Will American Express Eliminate Repeat Bonus Offers?

Posted by Madison on April 9, 2014

One of our favorite strategies to rack up sign up bonuses was highlighted by a reader named Steve who earned $6,000 in sign up bonuses. He highlighted his tips and tricks including the ability to recycle or repeat bonuses offers as often as he can. He shared that in order to recycle a bonus offer (or churning as some call it), you need to close the account after meeting all the requirements to get the bonus. Then, when they offer another bonus, you’re free to sign up again.

For a long time, many of the credit card issuers allowed this practice in various forms. They weren’t fond of it, but they didn’t specifically exclude it…. until now!

American Express Eliminates Repeat Bonus Offers

American Express recently announced they will change the terms of their sign up bonuses to specifically exclude churning. Since it’s not an official announcement, it’s unclear when exactly the change will take place, or if it already has. It is rumored to begin on May 1.

Many of the offers already include language in the terms that would allow the exclusion. For example, the language on the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express sign up bonus now states:

If we identify you as currently having an American Express® Card account, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

In my last $1,720 + 267k Point Credit Card Application Spree I had no problem adding a Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express at the last minute. It’s a card that I have previously had and was still able to get the sign up bonus, despite the language in the terms and conditions.

Last Chance To Repeat Previous Bonuses?

I think it’s time to take advantage of our possible last chance to apply for any previous cards this month. Just in case the rules won’t officially apply until May 1 (even though the terms may already state it), I’m going to take my chances and see if I can qualify for some cards we’ve already gotten bonuses on in the past including the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. The worst that can happen is that we don’t get the bonus, so I think it’s worth a shot. This may work for cards that you haven’t held in over a year (12 months and 1 day).

Going Forward

Obviously, we will have to watch carefully to see how this plays out. Will the rule apply retroactively? Or just for new accounts going forward? In addition, it will be interesting to see what happens to the sign up bonuses in the future for American Express. Will they change?

We may need to plan to take advantage of future bonuses strategically. Since we may only get one shot at each sign up bonus per card in the future, we’ll want to make sure that we apply for it when the bonus is the best. In addition to Maximizing American Express Points we’ll want to develop a plan to maximize bonuses too!

Once we have some more data points, we’ll be able to figure out what is actually happening and start planning our new strategies to optimize bonuses in the future! Feel free to share your experiences on any sign up bonuses now and after May 1.

What impact will the change have on your strategies to maximize sign up bonuses?

American Express Cards

Here’s the list of American Express cards I went through to see which ones would make sense to apply for in my last chance plan to take advantage of the current bonus offers:



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