American Express is a name long synonymous with status and privilege. However, the cards it offers today are accessible to everyone. Whether you are looking for a family-friendly, cash-back for purchases card, need a solid business card for bigger transactions, or a card that rewards those who travel often, the selection is wide and varied.
In the past, merchants that accept Amex cards has been limited—and it still somewhat trails bigger names like Visa and Mastercard—but today you’ll find that its use is more prevalent.
While I recommend having a back-up credit or debit card in your wallet for on-the-go purchases just in case, choosing an American Express card shines in the generous rewards and perks that other companies lack.
American Express uses a point system they refer to more broadly as ‘Membership Rewards’ for their 12+ perk-based cards. Purchases made translate into rewards redeemable for gift cards, statement credits, shopping, and even charitable donations.
Generally, point value lands somewhere between 1/2—1 cent each, depending on what they are used for. Of note, there are also cards that operate on a stricter “cash-back” system as well, which they refer to as ‘Reward Dollars.’
Amex also offers a number of cards for travelers that are linked to specific hotel chains and airlines—more than any other card loyalty program, in fact. One such partnership is with Delta Airlines, with several cards offering lines of credit that rack up “SkyMiles.”
As of January 2020, a relaunch of the partnership will feature more ways to earn miles than ever before to travel for free, plus new travel perks like access to exclusive airline lounges. More information can be found on Delta’s website.
If Delta is not your airline provider of choice, Amex also lets you trade in points accrued for miles on airlines that it is partnered with. A complete list of Loyalty Program Partners.
If you’ve decided that Amex is the card for your wallet, the company provides an online prequalification tool on its website in order to instantly assess your eligibility.
After inputting basic information—like your name, home address, approximate income and partial SSN—an offer may appear in as little as 30 seconds! The tool will also tell you specifically which cards and promotional offers you qualify for.
Use of the tool will not impact your credit score as it does not constitute the actual application for a card. However, it’s a great way to assess any Welcome Bonus Offers or Introductory APRs that may be available for applicants.
If approved, you are then able to apply online as well. We recommend only applying to one card at a time, however, and wait a few months between applications.
As states above, the pre-qualification process does not affect your credit score, applying for any card will temporarily lower it, if only by a few points.