are brand new to Amex ecosystem build up your credit history with them for 6-12 months and then look to ramp up
  • You are better off making purchase then paying it down/off, repeat
  • Don’t check the “spending power” too often (daily would be too much)
  • Too many large purchases in a short amount of time
  • If you request more than a $25,000 limit on one card or an aggregate total @ $35,000 or higher on multiple cards combined
  • Having return payments,and changing your income levels too drastically

 

If you do find yourself in Amex Jail, there is very low chance you can reverse and get the card unlocked again, better off focusing on transactional history for 12-18 months, getting new cards and closing the bucketed card. Also keep in mind you can’t do any sort of balance transfer on a bucketed card. The card itself is bucketed, not you and not your account. 

Video Explaining Jail & Blacklisting

American Express Personal Loans

American Express seems to have a product offering for just about any scenario you can think of, including if you want to consolidate credit card debt, or need extra cash for some home improvements etc.  They offer a personal loan product that gives you $3500-$40,000 all on a softpull once you’re in ecosystem. Amex offers similar products on the business side which we will cover later.

Video Explaining Softpull Personal Loans

Amex Personal Credit Cards

I will not be listing out every single personal credit card American Express offers, just the cards I have data on. They currently offer 18 personal credit cards, you can get more info here, as well as most up to date SUB info.

The SUBs (signup bonus) always change, we will do our best to keep this updated.

PhotoCredit CardSign up BonusRegular APRCashbackAnnual FeeDatapoints
Platinum Card100,000 Points15.99% to 22.99%10x points at restaurants worldwide
5x points on flights
5x points on prepaid hotels
1x points on other purchases
$695
Gold Card60,000 Points15.99% to 22.99%4x points on Dining
4x points U.S. supermarkets
3x points on flights
1x points on other purchases
$250
Cash Magnet$200 CB0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months then
13.99% - 23.99%
1.5% unlimited CB$0
Blue Cash Preferred$300 CB13.99% - 23.99%6% at U.S supermarkets 💰
6% on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
3% on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
3% at U.S. gas stations
1% on other purchases
$0 intro offerCan pull TU
812/$30000
Blue Cash Everyday$200 CB0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months then
13.99% - 23.99%
3% at U.S. supermarkets
2% at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores
1% on other purchases
$0826/$25000
750/$6000
720/$3000
722/$2000 Limit (thin file)
716/$1000 (2013 BK)
Green Card45,000 Points15.99% to 22.99%3x points on restaurants
3x points on transit
3x points on travel
1x points on other purchases
$150
Amex Everyday Preferred15,000 Points0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months then
12.99% - 23.99%
3x points on U.S. supermarkets
2x points on gas
1x points on other purchases
$95
Amex Everyday10,000 Points0% intro APR on purchases for 15 months then
12.99% - 23.99%
2x points on U.S. supermarkets
1x points on other purchases
$0
Blue from American Express23.99%1x points on eligible purchase$0
Delta Skymiles Platinum American Express15,000 bonus miles15.74% to 24.74%3x Miles on delta purchases
3x Miles at hotels
2x Miles on dining
2x Miles on U.S. supermarkets
2x Miles on other purchases
$250
Delta Skymiles Reserve American Express5,000 bonus miles & 5,000 MQMs15.74% to 24.74%3x Miles on delta purchases
1x Miles on other purchases
$550
Delta Skymiles Gold American Express15.74% to 24.74%2x Miles on dining
2x Miles on U.S. supermarkets
2x Miles on delta purchases
1x Miles on other purchases
$0659/$1000
645/$1000
688/$2000
660/$5000
655/$1000
Delta Skymiles Blue American Express10,000 bonus miles15.74% to 24.74%2x Miles on dining
2x Miles on delta purchases
1x Miles on other purchases
$0
Hilton Honors American Express Surpass180,000 Hilton Honors bonus points15.74% to 24.74%12x points on Hotels & Resorts
6x points on dining
6x points on U.S. supermarkets
6x points on Gas
3x points per $1
$95
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire150,000 Hilton Honors bonus points15.74% to 24.74%14x points on Hotels & Resorts
7x points on select travel
7x points on dining
3x points per $1
$450819/$31000
Hilton Honors130,000 Hilton Honors bonus points15.74% to 24.74%7x points on Hotels & Resorts
5x points on dining
5x points on U.S. supermarkets
5x points on Gas
3x points per $1
$0
Marriott Bonvoy Brillant American Express75,000 Marriott Bonvoy Bonus Points & Up to $200 CB at US restaurants15.74% to 24.74%6x points on hotels
3x points on dining
3x points on flights
2x points per $1
$450690/$6500

Amex Backdoor Phone Numbers

AmEx Collections Dept: 800-921-6490 (people on blacklist can call this number)
AmEx: 800-567-1083 (App Status – Use with caution if attempting a denied app recon; have been advised that they can only resubmit app with another hard pull)

AmEx: 800-952-7562 (credit limit increase specialist/team)
AmEx: 800-230-1284 (Account Services – handles accounts with issues)
AmEx: 800-700-7619 (Reserves – handles closed and charged-off accounts)

Amex: 800-528-4800 (Rate reduction line)
American Express Credit Bureau Unit: 800-874-2717. (Must have a current credit report before calling. They will ask for the account number from the credit report, which is different from your card number, so best to have this in front of you when calling)

Frequently Asked Questions

Across business and consumer cards you can get a total of 14 cards, 4 credit cards and 10 charge cards. The max you can get as a consumer is 4-5 cards (for most its 4), the rest would be business. 

This is what happens when your account gets bucketed or capped on its limit, usually you get a financial review (4506 request), then card limits reduced and that is jail. All automatic CLIs or product upgrades go away and the card is stuck.

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