Posted by William Charles on June 7, 2018
Credit Cards

Published on June 7th, 2018 | by William Charles


American Express Adds New Language Restricting Sign Up Bonuses (Looks At Closed & Open Cards)

American Express has previously allowed you to get the sign up bonus on each card once per lifetime with the following language in the fine print:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card.

Today they have added new language stating:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

It’s hard to know how bad this additional language will be, because it’s not a hard rule and is exceptionally vague. It’s obviously not good news though, if anybody gets denied the sign up bonus due to this language then please share your stats in the comments (e.g how many open cards you have, how many American Express cards you’ve had opened in the past etc). My gut feeling is that American Express was already doing this (e.g sometimes people wouldn’t get the bonus on offers without the lifetime language even though they should have been eligible) and this addition in the terms is a legal protection for those cases. That being said even if that’s the case now American Express will surely expand on this rule and start denying bonuses in other cases as well.

It will be interesting to see how this is enforced as well, will people just be denied? Will people be told they won’t receive the sign up bonus after signing up? Will they not be told at all and no sign up bonus will post? It would be very misleading for American Express to only tell consumers they aren’t eligible after meeting the minimum spend requirements for example.

Hat tip to US Credit Card Guide

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damn RATs!

Wow!! Got a call a month ago by RAT but did not answer. A friend got the same call, she answered, got shutdown on all her amex accts.

So I completed spend on my other amex card, got the bonus. I applied for another amex card and now I am scared to complete this spend bec they can now deny me.

can u give us more detail? how did u know RAT was calling you and what did you and ur friend do exactly? MS all ur MSR for bonus on Amex? which cards are u talking about?

We were together. I was the first one called I put thru voicemail and it left a voicemail saying it’s amex and I need to call them.

1 min later, same number called my friend. She answered and we were in shock! She was told that all her cards are being cancelled. It was a courtesy call.

So after that I completed spend on my hilton card and got the bonus days after. Was worried I would get the call again so I did this.

No MS from recent purchases. Ms was from years ago.

I applied for a new card hilton biz. So now I am not sure if I wanna complete the spend.

How long ago was your MS? How frequent and what kind of MS numbers if you don’t mind my asking? Thank you.

A year ago. SImon gc’s. Just $10k on my amex plat ameriprise and only did it once.

Thanks for the intel!

Haley. Thank you for the detail. I wanted to follow-up and see if anything has happened since. your story is actually pretty crazy. you and your friend both got a call on the same day and she got shut down? holy crap. that doesnt even make sense. what did ur friend do? how much churning or MS abuse? also, it seems u didnt do anything wrong either. 10k simon GC a year ago doesnt seem crazy. any more info you can think of? if you meet the spend organically, it shouldnt be an issue, but u dont MS, so I dont get why they would shut u or ur friend down.

Without the welcome bonuses who would ever want to deal with them, the Comcast of credit cards.

Agreed, Amex should just get out of credit cards business already… they are so mismanaged that’s where they are headed.


AMEX would not exist for very long without its bonus offers. Reminds me of Sears saying they didn’t need their catalog order business anymore…..look where that got them….

They should just go ahead and spell out in T&C their ideal customers. Must have six figure income, can’t also have UR or TYP cards, can’t be a reader of points maximizing blogs, must carry a balance and pay interest, can’t have a history of getting bonuses with Amex, must keep card for 5+ years and pay rapacious annual fees, etc

LOL! exactly!

2019: “Data point: Approved for the new Blue Double Plus, denied for the bonus!”

I get the feeling there are factions at AMEX in conflict with each other. One hand says no, the other hand says “Take our money!”

holy fuck… u cant get anymore blanket catch all statement than that. SMH. this is where the industry is headed. didnt think the game would die this quick, but i would say 2 years more MAX. game over.

now the recent amex shutdowns make more sense.

Who’s been shut down by AmEx? Are you talking about a Chase-style shutdown where all accounts get closed?

yes im talking about chase and USB like shut downs. amex is now following the same path. no more FR sanctuary. this is going to get worse. DPs are coming in about account wide shutdowns from perk abuse of all kinds.

Will you please share a couple citations of this?

How much of it is related strictly to MS? Are people who have a lot of accounts (or have opened many and closed them) but have played by the rules being affected?

The game is not dying, we’re just at the height of the business cycle right now. 10 year bull market, record bank profits, record unemployment. As soon as we have a recession and their fees dry up these banks will be jumping over each other to offer better bonuses with reduced restrictions.

Exactly. Once the market resets, and banks need customers, many/most restrictive rules will slowly be thrown out.

I agree. Churning has become big business as more and more people do it. It doesn’t surprise me that the banks are cutting back to reduce their losses. What does surprise me is that none of the banks have developed an alternative strategy that would reduce first year losses while locking in cardholders for longer periods of time than just the first year.

What about the Barclays Arrival Premier? Having bonus points being awarded for maintaining higher levels of ongoing spend each year (paired with no signup bonus) seems to be exactly that.

pretty much. thats one way to do it. i mean look at citi and their TYP cards. altho something is up with their AA cards. not sure what their deal is with AA.

They have an AA addiction!
Free miles everywhere!

I’m quite sure AA funds those signups. No way Citi hands out free AA miles like candy on its own, while they usually don’t even have any signup on TYP cards.

Citi and Barclays pay for these. AA gets the windfall. Citi paid hundreds of millions of dollars for miles not too long ago.

Amex is headed down a dark path. I can respect the fact that amex is trying to cut out the churners, but this type of ambiguous language just shows how little diligence they have done. if people are smart, just apply and then sue amex in small claims when they fail to deliver the sign on bonuses. this is why we don’t want big banks.

Do you think anyone except churners read the fine prints like these?

You can’t sue in small claims. You have to file for arbitration

Called amex several months ago to ask if wife had ever had SPG biz card. On the “supposed recorded line” agent said you’ve had lots of cards but I don’t see that one. Applied for card, met spend . Three follow up calls later and a supposed case number assigned = NO Bonus, No follow up. No Nothing. Its been going on for months.. They are now just telling us

Reach out on Twitter

I had same trouble, reached out on Twitter and got bonus in a week.

Also, always make sure right after you get the card if you are eligible for the signup bonus preferably via online chat so you have a record (take a screenshot).

Good to see. I would rather have Amex going after churners than devalue MR points. It’s about time they get rid of the riffraff / ham-and-eggers.

Maybe they should up the statement credit MR value to 1 cpp instead of 0.6

Wow….. talk about going over to the dark side…. Lawsuit heaven too….. So you apply for the card, have excellent credit, not had it before, get approved, then go ahead meet your spending…… and then four months later, no bonus….. (and then they’d hide behind this vague catch-all escape clause….)

Alex should file the class-action lawsuit on this one.

Especially after you paid the fee for cards that are not free free for the first year. I would be livid if I didn’t get the bonus

Haven’t look over Amex T&C in some time but I vaguely recall no class action and binding arbitration – which prevents most small claims actions. Even though we are at height of a business cycle – QE and 0% money has disappeared for the big banks and travel rewards are increasing in cost with inflation and fuel prices are spiking with few market forces indicating a future reduction.

It sounds like this vague language was written by a PR department spin as opposed to white shoe counsel that bills at $750 an hour.

Honestly, I think we may look back at these as the good old days, I still scratch my head at banks that are approving lol/24 . I’m not sure we will see a repeat of CC rewards heyday in the future with rapid tech gains, algo’s and AI applied to credit risk and churning in the future. Amazon prime shutdowns, it’s getting easier and faster to find and fix holes in profit/loss centers. JMHO

However, there are pretty serious consequences to denying credit to people unfairly. So you need to approve, but no bonus. Which is harder.

I don’t think such vague rules are enforceable. They are really setting themselves up for class action suits. As a shareholder I don’t think this is a good decision. Just put exact rules.

If they’re going to do this, they should have some sort of pre-approval where they will tell you definitively whether you are eligible or not, BEFORE your application is processed. This would be like a car manufacturer advertising a car and only promising it will work after you’ve bought it. No thanks.

This is why we need the CFPB. Most people don’t have the time or resources to file a lawsuit in small claims, and class action suits pay out most of the damages to lawyers.

“Mick Mulvaney fires all 25 members of consumer watchdog’s advisory board” Washington Post 6/6/2018

This is what happens when you have a decent chunk of the population blindly believe that everything government does is just bad.

Worse, since Amex has an arbitration clause in their contract, you probably* wouldn’t be able to pursue a class action even if you wanted to. Cordray’s CFPB tried to put a stop to that nonsense with the arbitration rule, but the GOP CRA’d it. The parties are not the same.

* Technically, you could file suit and seek to represent a class, and it would be up to Amex to move to compel individual arbitration (which prevents the class certification). Practically speaking, this means you can’t pursue a class action, because the odds Amex would “generously” decide not to move to compel arbitration are near zero. Also, there is (or was?) an opt-out provision in Amex’s arbitration clause (that must be done within a certain number of days from opening the card). If you opted out, you could seek to represent a class consisting of other customers affected by the same practice who also opted out, but such a class is probably too small to viably be prosecuted.

CFPB does nothing though. They have zero authority. All Amex has to do is respond “fuck you” and it’s over.

I’d like to here your experience especially pre-2018 CFPB before the current admin changed. It’s very counter to most.

That ship has sailed. Besides the point USB made below, Mulvaney shut down a slam-dunk case the CFPB has worked on for years against a predatory lender offering loans at 950% interest. Joe Blow hasn’t a chance.

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