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Can I Earn the Sign-Up Bonus If I Previously Held the Card but Didn’t Earn the Bonus?

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Million Mile Secrets Reader Tom commented:

Last time I signed up for a credit card, I didn’t get the sign-up bonus because I didn’t meet the minimum spending requirement.  I cancelled it last year.  If I sign-up again, can I qualify for the bonus?

That’s an interesting question, Tom!

The answer really depends on which BANK issued your credit card.  Different banks have different Terms & Conditions for receiving the bonus.

For example, you are only eligible for sign-up bonuses of American Express once per lifetime, but Barclaycard credit cards have no such rules!

Can I Earn The Sign Up Bonus If I Previously Held The Card But Didn't Earn The Bonus
Knowing the Rules for Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses Will Bring You Big Travel!

Let’s examine the sign-up bonus rules from some of the most common issuing banks.

Read This Before Applying for the Same Credit Card Again!

If you aren’t sure of the sign-up bonus rules for each bank, you might lose out on valuable miles & points!

The US credit card market is saturated, so banks offer valuable sign-up bonuses as an incentive to apply for their cards.  And they hope that you’ll use their cards even after getting the sign-up bonus!

But what happens if you fail to reach the minimum spending on your card and MISS the sign-up bonus?


Chase offers some of the best credit cards for getting Big Travel with Small Money.  Especially cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points, because they offer lots of flexibility.  So it’s a shame when folks miss out on the great sign-up bonuses!

Can I Earn The Sign Up Bonus If I Previously Held The Card But Didn't Earn The Bonus
You’ll Go Far With Chase Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

The Terms & Conditions page for Chase cards states this concerning the sign-up bonus:

This product is not available to either (i) current cardmembers of this credit card, or (ii) previous cardmembers of this credit card who received a new cardmember bonus for this credit card within the last 24 months.

You will NOT receive the sign-up bonus on a card if you’ve earned it in the last 2 years.

But Chase representatives tell me you WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you did NOT receive it before.  So if you are unsuccessful in reaching your minimum spending, you should be able to receive it by applying for the card again and reaching minimum spending requirements!

It’s worth mentioning that if you’ve opened 5 or more credit cards (from any bank) in the past 24 months (except these business cards), you probably will NOT be approved for most Chase credit cards.


Citi cards have been tightening their rules for receiving sign-up bonuses as well!

The language varies slightly with each Citi card’s Terms & Conditions, but it will say something like:

[Sign up bonus] not available if you have had [this credit card] card opened or closed in the past 24 months.

So you will NOT receive the bonus if you’ve opened or closed the credit card you’re applying for within the last 2 years.

And you may NOT receive the credit card bonus for 24 months, even if you didn’t receive it the first time.

However, Citi representatives informed me that extensions were available if folks were unable to complete minimum spending (up to 2 months!)

American Express

American Express has tightened their rules on receiving sign-up bonuses for both personal and business cards.  You can now only get the bonus for a particular card ONCE per lifetime!

American Express states in its Terms & Conditions:

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

American Express goes even further.  Not only are sign-up bonuses once per lifetime with each card, but the OPPORTUNITY to earn each bonus is once per lifetime!

Can I Earn The Sign Up Bonus If I Previously Held The Card But Didn't Earn The Bonus
AMEX Bonus Opportunities Come Once in a Lifetime, so Search CardMatch and AMEX for Targeted Offers

American Express representatives informed me that you can NOT receive the sign-up bonus if you missed it the first time around.  If you fail to complete your minimum spending you will simply never receive that credit card’s welcome bonus.


Barclaycard doesn’t get as much attention as other banks, but still has a few excellent offers to jump-start your vacation!  And they allows folks to get the sign-up bonus on their cards more than once.

Their Terms & Conditions concerning sign-up bonuses vary slightly with each card, but generally say:

This onetime [bonus offer] is valid for first-time Cardmembers with new accounts only. Existing Cardmembers and existing accounts are not eligible for this offer.

The language SEEMS to suggest that each bonus can only be earned once per lifetime, similar to American Express.  However, Barclaycard representatives tell me you can sign-up for another card later on to receive another bonus.

Can I Earn The Sign Up Bonus If I Previously Held The Card But Didn't Earn The Bonus
The Barclaycard Lufthansa Premier Sign-Up Bonus Can Earn You a Round-Trip to Hawaii!
And reports suggest that you should wait at least 6 months between applications.  So whether or not you were unable to reach the minimum spending requirement on your first card, you can sign up for another card later and receive a welcome bonus.

However, Barclaycard has become very strict about the number of credit cards you can apply for.  Most folks report only getting approved for 1 or 2 cards per year!

Bottom Line

Sometimes life gets in the way of reaching the minimum spending requirement on your credit cards.  Make sure that you can handle those requirements BEFORE you apply for a credit card, or you may lose out on LOTS of bonus points (and Big Travel!).

That said, banks such as Chase and Barclaycard will let you reapply for credit cards, giving you another chance to reach minimum spending.

American Express will NOT give you another opportunity to earn a sign-up bonus.  You have 1 opportunity per lifetime for each bonus.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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