Someone Explain To Experian How American Express Cards Work

How does American Express work? Michael writes that Experian doesn’t seem to understand how the company’s credit limits work. His card technically has no limit, and this confuses Experian. They coped with the confusion by showing that instead of having theoretically infinite available credit, he had $0, making his pristine record look pretty bad to potential lenders.

I’ve had accounts with Wells Fargo for over 15 years, and I recently
applied for their Rewards card with a pretty nice pre-qualified deal
(0% APR for 12 months). I’m gainfully employed and my FICO score is
above 700, so I figured they’d just airdrop the card in my yard the
morning after I put in the application.

It turns out they could give a crap about your FICO score or the
credit history it represents. All they looked at was my Experian
report, specifically the debt-to-credit ratio. Now if you’re like me,
you hate debt, and to that end I’ve only ever had an American Express
gold card. So they looked at the current balance on my Amex when I
submitted my application–about $1500–and compared it to my credit
limit, and that’s where things started to go wrong. As an Amex
holder, my limit is infinity. But by Experian’s creative reckoning,
that translates to $0, so it looked like I’d briskly outstripped my
available credit. (Oh, and they were still reporting hard credit
inquiries that occurred over a year ago. That didn’t help either.)

Hopefully this was just a knee-jerk automatic decision made by some
braindead computer, and as soon as I get the actual human underwriter
on the phone I can make him genuflect at the feet of my credit score.
But it’s frustrating that negative credit decisions are being made on
the word of a single reporting firm, especially when it stems from
their failure to understand the difference between “no credit limit”
and “no credit”.

Is there anyone else out there with pristine credit who’s been denied
for similarly mystifying reasons?

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