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How to Get Preapproved for an American Express Credit Card

Here's how to figure out in advance if you'll qualify for an Amex credit card.

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American Express
 offers a wide variety of travel credit cards and rewards credit cards that are generally accessible to people with good credit. But some of its cards are reserved for applicants with higher credit scores. You can get a pretty accurate understanding of which ones you’re eligible for by exploring preapproval.

Being “preapproved” or “prequalified” for a credit card means that you’ll have a better chance of getting approved for the card in question. Most credit card issuers -- American Express included -- offer you the option to see if you are eligible for preapproval for one of its credit cards before actually applying. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is credit card preapproval and how does it work?

Getting preapproval doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be approved for a credit card, but it indicates a high likelihood of it. To determine preapproval, a credit card issuer uses some basic financial information, such as your credit score and payment history, to screen your eligibility for one of its credit cards.

Preapproval or prequalification usually comes with a soft credit check, which has no effect on your credit score. American Express will request some information about your financial profile from the three major credit bureaus -- Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. 

What’s the difference between preapproval and prequalification?

Though some credit card companies use the two terms interchangeably, preapproval, which is based on third-party information, may indicate that you have a higher chance of getting approved for a credit card than if you were prequalified, which usually refers to information independently gathered by an issuer.

Neither preapproval or prequalification affects your credit. In order to actually get approved for a card, you’ll need to submit a formal credit application and provide more information such as your income, Social Security number and monthly rent or mortgage expenses. When you officially apply for a card, American Express will conduct a hard credit inquiry, which will temporarily lower your credit score by a few points.

How to get preapproved for an American Express credit card

The simplest way is to check if you’re preapproved for any Amex cards on its website.

You might also receive targeted preapproval offers via physical mail or email. You could also contact American Express directly to see if you are preapproved for any of its credit cards. Keep in mind preapproval doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be approved for the card.

Once you’re preapproved, you can apply for the credit card securely online. You’ll need to provide additional information, but Amex usually makes its decision to approve or deny quickly. Again, applying will involve a hard credit inquiry, which will temporarily decrease your credit score by a few points.

The bottom line

Checking your eligibility for credit card preapproval can give you an accurate indication of your chance of approval without a hard credit inquiry, which will affect your credit score.

Most credit card issuers like American ExpressCitiCapital One and Discover will let you check preapproval eligibility online or with targeted ads sent electronically or in the mail.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.

Evan Zimmer has been writing about finance for years. After graduating with a journalism degree from SUNY Oswego, he wrote credit card content for Credit Card Insider (now Money Tips) before moving to ZDNET Finance to cover credit card, banking and blockchain news. He currently works with CNET Money to bring readers the most accurate and up-to-date financial information. Otherwise, you can find him reading, rock climbing, snowboarding and enjoying the outdoors.