American Express Optima Card Discontinued or Not?

Q: What happened to the Optima credit card from American Express? I went to their website and can’t find it anywhere!

American Express Optima CardA: The Optima was the very first true credit card (different from their charge cards, which require payment in full each month) from American Express (which is a advertising partner). It was first launched in 1987 but beginning in July 2009, American Express stopped accepting new applications for it (the exception being the “Oasis” applicants with less than perfect credit, discussed below, who were still offered a card).

You couldn’t have obtained an Optima unless you had been solicited for it with a targeted offer. Regardless, since it is no longer offered and if you have less-than-perfect credit and want an American Express card, my recommendation would be to work on getting another non-AmEx credit card or two under your belt before applyingon. Then in another six to nine months, try for the Gold Delta SkyMiles card because based on feedback I’ve received from applicants, it definitely sounds to be the easiest American Express card to get. I’ve heard from people with scores in the high-600’s getting approved.

For a really good card that is relatively attainable, here’s one I really like:

No here are some caveats you need to know about the Optima if you received a solicitation for it in the past or have it in a sock drawer somewhere:

  • The rewards program: The Optima credit cards use Membership Rewards, which is a points-based program (the other American Express charge cards also use it). It is a great program if you want to spend your points on travel and gift cards. but when it comes to cash back, it’s not a good choice. Why? Because if you choose a cash or equivalent (like statement credit) the value you get is less than 1 cent per point. You can sometimes get more that when you redeem for gift cards, and you can often get a much better redemption value if you shift your points into the program’s partner airlines and redeem them strategically. So if you wanted the card to earn cash back, it may not be the best fit..
  • It’s not an actual Platinum Card: There are two classes – regular and platinum. Although the latter is technically called the American Express Optima Platinum, don’t confuse it with the American Express Platinum Card which is a charge card — a high-tier one, at that. The Optima Platinum had no annual fee, versus the $450 fee for the Platinum Card. As you can expect, the differences in benefits between the two is like night and day.
  • The Optima Oasis is different: If still available, this program was for those who have burned bridges with AmEx in the past and were looking to make things right. After paying off an old debt in full, certain ex-cardmembers would be invited to apply for the AmEx Optima Oasis card, which would have a credit limit up to half the amount of the charged-off balance. This program is a very targeted offer and not available to everyone. To the best of my knowledge, AmEx’s partner collection agencies (such as First Source Advantage and NCO) are the ones who are responsible for offering the Oasis program.
  • Very few Optima accounts exist today: As mentioned the normal Optima card application was closed off in 2009 and since that time, many existing cardmembers have been converted to other AmEx cards. Long story short, the normal version of this credit card (not talking about the Oasis) is extinct and more than likely all remaining accounts have been converted to something like American Express Everyday or Blue Cash Everday.

Alternatives to consider?

What made the Optima AmEx so attractive was that, for a long time, it was a no-annual-fee card that participated in Membership Rewards Program. That’s changed, though, thanks to the American Express Everyday card, which made its debut in early 2014. The basic Everyday card has no annual fee, earns Membership Rewards points and rewards you extra if you make a certain number of transactions each month. For more information (and a link to the application), go here.

Some other AmEx charge card options with Membership Rewards:

Gold Card: A number of benefits with an annual fee.
Platinum Card: This is the highest tier for a charge card offered to the public. The $450 annual fee isn’t for everyone but if you travel frequently you may wish to do the math to see if it makes sense for you.

Other American Express credit card options:

Blue Cash: There are now two versions (one has no annual fee) and the cash rewards are hard to beat.

Written or last updated March 2017

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had this card since 2006 Had auto pay for minimum… Increased auto pay to double minimum to pay off quicker… they called me on a sunday evening telling me I had NOT paid them and there was a $27 late charge…. Oh its the way the system works !!!!! CANCELLED the Damn Card… after 20 plus years thats how they show loyalty

OOPS 1996

I had an Optima Platinum card since 1987. Recently, some identity thieves got hold of the card number and started making charges on it. AmEx caught the problem and refused the charges, but had to cancel the account and issue me a new card. I got it in the mail today and was surprised to find that, instead of an Optima, I was sent an EveryDay credit card instead. I guess now I know why. I wonder if I was the last person to have a standard Optima account, instead of the “imperfect credit” Oasis version?

I still have my Optima card

I still have mine too. I had mine for many years.

I still got mine

I still mine, updated recently with a chip.

Had Optima card since 1986.. Amex just recently bumped me off it to convert it to the Everyday card. It’s clear like the Blue card but with white text/silver center box instead.. Kind of annoyed since I’ve had my Optima account for so long. One of the few cards that I kept all these years…

oops meant 1996…

Well, this is an interesting read, The Optima isn’t supposedly offered anymore, yet I just received an offer to apply for it, from Amex themselves, just yesterday in the mail.

I’ve carried the Optima, Platnum card since 97. I have a 22k dollar limit. I had an offer for 5.9% for the life of the loan. It was great. I’ve carried the card, but never use it. I have the AMX Gold Business card with no limit. When I make a large purchase, 30k or more, I always call AMX and inform them of the purchase, pre transaction.

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I have had my Optima card since 1988 and used it around the world for travel, hotels, gifts and rental cars. Best card I have and it gets paid off each month. I will keep it in the must retain stack for many more years as the price is right–free.

When Amex had the original “Green Card”, it was truly a pay off each month charge card without a revolving credit option. The Optima card was offered as a way to transfer part of the “Green Card” balance to a revolving account (The Optima Card). Before Optima “sign and travel” was the only option allowed to become revolving on the green card, (This was for airline and Hotel billing only). I remember because I was an employee of TWA ‘s reservations service, and this was part of our sales pitch. In reality the Optima (if you still have one) is better than the Gold Card. It offers 90% of the same benefits without the yearly service charge. If you have one hold on to it for dear life as it is not offered anymore. The blue amex that the one with the clear card with the blue logo , is really the old Optima in disguise.

I have my Optima since 98 and recently renewed. Card is exactly the same except it has security chip on it.

I’ve never had a credit problem, had an AMX Gold card for in 1980 and never used it’s perks. So when the Optima Card came out I took it, then cancelled my gold card. I’ve had my optima since its existence.I use it for travel, pay it in full or carry a balance and have used the membership points on Amazon. I love this card. No reason to pay a fee for services we rarely use.

I’ve had the Optima Platinum card since 1999. I’ve gone through periods where I didn’t use it for a couple of years and then suddenly had to in an emergency overseas where they would not take MC or Visa and it worked right when I needed it – no questions asked. Since then I’ve kept it handy. There has never been an annual fee.

Originally there was no rewards program but when Amex introduced it they included the Optima cards. I’ve never been charged for the rewards program either. A few years ago they tried to switch me to Amex Blue, I said no thanks and kept this card. There are really no “Platinum” benefits but there may be some differences in purchase protection, warranty extensions and other areas, but I have not checked the other Amex cards. I know for a fact it will not get you into airport lounges (I tried – lol!) but it’s still a great no-fee card.

I suspect they only want this card to go away so they don’t have people like me pretending to have a real Amex Platinum without paying $450 a year for the privilege. They’ll have to pry it from my dead fingers before I get rid of it. Ha.

Originial Optima Card Holder

Just a point of fact, the Optima card was launched in 1983, not 1987.

Building my credit back up

I had an Amex Gold Card when I was 20-22. I got in a little mess and charged off 6 k and did not pay it off. 8 years later after I ignored collections for so long they were able to get a court letter to garnish my check. I paid it off plus interest and fees and it came out to $7600. After paying it off “though garnishment” I recieved a letter a month ago that I was pre approved for a optima American Express card and that my limit would be $2200. I had to fill out a basic form with name, social and address and mail it. Can’t call or do it online. I
Had to mail it. I just sent it a week ago so I have not received a response yet. Really my question is should I even take this offer or just shred the card if I am accepted? Also, has anyone else had this experience ?

I has been the same identical experienance. Just different amounts..

rodney danielsen

I have the optima amex card (since 2006)with a $500 credit limit. I pay my bill every month on time. Tri3d several times in the past 2 yrs tpo either increase the spending limit or get another card but I’m always rejected

That’s because if you have an optima card with Amex, you cannot apply for and obtain another one of their cards. Back in 2009 they were only offering optima cards to people with less than perfect credit or to people who had previously defaulted on a normal AMEX card and had redeem themselves it was a way of AMEX extending them credit but only in a $500 range. Now that they’re doing away with the Optima cards altogether possibly they will reverse the decision and let good buyers transfer to normal Amex cards

That’s not true at all. I had my Optima card since around 1986 or 7, when I was in college. I have since, at various points in my life, applied for, and received, the green card, the gold card, the platinum card and the Delta card. I still hold the Amex Platinum Card, the Delta card and the Optima, although I rarely use anything but the Platinum. The Optima is the card that I use as a back-up card to all of my auto-refills, like EZ Pass. I know it will always be there as it is free,

I agree with Andy. I’ve had my Optima Platinum since the 80’s. It reads “Member since: 80” though that may be due to previous Gold card. And as for low limits, mine’s at $22K though I probably should request that it be lowered just for hack-safety. So Dawn’s comment re only avail to those with “less than perfect credit” surely doesn’t apply to me (fico 800+). Perhaps it changed in 2009?

I would love to get The Optima Card…I already have The Amex Gold Card, I’m pre-approved for The Amex Gold Premeier & The Platinum…but I can’t get a little old Optima Card…Deep Sigh.

I got my Optima Platinum card year 2005 and up to now they don’t charge me on my Membership Rewards points.

I have an optima with a $500 limit. Can this limit be increased?

what basis did they issue card on?

they are pretty stingy if they issued to former cardholder that gave them trouble!

I have an Optima Platinum card with a $ 15,500 limit.. so yes..

I really like this card! We have a Platinum AE card but I use this card for business travel as my employer is sometimes slow to reimburse. (I am an independent cortractor.) I have record of my purchases which helps at tax time. I carry both cards when I travel to maximize benefits.

Best Card I have ever owned still have my optima card since 2006 and if you have the card already you will always have the card but AMEX no longer takes new apps for the card. I am proud to have a card not too many people have along with a $15,000 limit.

Bewilders me why Costco still exclusively accepts AMEX. They(amex) are so outdated and losing more ground everyday. Costco needs to switch to Visa, MC and Discover like Sam;s Club does. I mean REALLY. 🙁

“Losing ground every day”? American Express has grown to become larger than Mastercard. Sounds like “someone else” is outdated? 😉

AMEX is not losing ground at all. Just because one can’t qualify for an AMEX card doesn’t mean they are bad. They are fairly selective. I have an AMEX card with a $35,000 limit and have always paid my bills I time since having it in 2004. They’ve lowered my limit with a few financial problems during the last last 10 years, but we’ve always been honest with them and they’ve stuck by us. Even when we had out credit line lowered to $8,000, we’ve been forthright with them and likewise. It is my opinion the best cars with the best benefits in the world.

Just my 2 cents.

Does the bill each month have to be paid in full or can it be paid out? Zane Moss

Sharon DeWerth

I’ve been trying to pay my bill on line & it won’t let me in.

Robert J. Jernigan

I cannot pay bill on line

Antoinette Schiller

Please let me know how I can speak to a real person about an Optima account I had back in 2009. I no longer have a card, but have to have a record of it being paid off around that time. My husband is in a nursing home and we are applying for Medicaid and they are tracing back to all my debts., etc.
Thank you.

I also settled with A E a few yrs back. Recently got 100 check from A E, thought it was some kind of scam. They said something I was never told; I could reapply.
I got an email that I was approved. 500 dollars. I went bankrupt over a yr ago. so I’m okay with $500 limit. Trying to re-establish credit little by little.

Just got the application this week for the optima card. I had settled before now they are sending this card because when I settled they didn’t explain that I may not be able to open an account with Amex in the future. Apparently by the law they should have told me so they are giving me a chance to apply again.
Wanted to do it online but I guess this application is paper only so let’s see if they approve me.

same thing happened me!

I also recd a $500 check from them a few days prior to that. they claimed I was paid $100 per applying to them 5 times in last 4 yrs!

did you get a check?

have been a member since 1988 just activated new card.reading things recently. saying optima card not same as before, is there a fee now and no monthly payments toward balance?

Did the Optima give regular MR points or MR Express points like Blue or Zync? What was the difference between regular Optima and Platinum?

The card doesn’t offer rewards for no fee, the interest rates are outrageous. We overburden the home lending industry to protect from predatory lending but these guys can charge 20+% interest to people who could barely make the payments on the interest free card!!

This card has been with me since 97. 20k limit with great offers for fixed rates. I borrowed 18k at s fixed rate for 6%. unsecured. Now that’s service. All I did was czlk and they raised the limit.

I was just sent a preapproval offer with a 1900 credit line attached to it. I sent it back on January 6th and it was accepted Jan 8th 2013. I am a former customer of AMEX who had some problems last year but have since paid them what was owed. Immediately after the balance of the other card was paid off they offered us this one. I was under the impression that this card did not exist anymore for new customers. Does anyone have any information on that?

I ran into a little credit trouble with Amex and am finally about the pay it off. They are offering me to apply for the Optima card to regain a good relationship with Amex. So it’s not completely true that you can’t apply for this card anymore.

I’ve carried the Optima card since 95. I love the card. No annual fee, balance can be carried month to month. The offers are great. Rewards are fair. Many times I receive flat rate percentage offers for the life of the loans. I just had my new card sent to me this month. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.

Congrats! You are lucky to have been grandfathered in with it. Unfortunately you can’t apply for it anymore.

I just closed my Optima card yesterday. I already have a Blue card that gives the same reward points without an annual fee, and didnt find the Platinum Optima that great in the “Platinum” sense as you stated. It is ok if you want a revolving credit, but I dont need that enymore. If I had this card grandfatehred in, was there any other reason I should have kept it?

I also have an Optima Platinum card since 95. I just finished getting our kids their own cards on my account (this week). No one said, and it’s not written on their paper (that came with the card) that there would be any annual fee.
Even though it says Platinum on the card I’ve never tried getting into an airport lounge with it (I imagine there would be some secret logo on the card for that).

I think the reason they got rid of Optima card is because they realized it would be stupid to give Membership Rewards points for free, when they charge for it on their other cards.