She told me if I want to wait a year, then the notation of my account on their computer system will be gone completely (they expunge at the 12 month mark). Since this cycle closes Feb 25th, as long as my payment is there by then, by March 2002 I'm good as gold with them... then I just qualify (or not) based on my credit scores. I only have to mail a pmt w/my card number. No letters, no negotiating. Just paying like I'd never screwed up. I'm trying to limit my inquiries since I just did a round of 2 new cards... but when the secured card comes up again I'll already have money in Centurian, a paid old Amex account, and money to secure the Optima. I think your advice (and all the others, by the way! esp Saar and Jason) have really lifted my hopes of becoming qualified again w/Amex in the near future... THank you!!! First time since 1994 that I enjoyed talking w/Amex!