American Express Approvals Are Tougher To Come By
I received a reports from a few readers of American Express denials and they have all come in the last few days. While this shouldn’t be too surprising with the economy looking shaky for the foreseeable future and with lenders cracking down on approvals, welcome offers and slashing credit limits. It only makes sense for them to be proactive and to protect themselves against potential bad debt and risk. But this is a little surprising because American Express has been on pretty much auto approve for so long, especially for current card holders. Even if you received the dreaded pop-up you could still get the card, just not the welcome offer. Approvals were especially easy to come by if you are a current cardholder. Amex would even stop doing hard pulls once you were a cardmember and approve you with a soft pull. It appears that has recently changed some and that American Express approvals are tougher to come by these days.
Recent Denial Data Points
A couple of readers sent in their denial letters with the following reasons listed on them:
- Too many recent credit inquiries.
- Past due payment with American Express in the past (talking about years ago not recent).
- Current balance on American Express accounts was too high.
- Too many inquiries in the last 12 months.
- Average age of accounts is too low.
- High balances relative to claimed income.
- Returned payment in the past (input bad bank info and this was several years ago).
It appears even when people are being approved it is instant approved less often. So underwriting is likely looking at it and that means no instant credit card numbers as well which is a favorite among many in the miles and points world.
Why This Is Surprising
If this was a letter from Capital One, Barclays or Bank of America it wouldn’t be surprising. But since it is American Express it feels like the ground is shifting some. I can’t remember these being an issue in the past with Amex and I for sure have not heard of multiple denials citing them over a short time frame.
It appears American Express approvals are going to be tougher for the near future. Right now we are not sure if there is a set standard in place like Bank of America’s 2/3/4 rule etc. It may be too soon to tell if this is widespread or if we are looking at a few data points that just happened to be at the same time.
I would lean towards approvals being more difficult in the near future with Amex. It makes a lot of sense why they would be more cautious in our current economic climate. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t a little surprised to see it. I mean Amex has welcomed us with open arms for a lot of years.
The thing I find most interesting about all of this is the fact that American Express is pulling up late or returned payments from several years back. It has long been their stance that if you have one that you will be auto denied for the next 6 months or so on any new applications but I can’t remember them going back this far.
You will want to make sure your balances are low before applying for any new American Express cards going forward. At this point we are not sure what number of recent inquiries they are looking to be under but I am sure that will shake out with more data points. I know the readers that reached out where in the teens over the last few years.
Does it surprise you that American Express approvals are seemingly tougher to come by, or is this a somewhat expected shift? If you have any data points to share please do so in the comments.