How I’ve Been An Amex Cardmember Since Before I Was Born

How I’ve Been An Amex Cardmember Since Before I Was Born

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According to my American Express cards, I’ve been a member since 1988, even though I wasn’t even alive then. In this post I wanted to explain how that’s possible.

How my Amex “member since” date is 1988

Typically when I post a picture of one of my American Express credit cards, multiple people share their confusion about how my “member since” date on American Express cards is 1988. I wasn’t even born then (just barely), so the confusion is understandable. No, I wasn’t applying for credit cards pre-conception.

It gets especially funny when I call up American Express, and they have to verify my date of birth, and then a moment later say “and I see you’ve been a valued member since 1988, thanks so much for your loyalty for all these years.”

The simple answer is that historically your American Express “member since” date has been the year that the first account was opened on which you’re a user, whether you’re the primary cardmember or an authorized user.

Over 15 ago my dad added me as an authorized user on his Amex Platinum (after all, I wasn’t old enough to apply for cards myself at the time), and ever since, all my cards have been showing a “member since” date of 1988. This includes all the cards I apply for in my own name (which have been all cards since I turned 18).

I’ve been an Amex cardmember since 1988, apparently!

How my Amex history helps my credit score

Aside from the general cool factor of having such an old “member since” date (or not cool, depending on how you look at it), this has no doubt helped my credit score over time, and particularly early on:

  • American Express used to consistently report the original age of accounts for cards on which you’re an authorized user to credit bureaus, which really helped my credit score early on, given how important your average age of accounts is
  • When I was young, I had multiple cards on my credit report that already dated back over a decade because of how American Express reported cards, so my average age of accounts was much higher than it would have been otherwise
  • To this day this positively impacts my average of accounts, because my credit score still shows a 34+ year old card on it
My credit history dates back to before I was born!

Unfortunately this trick doesn’t work anymore

Several years back American Express card authorized users stopped benefiting from the backdated account opening practice. In other words, if you’ve had a card for 20 years and add an authorized user, that authorized user won’t inherit your 20 year history.

I’m not sure if you still inherit the “member since” date in terms of what the physical card shows (I’m sure OMAAT readers can provide some data points), but if you do, it has limited practical implications.

This doesn’t work the way it used to, unfortunately

Bottom line

I often get questions about how I’ve been an Amex cardmember since before I was born, so hopefully the above sheds some light on that. Long story short, authorized users on Amex cards used to inherit the full account history of the primary cardmember, which was super useful when it came to building the average age of accounts.

Unfortunately being an authorized user on an Amex card is no longer reported to credit bureaus in the same way.

Does anyone else have a “member since” date that goes back to before they were born?

Conversations (29)
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  1. iamhere Guest

    If Amex does not do that anymore then the authorized user has to build their credit? Then it would make sense to add the kids early on - note for your new son.

  2. The Guest

    AMEX is a horrible card and company with exorbitant fees!

    1. iamhere Guest

      There are other premium cards with similar annual fees and it depends if you get more value from the card than they are charging.

  3. Glenn Guest

    I got my first AMEX when I was 12 years old (1980). I filled out a paper application at my mom's restaurant saying I was the GM making $40k a year. Forget how old I said I was. When they called to verify employment one of the managers said I owned the place. My kid's cards show the year they were added, not my Member Since date.

  4. Sandra Casey Guest

    I tried to aquire an American express credit card when I was about 17 years old
    Young and dumb I had no idea how to use one. I was just impression when I seen someone pull theirs out and used it. I said I want to be imported enough to have one. Well after several years of applying I finally acquired one at 42 years old. And yes I felt important finally. I always...

    I tried to aquire an American express credit card when I was about 17 years old
    Young and dumb I had no idea how to use one. I was just impression when I seen someone pull theirs out and used it. I said I want to be imported enough to have one. Well after several years of applying I finally acquired one at 42 years old. And yes I felt important finally. I always thought only classy people can get one. I'm 75 years old now and still have amx and I use it with respect as to not spend what I don't have. I love my AMX card. It makes me feel special.

  5. polarbear Member

    Amex needs to fix Y2K problem on their "member since" field :)

  6. Arthur V. Guest

    While mine is dated as of when I was 13 years old in 1966, I too inherited that date from when my father added me on his card in case I should get stuck in transit to boarding school in England (I commueted to boarding school in England from my country of birth and where I reside today, Nicaragua, starting at the tender age of 8.

  7. User Guest

    In 2020 I was added to a business card, and that card said “member since 2020”.

    In 2021, they replaced that card (fraud issue) and the new card had “member since 2013”.

    At least for this business account, they’re still issuing cards with the original member date on them.

    1. Martin Guest

      I think they do things differently in the UK - I first got a supplementary card on my dad's account in 2001, and it carries an 01 date; all my other cards have an 06.

  8. TCCQuest Guest

    I have a member since date from a year I was 2.

    My mother died with a considerable number of MR. I was able to work out with Amex to become an AU on her account, transfer the points to my existing accounts, and then close her account. They took my SSN and did some level (hard or soft, probably hard) of pull to create my AU account. That whole process left me with a...

    I have a member since date from a year I was 2.

    My mother died with a considerable number of MR. I was able to work out with Amex to become an AU on her account, transfer the points to my existing accounts, and then close her account. They took my SSN and did some level (hard or soft, probably hard) of pull to create my AU account. That whole process left me with a very young "Member Since" date. This all went down in 2018 for reference.

    It makes me giggle a bit when they thank me for my years of loyalty.

    I also reference this oddity when folks tell me something is "impossible". I was negotiating with HR for a certain benefit at my new job that they told me was not possible, I explained I was looking at an Amex card that had a "Member Since" I was 2yo date, and that anything is possible and go figure it out....which they did.

  9. I know something Guest

    BoA and Capital One still report back to the original date of open for authorized users. I think Barclays as well but haven’t tested it just yet.

  10. Dan Guest

    Prior to February 2015, American Express did what those in the credit world knew as "backdating." Essentially, American Express considered each new card an extension of your original membership. For some reason, they were able to do this legitimately. Some have said it was an agreement that Amex had for lending money to the US Government during the civil war(?).
    In Ben's case, he inherited the Member Since year of the cardholder for whose...

    Prior to February 2015, American Express did what those in the credit world knew as "backdating." Essentially, American Express considered each new card an extension of your original membership. For some reason, they were able to do this legitimately. Some have said it was an agreement that Amex had for lending money to the US Government during the civil war(?).
    In Ben's case, he inherited the Member Since year of the cardholder for whose account he was added on as an authorized user. This actually stopped before "backdating" stopped. I do not recall the year, however. Instead, the Member Since year became the year one either 1) opened their own Amex or 2) became an authorized user regardless of the accounts Member Since year.
    At 20, I made a great decision to accept a pre-approved Gold card application. That established my Member Since year of 1999. I opened two additional Amex cards between 2009 and 2012 that to this day report as opened in 1999.
    Unfortunately, this ended for everybody for new cards in February 2015. Nobody knows for certain why; however, it coincided conveniently around the time that Citi took over Costco cards and Barclays took over JetBlue cards. It has been theorized that Citi and Barclays balked at having to report cards transferred from Amex at dates that were not correct. Other theorized factors include pressure from regulators, credit bureaus and other lenders. This is just conjecture though. Nearly 8 years later no body has really shared why this ended.
    While the great part of backdating has ended (credit reporting), once a Member of Amex, that date will follow you on your online account management and on new accounts' physical cards.
    It seems that as a concession, Amex mostly stopped hard pulling a bureau for an existing cardmember when applying for a new card once backdating ended.

  11. michael Guest

    ok, I will ask an obvious question (at least obvious to me) - but does that number mean anything? Other than "thank you for your loyalty" - any benefits for have a card for >10, >20, >30 years? I have been a member of UA-MP for 30+ years and I sometimes get a thank you email, but nothing else....

    1. Dan Guest

      For the backdated accounts, opened prior to February 2015, it benefited people by adding age to Average Age of Account. So, rather than having a credit card report as opened on January 2010, it would report as opened January 1988. Huge benefit for AAoA.

      Otherwise, it is strictly cosmetic.

  12. DenB Diamond

    Off Topic: I was never an Auth User, but...

    I had Amex cards in the 1980s, then from 1988 I had no US credit for decades. Amex only recently "matched me" with that old profile from the 1980s. I started getting US credit cards again in 2016 and my MemberSince on new Amex cards said 2016. Until this year. Now all my new Amex cards show 1985.

    1. Dan Guest

      This is a known issue. When returning to Amex after a long period, the new card will have the new Member Since year but after that first card for some reason, subsequent cards have the correct Member Since year.
      Your online account management should also show somewhere, "Welcome Den, Member Since 1985." Or something along those lines.
      For cards opened after February 2015, the Member Since year is strictly cosmetic.

  13. ALC Guest

    I do. Same thing. Was added as an authorized user when I was younger. I've been a member since 1970! In fact, I got a 50th-anniversary gift two years ago.

  14. Mike G Guest

    I got an Amex card when I was 9 years old in 1972. I applied and lied about my age and employment. They checked my fake employment and the person I put down said i was making more than they were trying to authenticate when they called. My dad did made me send it back.

    1. Petri Diamond

      True entrepreneurship. In 1965, I bought my first car when I was 9 (from an actual dealership). Two months and many driven miles later, dad found out and made me return it. The old folks are slowing us down!

  15. Never In Doubt Guest

    Sadly, the Doubt children do not have pre-natal “member since” dates on their AMEX. But they do have dates in their age 13 year when they were first eligible for them.

    As for the “non cosmetic” goal of giving your kids a head start on their credit rating, I figure adding them as AUs on all our cards, not just AMEX, can’t hurt.

  16. Ethan Guest

    I have conflicting data points - Some of my AMEX cards show year I was added as AU, others show real year, though my recent cards are more in former situation.

  17. JB Guest

    My father added me to his Amex Platinum in 2018 as an Authorized User and I did not inherit his account age (it showed member since 2018).

    1. Dan Guest

      Ben's situation with some of his Amex cards ended after February 2015. A few years before "backdating" as it is called ended, Amex stopped giving authorized users the card's Member Since year. Instead, as an authorized user, your Member Since year began the year you were added to the account.
      Ben was very lucky to have gotten in at a time when Amex gave authorized users the cards Member Since year and being able...

      Ben's situation with some of his Amex cards ended after February 2015. A few years before "backdating" as it is called ended, Amex stopped giving authorized users the card's Member Since year. Instead, as an authorized user, your Member Since year began the year you were added to the account.
      Ben was very lucky to have gotten in at a time when Amex gave authorized users the cards Member Since year and being able to open a few Amex's prior to February 2015 which meant that they reported as opened in 1988.

  18. Lee Guest

    Now, the credit bureaus list a given card on one's credit report as the month the card issuer informs the bureau that the person was added as an authorized user. Sometimes there is a lag of one or two months from the actual month the person was added. This has been the case for several years at least.

  19. BenjaminGuttery Diamond

    Yeah, so this is very nice of your parents to do. I have done a similar thing for my sister with my Discover acct that is 8 years old. I will say that this is probably why you were able to jump on the best points cards and benefits very early on, and why opening/closing doesn't affect your score as much as most of your readers. Having a 34+ year anchor on your report is...

    Yeah, so this is very nice of your parents to do. I have done a similar thing for my sister with my Discover acct that is 8 years old. I will say that this is probably why you were able to jump on the best points cards and benefits very early on, and why opening/closing doesn't affect your score as much as most of your readers. Having a 34+ year anchor on your report is WAYYYYYY different than having a couple 10 year access open when your 32 and had them opened since your 22 (average age of opening credit).

  20. Garrett K Guest

    If you cancel the card or cards for which you were added an authorized user back when this rule was applicable, does the member since date remain on your count regardless or is there any reason to keep those old authorized user cards active?!

  21. Abet Guest

    Call any banks still report authorize users?

  22. JamesW Guest

    Ah, generational wealth.

    1. GSHLGB New Member

      Hardly generational wealth.

      I had an Amex Green Card 9 months out of UnderGrad in 1972.

      I added my kid in 1981.

      Spending money and responsibly paying it off each month has nothing to do with generational wealth.

      It has everything to do with controlling impulses.

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Mike G Guest

I got an Amex card when I was 9 years old in 1972. I applied and lied about my age and employment. They checked my fake employment and the person I put down said i was making more than they were trying to authenticate when they called. My dad did made me send it back.

1
Never In Doubt Guest

Sadly, the Doubt children do not have pre-natal “member since” dates on their AMEX. But they do have dates in their age 13 year when they were first eligible for them. As for the “non cosmetic” goal of giving your kids a head start on their credit rating, I figure adding them as AUs on all our cards, not just AMEX, can’t hurt.

1
BenjaminGuttery Diamond

Yeah, so this is very nice of your parents to do. I have done a similar thing for my sister with my Discover acct that is 8 years old. I will say that this is probably why you were able to jump on the best points cards and benefits very early on, and why opening/closing doesn't affect your score as much as most of your readers. Having a 34+ year anchor on your report is WAYYYYYY different than having a couple 10 year access open when your 32 and had them opened since your 22 (average age of opening credit).

1
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