|Credit Building Rating:||3.8 / 5|
|Cost of Membership||3.5|
|Ease of Building Credit||3.4|
Average cost of membership per year ($3,600 annual spend)
Security deposit required
Initial credit limit
Access to higher credit line?
Other rates and fees
1% cash back on all purchases (terms apply)
Other Notable Features: Free credit score, pick your payment due date, zero fraud liability, access to pre-sale tickets, car rental loss and damage insurance, travel accident insurance, purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, Amex Offers
As a general cash back credit card, the Credit One Bank American Express Card falls short, offering a rock-bottom cash back rate and carrying an annual fee that’s hard to justify for cardholders with excellent credit.
But if you’re hoping to build your credit without putting down a deposit or paying exorbitant fees, it could be a solid option thanks to its no-fuss rewards earning and redemption structure and impressive cardholder perks.
Unlimited 1% cash back rewards
The Credit One Bank American Express card offers a simple cash back earning scheme: You earn 1% cash back on all purchases, regardless of where or what you buy, and cash back is automatically applied to your account each statement period as a statement credit. If you’re looking for a no-fuss way to reduce your monthly balance, the Credit One Bank American Express card will do the job.
That said, a 1% cash back rate pales in comparison to the rate offered by many cash back cards. Not only will most cash back cards match the Credit One Bank American Express card’s cash back rate, some can get you 1.5%-2% back on all purchases or even more on purchases in specific bonus categories.
Even some credit-building cards can match or beat the Credit One Bank American Express card’s cash back rate. Consider the Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card, which offers 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away and allows you to increase your cash back rate to up to 1.5% back after you make 12 on-time monthly payments, all without paying any fees.
Additionally, automatic redemption as a statement credit, while convenient, means you won’t have the option of requesting a check or redeeming your cash back for travel or gift cards.
See related: Best flat rate cash back cards
Cash back may not offset annual fee
While the Credit One Bank American Express card’s cash back program is lackluster on its own, it is especially disappointing given the card’s annual fee of $39. Even with no cash back limit, it will be difficult to make up the card’s annual fee via cash back rewards, though you may come close.
To break even with the Credit One Bank American Express card, you’d have to charge at least $3,900 per year or $325 per month with the card. Depending on your spending habits, that may be doable, given the card’s initial minimum credit limit is $500.
Still, it may be best to approach the card’s cash back program with less of a rewards mindset and instead consider it a means of reducing the total cost of card ownership.
Unfortunately, fees are a common feature of unsecured credit-building cards, and plenty of them – especially credit cards for people with bad credit – charge even higher annual fees or carry an array of initiation, maintenance and program fees, without offering any sort of cash back.
By contrast, Credit One Bank American Express card’s fees are pretty straightforward: A $39 annual fee, a $19 fee if you decide to add a card for an authorized user and an optional payment protection plan fee (based on your monthly billing statement).
If you don’t mind putting down a deposit, there are a few secured credit cards that offer a better rewards rate and bonuses without charging an annual fee. While you’ll have to tie up some money initially, you can get it back when you close your account. Some secured cards will even let you upgrade to an unsecured card if you make consistent on-time payments. Many student credit cards, too, offer solid cash back programs without charging an annual fee.
No sign-up bonus
The Credit One Bank American Express card offers no sign-up bonus. This is disappointing since many cash back cards offer a sign-up bonus of $100 or more. To be fair, though, those cards are typically geared for cardholders with excellent credit.
Still, some competing credit-building products manage to offer some form of a sign-up bonus. The Discover it® Secured Card, for example, will match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year, and the Amazon Credit Builder offers a $10 Amazon.com gift card as a sign-up bonus.
$500 minimum credit limit with no deposit
Since the Credit One Bank American Express card is an unsecured card, no security deposit is required. This a nice feature if you need to build your credit but don’t want to put down a lot of money to start.
While the card’s minimum credit limit of $500 is already a bit higher than that of the average credit-building card, Credit One Bank states that credit line increases may be granted based on your overall credit performance. However, unlike some issuers, Credit One Bank offers no timeline for evaluating credit limits. The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, specifies that your account will be reviewed for a higher credit line after 6 months of on-time payments
If you are offered the $500 limit, be sure to track your spending to ensure you’re keeping your credit utilization in check, since this is a key factor in credit scoring.
High APR, but lower than some credit-building options
You’ll want to avoid carrying a balance with the Credit One Bank American Express card, as the card charges all users a high variable APR of 23.99%, regardless of credit history.
While this is much higher than the average credit card APR, it’s in line with the average APR for a credit card designed for someone with fair credit and is actually a bit lower than several credit-building alternatives.
Check if you prequalify online
You can check if you prequalify for the Credit One Bank American Express card online before you apply, with no impact to your credit score. This is good news if you’re unsure of your approval odds or your credit score is less than stellar, as a soft credit inquiry will not hurt your credit score like a hard inquiry.
See related: See prequalified credit card offers in CardMatch
Better-than-average perks for a credit-building card
The Credit One Bank American Express card offers some quality perks for cardholders, especially compared to most credit-building options. Benefits you’ll enjoy with the card include:
- Free online credit score – Access your Experian credit score online every month to monitor your credit health and track your progress.
- Car rental loss and damage insurance – You can get reimbursed for damages to your rental car caused by theft or collision.
- Travel accident insurance – You’re insured in case of accidental death or dismemberment when you travel on a common carrier like an airplane, bus or train, up to $150,000, when the entire fare is charged to your card.
- Purchase protection – If something you bought with the card is damaged or stolen within 90 days of the purchase date, you can get reimbursed up to the total purchase price of your item for a maximum of $1,000 per claim.
- Extended warranty protection – You can get your manufacturer’s warranty doubled up to one additional year on eligible warranties. For example, if you bought something with a warranty of three months, the Credit One Bank American Express Card would get you an additional three months of coverage on top of that.
- Return protection – If you’re disappointed in an item you purchased, but a retailer won’t accept a return, you can file a claim within 90 days to be reimbursed for the purchase price (up to $300 per item and up to a maximum of $1,000 per year).
- Amex® Offers – A card-linked offer program that gives cardholders access to special promotions at restaurants, clothing stores, travel sites and more, allowing you to get bonus cash back when you use your Credit One Bank American Express Card.
While these perks fall short of those offered by higher-end rewards cards, they’re very respectable for a credit-building card.
How does the Credit One Bank American Express Card compare to other credit-building cards?
|Rewards rate||Rewards rate||Rewards rate|
|Credit limit||Credit limit||Credit limit|
|Annual fee||Annual fee||Annual fee|
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
A unique credit-building offering, the Petal 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card allows you to earn true cash back with no deposit and no fees of any kind. You’ll earn 1% back on eligible purchases to start, with this rate increasing to 1.25% after you make six on-time monthly payments and to 1.5% after 12 on-time monthly payments. Additionally, since the issuer considers alternative credit data in its approval decisions, it’s a great option for someone with spotty credit but a good income and bill payment history.
Another card that combines credit-building with cash back rewards, the Discover it Secured card offers 2% back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter) and 1% back on all other purchases. This is a respectable rate even compared to many general cash back cards. Plus, Discover will match all your cash back in the first year.
Designed for cardholders looking to bolster their credit scores, the Capital One QuicksilverOne card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. While this is not the most impressive cash back rate, it should help to offset the card’s $39 fee. You’ll also have a chance at a credit limit increase if you make six consecutive on-time payments.
See related:Credit One vs Capital One
Why get the Credit One Bank American Express Card?
- You want to earn cash back without tracking spending or enrolling in bonus categories.
- You want to build credit without putting down a security deposit.
- You can’t qualify for a card with a higher cash back rate or no annual fee.
- You’re looking for a card with benefits like purchase and return protection.
How to use the Credit One Bank American Express Card:
- Check if you pre-qualify online before you apply.
- Use the card for everyday expenses to get cash back and offset the card’s annual fee.
- If you’re offered the minimum credit limit of $500, watch your spending to keep your credit utilization in check.
- Pay off your purchases in full each month to avoid the card’s high APR.
- Take advantage of Amex Offers to get discounts on everyday spending.
Is the Credit One Bank American Express Card worth it?
The Credit One Bank American Express Card is a relatively low-cost credit-building option, offering some terrific perks and a cash back rewards program that should help offset its annual fee. Still, the card is best seen as a stepping-stone to better credit and a more lucrative rewards credit card down the line.
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