American Express Personal Loans: 2021 Review

American Express personal loans have reasonable rates but don’t offer payment flexibility or other consumer-friendly features.

Annie MillerberndDecember 6, 2020
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Our Take

4.0

NerdWallet rating 

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

American Express

American Express

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

6.91 - 19.97%

Loan Amount

$3,500 - $25,000

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • No origination or prepayment fees.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • 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

690

Min. Credit Score

660

Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders

Compare Rates

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Full Review

To review American Express’ personal loans, NerdWallet collected data from the lender’s website, confirmed details with several customer service representatives and compared the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.

Rates on American Express personal loans are consistent with other large banks targeting good-credit borrowers, and they come with no origination or prepayment fees.

Borrowers can choose from repayment terms of one to three years. Loan amounts are from $3,500 to $25,000, and AmEx will directly pay off your creditors, which makes these loans good for debt consolidation if you qualify for a low rate. Still, they don’t have some consumer-friendly features that competitors may offer.

To apply for a loan, you have to be an AmEx cardholder and be preapproved for a loan. The company didn't respond to requests for details about loan qualifications, but a customer service representative said the lender considers cardholders’ use of their AmEx card when deciding loan offers.

American Express is best for borrowers who:

  • Have an American Express credit card.

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

  • Want access to the funds within a week.

American Express at a glance

Credit building

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.

  • Reports payments to three credit bureaus.

Affordability

  • APRs are consistent among lenders targeting similar borrowers.

  • No origination or prepayment fees.

  • No rate discount for autopayments.

Loan flexibility

  • Offers only unsecured loans.

  • No option to choose or change payment date.

  • Funds loans within one week.

  • Available in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

  • No refinancing option.

Transparency

  • Rates, fees and terms aren’t easily discoverable on website.

  • FAQ answers some borrower questions.

Customer service

  • Offers multiple customer contact channels.

  • Offers limited financial education.

  • 100% online application process.

» COMPARE: Best bank loans

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, according to multiple customer service representatives. 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 debt, the lender will pay off up to four credit cards for you. Other lenders that specialize in credit card 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 of AmEx’s competitors do charge origination fees.

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

Where American Express falls short

Exclusive to preapproved cardholders: You must hold an American Express credit card for anywhere from 90 days to one year to get an American Express personal loan. Even if you have a card for the required amount of time, AmEx has to make you a loan offer before you can apply.

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. Multiple customer service representatives said there’s no option to change your payment date, which means if your payday changes, you can’t adjust your payment accordingly.

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

Late fee: AmEx charges a steep $39 late fee with no grace period. Most lenders charge a late fee for missing a payment, but the fee is typically $15 to $25 after a grace period of 10 to 15 days.

How to qualify for an American Express loan

American Express doesn’t disclose many borrower requirements publicly, but to qualify, an applicant must be:

  • A United States citizen or permanent resident.

  • At least 18 years old.

  • The primary cardholder on at least one AmEx credit card for 90 days to a year.

Loan example: A two-year, $12,000 loan with a 17.4% APR would have monthly payments of $596. You'd pay $2,304 in total interest on that loan.

How to get an American Express loan

Pre-qualify on NerdWallet

NerdWallet recommends comparing loans to find the best rate for you. Pre-qualifying may get you personalized rates from multiple lenders that partner with us. Pre-qualifying won't impact your credit.

Apply on American Express

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

Personal Loans Rating Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.