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The points and miles hobby can appear complicated at first glance but before you even delve into the hobby…you need a credit card. One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is “what score do I need to obtain (insert card name)?”
Several 1TP subscribers have asked this type of question in previous comments or through DM so I thought the topic would be worth writing about.
The most recent inquiry was from a subscriber that specifically said “I’m interested in the American Express Gold Card. What credit score do I need to be approved for an American Express credit card?”
If your vision of American Express is your parents swiping a worn and tattered gold card receiving 1 point for every dollar spent, let me tell you…that was a long time ago and the landscape has changed dramatically since then.
Back in the day Amex was fairly restrictive, but today Amex cards are more attainable than you may think.
Amex has a full range of cards – from the no annual fee “beginner” card (e.g. Amex EveryDay Credit Card – (READ MORE) to the ultra-premium Platinum Cards (READ MORE). But what type of credit score do you need to obtain an Amex card?
Most of the information below is anecdotal. In other words, there hasn’t been any lengthy scientific study or a 100% guarantee that you’ll be approved with the information. Although your credit score is extremely important when applying for a card, there are many factors that banks take into consideration.
It’s important to understand that Amex offers personal cards, business cards, co-branded airline and hotel cards, no annual fee cards, luxury premium cards, etc. so there isn’t a specific number that will “fit” every card. But for this exercise I’m going to focus on the consumer / personal cards and my experience of being approved.
Generally, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to be approved for a card. Clearly, this gives us an upward boundary. But what about the lower boundary?
For simplicity, I’ll break this into three “zones” and speak about each one separately:
- Premium cards – The Platinum Card from American Express (READ MORE), The Gold Card from American Express (READ MORE), etc.
- Non-Premium cards – The American Express Green Card (READ MORE), etc.
- No Annual Fee / Cash Back – The Amex Everyday Preferred Card (READ MORE), The Amex Everyday Card (READ MORE), etc.
In my experience, you’ll want to have established credit before applying for the premium cards. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a perfect credit score (850) but a history of having credit extended to you and paying on time goes a long way. In other words, if you’re just getting started, apply for a card with less restrictions. However, if I had to apply a score to create a lower bound, 690 appears to the approximate cutoff. I say “approximate” because I have seen lower scores being approved for the premium cards but they are rare.
If you’re interested in the non-premium cards, there is anecdotal evidence that the bounds are a bit lower and closer to 670. Again, I have seen approval for lower scores but they are rare.
Finally, if you’re interested in the no annual fee / cash back cards, there is anecdotal evidence that the bounds are even lower and closer to 650. Again, I have seen lower scores being approved for the these cards but they are rare. If you are a beginner and have little or no credit history, you’re more likely to be approved for these cards than the mid-tier or premium cards.
Again, all of the information above is anecdotal. The longer you’re in this hobby, the more you’ll understand that nothing is guaranteed…including credit card approvals.
I have been denied for credit cards recently and my score is considered excellent (780+). Don’t get frustrated if you’re denied for a card. You score will get dinged by a few points but won’t necessarily change anything. Denial happens to everyone.
If you are interested in improving your credit score, check out MY GUIDE to credit scores.
Is anyone considering applying for a new card any time soon? If so, which one?