Is American Express Rejecting More Welcome Bonuses?

Oct 12, 2018

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. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.      

The new language American Express added this summer to its terms and conditions about welcome bonus eligibility seems to be having an effect, at least in the minds of TPG staff and readers who have made recent applications.

TPG has heard from numerous applicants who have been denied welcome bonuses without receiving much in the way of an explanation that clarifies the company’s recent legal language change.

Some rejections seem to have been made for obvious reasons:

  • “I was rejected for the sign-up bonus,” reader Paul wrote. “In the past year I signed up for the Delta Platinum card and got the bonus, then stopped spending on it, upgraded my Blue Cash to the preferred for a sign-up bonus, then stopped using it except for groceries, and I closed my SPG card before the first annual fee was due after having gotten the SPG points. So yeah, AMEX, you caught me churnin’.”

Meanwhile, the rationale behind other rejections appears unclear:

  • “Got approved this weekend for the (American Express® Gold Card), however welcome bonus was declined (got a pop-up message saying I’m ineligible),” reader Gino wrote on the TPG Lounge. “Recently opened a Platinum last August (welcome bonus received).”

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

  • “In the last year I have opened Platinum, Ascend, Aspire, and as of yesterday, Gold. All are still open, received bonuses on all of them,” reader Philip wrote.

Go figure.

For its part, American Express won’t say whether it is denying more bonuses, acknowledging only that welcome bonuses are specifically designed to attract new customers. “We regularly refine our policies to ensure that our welcome bonuses are being provided to eligible new card members, 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 earlier this year. Here’s the new language added in June:

“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 bonuses 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 bonus.

Summer Hull, the head of TPG Family content, was herself denied a welcome bonus 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 Platinum Delta Card that was opened over a year ago. I also have the Amex Everyday Preferred and SPG Business Card, all of which get used and have been open for at least four years.

“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 SPG Luxury 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.”

Featured image by NurPhoto / Getty Images

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
  • Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
  • Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the 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.