Breaking: AMEX Now Restricting Business Card Sign-Up Bonuses to Once per Lifetime

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

I have bad news for folks who are considering applying for American Express small business cards.

Via Miles to Memories, American Express is now restricting sign-up bonuses on most small business cards to once per lifetime.  AMEX already has this policy with its personal cards.

I checked the terms & conditions on several AMEX small business cards, and can confirm it’s true.

Breaking AMEX Now Restricting Business Card Sign Up Bonuses To Once Per Lifetime

If You’ve Received the Bonus on an AMEX Small Business Card in the Past, You Can NO Longer Get the Bonus Again!

This is not good news for folks who want to earn a sign-up bonus on a card they’ve had in the past.  And it’s another sign that banks are tightening up their application rules.

What’s Happening?

Link:   Hot Deals – Small Business Cards

Until now, American Express has allowed folks to earn the sign-up bonus again on their small business cards if they hadn’t had the card for at least 12 months.

The terms used to say:

Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product within the last 12 months.

But that’s changed.  I checked the terms & conditions on several popular American Express small business cards.  And the terms now read:

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

Cards which have changed their terms include:

There’s 1 notable exception.  The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express still says you can get the bonus if you haven’t had the card in at least 12 months.

But that’s only on the landing page.  When you click the “Apply Now” button, the terms & conditions on the application page also mention the new restriction.  So I suspect they’ve just been slow to update the offer page with the new terms.

Miles to Memories points out that sometimes American Express sends out targeted offers (on both personal and business cards) that don’t include the restriction.

You’re more likely to get these offers if you opt-in for American Express to send you mail!

What Should You Do If You’re Considering These Cards?

If you’ve previously earned a sign-up bonus from an American Express small business cards, it looks like you’re out of luck in most cases.

But if you haven’t earned the bonus on an AMEX small business card, you might consider waiting for a higher bonus offer before you sign-up.

Here’s my post on the best sign-up bonuses ever offered for popular cards to help you with your decision.

Many folks won’t be pleased that American Express changed the terms without notice.  When they started restricting the sign-up bonus on personal cards to once per lifetime, American Express gave folks ~6 weeks warning that the rules would soon change.

I said at that time I suspected the new rules would eventually apply to small business cards.  So I’m surprised the old policy stayed in place this long!

Here’s a guide on how to fill out an American Express business card application.  And you don’t need a multi-million dollar business to qualify.

This is NOT good news for folks who apply for lots of cards.

But there are always new offers and deals to help folks earn Big Travel with Small Money.  And Emily and I will always tell you about them!

Let me know if you find any exceptions to this new rule!

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20 responses to “Breaking: AMEX Now Restricting Business Card Sign-Up Bonuses to Once per Lifetime

  1. I think the banks are going to find that their customer acquisition cost is actually going to go much higher as a result of these types of policies. Initially it may seem like they are reigning in the abusers, but that effect will wear off after a quarter or 2 of earnings reports. Longer term, their account growth will struggle and they will have to offer ever higher bonuses to entice folks who realize they only get 1 shot, so they need to hold out for high offers. It won’t take them long to realize it and they will start to offer higher bonuses to front run their competitors who they will expect to raise offers as well. My advice would be to completely halt signing up for new cards until bonuses are double what they are at now. That will help send them the message.

  2. Hurry up Costco and issue your new credit card so I can cut up the only American Express in my wallet.

  3. What if you have had the card in the past — but they just recently sent you
    an application in the mail with a referral code?

  4. I have been a big fan of amex and put A LOT of spend, on my one, and only amex card every year for several years instead of taking advantage of many lucrative other offers from other banks, but those days are over! I had considered getting another Amex product but I have not seen any great offers and honestly this new attitude ( admittedly they are all getting more strict but amex is now the harshest of all the banks) they just are not going to make it worth my time.

    I have finally decided I was missing out on too much, so this year my spending dropped off a cliff with them and I applied for a few other cards and I am giving them my business. Sorry amex if you are want to keep a really good customer like me from EVER earning another bonus (just every once in a while for heavens sake) then good riddance. I will go with someone who is going to reward me better.

  5. What if you own several small businesses? Can I get a sign up bonus on each one? Especially if they each have their own tax ID?

  6. AMEX cards has such high annual fees, compared to other similar rewards cards, that it doesn’t make much sense to keep them by paying the fees and also they are not accepted as widely as other type of cards.

  7. @misty – Read the terms on the offer you received.

  8. Is it one per business or one per business owner?

  9. That is bad for MMS biz model and the other similar card selling blogs. Wondering who will be the first to bite the dust. By the way have you seen the earnings report by Bankrate which owns The Points Guy? Stock tanked by over 45% on disappointing earnings….

  10. Ive had the Amex Gold a few years back with a signup bonus, but recently received a targeted 75k points offer. Can I still get it if they sent me this targeted mailer?

  11. At least [you can still earn the sign-up bonus multiple times with] Bank of America and Citibank cards. Also, I think Amex’s new policy isn’t as crippling as Chase’s new policy on credit card approvals. Are there any other issuers you can think of that have credit cards [that allow you to earn the bonus if you’ve already earned it previously], and no restrictions on the number of previous new credit card accounts? -Edited

  12. Not accepted everywhere, high annual fees, change terms with no notice, shut down accounts (bluebird) for no good reason, limit signup incentives to once per lifetime….and they wonder why they are losing customers and money…’s because management has no clue. Personally I have not gotten any Amex cards since they changed the rules on personal cards, I also cancelled all except one of my Amex cards at that time, and I don’t miss them a bit!!

  13. Darius,
    Can I use my Amex business gold rewards card to buy visa gift card without a cash advance charge and qualify as a purchase? Thanks

  14. @Hersh – Would you mind doing us all a favor? Read the terms on the offer you received and let us know what the answer to your question is.

  15. I havent visited Amex too much and only have the SPG personal and SPG business. So These restrictions on future offers wont hurt in the future. SPG is going away to Marriot, so no future offers there. Yeah it bites when you only get one shot. Like most I would only wait for a 100k+ offer

    The credit card companies always report big earnings. [Folks who apply for lots of cards] arent profitable, but do they really hurt the profit margin that much? Would imagine some 20-something bean counters trying make name for them self by coming up with this great 1 shot policy

    Not as restrictive as Chase. In the medium and longer term, growth will certainly struggle. Looking at it from the credit card companies POV, this bonanza went on for a good 8+ yrs. And sooner or later, when something is “too good” for so long, there is the tendency for shut down.

    Its been a great ride [Edited]

  16. @matthewD well im currently in another state and received a picture of the mailed flyer from was sent home…really didnt think that it would address that scenario but ill ask for a picture of the terms..thanks for the smartass remark!

  17. @ Paul – I have heard that Costco’s new card will be a Visa rather than AMEX .

  18. Another nice trip for free using IHG points. I enjoyed the recent promotion but I wonder if I have all my submissions returned.

  19. Bummer, didn’t get to churn any Amex business cards before this went into effect.

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