American Express personal loan review: Only members need apply

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In a Nutshell

Personal loans from American Express come with competitive interest rates and no origination or prepayment fees. But you have to be an eligible American Express cardholder to apply.

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Pros Cons
Amex can pay creditors directly or deposit the funds in your bank account (if you qualify) Must be an existing eligible cardholder and have an online account
No origination or prepayment fees Limited time to accept a loan offer before it’s withdrawn
Quick decision  “within seconds,” according to the lender Max amount you can borrow is $40,000
APR won’t be higher than the max APR quoted in your preapproval offer  

What you need to know about an American Express personal loan

American Express offers existing eligible cardholders unsecured personal loans issued by American Express National Bank. The bank offers its personal loans in amounts from $3,500 to $25,000, which you can repay over a term of 12, 24 or 36 months. With direct payments for debt consolidation and competitive interest rates, an Amex personal loan could be a good solution for consolidating high-interest debt.

Here are some other things you should know about American Express personal loans and what to consider if you’re not already an American Express cardholder.

Members only and no perks

American Express limits its personal loan applications to existing eligible cardholders. If you’re not already an American Express cardholder, you may want to consider becoming one if you want to apply for a personal loan with the bank.

Keep in mind that American Express personal loans don’t include the rewards programs and other benefits that can come with an American Express credit card. These loans are primarily designed to help cardholders consolidate debt or fund things like a wedding or home improvement project.

Competitive interest rates

American Express offers competitive personal loan APRs to cardholders. The lender considers at least nine months of account history, along with other factors like your credit history and current financial picture, when looking at your application and deciding on the terms of your loan.

If you’re preapproved and then decide to formally apply, your offer APR may be different than your preapproved APR. But Amex says it won’t exceed the maximum APR you were preapproved for.

While American Express doesn’t specify credit score minimums for approval, you must have been approved for at least one of its credit cards before applying for a personal loan. Cardholders with higher credit scores generally qualify for lower APRs — which could help save money long term.

Plenty of restrictions

While you can use an American Express personal loan to plan the ultimate getaway, pay for a wedding or consolidate credit card debt, there are plenty of restrictions on what you can use your loan for.

For example, you can’t use the loan to fund any postsecondary education expenses, real estate purchases, business costs, securities or vehicle purchases (other than as down payment).

If you need help funding your business, American Express offers business loans to preapproved American Express business cardholders. These loans are restricted to business purposes only.

Take note that you may only have one personal or business loan at a time. If you already hold one type of American Express loan, you can’t apply for another one until your loan balance is repaid in full.

Fast decision and funding — but you’re also on the clock

The preapproval process for an American Express personal loan is pretty quick — Amex says it takes a matter of seconds to get a decision.

If you formally apply and are approved for a loan, you’ll have three days to review and sign your loan agreement. Once you sign your loan agreement, your loan funds should be directly deposited into your bank account, or sent directly to your creditors, within three to five business days.

If you choose not to sign the loan agreement, or don’t add your bank account information within the allotted time frame, Amex will withdraw the offer and won’t fund the loan. If you decide to accept the loan after all but miss the deadline to sign the agreement or add a bank account, you’ll have to wait another 60 days before you can begin the process again and apply for preapproval for another personal loan.

No origination, application or prepayment fees

American Express personal loans don’t come with origination, application or prepayment fees. But if you’re late on a payment, you’ll be charged a late payment fee of $39.

A closer look at American Express personal loans

If you’re considering an American Express personal loan, here are some more things you should know.

  • Soft credit inquiry — Since American Express uses a soft credit inquiry for preapproval, your credit scores won’t be affected. But if you sign your loan documents, it will send the loan terms to credit bureaus, which can affect your scores.
  • Debt consolidation amounts — If you’re using your personal loan to consolidate credit card debt, you must borrow at least $1,000 for each credit card account and a minimum of $3,500 total.
  • Eligibility requirements — In addition to being an eligible Amex cardholder, applicants must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident of the U.S. or its territories, and be at least 18 years old.

Who is an American Express personal loan good for?

American Express personal loans may be a good option for Amex cardholders who need to consolidate high-interest credit card balances — as long as those balances aren’t on Amex credit cards. The lender will send payments directly to up to four of your credit card accounts from other issuers.

Paying off credit cards: Top reason to get a personal loan

How to apply for an American Express personal loan

If you’re an eligible American Express cardholder, you can apply for preapproval directly through your online account. Once you log in and answer a few questions, you should receive a decision right away.

Keep in mind that being preapproved doesn’t mean you’ve been approved for an actual loan. If you’re preapproved, you’ll need to complete a full application to find out if you’ll receive a loan offer.

Not sure an American Express personal loan is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

If you’re not currently an American Express cardholder and want to explore other loan options before making a decision, here are a couple to consider.

  • Wells Fargo: If you need a personal loan for more than $40,000 and have a Wells Fargo account, a Wells Fargo personal loan may be a good option.
  • Avant: If you’re not preapproved for an American Express personal loan, Avant may be a better option.


About the author: Ashley Chorpenning is a personal finance writer and content creator. In addition to being a contributing writer at Credit Karma, she writes for solo entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 compani… Read more.