Is Amex Everyday The Best Credit Card for Teens And College Students?

In the interest of full disclosure, One Mile At A Time earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers that we have found for each card. Please check out our advertiser policy for further details about the partners we work with. Thanks for your support!

While we often discuss the world’s best credit cards with $450 per year annual fees and incredible perks on this blog, there is a large group of people who are just starting out and need to aim slightly lower as they build their credit scores. I happen to be one of these people, along with most other teenagers and college students.

Just one month after my 18th birthday, I knew it was time to begin my slow journey towards a wallet stacked with rewarding credit cards. I was dying to get my hands on some of the perks offered to those with high credit scores. The only problem was that I had no credit history.

While visiting my uncle in San Diego, we went to his local strip mall where all the major banks had offices (apart from American Express, of course). Unsurprisingly, most told me I wasn’t eligible for any of their current cards. Finally, the manager at Capital One suggested I get a secured credit card to start out.

Sure enough, I applied for a card and was soon the proud owner of what was probably the most boring credit card on the market, but at least I had one.

My new secured credit card!
My new secured credit card!

I initially had a credit limit of $200, the same amount I had to deposit into my secured account. Five months later, it was increased to $500.

Where to go from here?

My card was a lot of fun and all, but I was thirsting for a good sign-up bonus and a better return on my spend. Two months later, I got what I was looking for. The SPG American Express had an increased sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints, for which I was instantly approved. It was an exciting time since I would now earn the equivalent of 2.2% cash back on all my purchases per Ben’s recent valuation of Starpoints. I’ve loved the card ever since, especially the versatility of the points currency, but my one doubt has always been the $95 annual fee.

I’m still thrilled I got approved for a card of that caliber with so little history (I was 18 at the time), so it could be a great option for anyone with a weak/moderate credit score looking for generous returns. Right now the sign-up offer is two free nights at any Starwood hotel, worth up to 32,000 Starpoints — a good deal in my opinion. The Free Night Award stays even count toward elite qualification!

You can get two free nights at The Mira in Hong Kong!
You can get two free nights at The Mira in Hong Kong!

This brings me to my current situation; last month I was browsing the American Express website in search of another card to add to my small collection. Given that my last approval was in March, I figured my odds of getting approved for another card were good at this point. The Premier Rewards Gold Card was appealing, but I didn’t want to be stuck with another annual fee ($195) while trying to build my credit score.

Among the slightly lower-end credit cards that still had decent sign-up bonuses, I found myself choosing between the Amex Everyday and the Amex Everyday Preferred. While the latter has slightly better returns, it has a $95 annual fee and the sign-up bonus only differs by 5,000 Membership Rewards points. Given that the age of my accounts is of utmost importance at these early stages, I decided I was better off choosing a card with no annual fee that I could hold on to in the long run.

I applied to the Amex Everyday with a 15,000 point sign-up bonus upon spending a mere $1,000 in 90 days and was instantly approved. YAY!

My current "collection" of Amex cards.
My current “collection” of Amex cards.

The card was delivered a week later and I’ve already reach the minimum spend. Receiving 15,000 Membership Rewards points is incredible for a no-annual fee card. Ben values Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, meaning the sign-up bonus is worth $255. I’m planning on transferring them to Singapore Airlines to redeem toward their A380 Suite Class soon. The card will be great for my long term credit score since I can hold on to it forever at no cost. It also offers two points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets and a 20% points bonus when you make 20 or more purchases per billing cycle.

Bottom Line

American Express has some of the easiest credit cards to get approved for with a limited credit history. My credit age was only seven months when I got approved for my Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and now I was approved for yet another card six months later. In hindsight, I would have applied to the Amex Everyday Card first and really tried to get it as early as possible for the sake of my credit score. Between the $0 annual fee, the 15,000 point sign-up bonus (which is generous compared to other no-annual fee cards), and the possible 1.2%+ return on everyday spend, this card is a no-brainer for those looking to build their credit score and earn points.

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. Just when we thought we had a break from Daniel here he comes again with another poorly written post.
    Don’t listen to him. 2 free nights is not a great offer for the SPG card. Take the 25k SPG points offer (available through referral) instead.
    Amex Everyday with 10k offer is also weak and you can do better. Such misinformation.

  2. Nice and useful article. Thank you.

    On a side note for omaat, consider hiring in the future with an eye to diversity. You are like magnificent 7 white millenials.

    Cheers

  3. I wouldn’t let the age of account issue be a determining factor when choosing between a fee and no-fee version of a card. You can always downgrade in the future if you determine the card is no longer worth the fee, and this will keep your old account open on your credit report.

  4. Kid is 19, give him a break. Btw Daniel, you could have earned 25k MR points with the Everyday card instead of the 10k if you had gone “incognito” like I did a couple months ago 🙂

  5. This post sort of misses the mark, IMO.

    First, for the vast, vast majority of teens, I would very strongly caution them to really understand the game we play before they dive into credit card bonuses. The small spoils of a 10k bonus on a no annual fee card is not worth it if you don’t know how to use a credit card and you end up damaging your credit. Period. End of story. This game is not for everyone.

    With that said, the strategy I tell people who are getting into this, is to start at the bank you bank with. If you have a saving/checking account with a bank they will generally be more willing to play ball on your first credit card than a random bank as you at least have some history. Once you have that credit card for about 6 months — and have been paying it in full each month — you should have a decent enough credit history to slowly branch out. I would start looking at other student level credit cards with no annual fee. With this second credit card you hope to 2-3x your credit limit which should do wonders to your credit score thanks to lower utilization and higher total credit. At this point you are probably still not really eligible for any great sign-up bonuses mainly because you will probably not be approved for enough CL to get a Visa Signature/MC World card which any fancy CC is (there are many reasons for this including the way the fee structure with merchants works based on the level of card being swiped which allows for larger cash-back/points). Furthermore, just due to acceptance reasons, I would probably steer towards V/MC vs Amex given it gives you so many more options. Even if this card has no sign up bonus, remember you are in this for the long game, at this point your credit history is worth a lot more than a 10k sign up bonus even if that 10k puts you a wee bit closer to SQ F suites. The third card comes about a year after you first started and that is when you can start going after sign up bonuses. By this point you should have enough history to start getting more aggressive and going after the real big bonus opportunities.

  6. Just remember you can only apply for each Amex card once per lifetime now. So that super sweet bonus only comes around once, well for most people.

  7. These type blogs do not help the young.

    > Make education that will increase income a priority over credit cards.

    > Understand what the barker gains by touting his wares in blogs

    > Credit cards are a tool for so much more than merely collecting rewards.

    > In all thy education, get some practical economic learning and start saving now and be wealthy long before you decide to retire.

  8. I agree with the previous comments about the 25k incognito offer for ED. However, this blog wouldn’t get referral that way and that’s why you will probably keep seeing the 10K ED offer referred by Daniel! 😉

  9. 18 Year old and freshman college student here. I wholeheartedly agree with your pick for the AmEx Everyday. I think the one problem with it is that many places do not accept AmEx cards so it’s better to pair it with another card. The first card I ever got was the Citi ThankYou Preferred for College card. While the bonus isn’t great (2000 TYP after $500), It was great for someone just getting in to the game. After I had had the card for two or three months I applied for the AmEx Everyday but was declined unfortunately. I had applied through a referral link offering 15,000 points instead of the usual 10,000 points; I’m not sure if AmEx is more selective with applications for higher bonuses, but it was’t a big deal because I applied again 30 days later (For the standard bonus, I tried the incognito trick some have mentioned here but couldn’t get it to work.) and was approved. I’ve gotten about $740 on it i the first month so I feel pretty good about meeting the requirement. It’s worth noting that, and this is something I only discovered after I had gotten the card, points that are earned on ThankYou Preferred cards cannot be transferred to the whole range of loyalty programs and can only be moved to JetBlue and Sears. I assume if I get a Premier/Prestige later on down the road I’ll be able to use my previously earned points without restrictions.

  10. I completely agree with AdamH & DE Whitt.

    For anyone who is under age 25, stop what you’re doing and immediately head over to the Mr. Money Moustache blog and learn all you can from it. Points & rewards are fun, but at your age you can make *far* more money through saving, investing, and spending wisely. Don’t worry, he talks about credit cards & points too, although he doesn’t get into the travel as much.

  11. Old mate Daniel should replace Mike, or Travis or Matt on the photoboard of contributors as he is bumping out heaps more posts than those guys. He’s probably shot to number two in terms of gross output? To be honest I do enjoy the pundits hitting the comments section after a post from him or Ford.

  12. Yeah that’s smart. Telling teenagers and other youngsters who have just started out getting their first jobs to get credit cards. Are you retarded?!
    Getting heaps of credit cards as soon as you hit 18 is just plain stupid.

  13. Good post, Daniel. Your writing is improving.
    I just turned 21 and maintain 12 credit cards. Some no fee, some premium. There is nothing “retarded” about telling young people to get credit cards. In fact, it absolutely makes sense to start as young as possible. Behave responsibly.
    For reference, I am a full time college student, and just finished a 40K mile round the world journey (hitting 5 continents) in first and business for under $300. Stop degrading young people because you waited too long to get in the game or were irresponsible when you started.
    Also, as my travel picks up, Ben, I’d love for you to read some of my writing, if you need a US-based college-aged writer, who’s old enough to drink 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *