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How to activate an American Express credit card

Get spending with your new card in three ways.


Fact checked

Once your American Express arrives in your mail, your next step is to activate it. You can do this online, by phone or through the Amex mobile app. Whichever option you choose, the card activation process shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

How to activate your American Express card online

American Express cards don’t require you to enroll in an Amex online banking service before activation. To activate:

  1. Visit
  2. Enter your credit card number and the four-digit ID on the back of the card.
  3. Enter any requested personal information to verify your ID.

How to activate your American Express card by phone

Activate your card by phone in two steps:

  1. Call the number on the back of your card or 800-869-3016.
  2. Provide the required credit card and personal information, including your card and Social Security number.

How to activate your American Express card with a mobile app

Another option is to activate your American Express card using the Amex mobile app.

  1. Download the Amex mobile app from Google Play or the App Store.
  2. Tap to register for a new Online services account.
  3. Scan your card or enter the card’s information manually.
  4. Verify your identity.

How do I know if my American Express credit card is activated?

Check the status of your Amex card in your online account or in your mobile app.

When can I use my American Express credit card after activation?

You can use your Amex card immediately after you activate it.

Compare American Express credit cards

With your American Express credit card now active, you can start using it. With responsible spending, a time will come when you need a higher credit limit or additional perks that your card might lack.

For example, if you earn flat rewards on all purchases, consider applying for an Amex rewards card with boosted earnings where you spend most. The cards in the table below are excellent second-card options worth considering.

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
6% on select US streaming services, 3% on transit and US gas stations, 6% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 annually, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 12 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$0 intro annual fee for the first year ($95 thereafter)
Perfect for families: Get up to 6% on everyday purchases and a welcome offer worth $300. This heavy-hitter rewards card has uncontested value. Rates & fees
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
20% at up to $200 back in the first 6 months, 2% at US gas stations and select US department stores, 3% at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year, then 1% after that and on all other purchases
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
This everyday cashback card is ideal for Black Friday and holiday shopping with 20% back at up to $200 back in the first 6 months. Rates & fees
American Express® Gold Card
3x points on directly-booked flights; 4x at restaurants; 4x at US supermarkets on up to $25,000 annually (then 1x points)
Earn up to 4x points on select purchases, a bevy of travel perks, and a welcome offer worth up to $600 with this upper-mid tier travel card. Rates & fees
The Platinum Card® from American Express
10x points at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 combined in the first 6 months, 15x points on directly-booked flights or on flights and hotels on Amex Travel. 1x points on all other purchases. Starting January 1, 2021, your 15x points on flights will be capped on up to $500,000 annually (then 1x points).
See rates & fees
One of the most valuable premium travel cards, featuring two welcome offers worth up to $4,500, multiple travel credits and unrivaled lounge access. Rates & fees
Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card
6x points at Marriott Bonvoy hotels, 3x at US restaurants and on flights booked directly with airlines and 2x for all other purchases
15.74% to 24.74% variable
Earn 100,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 or more within your first 3 months, plus earn 25,000 after the first anniversary of card membership (offer expires 1/13/2021). Rates & fees

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

American Express lets you activate your card online, by phone or with the Amex mobile app. If you’re in a hurry, go for the online activation method or through the app — your quickest option. And if you choose an additional credit card from a different issuer down the road, activating your new credit card should prove a similar process.

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