American Express Personal Loans: 2021 Review

American Express personal loans can be a good option for consolidating debt but don’t offer payment flexibility or other consumer-friendly features.
Annie MillerberndSep 13, 2021

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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: American Express offers a no-frills personal loan that’s best for existing customers who want to consolidate credit card debt.

American Express Personal Loan

American Express Personal Loan

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

4.93-19.97%

Loan Amount

$3,500-$40,000

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
  • No origination or prepayment fees.
  • No hard credit check.
  • Includes free access to credit monitoring.

Cons

  • Exclusive to preapproved cardholders.
  • No co-signed, joint or secured loan options.
  • No rate discount for autopay.

Compare to Other Lenders

Lightstream
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Est. APR

4.49-20.49%

Est. APR

6.99-19.99%

Loan Term

2 to 7 years

Loan Term

3 to 6 years

Loan Amount

$5,000-$100,000

Loan Amount

$3,500-$40,000

Min. Credit Score

660

Min. Credit Score

660

Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders

Compare Rates

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Full Review

American Express personal loans are available to preapproved AmEx cardholders. The loans come with no origination or prepayment fees, and most loans are funded within two days of signing the loan agreement.

Borrowers can choose from repayment terms of one to three years and loan amounts of $3,500 to $40,000. Though the lender lacks some consumer-friendly features like a discount for setting up automated payments, it will directly pay off your creditors, making these loans good for debt consolidation if you qualify for a low rate.

American Express personal loans are best for borrowers who:

  • Have an American Express credit card.

  • Want to consolidate credit card debt (excluding their American Express balance).

  • Want quick access to funds.

» COMPARE: Best bank loans

American Express personal loans at a glance

Affordability

  • APRs are low among lenders targeting similar borrowers.

  • No origination or prepayment fees.

  • Charges late fee.

  • No rate discount for autopay.

Loan flexibility

  • Offers only unsecured loans.

  • Funds loans the same or next day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors for debt consolidation loans.

  • No refinancing option.

  • Available in all 50 states.

Transparency

  • No hard credit check.

  • Does not disclose rates or terms on website.

  • Offers FAQ that answers key borrower questions.

Customer service

  • Offers multiple customer contact channels.

  • Provides financial education.

Key terms to know about personal loans

Annual percentage rate is the interest rate on your loan plus all fees, calculated on an annual basis and expressed as a percentage. Use the APR to compare loan costs from multiple lenders.

An origination fee is a one-time, upfront fee that some lenders charge for processing a loan. The fee can range from 1% to 10% of the loan amount, and lenders typically deduct it from your loan proceeds.

The debt-to-income ratio divides your total monthly debt payments by your gross monthly income, giving you a percentage. Lenders use DTI — along with credit history and other factors — to evaluate a borrower's financial ability to repay a loan.

Lenders that offer pre-qualification typically do so using a soft credit check, which allows you to see rates and terms you qualify for without affecting your credit score. If you accept the loan offer, the lender will perform a hard check to confirm your information. Hard checks knock a few points off your credit score.

Where American Express stands out

Soft credit check only: American Express doesn’t do a hard credit inquiry at any point during the preapproval or application process. Most other lenders conduct hard credit checks when you apply, which can temporarily lower your score.

Direct payment to creditors: If you get an American Express loan to consolidate credit card debt, the lender will send the funds to up to four credit cards for you. Other lenders that specialize in debt consolidation offer a similar feature. There’s a catch, though: You can’t include American Express credit cards in the consolidation loan.

No origination or prepayment fees: The American Express personal loan comes with no prepayment or origination fees. While prepayment fees aren’t common with personal loans, some lenders do charge origination fees.

Free credit monitoring: All AmEx cardholders get access to the company’s MyCredit Guide, which shows your TransUnion credit report, alerts you to potential identity theft and provides recommendations about how to improve your credit. You can also use the tool to see how paying down debt will affect your score.

Where American Express falls short

Exclusive to preapproved cardholders: To apply for a personal loan, you must hold an American Express credit card, and the lender has to make you a loan offer. You can see if you’re preapproved by logging in to your American Express account. According to the lender, your offer is based on your creditworthiness and other factors.

No rate discount for autopay: Unlike some of its competitors, American Express doesn’t offer an annual percentage rate discount for setting up autopay. The discount is usually 0.25 to 0.5 percentage point and helps borrowers make on-time payments.

No co-signed, joint or secured loan options: American Express doesn’t let you add a co-signer, apply with a co-borrower or secure the loan to potentially qualify for a lower rate or higher loan amount.

No option to choose or change your payment date: The payment date you’re given at the outset of the loan is the one you’ll have for the loan’s full repayment term. According to the lender, there is no option to change your payment date, which means if your payday changes, you can’t adjust your payment accordingly.

Late fee: AmEx charges a $39 late fee if you fail to make a payment. Though many lenders charge a late fee for missing a payment, most offer a grace period to borrowers, which can help you avoid paying the fee.

How to qualify for an American Express loan

American Express doesn’t disclose many borrower requirements publicly. To be eligible for a personal loan, you must be a preapproved cardholder. According to the lender, your loan offer is based on your creditworthiness and other factors.

You can find out if you're preapproved by logging in to your American Express account. If you are, the company will display what rate and amount it can offer you. You can then apply for a loan up to the amount you've been offered.

Loan example: A two-year, $12,000 loan with a 11.2% APR would have monthly payments of $560. You'd pay $1,440 in total interest on that loan.

Pre-qualify on NerdWallet

NerdWallet recommends comparing any loan offer you receive from American Express with other offers to find the best rate for you. The best way to compare loan offers is to pre-qualify. Pre-qualifying on NerdWallet gives you personalized rates from multiple lenders that partner with us, and it won't impact your credit.

Personal Loans Rating Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 30 lenders. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read our editorial guidelines.