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American Express brings back a minimum income requirement for its cards

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Back in 2016, American Express removed the minimum income requirements from its UK personal and small business cards.

The plan was to take a more holistic view of your finances. A single person living at home on a £25,000 salary has a totally different disposable income profile to someone who is married with two kids and a mortgage taking home £35,000.  Setting a strict cut-off level was seen as a blunt instrument.

For whatever reason, potentially linked to new FCA customer duty regulations, American Express has decided that this structure was no longer workable.

American Express uk minimum income to get a card

Minimum income requirements have now returned.

That said, they are not exactly tough. Someone on minimum wage doing 40 hours per week will still qualify for most cards. The real losers are the retired and non-working partners, as the requirement is based on your personal income. High savings or a high household income are no longer enough.

These are the new PERSONAL income requirements.

It’s worth comparing these numbers to the 2016 levels, remembering that we’ve probably seen 25%+ wage inflation since then.

The Platinum Card was £40,000 in 2016 but is now £35,000. The Marriott Bonvoy American Express was £30,000 in 2016 but is now £20,000.

The only big jump is the British Airways Premium Plus card, which was available on a £20,000 income in 2016 but now requires £35,000.

The other personal cards were £20,000 in 2016 and remain at £20,000 now, so the income requirement is far lower in real terms.

For HfP readers, these limits are unlikely to make much difference to those in work but are likely to hit the retired or those applying on behalf on non-full time working partners or their student children.

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Comments (236)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Richard says:

    Applied for a Platinum Card when the stonking bonus was running last month for my retired Mum. £45k income mix of pension and rental income and still she was declined.

    • Rob says:

      Amex changed its criteria during that promotion.

    • Rui N. says:

      During that promo the minimum was £50k.
      In any case, just because you comply with the minimum income requirement doesn’t mean you’ll get approved.

  • Deiveed says:

    Back when I transferred my ICC Centurion to a Sterling card — the UK Centurion application form had the following wording for the income section.

    Annual personal income
    (your income before tax plus any income from investments)

    There was also an option for “independent income” besides the usual employed/self-employed/homemaker.

    I think they would count dividends, interests & distribution etc but maybe not capital gains.

  • Bonglim says:

    I suspect someone with an income of £20000 is probably higher risk than someone with an income of £0;
    Because presumably £0 has some other source of income, whereas £20k may or may not.

  • David H says:

    Is there a consensus as to whether pensions count as income for this test? And if so is there a distinction between a) company pensions paying a fixed income for life and b) drawdown from a personal pension pot which is more discretionary and not necessarily sustainable in the long term (but still shows as taxable income on your self assessment) ?

    • Rob says:

      If Amex doesn’t specify clearly I suggest you can put down whatever you want and claim it wasn’t defined if they check …

    • NorthernLass says:

      I’ve been declined as a pensioner (guaranteed public sector pension) but subsequently accepted when I put part-time tutoring as my occupation. Go figure!

  • Icewhite says:

    Well this will help reduce Amex acceptance. Not sure why Amex don’t just call it a day in the UK.

    • Icewhite says:


    • Jonathan says:

      The UK is a very strong market for Amex, definitely within Europe

    • Harry T says:

      They probably want customers who are well off, so I suspect this will be great for them.

      • Rob says:

        If anything, Amex has probably struggled image-wise from its cards becoming more popular. It’s hard to convince shops to pay Amex’s higher fees in return for ‘quality’ customers when all and sundry are being accepted.

        • sloth says:

          Amex used to be an aspirational card which wasn’t easy to obtain. Now they are trying to be all things to all people and these new minimum requirements don’t change that greatly

      • JDB says:

        @Harry T – Amex does of course want better off customers but having devalued the brand and over complicated the offer, they have been losing such customers at pace.

      • polly says:

        Many pensioners are well off, but just don’t have the set salary income. The choice is drawdown etc to the 35k one year after tax, get the BAPP and keep it anyway. I have kept it going, and will continue to do so.
        My OH was turned down, but it seems like too much unused credit on the BC, Bonvoy and PRG. So will reduce credit on those, and see what happens next time.

  • NewlyQualified says:

    I got the free BA Amex as a student and built up a fair few avios through referrals so this is a shame for the next generation. Was also good for building a credit rating.

  • Jan says:

    So if I already have a ba amex card, can it be stopped if it’s considered that my earnings aren’t good enough – even tho I have had the card for years and always pay it off in full every month.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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