What Credit Score Do You Need for an American Express Card?

American Express offers credit cards to consumers with good to excellent credit scores.

Before you apply for an American Express Card, find out if you will be approved. It all starts by understanding the credit score required for a particular card.

What credit score is required for American Express cards?

American Express, unlike some other card issuers does not have cards that are geared towards people with poor credit scores or those who are rebuilding credit. You'll need to have a credit score that is at least in the "good" range if you want an AmEx card. Other American Express Cards will often require higher scores.

FICO score ranges indicate that American Express applicants have a minimum score of 670.

Good. 740-799.
Good. 670-739.
Fair. 580-669.
Poor. 300 - 579.

Why is credit score important to card issuers Rod Griffin, Experian's senior director of consumer education and advocacy, says that consumers with lower scores are more likely have a record of missed payments, credit card balances, or even more serious issues like bankruptcy or collections. Consumers with higher credit ratings are more likely have a history of timely payments, low utilization rates, and no defaults.

Griffin explains that lenders use credit scores to determine if they are willing to extend credit to an applicant and what terms and conditions will be appropriate.

Credit card companies have their own unique requirements for consumers to meet before they can receive a credit card offer. These will vary by card issuer.

How to get your credit score

You can get your credit score for free online. You can choose from three different routes:

Use a service that is free. Consult your issuer. Register with Experian. Sign up for the credit bureau and receive a free monthly credit report with FICO score.

American Express cards for different credit scores

You can guess the credit score required for each American Express card. Tom Quinn is the vice president of FICO's scores. He says that most card issuers have a variety of credit cards, each with its own features, terms, and risk thresholds.

Your credit score is only one component of the evaluation that American Express performs. While the exact requirements for each American Express product vary, they include things such as payment history, total number of American Express cards if applicable and overall debt. They also consider reported income, credit bureau ratings and other information obtained from credit bureaus.

You'll generally need good or excellent credit. Some cards are harder to qualify than others.

Griffin says that you can expect cards with the most perks and rewards to require a credit score average of 700 or higher. Higher scores may be needed to get the best terms. As a general rule, scores of 750 or higher will result in the best terms.

Consider these three American Express cards with varying levels of benefits:

AmEx EveryDay Credit Card. This card offers two points for every dollar spent on groceries up to $6,000 annually and one point for all other purchases. This is a good entry-level card with a requirement for good credit. However, because higher-end rewards are available, it would be easier to obtain.

American Express Blue Cash Preferred card. This card has a wider range of benefits including 6% cashback on groceries for the first $6,000 in annual spending and 3% cashback on gas stations and public transit. The first year's annual fee is $0, and then it increases to $95.

The American Express Platinum Card. The Platinum Card rewards and benefits are designed for big spenders, frequent travelers and those with excellent credit. They are looking for a VIP experience. The card has a $695 fee per year.

How to get pre-approved for an American Express Card

Prequalification and preapproval are two different things. Quinn claims that the terms, although different, are often used interchangeably. Preapproval means that the credit card company has reviewed your credit information and, based on this review, has decided whether or not to make a firm credit offer. Prequalification is when the credit card issuer reviews your financial data and gives a "best guess" as to whether you would be approved for credit if applied.

Griffin says that you may receive a preapproved credit offer that was not requested in the mail. This means that the lender reviewed your credit report and other criteria automatically and determined that the offer's terms were acceptable. Preapproved offers can be a positive thing for consumers because they increase the market.

When you accept the offer, the lender will check your credit score.

You don't have to wait for an official preapproval in order to apply for the card. It's a good idea to research the card that you are interested in, to understand the requirements.

American Express has recently simplified the application process for those applying for personal cards in the United States. Fill out the information on the American Express site, then review the offers for cards and apply. Your credit score will not be affected by a soft inquiry. The issuer will also tell you if you're approved "with 100% certainty" right away. You will receive a hard credit inquiry if you sign up for the card. This could affect your score.

Griffin says that for most people, the most important thing they can do is to catch up on any late payments, and reduce any credit card balances. This is because the FICO scoring system takes into account both payment history and amount owed.