What credit scores do you need for Amex credit cards?

Apr 23, 2022

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.

American Express has long had a reputation for being “exclusive,” but Amex credit cards are more accessible than you might think. Sure, the issuer offers luxury cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, but you’ll also find beginner-friendly offerings such as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express in its extensive lineup.

Related: The 5 credit cards this recent grad keeps in her wallet

Today we’ll walk through the credit score you will probably need when applying for an Amex credit card. The issuer offers business credit cards, along with cobranded hotel and airline credit cards. But for the purpose of this guide, I’m going to focus on Amex’s branded consumer credit cards.

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What score do you need for Amex cards?

American Express has a varied lineup of credit cards, offering everything from entry-level cash-back cards to luxury travel ones. Therefore, there isn’t a single credit score needed for every Amex credit card. Generally speaking, you’ll want to have some level of credit established before applying for any of the top Amex credit cards, but that doesn’t mean you need to have an 800+ score to be approved.

Related: What is a good credit score?

Of course, the more premium the card, the higher the score you’ll generally need to have. For cards such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and American Express® Gold Card, for example, you’ll need to have good to excellent credit—usually a score of 680 at a minimum. There is anecdotal evidence of applicants with scores as low as the mid-600s being approved, but that’s rare. Even for the American Express® Green Card, a more beginner-focused travel card, a score of 670 or higher is probably necessary.

The information for the Amex Green Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best?

For American Express entry-level and cash-back cards, you can sometimes get away with a shorter credit history and lower score, though you’ll still want to have a decent credit score. Cards such as the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express usually recommend a 670+ score. However, there is anecdotal evidence of scores in the lower 600s being approved. If you are a beginner with little to no credit, you are more likely to be approved for a no-annual-fee credit card, such as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express (see rates and fees).

Related: What credit score do you need for the Blue Cash Preferred?

The information for the Amex EveryDay Preferred card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

How to improve your credit score

Checking credit score on smart phone
(Photo by Song_about_summer/Shutterstock)

The five main factors in calculating your credit score are payment history, credit-to-debt ratio, length of credit history, new accounts and account mix. The biggest of these is payment history, which can take time to build up as a beginner.

If your current score is less-than-stellar, here are steps you can take to improve it:

  • Check your credit report — Sometimes your credit report has inaccuracies that negatively affect your score. By regularly monitoring your credit report, you can ensure that you take care of any mistakes. That alone can improve your score relatively quickly. You can check your report for free once a year through each of the major bureaus.
  • Pay your bill on time and in full every month — Whenever possible, it’s important to only spend what you can confidently pay off at the end of every month. Building a reputation with issuers that you are a trustworthy borrower is the best way to ensure a healthy credit score in the long term. Plus, paying off your balance in full means no interest charges and a low debt-to-credit ratio.
  • Pay down existing debt — If you currently have credit card debt, knocking that down can play a significant role in increasing your score. There are many different strategies for how to pay down debt. Choose the one that works best for you and make it a priority. Once your debt-to-credit ratio decreases, your score should improve.

Building excellent credit takes time and patience. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and even if you follow all of these tips, it could still take time for your score to reflect the work you’re putting in. Just keep practicing good credit habits, and you will see it pay off eventually.

Related: From debt to over 20 credit cards — the story of my personal finance journey

What factors go into credit card approval?

Contrary to popular belief, your credit score isn’t the only factor issuers look at when deciding whether to approve you for a new credit card. It’s a large factor, but a bank will also look at your credit history, the number of accounts open, the status of those accounts and more.

Related: TPG reader credit card question: How many credit cards should I have?

And just because you were approved for a card five years ago with a certain score doesn’t automatically mean that you will be approved again with that same score. Issuers regularly update the factors they use for credit card approvals.

At the same time, don’t be discouraged from applying. If there’s a card that you have your eye on, but your score is in the mid-600s, you could potentially be approved. And if you are denied, the long-term effects on your credit score aren’t dire — in fact, many TPGers have been denied for at least one credit card over the years.

However, this does mean that you can’t bank on a specific credit score guaranteeing you approval. Cardholders with excellent credit scores of 780+ are much more likely to be approved for a credit card, but there’s never a 100% guarantee until you get a decision from the issuer.

Remember too that American Express has its own set of application restrictions — including a policy of awarding just one bonus for a card in a customer’s lifetime. Again, even those with extraordinary scores may not be approved for a card if Amex’s proprietary formula determines that you aren’t eligible

Related: How bad is it to get denied for a credit card?

Bottom line

There is no cut-and-dried answer to the question of what credit score you need when applying for an American Express card, but hopefully this gives you some clarity on what you probably should have when you apply. Amex doesn’t publish specific score requirements, so having a particular score won’t guarantee you approval, nor will it preclude you from getting the card you want.

If you are a beginner but have your eye on a more premium card like the Amex Platinum, you can try applying for a beginner credit card first, or you could become an authorized user on a family member’s account. Once you’ve shown issuers that you are a responsible credit card user, it will be easier win approval for future credit cards.

Related: Which is the best American Express credit card for you?

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson

Featured image by filadendron/Getty Images.

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