Amex is very lenient about past debts with them. I had two cards that were canceled by them and took me over 2 years to pay them all off (they were paid on and off, sometimes I went for months without paying anything as I was in really bad shape financially).
They recently approved a 1K SL Hilton card after I paid off the previously charged off cards about a year ago. My score was 631 when approved for the card. From what I have read. 1K SL is the lowest SL with Amex, so my advice for you is to wait until you are around 620-630 minimum before it a shot.
They are not lenient about past debts with them. They will blacklist someone for 20 years without batting an eye. You got back in because you paid them off. Had you not, you'd be sitting on the sidelines for 10+ years. Also, the lowest limit with them is $500 which will put you in their credit steps type program. Sometimes someone with $1k will end up in it too. That's when you know you got in by the skin of your teeth.
I was approved for the BCE with a starting limit of $500. I actually chatted with AMEX and asked them if I was in their version of a credit step program and they said no. I've never had a relationship with AMEX, but I don't know why they started me off so low. My EX score was in the 680's - 690's when I was approved.
So I just wanted to mention that just because your starting limit is in the 500's, doesn't necessarily mean you're in their steps program. Maybe they just don't like you as much... LOL
I would LOVE to have the BCP because of the groceries and gas cash back percentages. Is there any way to upgrade to that one after a while?
That's true. It doesn't always mean credit steps. You would have received an email if that was the case. There really aren't any datapoints for a $500 limit that isn't in their steps program. Keep us informed about the growth.