American Express Lender Review: So Much More Than Just Great Credit Cards [2020]

Are American Express personal loans a good option? Find out in this Amex lender review.
Last updated Feb 5, 2020 | By Lindsay Frankel
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American Express is best known for two things: superior customer service and a variety of rewards credit cards, many offering premium perks. But American Express also offers loan products, from personal loans to business loans, that are designed for a range of purposes.

Whether you’re looking to start a business or pay for a wedding, it’s important to do your research and make sure you find a lender with a product that meets your needs. We’ve compiled this guide to help you decide if American Express is the right lender for you based on your individual financial goals and your eligibility.

In this American Express lender review:

What is American Express?

American Express is a financial services company that has been around since 1850. It started as a freight forwarding company, and eventually began developing financial products in the late 19th and early 20th century. Its first charge card emerged in the 1950s, and since then, the company has introduced many innovative financial products.

In addition to providing products for people with a variety of needs, American Express aims to achieve corporate responsibility through philanthropic endeavors and sustainability efforts. The company became CarbonNeutral in 2018 in order to help combat climate change. And American Express is committed to hiring a diverse team of employees that reflect its diverse customer base.

American Express serves all kinds of customers, from the unbanked to big spenders who want robust travel rewards. But while it offers no-credit-check debit cards, its credit cards are generally reserved for people with good or excellent credit. Unlike many other issuers, American Express doesn’t offer secured credit cards.

Which products does American Express offer?

American Express currently offers the following products:

  • Credit cards: From no annual fee cards to premium travel rewards cards, American Express has credit cards to meet a variety of needs and goals.
  • Banking: American Express offers Bluebird, an alternative to banking, in addition to high-yield savings accounts and Certificate of Deposit accounts.
  • Personal loans: American Express offers personal loans in amounts ranging from $3,500 to $40,000. There’s no origination fee, no prepayment penalty, and fixed interest rates come as low as 6.98% APR*.
  • Business loans: In addition to business credit cards, American Express offers a variety of business loan products with different eligibility requirements.

American Express credit cards

As mentioned, Amex is best known for its credit cards. There’s an American Express card that’s a good fit for just about anyone with good to excellent credit, whether you’re looking for cashback or travel rewards. For example, the Amex Everyday Card is great for people who want straightforward rewards, while the Platinum Card is great for frequent travelers who appreciate premium travel perks.

Eligibility requirements vary by card. If you have fair or poor credit, you might consider a prepaid debit card from American Express or a secured card from another issuer.

A Simple Cashback Card for Day-to-Day

Benefits

  • $150 welcome bonus after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months
  • No annual fee
  • 0% intro APR period on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets; 2% at U.S. gas stations and select department stores; 1% on all other purchases
  • Terms apply


American Express banking products

American Express offers a personal savings account that currently earns 1.7% APY*. That’s much higher than the national average of 0.09%. And unlike many lower-yield savings accounts from brick and mortar banks, there are no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. Your Amex personal savings account is FDIC-insured, and there’s no need to switch banks since you can link up to three of your current savings accounts.

What’s more, the quality service you’ve come to expect from American Express is available 24/7. And you’re no more limited in terms of withdrawals and transfers than you would be by any other savings account under the law; you can make up to six withdrawals or transfers per statement cycle, and as many deposits as you want. If you don’t need that flexibility, you could potentially earn more with a Certificate of Deposit account from American Express.

The American Express personal savings account is a great choice for someone who doesn’t want to worry about a minimum balance and who wants their savings to be easily accessible. If you can make at least a $1,000 minimum deposit, there are other online banks that offer a higher yield. But you may also decide you’re more comfortable with the service and the online interface offered by American Express, which both make it easy to access your account at all times.

The application process for both the Amex savings account and CD is simple. To open a new account, you’ll need to provide your name, email, Social Security number, and date of birth. Then, you’ll need to review and agree to the account terms and conditions.

Those seeking a checking account alternative may be better served using Bluebird. While it’s not technically a bank account, it does allow you to do things like send money, pay your bills online, withdraw cash from ATMs, and shop at retailers that accept American Express cards. You can get your paychecks direct deposited into your Bluebird account and deposit checks using the mobile app. While there are fees for certain services, there are no monthly maintenance fees, overdraft fees, bill pay fees, or direct deposit fees, which makes Bluebird a lower cost alternative to some bank accounts.

American Express personal loans

You can get a personal loan from American Express in an amount ranging from $3,500 to $40,000 with fixed interest rates ranging from 6.9% to 19.98%*. There’s no origination fee and you choose your repayment period. What’s more, if you have the money to pay off the loan early, you’ll save on interest since there’s no prepayment penalty. It’s also easy to set up automatic monthly payments so you don’t default on your loan.

To be eligible to apply, you’ll need to be a U.S. Citizen who is at least 18 years old and a basic card member on an eligible Consumer American Express Card with an account in good standing. You’ll also need to be pre-approved in order to apply. American Express will tell you your maximum loan amount and interest rate before you apply, and your credit will be unaffected until you accept a loan from American Express.

American Express business loans

You can get a business loan of $3,500 to $75,000 from American Express with a fixed interest rate ranging from 6.98% to 19.97%*. These loans can be used for general business purposes or to consolidate business credit card debt. Terms range from six to 36 months. It’s quick and easy to apply, your credit won’t be impacted by your application, and you’ll get your money in three to five business days once you accept your loan.

To be eligible for a business loan, you must be a pre-approved Amex Business cardmember with at least one year of account history. Your pre-approved loan amount and APR will depend on factors including the creditworthiness of your business. Keep in mind that not all industries are eligible for business loans. But it’s easy to find out if you’re pre-approved to apply by logging into your American Express account.

What customers are saying

American Express has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Customers’ opinions of the company vary widely. Some people expressed anger about not getting approved or having their accounts closed or credit limits lowered. Other customers told TrustPilot that they are extremely loyal to American Express because of their great customer service. Many people are also happy with the rewards they receive with their credit cards.

FAQs about American Express

Which American Express card is best?

That depends on your personal needs, financial goals, credit score, and spending habits. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express is a great option for families who spend a lot at grocery stores, while the American Express Cash Magnet Card is a great option for someone seeking a 1.5% unlimited cash back on all purchases in the form of Reward Dollars, which can be redeemed as statement credit and a $0 annual fee. There are also cards that are a perfect fit for travelers, people who love dining out, and more.

Is an American Express personal loan a good option?

For American Express cardmembers, a personal loan or business loan from American Express can be a good option. We love that you can see your pre-approved loan amount and APR without impacting your credit score. However, it’s always a good idea to shop around for the lowest rates and consider all the terms associated with each loan offer.

A loan from American Express will not be an option for you if you don’t have an account with American Express in good standing, and you should choose another lender if you want to borrow less than $3,500.

Does an American Express personal loan affect credit score?

At no point during the pre-approval process or application process is your credit impacted. You can apply for a personal loan from American Express without a hard pull on your credit. However, once you accept a personal loan, American Express will report information about your loan to the major credit bureaus, which could have an effect on your credit score.

What credit score do you need for an American Express personal loan?

You’ll need at least Fair credit (660 or above) to find out if you’re eligible for an American Express personal loan. The APR on your personal loan will be lower if your credit score is higher.

The final word on American Express

Not every lender is a great fit for every borrower. American Express products are clearly geared to more creditworthy customers than loans and credit cards from other issuers. That said, products like Bluebird show that American Express is trying to innovate in order to serve customers with a variety of needs.

Whether you’re looking to save money, borrow money, or earn travel rewards, you can find competitive financial products from American Express that will help you reach your financial goals. Ultimately, you may want to compare offers from multiple lenders before making a decision, but American Express could be a good place to start, especially if you’re already a satisfied cardholder.

*All rates and fees are accurate as of 2/5/20