The “Risk Free” Way To Apply For An Amex Card

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There are several factors that determine your credit score. The most important things are that you make your payments on-time, and that you keep your credit utilization low. One smaller aspect of your credit score is your requests for new credit. This includes how many hard pulls there are on your credit score.

So personally I don’t mind a hard pull on my credit score (it’ll ding my score by a couple of points for two years, but then falls off; a two point drop isn’t a big deal at all), though I do everything I can to be sure I only apply for cards I’ll hopefully be approved for.

This brings me back to something I wasn’t aware of with Amex, which is potentially very useful to many, in my opinion.

Amex doesn’t pull your credit if you’re denied for a card

This was reported by FrequentMiler in 2015, though is something I wasn’t aware of. Apparently if you are an existing American Express cardmember and apply for another Amex card, your credit won’t initially be pulled. Instead Amex uses whatever data they have on file for you at first to do a soft pull to determine if you qualify. Then after you’ve been conditionally approved for a new card they actually do a hard pull, to confirm that there haven’t been any major changes (at which point you could still be denied, but it’s unlikely unless there have been major changes).

Now, I’ve never been denied for an Amex card, so I can’t personally vouch for this. However, many have confirmed that this matches their experience, so I suspect it’s true.

This essentially means that existing cardmembers can apply for an Amex card in a pretty “risk free” way, in the sense that if they’re denied they won’t get a hard pull on their credit.

When could this be useful?

In general I find that Amex cards are among the easiest to be approved for. Out of Amex, Chase, and Citi, I’ve certainly had the least trouble being approved for Amex cards, and readers’ experiences confirm this as well. This even applies for their premium cards, like The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express.

So I’m not usually worried about whether or not I’ll be approved for Amex cards.

However, this could prove useful in another way. A couple of days ago I shared my 2017 American Express strategy, and wrote about how historically American Express has allowed people to have four credit cards and four charge cards each.

Many have reported that the limit has been raised to five credit cards, though I haven’t found that to be the case across the board. For example, I got denied when I applied for my fifth card last summer, on account of having too many cards (though I closed an existing card and then got approved for it).

So for those who aren’t sure whether or not they’re eligible for four or five cards, this could be a way to apply for a fifth credit card in a “risk free” way.

My experience applying for an Amex card “risk free”

While I believe my limit with Amex is four credit cards and I was maxed out on this, several readers insisted that the limit has been raised to five credit cards. With the above knowledge, I figured I’d apply for a card, since there’s not much downside.

I decided to apply for The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express, given that it’s one of Amex’s most underrated cards. I didn’t see much value in the card until I crunched the numbers recently. At the moment the card has an increased sign-up bonus, including the following:

  • 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after making your first purchase on the card within the first three months
  • 10x points at U.S. restaurants on the first $2,000 in purchases for the first six months
  • 2x points on all qualifying purchases on the first $50,000 for the first year (an additional one point per dollar spent)

If you’re like me and plan on maximizing the sign-up bonus, you can earn an incremental 64,600 Membership Rewards points compared to the next best option for spend in those categories, which is incredible for a no annual fee card.

So I decided to apply, and got a “pending further review” message.

Amex-Blue-For-Business

Moments later I got an email saying that a decision has been made, and that I was declined due to having the maximum number of American Express cards. I phoned up Amex, and told the friendly associate that I thought the limit had been raised to five cards, and she said she would submit the application for review and to be processed again.

The online application status page shows my application as “in progress.”

Amex-Application-Status

We’ll see, I guess! If I don’t get approved it’s not a big deal, especially in light of there not even being a credit pull if I get denied. On the plus side, if I do get denied, at least I’ll be able to share firsthand whether there was a credit pull or not. 😉

Bottom line

While I find that Amex cards are generally among the easiest to be approved for if you have good credit, it’s especially awesome that existing cardmembers won’t get a hard pull on their credit if they’re denied for a card. This is certainly a reason to consider applying for an Amex card, even if you already have four of their credit cards and aren’t sure if you’ll be approved for another.

(Tip of the hat to Elizabeth)

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

More articles by lucky »

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Comments

  1. I applied for this card as well. It is my 5th credit card, and I was instantly approved. This current sign up offer is awesome!

  2. When you say four (or five) Amex cards do all count? In other words does it include USB FlexPerks Amex and Citi AA Amex?

  3. @ Carl P — I believe it’s just American Express issued cards, and not one where they’re simply the processing company.

  4. Man….no hat tip? Here was my comment on your previous post before you took the plunge on the new application:

    “Since the rumor is that Amex doesn’t do a hard pull on existing cardmembers unless they approve you, then it shouldn’t hurt to try for that 5th card again.”

    🙁

  5. If you already have a 1.5x card like everyday or the 1.5x Chase Freedom then I think this card is easy to take a pass on. At that point the incremental difference is 39,000 points (.5×50000 + 7×2000). And to get there you need $52k in spend. I’d prefer to keep the flexibility on $52k spend for other new card sign up bonuses and cards that give benefits for spend.

    Also if you’re shifting spend from Everyday to this card for 50k, you have a hassle because you still need 30 transactions on everyday to get the 6x on grocery and 3x on gass.

  6. Another dp: I have ED, BC, SPG-P, SPG-B (and PRG). Applied last Wed. for Blue for Business and was instantly approved. Confirmed with CSR yesterday that it’s on the way. Don’t know if account history matters any, but got my first Amex card (Green) 31 years ago.

  7. Elizabeth,

    This is a well known fact known for many months to most people reading doc. Lucky, probably knew it too. He just is pretending to have an epiphany so he can write an article with credit card links.

    I am not blaming him
    I would have done the same. But you certainly weren’t the first to get this “revelation”.

  8. @ Elizabeth — So sorry! I knew I had read it somewhere, but couldn’t remember where. I searched, and couldn’t find the comment. Your comment is indeed where I saw it. I updated the post to reflect that. My apologies again!

  9. Definitely helpful for those planning to be in the market for a house in the next few years and want to avoid hard pulls. Thanks Lucky!

  10. I only have 2 American Express cards currently, but I asked the question as to how many American Express cards you can have to the CSR after I was approved for my second (blue cash) card they said 5 without hesitation. I read recently a post that said you can have up to 4 credit and 4 charge accounts. Anyone hear of this?
    Also, I have a business a TIN with that business. If I apply for a business card or cards using the business information and along with my own, would the business have a seperate equal limit to the number of cards as my personal card? Amex have some awesome new sign up bonuses, and they are easy to hit. I would love to get 8 or 10 of them in the next 18 months or so.

  11. Regarding hard pulls (not Amex). I got the BoA Amtrak card in mid December. As of today I have yet to see the hard pull on Credit Karma. I do have four other BoA credits cards (two Alaskan). Maybe it’s just taking a while.

  12. @ Jamie R — You can definitely have at least four credit cards and four charge cards. It sounds like the five they were referring to were credit cards, as opposed to charge cards.

    If you get a business card, it would still count towards your limit. Amex doesn’t distinguish between personal and business for the purpose of the limit.

  13. This isn’t actually a solid truth.

    I just opened my first set of Amex cards (Platinum, Starwood, Delta and Business Gold) in late November and early December. In mid-January, I applied for the Biz Platinum to try to capture the 100K offer and the Delta Platinum to capture the 70K offer. I was denied both twice; once after a pending status, and again from reconsideration. The reason being my accounts were too new and too many credit inquiries They did hard pulls on the Biz Platinum app that’s showing up on my report.

  14. Amex has never done a hard pull for my business cards. I already had one personal card before. Since then I have opened 3 business cards with Amex without a hard pull.

  15. I just applied for this card using your link and got approved. This is my 5th Amex credit card (Delta Plat, Delta Plat biz, Blue, and Everyday)

  16. @Lucky….so you think it’s better to have the Amex Blue as opposed to Amex Platinum card? Your thoughts???

  17. @ orchids4040 — It all depends what you’re looking for. One is a $450 annual fee card, one has no annual fee. There’s merit to both cards, and I’d like to have them both, personally.

  18. FWIW, my application was “pending review” and by the time I got off the phone with a rep (who was in the wrong department and couldn’t do anything about it) the account was opened.

    The interesting part: I got the card today, and the only benefit shown in the info packet or on my online account is 2x on Amex travel purchases. I called to verify that I qualified for the offer in your link, and was told the offer benefits do show on their system. I’m not sure if that’s because I used your link (you’re welcome!) or if it’s just some glitch in the system.

    I now have 3 biz cards and 3 personal with Amex.

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