American Express has massively tightened up their rules on new member sign-up bonuses which will likely have a significant impact on your points collecting strategy.

You are no longer eligible for a new Amex card sign-up bonus every 6 months – the wait time, bar a number of exceptions, is now 24 months.

The first thing to clarify, as I’ve had a number of questions about this already, is that these changes DO NOT affect your ability to apply for and hold American Express cards in general. The changes discussed in this article refer to your eligibility for a new customer sign-up bonus.

Here’s a closer look at the new rules which have been introduced with immediate effect.


What’s changed

Traditionally, Amex grouped their card products into different ‘families’. The main card families were:

Group 1 – Membership Rewards points-earning cards

Group 2 – Avios-earning cards

Group 3 – Platinum Cashback cards

Group 4 – Standalone cards

The old rules stated that you were eligible for a sign-up bonus on any of the above cards as long as you had not held the card itself or another card from the same ‘family’ in the previous six months. That meant that you could earn the bonus on the Amex Gold card even if you currently held a BA Credit Card for example.

Many people would churn Amex cards to benefit from sign-up bonuses on a regular basis. Provided that you left a six-month gap between cancelling a card and applying again, you would receive another new member sign-up bonus, banking a large chunk of points.

That has now changed.


The new American Express sign-up bonus rules

American Express has made two main changes:

  1. Card ‘families’ have been removed
  2. The gap required between cancelling a card, applying for a new card and receiving a bonus as a new customer is now 24 months as opposed to the previous 6 months rule.

There are a couple of exceptions which I cover below, but here’s what this means for the majority of personal Amex cards.

To be eligible for a sign-up bonus, you cannot have held a personal American Express card of any kind in the last 24 months.

If you want a sign-up bonus on any of the following cards…

  • Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card (Amex Gold)
  • Green Card
  • American Express Rewards Cards
  • British Airways Credit Card
  • Platinum Cashback Credit Card
  • Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card
  • Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card
  • Nectar Credit Card

…you cannot have held any of the other cards on the list within the last 24 months. You also cannot have held the Platinum Card or the British Airways Premium Plus Card.

If that sounds overly complicated, here a couple of examples of what this might mean for you:

You have the BA Credit Card and were looking to apply for the Amex Gold card

You will now not receive a bonus on the Gold card. To be eligible, you’d need to cancel your BA card and wait 24 months before applying for the Gold card.

You have the SPG card and want to apply for the Platinum Cashback Everyday card

You won’t receive a bonus on the Platinum Cashback Everyday card. You’d need to cancel your SPG card and wait 24 months before applying for the Cashback card.


Key exceptions

There are a number of interesting exceptions to the new 24-months requirement.

Amex Platinum

To be eligible for the bonus on the Platinum card you cannot hold or have held any other personal Membership Rewards-enrolled card (the Platinum itself, or Gold/Green) in the past 24 months.

You WILL receive a bonus on the Amex Platinum card even if you have held other Amex cards such as the SPG, Nectar or Platinum Cashback or either of the two BA Amex cards during the preceding 24 month period.

British Airways Premium Plus Amex

To be eligible for the bonus on the Premium Plus card (not the BA free card) you cannot hold or have held either the BA Credit Card or the Premium Plus card in the past 24 months.

You WILL receive a bonus on the Premium Plus card even if you have held other personal Amex cards such as the Platinum, Gold, Green, SPG, Nectar or Platinum Cashback cards during the preceding 24 month period.

Amex business cards

American Express offers two cards aimed at business owners. They are the Gold Business Card and the Platinum Business Card and they don’t appear to be affected by the new rules.

Gold Business card – 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Platinum Business card – 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £6,000 in the first three months of card membership.

Eligibility for a sign-up bonus on these cards remains:

You will not be eligible for any Welcome Bonus award if you currently hold or have held any Membership Rewards enrolled American Express Card in the past six months.

Here’s what these exceptions might mean for you:

You have the BA Premium Plus card and were looking to apply for the Platinum card

Assuming you have not held the Platinum, Gold or Green cards in the last 24 months you WILL be eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Platinum card.

You have the Amex Gold card and were looking to apply for the BA Premium Plus card

As long as you haven’t held either of the two BA credit cards in the last 24 months you WILL be eligible for the sign-up bonus on the Premium Plus card.


Game, set and match – or is it?

Obviously, there’s a lot of strong feelings at the moment and I’ve had more than a few messages saying “that’s it, I’m done” or “points collecting in the UK is over”. I don’t agree with that one bit. Collecting miles and points is all about creativity and new opportunities will always materialise.

Once the dust settles, I don’t think the frustration is really with Amex extending the period between bonuses to 24 months – that was always going to happen. Six months was far far too generous in terms of new member sign-up bonuses. No, the real frustrating element is actually the removal of the different Amex families. You will now be forced to go two years without an Amex card before being eligible for a bonus on most cards.

It actually could have been much worse, Amex in the US moved to a ‘one bonus per card per lifetime’ rule some time ago.

The bottom line is that yes the removal of churning will frustrate many who have used this as an easy way of generating large amounts of easy points, but is it the end of collecting miles and points in the UK? Not even close.

What are your thoughts on these Amex changes?

 

6 thoughts

  1. What if your partner is an additional card holder on your account (BA Premium Plus), and they decide to give that up and setup their own BA Premium Plus account. Would they have to wait 24 months to eligible for the sign on bonus?

    1. Hi Neal. Holding a Supplementary card doesn’t affect your personal 24-month clock so an additional card holder would be fine to apply for their own Premium Plus card. Provided they’ve not been the main cardholder on a free BA card/Premium Plus card in the last 24 months they would be eligible for the sign up bonus.

  2. Hi
    Does the Amex holding period change to 24 months for sign up bonuses also apply to the ‘First year fee’ being waved on the gold card?
    In other words, the gold credit card £140 annual fee is waived in your first year of owning it. Up until now, if you were to cancel after 1 year and then re-apply 6 months later, you’d be eligible again to have the fee waived for another year. Is that still the case or will we now have to wait 24 months ?

    1. Hi Sam,

      I don’t believe these changes should affect the free first year on the Gold card.

      My reading of it is that Amex will still see you as a new customer if you cancel and sign up 8 months later for example, you just won’t be eligible for a sign up bonus.

      But it’s a good question, I guess we’ll know more in the next few months as people get some experience of the new system.

      1. Thanks for that. I guess we’ll wait and see. I’m inclined to disagree with that though, I think they are not going to see you as a new customer if your within 24 months, but I could be wrong.

        1. You may be right actually, if only because their system may not be sophisticated enough to not award you a sign up bonus, but waive the annual fee.

          I still think you’d have grounds for a manual refund of the annual fee though. Looking at the wording on the Amex website, the only reference to 24 months is re the welcome bonus:

          “I understand I will not be eligible for any Welcome Bonus award if I hold or have held any personal American Express Card in the past 24 months.”

          Whereas with the annual fee, there’s no fee in your first year of card membership but not necessarily because you’re a new customer.

          Time will tell I guess.

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