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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JR
JR

Seems like consumer advocacy groups might eventually catch on that Amex might now be targetting vulnerable customers which could be considered predatory if discriminating against credit worthy customers, i.e. applying different bonus rules to lure less credity worthy customers who will pay high interest charges…but not quite default if Amex models are “working”.

Jay
Jay

I just filled out the application for the Hilton Honors Ascend for the 100k bonus. I got the “you’re not eligible for the bonus” pop up message so I canceled the application. In the last year I’ve opened the Amex Premier Gold & SPG. They’re both still open and I use the Gold card regularly.

RJB
RJB

Got the “no bonus for you” pop up. I called the reconsideration line and they said it was because of my “history.” I have had the Starwood Amex Card for 2.5 years and before that I had a Delta AmEx card that was closed 2 years ago. (I only have one Amex card and have not opened/closed in mroe than 2 years) My company issued me an AMEX Platinum card that I have to use for business travel. That’s it. Was looking forward to a no-fee AMEX card with MR so I could keep my points alive forever but apparently AMEX doesn’t want me. I’m not a churner – I cycle through about 1 card per year mostly as a result of benefit devaluations. its their loss – I put $100 k in spend a year though my cards.

Chuck

Hmm, that’s odd. Maybe because you got the bonus before on the card?

arizonapv
arizonapv

You probably got denied because of your ‘history’ You pay off your accounts and don’t carry a balance. No need for AE to carry your $100 K in spend each year. I had one company (GE) tell me that I was a freeloader! ha!

JD
JD

I wanted to try out the new feature that advises if you are eligible for a welcome bonus. My wife currently has the MB Platinum card, and we put in an application for a vanilla Platinum card. Instead of advising if she was eligible for the bonus, the application was automatically cancelled, which led me to believe that they considered the two cards to be the same product.

I checked the online application status a few days later, and it said:

“Thank you for applying for the Platinum Card®. We value your Membership and appreciate your interest in another American Express Card. We regret we are unable to approve this request.

The reason for our decision is that you have reached the maximum number and type of Cards that we will approve within the period of a few months. Please know that your prior application(s) has been approved and your Card has been sent to you. If you have not already done so, you can confirm you have received your Card at americanexpress.com/confirmcard or by calling the phone number on the back of your Card. You may then use your Card immediately and start enjoying the benefits of Card Membership.”

Prior to this application, she only had two AMEX applications in the previous 13 months, which is a pretty low bar. We may try another application again later this year, to see what happens.

Kevin M
Kevin M

Just adding a data point: Went for 25k Green bonus today in incognito, got the “bonus denied” message (confirming no hard pull). I’ve opened 6 AmEx cards (Gold personal, Gold biz, Delta personal, Delta biz, Plat personal, Blue for business) and closed all but the Blue for business. All in the past 2 years.

Ry
Ry

I just received my sign-up bonus on the Amex Business Gold Rewards card. I applied in February, hit minimum spend in April, and waited two months for the bonus to post. It never did. I just got off the phone with Amex Membership Rewards to ask when I would receive the bonus. They took my social to research my account. After a long hold of researching my account, the agent came back on the phone to confirm that they were going to post the bonus to my account. I was expecting the worse but got the best. In the past 5 years, I’ve opened 8 personal cards and closed 7 of them. I’ve opened 2 business cards and both are still open. Bonus is now posted

Amy
Amy

I just called Amex today as they had transferred my citi Hilton card to them (should have cancelled before the transfer). I haven’t ever used it, and told the lady there was no reason to keep the card I wasn’t using. She told me I was elligible for a bonus on the no annual fee card, and would likely be approved since I closed this one. I thought it was odd, but didn’t feel like discussing so I failed to push.

Joanne
Joanne

I can confirm this updated language. I went to AMEX website clicked on the Hilton 75K bonus offer card. The next page said I was pre-approved and wanted my annual income and to accept terms and agreement. I proceed and then received a message stating, ” due to my previous intro offers” I could not be accepted. It gave me the option to proceed or have a credit check. I chose to cancel the application.

Saf
Saf

Joanne,

Do you have some stats on how many cards you’ve opened/closed with Amex? When was your last card? Have you closed any cards before the 1 year mark?

Joanne
Joanne

I opened a business AMEX card within the last year. I am still holding the cash credit card which I haven’t used in years. I closed the Premier Rewards on June 1st 2017. Does that explain anything @Saf?

PK
PK

Got Denied for Welcome Bonus on Delta Gold Business Card (Previously own Delta Gold Personal)

scott
scott

Amex just gets worse and worse. I was one of those affected with their new policies when I was approved for the 100K Platinum card using some expired link. I completed the minimum spend with partial MS, got the bonus, and then had the bonus clawed back. I thought it was sleazy of them to only claw it back after the 90 days expired so that I couldn’t normally complete it. I was happy, though, that I was able to use up all the travel credit and get a pro rated refund on the AF after I canceled. So I still ended up making over a $350 profit on the card.

C
C

They screw you over if you use mobile payments I have cancelled both of my cards I have them a second chance when they told me this would not happen again but guess what it did what a shock will probably never give them my businesses every again if your gonna screw people over for using a mobile wallet then don’t allow them on the wallet and then lie to people

NinjaX
NinjaX

give us more detail dude. what are you talking about???