According to my American Express cards, I’ve been a member since 1988, although I wasn’t even alive then. In this post I wanted to explain how that is possible.
How my Amex member has been since 1988
When I post a picture of one of my American Express credit cards, it is common for several people to share their confusion about what my “Membership Since” date is on American Express cards in 1988. I wasn’t even born then (just barely) so the confusion is understandable. No, I have not applied for an advance concept for credit cards.
It gets especially funny when I call American Express and have them check my date of birth and then a moment later say, “And I see that you’ve been a valued member since 1988, thank you for your loyalty for all these years.”
The simple answer is that your American Express member has been a user since the date you opened the first account, regardless of whether you are the primary card member or an authorized user.
About 15 years ago my father added me as an authorized user on one of his Amex Platinum (after all, I wasn’t old enough to apply for cards myself at the time), and since then all my cards have shown a “member” since ”date of 1988. This includes all cards that I apply for in my own name (that is, all cards since I was 18 years old).
How my Amex history helps my creditworthiness
Aside from the generally cool factor of having such an old “Member Since” date, this has undoubtedly contributed to my credit score growing over time, and especially early on:
- American Express has consistently reported the original age of accounts to credit bureaus for cards on which you are an Authorized User. This helped my credit score early on as your average age of the accounts is important
- When I was young I had several cards on my credit report that were back over a decade because American Express reported cards. So my average age for accounts was much higher than usual
- To date, this has had a positive effect on my average accounts as my credit score still shows a card over 32 years old
Unfortunately, this trick no longer works
A few years ago, authorized American Express card users no longer benefited from the retroactive account opening practice. In other words, if you have had a card for 20 years and you add an authorized user, that authorized user will not inherit your 20 year history.
Not sure if you still inherit the “Member Since” date in relation to what is shown on the physical map (I’m sure you can provide some data points) but if you do, this has limited practical impact.
I often get questions about how I have been an Amex card member since I was born. Hopefully the above will shed some light on this. In short, authorized users on Amex cards have inherited the primary card member’s full account history. This was very useful when it came to figuring out the average age of accounts.
Unfortunately, being an authorized Amex card user is no longer reported in the same way.
Does anyone else have a “member since” date that dates back to before they were born?