What Does American Express Consider A Lifetime?

On the majority of American Express credit card application pages you’ll see that it states:

  • Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

This is known as the once per lifetime rule. The question is are you really limited to one bonus per lifetime? or does American Express consider you to never have had the card after a set period of time? From the data points I’ve seen, if you haven’t held this card for seven years or more, you’ll be eligible for the bonus again.

Keep in mind that positive accounts can stay on your credit report for up to ten years, negative accounts can only stay on your credit report for up to seven years. This leads me to believe that American Express base their bonus eligibility on what is found in their own internal systems rather than what is found on your credit report.

Some readers have also reported that American Express chat representatives will give you a list of cards you’ve previously held before if you ask and this list should match up with what card bonuses you’re not eligible for. Keep in mind targeted offers and upgrade offers often don’t have these bonus restrictions, so this is another way to get the sign up bonus on cards again.

You can view the rules for getting the bonuses again with other card issuers here. You can also learn more about American Express credit cards here. Please share your data points on getting the bonus on an American Express card more than once in the comments below.

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Alex
Alex

I upgraded my Blue Cash card to Blue Cash Preferred few weeks ago but now I see that I could get better bonus if I just applied to new BCP. I already received BCP card and on documents there is a statement: “You can reverser the transfer to the new product prior to April 28, 2021” My question is: if I downgrade my BCP before getting bonus will I have chance to apply to BCP with bonus afterwards?

DH7
DH7

If i get a pre-qualified offer for a card I already have (Everyday @ 15k points), with no lifetime language, should I apply? Should I close my existing card first?

The terms do not contain the life time “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.” that I see in the terms of the other cards listed.

Paul s
Paul s

I know you asked this 2 years ago. This may help someone else. In August 2019, got the Amex Delta Gold 70,000 mile offer with lifetime waived. Previously had this card 3 years ago, with a 50,000 mile bonus.
Applied, received my 70,000 miles when I met the $2000 spend requirement.

Look at the terms and conditions of the offer. If the lifetime language is there, you will not get the bonus. If you miss the language, when you get the card, read the T&C. If you see the language, reject the card. I was shocked when the offer I received did not have the lifetime language in the T&C. More so because I had upgraded my previous gold to platinum, for a second bonus. I don’t churn. I only cancelled because of negative reviews on the Platinum Companion Pass.

Diamond Vargas
Diamond Vargas

Data point — a chat rep confirmed they had no record of my BGR that was closed ~3.5 years ago.

David G
David G

Do they differentiate between signup bonus and upgrade bonus? I’ve never actually applied for a Business Platinum, but I’ve upgraded from BGR for a 50k bonus. Wonder if I downgraded back to gold and applied for Plat if I’d be awarded the bonus.

cm
cm

Maybe related question: I’ve had an AmEx card FOREVER. It started as the classic green AmEx charge card in the early 1990s and then at some point (needing to book flights with a real credit card) I instead got a credit card, at one point called “Blue”. Now it has turned into Everyday. I NEVER use it. I think the last time I used it was 5+ years ago. I just never bothered to cancel it.

Can I get any of the frequent flier cards? Or am I locked out because of this dumb card? I’d cancel it in a heartbeat if it meant opening me up to FF bonuses or other bonuses. I never get mailed offers from them.

P
P

It’s until you’re dead and get reborn or get a new identity with birth certificate passport social security card and all that

CA978
CA978

I had an AMEX card that I defaulted on in the late 1990s. They never sued me and never took a judgment against me. They just charged it off. Even though my credit is perfect now, AMEX does not let me get a credit card with them for that reason alone. So at least in this case, a lifetime is at least 20 years.

Mohammad M
Mohammad M
CGID
CGID

Hey DoC. What do you think happens if you get a card, then PC it to something else? Is the moment of the PC the same as closing the account — from the perspective of this 7-year rule? Or do you think that it is more likely that, since that account number was never closed, Amex will still perceive that you once had that card (for as long as that account number remains open)?

TXOil
TXOil

Ok, my question is if i have multiple businesses, all with different EINs, can i get a bonus for each of the businesses, or am i locked out after the first bonus, for say the Business Platinum card?

Gene
Gene

I, also would like to know if this would work

Sharee
Sharee

William, would definitely appreciate a response on this as well!! Thanks a million!

Dave @ MilesTalk

The answer is that you can get one bonus per SSN – multiple EINs don’t matter.