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Is American Express rejecting more welcome offers?

May 03, 2021
5 min read
Is American Express rejecting more welcome offers?
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.


American Express recently added new language to its terms and conditions regarding the eligibility of a welcome offer. At least in the minds of TPG staff and readers, there are some thoughts — based on anecdotal indicators from applicants -- that Amex has tightened up its belts on welcome offer eligibility.

TPG has heard from numerous applicants denied welcome offers without receiving much of an explanation that clarifies the company's recent legal language change.

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Some rejections seem to have been made for obvious reasons:

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

Meanwhile, the rationale behind other rejections appears unclear:

  • "Got approved this weekend for the American Express® Gold Card. However, I was told I would not receive a welcome offer and was declined (got a pop-up message saying I'm ineligible)," reader Gino wrote on the TPG Lounge.

And some readers are enjoying success, even after applying for multiple cards:

The information for the Hilton Aspire Amex card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Here’s a tip to prevent your Amex welcome offer from being taken back

Go figure.

For its part, American Express won't say whether it is denying more offers, acknowledging only that welcome offers are specifically designed to attract new customers. "We regularly refine our policies to ensure that our welcome offers are being provided to eligible new cardmembers, as they are intended for," a spokeswoman said.

Further, the issuer takes into account whether applicants "have or have had the product they are applying for, their history with American Express, the number of American Express Cards they have opened and closed, and more."

That essentially echoes the language Amex added to its applications last year. Here's the new language:

"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."

The lifetime limit on welcome offers was not new, but the second sentence more clearly spelled out that Amex can deny you for any reason. It followed that new language up within a week by launching a tool that lets potential cardholders know before a hard credit inquiry is initiated whether or not the cardholder is eligible for the welcome offer.

Related: A complete guide to Amex one-offer-per-lifetime restrictions

A while back, Summer Hull, a director at TPG, was herself denied a welcome offer when she recently applied for a new Amex card.

"I do not open an aggressively large number of cards each year, and in fact probably have averaged two new personal credit cards each year the last couple years. I've never been turned down a card outside of having to wait out Chase 5/24 when it was first introduced," Hull says. "In terms of Amex specific cards, my newest Amex account was the [Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card] that was opened over a year ago.

"However, despite not being a major hitter when it comes to opening new cards, I received the dreaded pop-up box that I was not eligible for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card based on my history with Amex," Hull says. "I called and tried to apply over the phone, but the result was the same and I was told there was nothing the agent could do."

Related: Your guide to calling a credit card reconsideration line

Featured image by (Photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
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  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases