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This article was last updated Oct 28, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone has heard of American Express. But if you’ve never applied for one of its credit cards before, you might not know what to expect.
We’ll walk you through how to evaluate the different kinds of Amex cards, how to check to see if you’re prequalified for an Amex card (which means you have a better chance of being approved), and what you can expect when filling out an online application. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.
In this article:
- What kind of American Express credit card is best for you?
- Which American Express cards can you qualify for?
- Prepare this information for your application
- Get an instant card number before your card arrives
- The bottom line
What kind of American Express credit card is best for you?
Whether you’re looking to earn cash back, airline miles or rewards points, American Express has a variety of cards to choose from. Before you apply, ask yourself these questions:
- What kind of rewards, if any, do you want to earn?
- Are you willing to pay an annual fee?
- Do you need a 0% introductory APR period?
If you don’t travel much, you might find the most value in a cashback card, such as the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, which offers 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. There is a $0 annual fee. You can redeem your cash back for statement credits, gift cards or merchandise — just be aware that there’s a $25 minimum amount required to redeem.
There’s also the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, which offers higher rewards in similar categories, but charges a $95 annual fee.
$250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.*
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
1% back on other purchases*
- Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
- 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
- 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
- 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
- Don't wait for your Card in the mail. Start earning cash back before your card even arrives, if eligible for Instant Card Number.
- Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 12.99% to 23.99%
- Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
- $95 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
On the other hand, if you like to travel and want to earn miles you can redeem for Delta flights, take a look at the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card. Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. The card’s annual fee is $0.
10,000 bonus miles. Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases and at restaurants, now worldwide. Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
NEW! No foreign transaction fees.
- Earn 10,000 bonus miles after you spend $500 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
- No Annual Fee.
- NEW! Earn 2X Miles per dollar at restaurants, now worldwide.
- Earn 2X Miles per dollar spent on Delta purchases.
- Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
- NEW! No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Receive a 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your Card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases of food, beverages, and audio headsets.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card
Finally, if you’d like to earn Membership Rewards points, which can be redeemed in a variety of ways — including booking travel, transferring points to airline and hotel partners and covering card charges — consider The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express. Earn 2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), 1x points on other purchases. Plus, you can earn 20% more points when you use your card 20 or more times on purchases within a billing cycle. The card’s annual fee is $0.
One of the best features of this card? The $0 balance transfer fee. Partnered with the card’s intro APR of 0% for 15 months on balance transfers, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express is a great tool that can help you pay off high-interest debt from another card. After the intro period, the balance transfer APR is 12.99%- 23.99% variable.
There’s also the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card, which charges a $95 annual fee. Earn 3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases And, if you use your card 30 or more times on purchases within a billing cycle, you can earn 50% extra points.
If you’re interested in earning a welcome offer on an American Express card, take note that the issuer has a once-per-lifetime card bonus policy. In other words, you can only get a welcome offer from a specific card once in your lifetime.
Which American Express cards can you qualify for?
Before you apply for a card, American Express offers a handy tool to check if you prequalify for any Amex card offers. Checking this way requires a soft pull of your credit history, which doesn’t put a dent your credit score like a hard inquiry would. Know that once you actually apply for a card, that will result in a hard inquiry, which can temporarily knock down your credit score a few points.
You’ll need to enter your first and last name, your home address and the last four digits of your Social Security number. You also have the option of entering your total annual income and any non-taxable annual income. Here’s an example below:
While prequalification isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be approved for a card, if you’re prequalified it does mean you have a better chance of being approved. If you don’t prequalify for any offers, it might be a sign that you should work on improving your credit score before applying. Note that if you instituted a credit freeze with the big three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), you will have to temporarily lift the freeze to see any offers.
What information you’ll need for an application
Once you click “apply now” on the web page of the card you’re interested in, you’ll be taken to the application form. Below is an example of the application page for the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express.
The form will ask you to enter the following information:
- Full name
- Name on card
- Email address
- Date of birth
- Phone number
- Home address
- Social Security number
- Total annual income
- Non-taxable income
- Income source
After entering this info, you’ll need to hit “continue” to go to a terms and conditions page. You’ll need to agree to the terms and conditions, at which point you can submit your application.
You might be lucky enough to get an instant decision on your application. But if you don’t get one right away, don’t fret — you can expect a decision in the mail within five to 10 business days. You can also check your application status online.
If you don’t want to apply on the web, you can apply by mail (if you received a prequalified offer and application via snail mail) or over the phone by calling 1-800-243-3888.
Once approved, your card should arrive in the mail within three to five business days.
How to get an instant card number
If you are approved for a new American Express card and Amex is able to instantly validate your identity, you can get an instant card number. This can be added to your digital wallet or used to shop online before your physical card comes in the mail. This will be the same number on the physical card when it arrives.
All approved American Express card applicants are eligible for an instant card number — however, you can only get one when you apply online through americanexpress.com. If you apply over the phone, you won’t be able to get your card number right away.
The bottom line
American Express issues credit cards with a broad range of rewards, covering everything from cash back to travel and more. By evaluating your financial needs and checking if you’re prequalified for any offers, you can increase your chances of getting a card that’s a good fit.
The information related to Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been independently collected by CompareCards and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of these cards prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.