Is American Express Limiting Sign-Up Bonuses?

Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.

Update:   One or more card offers in this post are no longer available.  Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers. 

Readers have been asking if American Express will let you get the sign-up bonus only ONCE per card from May 1, 2014.

What’s Going On?

I’ve done some digging and I’m reasonable certain that from May 1, 2014, American Express will try to let folks get the sign-up bonus only once per credit card for personal card.  And after that, American Express is likely going to try to restrict folks to only 1 sign-up bonus per business card as well!

Banks want you to use their cards, and not to cancel the card after getting the sign-up bonus. So it is reasonable for banks to have restrictions to prevent folks from repeatedly getting the sign-up bonus after very short periods of time.  American Express believes that there is a very small number of folks (fewer than those who read this blog!) who are repeatedly getting sign-up bonuses for certain cards.

Chase usually doesn’t give you the sign-up bonus for the SAME card unless you haven’t had the card for at least 2 years or if the card has changed (for example, the Ink Plus & (no longer offered) Ink Bold are now Visa cards instead of MasterCards).

Barclays used to let you get the bonus multiple times, but now will let you get only ~2 cards in a year (assuming you’ve been spending on your existing Barclays card and don’t have a lot of recent inquiries).

American Express ALREADY had restrictions in place to prevent folks from getting the sign-up bonus again if they had a particular card within the last 12 months.  So I’m not sure why we need a restriction over the entire LIFE of a person!  I can understand restricting folks from getting the sign-up bonus for a few years, but over the entire LIFE of a person seems a bit unreasonable to me.

That said, we don’t know how (and if) this will be implemented until May 1, 2014.

What Should I Do?

It is unclear if American Express will apply the “new rules” from May 1, 2014.

If you suspect that the sign-up bonuses will increase after May 1, 2014, you can wait until then to apply for new American Express cards.

On the other hand, you could apply for any American Express cards you don’t currently have before May 1, 2014.

Here’s a list of popular American Express cards.

1.   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

You can get a sign-up bonus of up to 25,000 bonus points after you complete the $3,000 minimum spending on the Starwood Preferred Guest (personal) card within the first 3 months.

25,000 bonus points is enough for 2 nights at a Category 4 hotel like the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa.

Is American Express Limiting Sign-Up Bonuses

You Could Spend the Weekend in Sunny Southern California

The $65 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

2.   Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express

Link:   Hilton HHonors™ Card from American Express 

You can get 60,000 bonus points from the American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass card after completing the $3,000 minimum spending within 3 months.

You also get Hilton Gold elite status which gives you free internet & breakfast.

G

Because Free Food is Always a Plus!

But the $75 annual fee is not waived the 1st year.

3.   Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

Link:   Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

You can get 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you complete the $2,000 minimum spending in the 1st 3 months on the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card.

Cancel United Card Lose Miles

You Earn 3X Points on Airline Tickets

The $175 $195 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

4.   American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum

Link:   American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum

You can get 50,000 Membership Rewards points from the American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum card after completing the $3,000 minimum spending within 3 months.

American Express Platinum Cardholders Will Lose Lounge Access

American Express Platinum Cardholders Have Access to Centurion Lounges

The $475 annual fee is not waived.

5.   Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express

You can get 30,000 bonus miles from the Gold Delta SkyMiles card after you complete the $1,000 minimum spending in the 1st 3 months.

You may be able to get a higher offer via a targeted offer from Delta or from the CardMatch tool.

Kansas City to Chicago

The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card Let Us Check This Bag of Care Packages for Free!

The $95 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

6   American Express Delta Platinum

Link:   American Express Delta Platinum

You can get 35,000 bonus miles (5,000 are elite qualifying miles) after you complete the $1,000 minimum spending on the American Express Delta Platinum card within 3 months.

Delta Flight from Punta Cana

Priority Boarding With the American Express Delta Platinum Card = Shorter Lines

The $150 annual fee (annual fee increases to $195 on May 1, 2014) is not waived the 1st year.

7.   American Express Hilton HHonors

Link:   American Express Hilton HHonors

You get 50,000 points after you complete the $750 minimum spending on the American Express Hilton HHonors card within 3 months.

Note:  50,000 point offer expires March 31, 2014.  On April 1, 2014, the offer goes down to 40,000 points.

Vanilla Reloads Family Fare

You Get 5X Hilton Points at Grocery Stores, Some Sell Vanilla Reloads

If you spend $20,000 in a calendar year, you get Hilton Gold elite status which gives you free internet and breakfast.

There is no annual fee so this is a great card to keep to build your credit history.

8.   The Platinum Card® from American Express

Link:   The Platinum Card® from American Express

You can get 40,000 Membership Rewards points after you complete the $3,000 minimum spending in the 1st 3 months on the Platinum Card from American Express (personal).

The $450 annual fee is not waived.

7 American Express Business Cards Worth Another Look

1.   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

You can get a sign-up bonus of up to 25,000 bonus points after you complete the $5,000 minimum spending within the first 3 months on the Starwood Preferred Guest (business) card.

You can transfer Starwood points to airline miles.  So 25,000 Starwood points becomes 30,000 airline miles.

The $65 annual fee is waived the 1st year.

2.   American Express Simply Cash

Link:   American Express Simply Cash

You can get a $250 statement credit from the American Express Simply Cash card after you complete the $3,000 minimum spending within 3 months.

3.   The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

Link:   The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN

You can get 40,000 Membership Rewards points from the Platinum Card from American Express (business) after you complete the $5,000 minimum spending in 3 months.

Is American Express Limiting Sign-Up Bonuses

You Get Free Starwood Gold Elite Status

The $450 annual fee is not waived.

4.   The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

You can get 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you complete the $5,000 minimum spending in 3 months on The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN .

Is American Express Limiting Sign-Up Bonuses

Shipping Gifts Earns You 2X Membership Rewards

The $175 annual fee is waived for the 1st year.

5.  Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express

You can get 30,000 miles with the Gold Delta Skymiles (business) card after you complete the $1,000 minimum spending in 3 months.

Delta Flight from Punta Cana

Hungry?  You’ll Save 20% When You Buy In-Flight Snacks

The $95 annual fee is waived for the 1st year.

6.   The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   The Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express

You can get 10,000 Membership Rewards points from the American Express Blue for Business card after you make your 1st purchase.

There is no annual fee on the American Express Blue for Business card.

7.   American Express Delta Platinum

Link:   American Express Delta Platinum

You can get 35,000 miles (5,000 are elite qualifying miles) after you complete the $1,000 minimum spending on the American Express Delta Platinum business card within 3 months.

Delta Check In ID

Bring a Friend for Free!

The $195 Annual fee is not waived.  ($150 if application is received before May 1, 2014).

8.   American Express Delta Reserve

Link:   American Express Delta Reserve

You can get 10,000 elite qualifying miles with the American Express Delta Reserve business card after your 1st purchase as well as Delta lounge access.

Is American Express Limiting Sign-Up Bonuses

Relax Before Your Flight in the Delta Lounge

The $450 annual fee is not waived.

Bottom Line

American Express may be restricting you to only 1 sign-up bonus per card from May 1, 2014.  We don’t know how this will be implemented, so you could apply for your favorite American Express card before then.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 16,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

* If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

46 responses to “Is American Express Limiting Sign-Up Bonuses?

  1. Richard Hornback

    In this life things change and a good deal rarely lasts and is a good deal forever.

    Heck I remember when you had to pay credit card companies an annual fee and getting your annual fee waved was a big deal.

    There will be other deals, even from American Express.

  2. While you make note of great offers, even if they are limited, it’s also important to note that Amex has won JD Powers best customer service 7 years in a row. Plus the fraud control is amazing. When we hear issues that occur at major retailers like Target, maybe there is more value than multiple sign-up bonuses.

  3. I am glad you posted this. One of my tactics was going to be to cancel an AMEX card that I have already at the end of the year, both to avoid paying the fee (it was waived for the first year) and to re-sign up and get the bonus again. That would have made our trip in 2015 free, for the most part. I will have to look in to whether AMEX Canada is taking a similar approach. It is likely.

  4. What Richard said: “Heck I remember when you had to pay credit card companies an annual fee and getting your annual fee waved was a big deal.” True. Once the signup bonuses have gone, then it’s only a matter of time before the fee-free cards go away as well. There are just not enough people willing to take the long term view and refuse to accept credit cards that charge fees if they perceive a minimal benefit in the short term from paying the fee. IMHO.

    That said, in the past century AMEX had already said that it was one bonus signup to the customer, something they forgot all about it in this century. Presumably they will enforce the policy for awhile and then realize that it’s counterproductive to put a lifetime ban on high-earning consumers getting a bonus for signing up for their card. There are too many other cards out there. My guess is the policy will be enforced for a year or two and then quietly forgotten when it proves to cost AMEX too much high quality business. These things go in cycles. One problem with credit card companies wanting to restrict bonuses or increasing fees going forward is that we now have other very easy and free ways to pay businesses and people such as secure ACH transfers. If credit cards don’t make it worth our while, we can go elsewhere and often the businesses we pay also benefit from being paid by ACH transfer instead of by credit card.

  5. Unrelated, but who won the Hyatt points?

  6. You mentioned that you have found some grocery stores that sell Vanilla Reload cards. I am also in Texas, did you find some in Texas which you can use your credit card to make the purchase? Thanks.

  7. You say you don’t know how the terms will be until May 1st, though I do. The terms for both the Amex Platinum and Mercedes Benz Platinum ALREADY REFLECT the changes, although to different degrees. The MB platinum terms say bonus is only for people who NEVER HAD a platinum card before.

    The personal platinum terms (click on benefit terms and scroll up) in addition to terms limiting previous platinum card holders, states that you will not be eligible for a bonus if you are a current amex cardholder (of any card).

    “If we identify you as currently having an American Express® Card account, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer.”

    We do know how things will change on May 1st, because the terms have already started changing!

  8. Recently I decided to get an American Express Blue Cash card. It had a very minimal sign up bonus, but because I already had another American Express product (Hilton) it said I was not eligible to get ANY type of bonus.

  9. I have 1 business and 1 personal AmEx cards. Last time I clicked on your link to get the SPG card with the 25k bonus points, I did see the warning on the page saying that since I am seen by the browse as a card member, I was not allowed to apply through that offer but a paltry plain 10k bonus points offer.
    So I did not apply at that time… hmm I hope Chase doesn’t follow suit.

  10. Is there any way to downgrade or upgrade Amex personal gold membership card? A bus. version can be upgraded to platinum one and it would give you 40K bonus points after 5K minimum spending requirement is met.

  11. Daraius,
    I never have relationship nor card with Amex before so I am thinking of getting my 1st Amex card to start a relationship with them. Should I:
    a.) Go ahead and apply for premier card first such as Platinum, Gold, or Mercedez Benz now so I got the lucrative sign up bonus (I believe it’s around 40,000 – 50,000 points) and then cancel or downgrade it after 1 year?
    Or
    b.) Wait and signup for the Amex Everyday Card on April when it has launched. But what I am afraid of this option is that I will not be eligible for signup bonus if I applied for “premium” card such like Platinum or Mercedez Benz Amex card, since as you said that we might not getting the signup bonus if we already a Amex member.
    Please advise and thank you in advance.

  12. @Robert

    Yes you can upgrade or downgrade but the bonus for upgrades aren’t that great.

  13. I currently have a green and blue card with Amex as well as a jetblue credit card. On my acct site it has offers and on my green card site it said “approved for upgrade “and it lists all benefits except the 25,000 points. It also noted that with upgrade card number will remain the same.I know pre-approval is not 100% so I dont know if I should apply through a link or on the amex website? I just dont want to lose out on the 25.000 points. Whats the best way to go about applying for this card?

  14. @Mimi

    You won’t get any points if you upgrade from the blue/green unless you get a targeted offer. Only way to get this is if Amex contacts you with the offer, but you could always call Amex and ask if you qualify for any upgrade offers.

    Typically, people apply for a new charge card, leaving you with an extra one if you get approved. Amex is already cracking down with warnings on the application page indicating if you already have an Amex card, you do not qualify for the offer. There are ways around this, but it is a hit or miss. The best way to be sure is if you call Amex and apply over the phone to make sure you are getting the promotional offer.

    @David
    I think the bonus restrictions are across the same product line. For instance, you can still get bonus for the charge card even if you apply for the Everyday card, which is a credit card

  15. Thanks for reply. I believe it was a targeted offer in that it was on my amex account page where I sign in with username and password and when I open it -it states Pre-approve offers” with the PG card one of them. I am going to call first before I apply. I dont need a another card without bonuses.

  16. I would not have included in the picture cards that are not issued by American Express (i.e., Citi AAdvantage & Bank of America Virgin Atlantic).

  17. So with these changes I am considering applying for a few AMEX cards. I only have the Spg personal card now. How many can I reasonably expect to get approved for in short period of time? Should I apply for several on the day?

    • @Richard Hornback @peachfront – I couldn’t agree more and thanks for keeping this in perspective!

      @David – I’d get the premium card now and then see what happens after May 1, 2014.

      @Loren – You could try for 2 cards at the same time or on the next day.

  18. After reading this post and everyone’s comments today, I tried the following from a single browser: logging into my AmEx/Costco online account, signing out, then immediately visiting the site that offers the AmEx SPG 25K points sign-up bonus. As I suspected: because the site detected the cookie(s) from my AmEx account log-in activity just seconds before, a disclaimer at the top of the page said I was not eligible for the 25K SPG points – only for 10K – because I ALREADY have a relationship with AmEx. How disappointing! Now I wonder if AmEx will honor the 40K points that are supposed to come with my wife’s newly approved Hilton Honors AmEx. Granted, she used a different method: she first called to close the AmEx Blue card, for which she was the primary account user, before applying. So technically, she did NOT have a relationship with AmEx at the time she applied… but who knows? What I really like about the two Citi AA cards I was just approved for recently (Platinum & Executive) is that Citi sent me separate written notices – confirming what bonuses I was eligible for: 50K points for Platinum and 100K for Executive. Same with the Citi Hilton Honors Visa: 40K points in writing – So smart of Citi! No ambiguity! Citi apparently appreciates that my wife and I now have a total of 5 different cards with them – AmEx should take note of Citi’s practice and not be so vague… But then again, I’ve been banking with Citi for almost 15 years – maybe that’s why they’re more willing to extend additional credit?

  19. I just spoke to a representative and he told me just clear your cookies and not apply when you are logged on and you should be fine. Can someone confirm that?

  20. After reading above: “Chase usually doesn’t give you the sign-up bonus for the SAME card unless you haven’t had the card for at least 2 years or if the card has changed (for example, the Ink Plus & Ink Bold are now Visa cards instead of MasterCards).” I wondered if my husband and I are able to cancel our current Ink Mastercards and both sign up for Ink or Bold Visa and get bonus again. We just signed up for IHG Rewards Mastercard LAST WEEK and we each have one other Chase card opened June 2013.
    (I know we need to transfer our points to IHG out of Ultimate reward before canceling.)

    My goal is to accumulate as many IHG points as possible to stay 2 weeks in Bora Bora. Btw, can you book directly into an overwater bungalow in any of the other Tahiti IHG resorts other than the Thalasso? I’ve checked the website but it appears to me only the Thalasso qualifies for the overwater bungalow. Thanks for all you do.

  21. Which grocery store sells VRs? No CVS in my state so anything will help.

  22. Hi Daraius, I don’t understand why I need to apply for Amex now rather than later. What is the advantage. If they change to just one card eg I apply spg now after May I apply for one a year later, I still wouldn’t get the bonus right?

  23. This post is VERY apropos to what I’ve been looking at since Monday of this week! I can’t overstate how much I’ve appreciated the value this blog has brought me, in both quality and quantity. I have used and will use Darius’ hyperlinks for all my cc applications to show appreciation.

    I was a faithful Hilton Honors member for many years, always staying at Hiltons, and putting hundreds of thousands of dollars on my HHonors Amex. Me and members of my family enjoyed the executive lounges of Hawaii, Europe, S. America, etc. more than a few times on those points. At present, I still have over 500k HHonors points. Now they are worth less than a third of what they were just a few years ago. Hilton RAPIDLY and SIGNIFICANTLY devalued the points, the options I have with the points, and, very importantly the number, quality, and perks of the executive lounges.

    Finally, this week, I decided to bite the bullet and completely migrate to SPG, never to spend another dollar at a Hilton. However, when I hit the link for the Amex SPG card, I got a notice which stated that I’m not eligible for the 25k bonus because of the existing (Hilton) Amex I have (had for over a decade). Add insult to injury!

    Before this post was published, I did some major Google searching and reading on Flyer Talk. You can read plenty of stories in which folks cleared their cookies, used incognito mode, etc. so they would get the full bonus offer page. After being approved AND hitting the spend, Amex refused to give them the additional 15k bonus points. Even people who applied for the card over the phone and were told they were eligible didn’t get the 15k additional bonus points. What stinks is that Amex never sent them notice that they weren’t eligible. Amex simply didn’t give them the additional 15k points, and all calls and escalations to Amex were totally fruitless. To be fair, the terms do say that if you already have an Amex, you MAY not be eligible for this bonus.

    So, evidently, it is YMMV, big time with the browser clearing trick. The flip side is that many others were totally successful with receiving their points, even if they did already have an Amex. One consistency I have noticed is that a majority of folks who were denied points mentioned they had a Hilton Amex. I’m wondering if that particular card is flagged.

    Now, I’m kind of beside myself as what to do. I could just cancel my Hilton Amex so I KNOW I’m eligible for the full SPG bonus. However, my Hilton Amex is my oldest card, by far! My FICO is 780+, but I feel confident my FICO will take a noticeable hit if I cancel it because all my other cards are ones I’ve been churning (and have had for under a year). Is 15k SPG points really worth the risk of potentially taking a noticeable hit to my FICO?

  24. I already have a personal Hilton Amex, but what if I apply for the business SPG Amex? I wonder if that would help my odds of getting the full SPG bonus…since my business doesn’t have a relationship yet with Amex. I’m a sole proprietor (Realtor) so I’d apply for the business card using my social.

  25. (Apologies for dominating the comments) Eureka! The business card will give me 25k points. The business card app has no disclaimers stating I’m only eligible for 10k SPG points. Also, there’s no mention of bonus limitations if you have ANY Amex, like on the personal app page.

  26. Pingback: Limited Time Offer: 75,000 Points on American Express Hilton Surpass Card | Million Mile Secrets

  27. I’m confused… I thought if you had ANY Amex card and signed up for a different Amex card, you couldn’t get the bonus. For example, I’ve had the Blue Sky card for a few years. When I signed up for the Blue Cash card, I couldn’t get the bonus.

    Does it vary from card to card? Or do you need a targeted offer if you are already an Amex member?

  28. I am confused by this also…. I have an SPG amex in my name, my DH is an AU….. can he apply for the card,or is it considered his account also? I was hoping he could get his own account…..

    • @Tammy Horvath – The Ink Visa and MasterCards are considered different products according to readers.

      @traveltogo – I believe they intend to restrict the bonus to folks who get it again and again for the same cards.

      @JM – He can apply for the card because AUs aren’t considered the primary user.

  29. Do we need to cancel our Business Ink Bold Mastercard BEFORE we apply for the personal Ink card since the terms state: “Chase cardmembers who currently have or have had a Chase credit card in any Rewards Program associated with this offer or have received a similar bonus offer, may not be eligible for a second Chase credit card in the same Rewards Program, or for any bonus offer. ” Or do you think you can have both and still get the bonus miles?

    Also, isn;t business week or something coming up soon with a higher sign up offer OR is that only on another Ink Business card? (not personal)

  30. Pingback: If You Had an American Express Card Before and Want It Again, Apply Before 5/1 | PointsCentric

  31. Pingback: More Miles, Points, and Perks: The Benefits of Business Credit Cards | Million Mile Secrets

  32. You will see American Express will start to lose money because of this lifetime bonus policy and the person who implement this policy will be out the job. I applied for Hilton Surpass card I was denied bonus because I apply for the same card in 2009. I am american express customer for last 10 years people like me will certainly shift to other bank. The fact is all credit card banks make huge profit on their business with the churning factor already taken into consideration which are very few.

  33. Pingback: How to Find Out Which Hotel Card Is Right for You: Tokyo | Million Mile Secrets

  34. William Wadsworth

    I currently have a Delta Amex Gold Card. If I were to get a PRG at some point, would I still be eligible for the signup bonus? I would think I should be because the former is a credit card while the latter is a charge card. Are they tightening it up so much that each person can only ever get ONE signup bonus from Amex? I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to this question.

  35. Like others posted but didn’t get an answer.. You have been identified as a current American Express Card Member. You may have seen an offer advertised for this product previously, but the offer is not available to current American Express Card Members.
    I got this message after clicking on the link for the Amex Membership Rewards card..
    I have had Amex HH and SPG at the same time and now I have JetBlue Amex.. so why this warning?

  36. What is the latest regarding American Express restricted to only one sign-up per card which was to start on May 1, 2014?

  37. Pingback: Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX 30,000 Point Offer Is Back! | Million Mile Secrets

  38. Pingback: Can Spouses Share an American Express Starwood Preferred Guest and Chase Freedom Account? | Million Mile Secrets

  39. Pingback: Get Double Points From Hilton and Starwood | Million Mile Secrets

  40. Pingback: 3 New 50,000 Mile Cards From AMEX | Million Mile Secrets

  41. I applied for the Starwood Amex after having one 3 years ago using the 30000 points offer link. I was refused bonus points after spending over $3000 on the card, I should have recieved 10000 points after $1000. I asked to the phone agen when I activated the card what the terms of my bonus offer were and was quoted the 30000 points offer terms. I consider it fraudulent to tell me at activation I would get the points and then refuse the bonus (for holding the card years ago). Which regulator will be the appropriate one to complain about fraudulent marketing by AMEX?

  42. I got the American Express Blue Sky card about 6 months ago and I had got 30,000 points promotion after spending $500 within 3 months of receiving the card? I would like to eventually get an American Express Premier Gold Card. Since I already have an American Express card, does that meant I am ineligible to receive a promotion offer for another American Express card?