Rules to Know for Amex Credit Card Applications
How to Apply for an American Express Credit Card
Applying for an American Express (AmEx) card is easy and the approval process is quick, whether you apply online, via mail, or over the phone. Before you sign up for an AmEx card, there are some things you should know regarding terms, fees, rewards systems, and other conditions associated with American Express credit accounts. This guide offers useful information about the AmEx credit card application process and breaks things down into easy-to-follow steps.
Researching Card Options
Determine your credit needs.The first thing to do before applying for an AmEx card is figure out what you want out of your card. Are you interested in accumulating rewards, or is a card with minimal fees your top priority? What do you plan to use the card for? American Express offers numerous credit solutions which each have their own benefits and drawbacks.
- Ask yourself what card/account characteristics are important to you and compare your list of needs and wants to available AmEx options. This will help you identify the card that is best for you.
- Make sure that AmEx cards are an acceptable form of payment for whatever purchases and expenses you intend to use it for. Some companies and businesses do not accept AmEx, so this is something worth looking into before applying.
- AmEx cards come in two varieties: charge cards and credit cards. Charge card balances must be paid off each month in full, but carry no interest charges or spending limits. Credit cards, on the other hand, work like most other credit cards and allow the account holder to carry a balance from month to month (which results in the accrual of interest charges).
- Review card terms, conditions, benefits, and identify any associated fees. It's important to read this fine print before applying for a card so you're not caught by surprise later on.
Choose a personal account.The most common type of AmEx credit account is the personal card. There are twenty different personal cards to choose from, each with its own unique set of features.Personal cards are for individuals who want a credit card for their personal, non-business purchases and expenses.
- Carefully read through the fine print on the various card agreements. Some advertised card perks may catch your eye, but be aware that some benefits carry certain conditions you may not be willing to accept, such as fees or monthly spending minimums.
- You can directly compare the terms and benefits of each card type on the AmEx website for ease of selecting the right one for you.
Choose a small business account.If you a small business owner and are seeking an AmEx card to use solely for your company expenses, this is the type of card you want. AmEx small business card options come in 11 different options, each of which also features specialty rewards options with a number of partner companies.
- Consider your specific business needs when deciding on a small business card. Will you need to travel a lot for work? How high are your average monthly expenses? Asking yourself these sorts of questions will help you narrow down your options.
- Many AmEx small business cards have special offers for cash back or extra rewards if you meet certain spending requirements within your first few months of membership. Find out whether the card you've chosen comes with any of these perks and plan accordingly to get the most out of your new card.
- Do not apply for a small business card if you are not a business owner or do not intend to use your card solely for business-related expenses. You may be asked to justify business account purchases or expenses if AmEx or the IRS suspects you are not using your card properly.
Choose a corporate account.These card options are only available to upper level executives of corporations. High-level employees of these companies may also be assigned corporate AmEx cards if their job-related responsibilities require frequent expenditures and/or travel, but they cannot apply for the card themselves.
- You can work with an AmEx representative to design a custom program tailored to your business needs if none of the six preexisting card options seems ideal.
- All AmEx corporate cards carry annual fees that can be quite high. Most corporate expense accounts are immense, so this is usually not an issue. However, you should make sure the fees associated with the AmEx corporate card you choose are reasonable for your company.
Choosing Card Features
Decide what you're willing to pay in annual fees.Some AmEx cards carry an annual fee that must be paid just to be a cardholder. The cards with the highest annual fees often also provide the best benefits, but unless you will be using your card a lot, these perks may not outweigh the cost of having the card.
- Many AmEx cards do not have annual fees; these are generally the entry-level, basic credit cards, such as the Blue Cash Everyday card. These cards may offer lower credit limits or less attractive benefits than cards with annual fees.
- Annual fees (excluding those associated with corporate accounts) range from (USD) for a Hilton HHonors Surpass card to 0 for the Platinum and Delta Reserve cards.
- Some card options waive the annual fee for the first year and begin charging after that. The AmEx Green and Premier Rewards Gold cards are examples of these.
Look into card APRs.If you carry a balance on your AmEx credit card (or any credit card) from month to month, you will be charged interest fees according to the annual percentage rate (APR) associated with your card.You don't want to end up with a credit card with interest rates so high you can't pay down your balance, so explore your options carefully.
- Credit account disclosure materials always include this information, but sometimes the language can be hard to understand. Ask an AmEx representative to explain the fine print associated with each card's APR.
- APRs can be fixed, variable, or a combination of the two. Fixed interest means that you will always pay the same percentage rate in interest; variable interest can change with the market rate and could get much higher than it was when you got the card. Combined APRs have a fixed rate plus a variable market rate.
- A card's APR can be changed at any time without prior notice. If you get an AmEx card, be on the lookout for notices about APR revisions.
- Interest rates often differ for different types of purchases, balance transfers, and cash advances. Make yourself aware of all terms and conditions of your card that relate to interest, especially those associated with purchases (if that's what you will use your card for most often).
Select a rewards program.AmEx partners with several companies such as Hilton, Mercedes-Benz, and Delta Airlines to offer cards with specialized rewards programs. Each eligible AmEx card has a specific rewards program associated with it. Once you've narrowed down your card options, look through the rewards offers associated with your top picks and decide which one is most appealing to you. Available programs include:
- Membership Rewards points. These points are earned by making eligible purchases with your AmEx card and redeemable in a variety of ways (such as for gift cards to select stores or websites).
- Airline miles. Some cards accumulate mileage rewards for specific airline carriers such as Delta. With this program, eligible purchases earn you miles you can later redeem through Delta Airlines for free air travel.
- Hotel points. Cards such as the Hilton HHonors Surpass earn credits toward free Hilton hotel stays with eligible purchases. These are similar to cards that earn airline mileage.
- Rewards programs are related to annual fees in the sense that cards offering more attractive benefits often have higher fees; consider this before jumping on a rewards program you like.
Understand how your creditworthiness factors in.Depending on your credit history, you might not qualify for the card you want. Things like high credit limits, low annual percentage rates (APR), and even certain rewards programs are often reserved for the most prestigious cards offerings, which might have higher minimum credit scores in order to qualify.
- Applying for lines of credit (such as an AmEx card) can actually have a negative impact on your credit score if too many requests are made in a short period of time (even if some are denied). If you are worried you will not be approved for a card, speak to an AmEx representative before applying.
- You can get a free credit check that will not impact your credit score by signing up for a free account on FreeCreditReport.com. This will give you an idea of where your credit score sits and what your credit weaknesses are.
Applying for an Account
Respond to a mail offer.Fill out the application form and mail it back in the addressed, postage-paid envelope that came with the offer documents. Alternatively, you can visit the AmEx credit card website and click on "Respond to Your Mail Offer."
- If you choose to respond online, you will need to provide the RSVP code included with your mail offer, as well as your zip code (U.S.). The RSVP number is a 14-digit sequence of alphanumeric characters.
- If you are replying to a mail offer online but don't have the RSVP number, you can enter some personal information such as your address and name to proceed with your application.
Apply online.You can apply for an AmEx card online without having been solicited by mail. In order to do this, visit the AmEx website, click "Get Started," select the card you want, and click the "Apply Now" button to fill out the application form. Don't do this until you are certain which card you want.
- You will need to have certain personal information handy, such as your employer's information, your social security number, your mailing address, and your housing status (own or rent). You may also have to provide an estimate of your annual household income. The approval process can take as little as one minute.
- Before applying for a specific card, it is a good idea to use AmEx's online "View My Offers" tool, which allows you to determine whether you are eligible for any special offers. This tool is not a credit application -- it only shows you what offers are available to you based on your personal information.
Apply by phone.This can be done by calling 1-800-223-2670 (U.S.). You will be connected with a representative who will ask you questions about your card needs and will make recommendations as to your card options. AmEx phone lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Be prepared to provide any personal information that the phone representative may request, which will include sensitive information such as your social security number.
- Even if you decide to apply over the phone, it is a good idea to first research your options on the AmEx website. This way, you will already have an idea of the card features available to you when you call; this will make the process go more smoothly.
- If for some reason an approval decision cannot be made immediately, you can check the status of your application online (even if you applied by phone).
Ask about alternative options if you are denied.In the event that your application for an AmEx card is not approved, you will probably not be informed as to the reason. If you wish to pursue the matter, contact AmEx customer support by phone to ask whether alternative card options may be available to you.
- If you don't qualify for the card of your choice, it is possible that could qualify other AmEx card options. The best way to determine whether this is the case is to speak to an AmEx representative.
- Ask your representative whether it is possible to modify the terms or conditions of your card in order to be approved. For example, ask if you would qualify with a lower credit limit or higher annual percentage rate (APR). However, you should not count on this option.
Activating and Using Your Card
Look for your card in the mail.New cards usually arrive within a week to10 days after approval. The card will be delivered in a plain white envelope with a small American Express logo and an Omaha, Nebraska return address. If 10 days pass and you have still not received your card, contact AmEx customer service online or by phone.
- Card mailing envelopes are fairly plain looking and may resemble junk mail, so be careful not to throw it away by mistake. This is a strategy to deter would-be mail thieves.
- Account for federal holidays in calculating the estimated arrival date of your card. Add a couple of days to the mailing period if it spans a holiday.
Activate your new card.This can be done online or by phone by following the instructions included with your card (usually found on a sticker attached to the face of the card. You will need to provide the card number in order to activate it. The process is automated and should only take a couple of minutes.
- Be sure to sign the back of your card on the signature line once it has been activated. This is an important fraud prevention measure. Alternatively, you can write "See I.D." on the card; this will prompt anyone accepting your card in person for payment to check your government-issued photo ID against the name on your AmEx card.
- Cards must be activated within a specified time period. If you delay the activation of your new card for too long, AmEx may automatically void it in case it was lost or stolen on its way to you.
- You should be able to use your card immediately once it has been activated.
Use your card to make purchases.In order to make the most of your rewards or avoid potential penalties, use your card frequently. Many people choose to use their personal AmEx card for all their daily expenditures and pay off their balance before the end of each billing cycle. This is a good way to accumulate rewards without having to pay interest on your card balance.
- Keep track of your spending online or with a special app or computer program. If you get in the habit of frequently recording and checking all your expenditures, you are more likely to stay in control of your finances and keep your balance from getting too high. This will also allow you to quickly identify any fraudulent activity on your account.
- Don't forget to carry your photo ID with you whenever using your card. Some businesses check ID when accepting credit card payments, even if you did not write "See I.D." on your card's signature line.
Manage your account.The easiest way to do this is to create an online card profile on the AmEx website. You can then use your profile to pay your bill, track and redeem rewards, monitor card activity, update contact information, and get easy assistance whenever needed.
- Keep up on card policies in order to maximize your benefits. For instance, you should be aware of when and how to redeem points or miles properly. Keep an eye on reward expiration dates, if applicable.
- Access insurance on your purchases (available at no additional cost to you), make use of travel protection services, and familiarize yourself with AmEx's extended warranty offers. If you want to exercise any of these benefits of AmEx card membership, speak to a representative for details.
- If your card is lost or stolen, inform AmEx online or by phone immediately. Your best bet to avoid being held liable for fraudulent spending is to act quickly if your information is compromised. In such a situation, AmEx will void your card and send you a new one.
QuestionCan I apply for an American Express card if I am not American?Top AnswererThanks!
QuestionCan I get an American Express card if I am European?Top AnswererThey like to see a social security number, but they may issue you a card if you can show them a good credit history.Thanks!
QuestionWill I get charged for not using your AMEX or for using it sparingly?Top AnswererAmerican Express does not disclose a specific policy regarding inactivity. Some card companies will close an account that is not used at all over an extended period of time, but none charges a fee for using its card sparingly.Thanks!
QuestionThere is a question in the submission - do you Own or Rent or Other? Does this mean I must be named as a renter or owner of a property to be eligible?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerAll they care about is whether or not you're a stable and responsible person. Just answer the question honestly. You can get a card no matter your housing status if everything else checks out.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is a good card to get if my credit isn't the best?Top AnswererMany card companies issue "secured" cards, where you link an asset to your card. Doing so may let you get a card with a reasonable interest rate.Thanks!
QuestionCan I put my son on the same card as me?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes you can get your child a card, but of course you are responsible for their bills. AX does allow you to put a limit on your child's card so they can't spend more than the amount you authorize. It's a good way to teach them about using credit cards responsibly without the possibility that they charge a whole lot of stuff to it that you may ultimately have to pay for. This can be handy to create a card for an emergency.Thanks!
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- American Express will automatically mail you a new card when your card is nearing expiration. *If your card becomes damaged, lost, or stolen, you can request a new card online or by calling AmEx customer service at 1-800-528-4800 (U.S.).
- The AmEx website has several useful features designed to help you choose the right card, including filtering tools and "card quizzes" that will suggest a card based on your needs.
- Ask an AmEx representative to explain all the benefits of the card you are interested in. There may be perks in the fine print that you are not aware of. You don't want to miss out on any of these!
- Credit inquiries, which occur any time you apply for a new line of credit, can negatively impact your credit score in some situations. If you are concerned about this, speak to a financial adviser or banker to learn more.
- Credit accounts are not "free money." Always keep track of your spending and be careful to keep your balance at or below an amount you can afford to pay off. The longer you keep a balance, the more you will end up paying in interest and fees.
- AmEx rewards points and miles will be revoked if your card's minimum payment is not paid by the end of each billing period. Points can be reinstated with payment and an additional fee.
Video: 💳 5 Rules You Need to Know for American Express 💳 Credit Card Applications
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