You might find that even if you do have a solid credit record, that American Express will send you a "No Thanks" after you submit your application.

Why Is It So Hard To Get Approved For An American Express Credit Card?

Visa, MasterCard, and Discover fill your mailbox with credit card offers. You can't log onto the Internet without pop-up ads encouraging you to apply for the latest cash-back or rewards credit cards. You'd think, then, that all you'd need is decent credit to qualify for consumer credit cards today.

Maybe ... but not if you're applying for many of American Express' premium credit cards.

Try applying for the American Express Platinum or Gold Card. You might find that even if you do have a solid credit record, that American Express will send you a "No Thanks" after you submit your application.

Desirable Cards

These top-of-the-line credit cards are desirable. The American Express Platinum Card, for instance, awards members 50,000 rewards points after they charge at least $5,000 worth of purchases in the first three months in which they own their cards.

The Gold card isn't quite so generous, but it still awards cardholders 25,000 rewards points as long as they charge at least $2,000 in the first three months after they activate their cards.

Both cards come with other perks, too. The Platinum Card, for instance, provides holders with a $200 credit that they can use to pay any incidental airline fee, including charges for checking their bags, ordering in-flight movies or ordering a glass of wine during their flight.

Because these cards are popular, American Express isn't hurting for business. People are lining up, eager to pay the hefty annual fees associated with the cards:

The annual fee for the Gold card is a large $150

While Platinum card members pay $450 every year for the honor of holding this credit card.

This is one reason why American Express is so picky about to whom they give credit cards: They can afford to be. Demand for their cards is high.

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What is American Express Looking For?

American Express doesn't divulge exactly what it's looking for when it comes to passing out its premium credit cards. But like all credit card companies, American Express relies heavily on your three-digit credit score when determining whether your credit is strong enough.

Lenders of all types rely on these scores today. There's a reason for this: Your score will be high if you have a history of paying your bills on time and not running up huge amounts of credit card debt.

Your scores will be low if you pay your credit card or auto loan bills late. They'll also be low if you have bankruptcies or housing foreclosures in your past. And if you've run up mountains of credit card debt? Yes, your three-digit credit score will suffer.

If you're applying for one of American Express' better cards, you'll need a credit score of 720 or higher on the popular FICO credit-scoring system.

It helps, too, if you have a fairly lengthy credit history. American Express thinks you'll be more apt to pay your bills on time if you've already had an extensive history of managing credit cards.

In other words, if you've never owned a credit card before, don't expect to qualify for an American Express card.

Work Your Way Up

Consider American Express the pinnacle of the credit card industry. If your credit isn't sterling, or if you don't have a long credit history, consider building your creditworthiness by starting with a credit card company that isn't quite as picky.

And remember, even if American Express does reject your application, all hope is not lost. There's nothing stopping you from applying again after you've worked on building your credit.  There are plenty of other attractive credit cards -- including those with outstanding rewards programs and plenty of perks -- out there for you.

[thrive_text_block color="light" headline="Finding Other Options"]Looking for a new credit card? You can find our suggestions in these guides:

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Credit Shout is a community of personal finance experts dedicated to helping you save money and make smart financial decisions. Learn how to master your credit card rewards, improve your credit score and start eliminating your debt.

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