Is there an American Express secured credit card?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Q: My goal is to eventually get an AmEx Gold, but I have a long ways to go because my credit is awful. How can I get a secured credit card from them that I could use to get my foot in the door? I figure it could be beneficial to establish a relationship with them now so that when my credit score improves, I will have a better chance at getting the Gold.

A: On a somewhat regular basis, I will see someone ask on the forum “Does American Express have a secured credit card?” or “How can I get their card with bad credit?” Unfortunately the answer for both questions is the same… it’s not going to happen.

With the exception of a USAA AmEx secured card (which you won’t qualify for unless you’ve served in the military or have an eligible family member who has), American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner, has never offered a secured credit card. And when it comes to their unsecured cards, as you can imagine their requirements are picky. You can’t have any recent history of major delinquencies/charge-offs AND you need to already have an established credit history.

If you have bad credit (or no credit), your best approach is this…

Step One: Open a secured card

So you can’t get an American Express secured credit card, but of course you can get one from another bank. Doing that is your first step to improving your credit.

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You also may want to try this tool out. Who knows? The results might surprise you.

Step Two: Manage your card the right way

There’s no escaping the past (until it drops off your credit reports) but you can still think of today as Day 1 of doing things right. After your new card is open, make sure you do the following:

  • Always pay on time. Aim for a perfect payment history moving forward.
  • Keep your credit utilization low. Utilizing too much of your credit limit can actually harm your score. It’s ideal to never use more than 20 or 30 percent of your limit at any given time. For example if you have a $1,000 credit line, then never have more than a $300 balance on your card at any given time. If you can keep your utilization even lower than that (say, under 10 percent), even better.

Step Three: Try applying for an entry-level unsecured card

After you’ve had your secured card open for four to six months, I would recommend applying for a basic no-frills unsecured card. Go here to see my recommendations.

If approved, you will now have at least two active accounts on your file; the secured card and now the unsecured one.

Step Four: Apply for the right American Express (if you have OK credit)

After a nine to 12 months of having two or more cards on file, try applying for an entry level American Express card. That does not mean the Platinum charge card, but rather something like the Delta SkyMiles Gold (which is rumored to be the easiest AmEx to qualify for, based on all the feedback I have received).

Step Five: Move up the ladder

After you’ve had your AmEx open for six to 12 months, you can try applying for a higher-level card, such as the Gold or Blue Cash. If they don’t approve you, call and ask for a reconsideration. Some on the forum have reported a favorable outcome when they do that.

Updated June 10, 2014.


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24 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Dante Leach February 24, 2014 at 8:22PM

    The comment made above is false. There is a such thing as a secured AMEX card through USAA. I personally qualify for it because i’m a soldier but i don’t know about civilians though. I imagine they would more more than happy to at least try.

  2. Estelle February 10, 2014 at 7:48PM

    NEVER listen to someone tell you it’s not going to happen. A many of people have been made out of liars telling someone something is not going to happen, telling them what never to do and labeling them as this is all you’re cut out for. I was told I wasn’t ever going to get a vehicle staying in my current location and was even told not to try. I have had my vehicle for 2 years got it at CarMax with an excellent financial company! This is why it is so important to THINK FOR YOURSELF!!

  3. Aunalie parsons January 22, 2014 at 10:47PM

    Hello everyone.. I work for AMEX we do or I should say did have the optimum we have done away with that card and if you see above Jada’s comments she is correct it’s USAA card is just like Macys card is Amex just not “financed” by Amex… There are a couple of Amex cards that are easier to get approved for such as the Blue Cash Everyday card and Delta Gold Card :)

    • Dave February 13, 2014 at 8:17PM

      My friend was offered an American Express Gold Card secured by a CD (10K minimum.) He was offered the secured card after his application was denied for a gold card. It seems to be a targeted offer.

  4. Seth January 2, 2014 at 7:36PM

    here is the link to the American Express prepaid card:

    https://www.americanexpress.com/us/content/prepaid/reloadable-cards.html

  5. Anthony October 17, 2013 at 4:36PM

    American Express did offer a secured card as for I had one. It was an Optimal card and it was an excellent card!!! So get your facts straight and listen to the people on this post that had one! Now USAA has a secured AMEX card because I have one too!!! FACTS!!!

    • Mary December 5, 2013 at 9:44AM

      Anthony, USAA does have the secured card, however, when I attempted to apply for it they advised that one must be military to have practically any service with them. This including insurance and especially AMEX secured card. Thus, if you’ve got an AMEX with USSA, kindly do advise me of how this came about if you’re not in the military.

      Otherwise, I don’t see how USAA will accept my application. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

      Cheers – Mary

    • Stephen January 31, 2014 at 5:42AM

      “facts straight” Yes, you can apply for an AX card through USAA, BUT you must be a military member. I am a account holder at USAA (IRA-Savings-Checking) but not a miitary member, and I CANNOT apply for the secured AX card. Try the advice on this forum and go with Capital One, US Bank, Wells Fargo (in person), or B of A. Then establish your credit worthiness for 6-12 months and apply directly with AX. Good luck!!

  6. Stevi September 23, 2013 at 3:42AM

    So what your saying is if your not in Military we can not get one of these secured cards thru AMEX? is that correct?

  7. charisma September 21, 2013 at 1:24PM

    Yes Ernesto american express do offer the secured card through USAA but to get accepted for the card. There are military terms. Is there a way to get approved for the card without having a military background?

  8. Doug September 17, 2013 at 9:56AM

    Everything I’ve read here seems to be correct except for the fact that Amex never offered a secured card. They did, but it was about 10 years ago and they had me close the acccount, once I was approved for their regular card and have worked hard to stay on top of things and now I have an Amex Platinum card. It took 4 years and lot of discipline, hard work and money.

  9. SteveT May 5, 2013 at 3:30PM

    Amex has been piloting a program where they have been offering charge cards secured by a cd. The minimum is $10K credit line. Generally they were offered to folks who applied for the card and declined. Then they would make a counter offer for the secured card.

    • lea January 17, 2014 at 4:37PM

      Hi Steve T!

      Do you happen to know the name of the program? I called AMEX and the rep didn’t have a clue.

      • SteveT February 13, 2014 at 8:19PM

        I dont believe they have a name for the program, but it seems to be a targeted offer.

  10. shawn May 4, 2013 at 4:41AM

    “They’ve never offered a secured credit card before.” As others have said, this is not true. They offered the Optima secured (personal) card for a period of time, and I had one from 2000 – 2002 at which time it was discontinued.

    • Sarah December 28, 2013 at 11:07PM

      Thank you for your guidance MEOW…Which cards do you
      recommend? Thank you in advance for your guidance :)

  11. David April 30, 2013 at 9:56AM

    Kelly & William are both correct. Sorry Michael you have incorrect info Amex did offer a secured credit card. I also had one got it right after I got my military Commission.

  12. Kelly April 27, 2013 at 11:46AM

    It is NOT true that Amex has NEVER offered a secured credit card! They used to offer a secured optimum credit card, but discontinued it in 2002.

  13. Ernesto December 22, 2012 at 10:52PM

    Hello,

    I just wanted to let you all know that I have a AMEX Secured Card. It is through USAA, and the interesting thing is that my deposit was placed into a CD ($250) minimum. So I earn interest on my deposit. The fee is under $40, and the interest rate is under 10%, but is variable.

    Hope that helps!

    Ernesto

    • Michael January 5, 2013 at 6:40PM

      Hi Ernesto, that card is actually not a true American Express. It operates over the AmEx payment network, but the card itself is owned and operated by USAA.

    • jada wilder January 7, 2014 at 11:50AM

      The usaa amex cards are backed by usaa bank and not by amex bank. Usaa has an agreement with amex to use their logo. the same is true of the dillards amex card the dillards amex card is actually ge bank and not amex bank. If you want an an actual amex card that is backed by amex bank…..go to amex website and apply try to start off with a credit card like blue they are a little easier to get than the charge cards that require balance in full paid every month. I know I used to work for amex

  14. William Starr November 18, 2012 at 8:29PM

    Actually they have offered a secured AMEX. I had one in the late 90′s to early 2000s. If I remember correctly, they gave me like a year notice that they were discontinuing it (2002ish I think). I love it and got it because I was in Europe a lot and did not have credit to get a good card at the time, being a junior soldier and all.

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