This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Most credit card issuers have rules in place to try to prevent credit card “gamers” from earning multiple bonuses for signing up for a slew of cards or the same cards over and over. This makes sense when you think of it from the perspective of the financial institutions: these issuers want long-term customers, not just customers looking to earn a bonus before dumping the card for another one.

Chase’s 5/24 rule is perhaps the best known restriction — it factors in how many cards you’ve signed up for from all credit card issuers (not just Chase) over the last two years. Other banks like Citi and Bank of America also have varying rules restricting how often you can get another bonus. But comparatively, American Express has had some of the most restrictive card-specific anti-churning rules over the last few years, allowing one welcome bonus per “lifetime” per card type. Generally, the restriction has been listed in the offer terms and conditions as:

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

While this limits cardholders from getting a welcome bonus on the same card more than once, customers could still earn a welcome bonus on each of potentially dozens of American Express cards. However, last week the issuer added new language to the terms and conditions about welcome bonus eligibility:

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. 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. [emphasis added]

This new language immediately brought up some concerns. Specifically, would American Express use this language to approve you for a card, but then deny a welcome bonus after you had already met all the welcome bonus requirements?

Well, it turns out there’s more to the story. Starting today, American Express has launched a new welcome bonus tool, letting potential cardholders know before a hard credit inquiry is initiated whether or not the cardholder is eligible for the welcome bonus.

Here’s how it works. When you apply for an American Express credit card, if you’ve already had the card you’re applying for, you’ll receive the following message before your credit is pulled:

Because you have or have had The Platinum Card, you are not eligible to receive the welcome offer.

We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?

I tested this for myself on Tuesday night by re-applying for The Platinum Card® from American Express, which I currently have. Sure enough, I received this message when I tried to submit my application:

However, despite selecting “Cancel Application” and receiving a confirmation page that I’d cancelled my application, I later received an email saying that Amex was “reviewing [my] application now.” It seems the issuer is still working out a few bugs in this new tool. [Update 6/19/18: American Express informs us it has now fixed a bug on its end that was sending out the confirmation email even after a customer had cancelled their application.]

If you haven’t had the particular card you’re applying for but you’re restricted by the new welcome bonus language due to your history with other Amex cards, you’ll receive the following message:

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?

Image courtesy of American Express.
Image courtesy of American Express.

Luckily this message didn’t pop up for me when I applied for — and was accepted for — the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express.

Which Cards Are Affected?

If you’re wondering whether this restriction is only on certain cards, we can confirm that the new welcome bonus language appears on (at least) the following cards:

Bottom Line

It’s no secret that we at TPG have a lot of credit cards. So, we’re certainly disappointed about the new American Express welcome bonus restriction. That being said, we’re greatly relieved that you’ll be able to know in advance if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus using the new eligibility tool. We don’t know how many credit cards will be too many for American Express, but between us and our TPG readers, we’ll undoubtedly be hearing more reports about this in the weeks and months to come.

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 75,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.†
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • You can also receive 35% points back on all First and Business class flights, with all airlines available through American Express Travel.
  • You can enjoy access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠ offering access to the most lounges across the globe, when compared with other U.S. credit card offerings. As of 11/2017
  • Terms Apply
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$450
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.