Declined for American Express? | Credit Shout
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Declined for American Express?

By Dawn Allcot / April 7, 2010

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Being rejected for a credit card can be a crushing experience, but it's important not to take it personally. American Express is one of the more difficult credit cards to obtain. If the company denies your application, you can always apply again if your financial situation changes.

In the meantime, take steps to fix your credit rating and build up your credit history by applying for cards that may be easier to obtain.

Credit Cards for People with Fair Credit

Depending on your credit history, you may want to apply for a card for people with fair credit. A number of such cards exist, including:

  • Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards
  • Capital One Classic Platinum

If you are a student, you can apply for a student card, which typically has more lenient requirements than American Express.

Store credit cards, such as the Gap card, are also a choice for people with fair credit or no credit history. If you pay your bills on time, you may be selected to apply for a store Visa or MasterCard issued by the same bank as your store credit card, which can be used anywhere Visa or MasterCard is accepted.

Some cards, like the Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards card, even offer cash rewards and other benefits. You're looking at a higher interest rate than you'll find with cards for people with excellent credit like Discover More or any of the American Express charge cards.

In addition to applying for an easier-to-get card, it's important to find out why your application for an American Express card was declined.

If you are declined for an American Express card, contact the company and ask them for the reason. There are a number of reasons you might be declined for an American Express card.

  • There may be errors on your credit report leading to a lower credit score
  • You may not have a long enough or strong enough credit history
  • You may show too many credit cards in default or unpaid loans on your credit reports
  • Your debt-to-available credit ratio may be too high
  • Your income may be too low
  • You may have unpaid debts with American Express.

The only way you'll know is to ask. American Express might tell you that the decision was made based on information from any one or more of your three credit reports. That means it's time to get a free copy of your credit report to check the information for accuracy.

Obtaining Your Free Credit Report

Any time you've been denied credit, you are entitled to obtain a copy of your credit report for free from the agency the bank used when considering your application. Instructions to receive this free report should be included with your denial letter.

Once you've obtained your credit report, you'll know what steps to take to improve your credit before re-applying for an American Express card.

The American Express Optima Card

Have your heart set on an American Express card? If you've ever had an account in default with American Express you can make payment arrangements through the company's Oasis program and, when your account is paid in full, apply for an American Express Optima card.

If you've ever had a charge-off from American Express, you might still be eligible for this card. The card does not offer the same benefits and privileges as American Express Card Membership, but is a prime credit card from a reputable company, according to most reports.

Credit and finance forum show mixed reports about the American Express Optima card, and it is apparently kept under wraps by the company -- you can't find information on the American Express web site about the Oasis repayment program or the Optima card. You have to call American Express to ask about the card.

It is, however, another way to rebuild your credit by obtaining new credit cards and making timely payments. Timely payments on your Optima card will entitle you to be considered for another American Express card with Rewards and other benefits.

The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone. Additionally, the opinions of the commenters are not necessarily the opinions of this site

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Editorial Discloser: Opinions expressed here are authors alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.