Credit One Bank American Express® Card review

Credit One Bank American Express® Card review

Updated: August 9, 2022

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Updated: August 9, 2022

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Ratings Policy
Credit Building Rating:
3.3 rating
3.3 rating
3.3 / 5
Cost of Membership3.5
Ease of Building Credit3.4
APR1.2
Features4.0

In a Nutshell:

Despite its low cash back earning rate, the Credit One Bank American Express Card is a solid option for people who need to build their credit and won’t carry a balance, with relatively low annual fees and impressive cardholder perks. See rates and fees

Learn more about this card

Average cost of membership per year ($3,600 annual spend)
$3 ($36 in cash back rewards minus $39 annual fee)

Very Good

Security deposit required
$0

Excellent

Initial credit limit
Starting at $500

Average

Access to higher credit line?
Future credit line increases may be granted based on your overall credit performance, but no specified time period.

Average

APR
25.49% (variable)

Average

Annual fee
$39

Average

Other rates and fees

  • Foreign transaction fee: 3% or $1, whichever is greater
  • Cash advance APR: 25.49% (variable)
  • Cash advance fee: $5 or 8% (whichever is greater, see terms)
  • Late payment fee: Up to $39 (terms apply)
  • Penalty APR: None
  • Returned payment fee: Up to $39 (terms apply)
Average

Rewards

1% cash back on all purchases (terms apply)

Very Good

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.

Pros

  • The annual fee is relatively low, so it’s easy to keep the cost of owning this card low as well.
  • Cardholders will get an unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases, another boon for low costs.
  • The rewards structure is simple, which is likely a plus for cardholders who are new to the world of credit cards.

Cons

  • The cash back rate is low, so low that it likely can’t help cardholders offset the cost of their annual fee.
  • Cardholders’ cash back rewards can only be redeemed for statement credits, so there’s not a lot of flexibility.
  • The card’s rates – like the 25.49% variable APR – are beaten by several competing cards.

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.

Why you might want the Credit One Bank American Express Card

As a credit-building tool, the Credit One Bank American Express Card is a solid choice. Its costs are low – the annual fee is only $39 – certainly lower than other Credit One cards. Other features like the $500 starting credit limit make it a bit easier for cardholders to boost their credit scores by keeping their credit utilization ratios under 30% (or only using $150 of available credit at the end of a billing cycle). While the perks and benefits of the card are pretty bare-bones, for people with less-than-stellar credit, this card offers plenty

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 of the best 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 

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® OffersAmex Offers is 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.

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 hard credit inquiry can be a harder blow to your credit score.

See related: See prequalified credit card offers in CardMatch

$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 is a nice feature if you need to build your credit but don’t want to put down a lot of money to start. The card’s minimum starting credit limit – $500 – is significantly higher than the average credit-building card, and cardholders can expect an increase in their credit limit over time as long as they exhibit good credit behaviors like paying the bill in full and on-time every month. The higher your credit limit, the easier it is to keep your credit utilization ratio in check. If you are offered the $500 credit limit, be sure to track your spending to ensure your credit utilization ratio stays below 30%. Keeping your credit utilization ratio as low as possible is key to building good credit since this is a major factor in credit scoring.

See related: How to get a credit limit increase with Credit One Bank

Why you might want a different card

The card doesn’t provide a lot of long term value. There are certainly other credit-building cards on the market that top the rewards rate (the card carries a 1% rewards rate). Also many of the card’s touted perks – like access to Amex Offers, and travel and purchase protections – are outclassed by other similar 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, the $39 annual fee is another reason potential cardholders should pause before considering this card. 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 of the best student credit cards also 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 Credit 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.

High APR

Cardholders should avoid carrying a balance on this card. The card’s APR is significantly higher than the average credit card APR. Though the 25.49% variable APR is lower than some credit-building card APRs, there are certainly cards on the market that are geared toward credit builders that offer lower APRs.

How does the Credit One Bank American Express Card compare to other credit-building cards?

Petal Visa Credit Card

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

Discover it Secured Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Rewards rate

  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments
Rewards rate

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Rewards rate

  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase
Credit limit

  • $300-$10,000
Credit limit

  • $200-$2,500 (equal to your deposit)
Credit limit

  • See terms
Annual fee

  • $0
Annual fee

  • $0
Annual fee

  • $39
Other things to know

  • It’s an unsecured card, so no deposit is required
  • Issuer evaluates alternative credit data (like income and bill payment history) when evaluating applications, not just credit score.
  • Includes money-management tools and free credit reporting
Other things to know

  • Includes free FICO score
  • No late fee the first time you pay late (after that, up to $41).
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • No penalty APR and the issuer guarantees it won’t raise your APR if you skip a payment
Other things to know

  • Chance at a higher credit line with account review after 6 months of on-time payments
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • $0 fraud liability

Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card

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.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Another card that combines help building credit 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.

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

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

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 perks and a cash back rewards program that helps shoulder some of the cost of 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.

About the author

All reviews are prepared by CreditCards.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Responses to comments in the discussion section below are not provided, reviewed, approved, endorsed or commissioned by our financial partners. It is not our partner’s responsibility to ensure all posts or questions are answered.

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