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Recently, American Express introduced new language that further restricts who is and is not eligible to receive a credit card’s welcome bonus of miles or points. While further restrictions on who can get a welcome bonus are a bad thing, a new tool they released to go along with those restrictions isn’t all bad…
There is a way to coexist with the banks and card issuers in a way that is rewarding for us as point-a-holics but that keeps us in the good graces of the banks, too. For example, I obtain several new cards a year, but I usually don’t just hit the spending requirement and then dump the cards completely. I keep many cards for years, and the other cards that I might only keep a year or two still get periodic use beyond the initial spending requirement. However, not everyone plays by those unwritten rules. Some folks like to just take the welcome bonus and run. Not once or twice, but over and over and over again.
Presumably to deal with customers that they feel are gaming the system and are not profitable, American Express recently added some language to their card applications that gives them wiggle room to not only deny you the welcome bonus if you have already had that specific card before, but also for more nebulous reasons. The new term states that “We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.”
At first, we didn’t know if this was something that was going to be regularly used in deciding who is or is not eligible for welcome bonuses, but we didn’t have to wait long to learn one of the ways it is being enforced.
This week, American Express started displaying a pop-up if you apply for a card and they do not wish to provide you with that card’s welcome bonus. This may be because you have already had that particular card before, but it may also be based on your behavior with other American Express card and offers.
The pop-up language reads:
“Based on your history with American Express welcome offers, introductory APR offers, or the number of cards you have opened and closed, you are not eligible to receive this welcome offer. We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?”
If you receive that dreaded pop-up when applying for an Amex card, you can proceed with applying knowing you probably won’t receive the welcome bonus, or cancel out of your application before they run a credit check.
I view this as a good news/bad news situation. Obviously, when a bank further clamps down on who they will award welcome bonuses to it is bad news for those heavy into the world of rewards credit cards. However, being very upfront about whether or not someone is eligible for a welcome bonus is infinitely better than getting an ugly surprise down the road. I’d rather know from the beginning that I wasn’t going to get a welcome bonus than hit the spending the requirement and get into a messy dispute when the bonus doesn’t arrive.
Have you seen the new Amex pop-up or welcome bonus restrictions on any of your recent Amex applications?
The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees