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New Amex cardholders get more time for welcome offer spending

April 02, 2020
8 min read
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If you’ve applied for an American Express card in the last three months and wondered how to complete the spending requirement during the coronavirus crisis, American Express is offering some reprieve. Eligible card accounts approved between Dec. 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, will receive a three-month extension to meet card spending requirements.

Per American Express:

Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months. Eligible Cards are U.S. Consumer and Business Cards issued by American Express National Bank to a Basic Card Member. Learn More.

This is great news if you're struggling to meet a spending requirement on your new American Express card. An additional three months doubles the time usually allowed for making a specific amount of card purchases required to earn the welcome bonus on cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Gold Card, Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card and the Delta SkyMiles credit cards. If you've held off on applying for the elevated SkyMiles card offers because of the spending requirement, you now have six months to get it done. If you already have one of these cards, this extension makes it easier for you to score that coveted welcome bonus.

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Which cards are eligible for an extension?

All U.S. consumer and business cards issued by American Express are eligible for an extension of three months. This includes all cobranded cards as well as those affiliated with the Membership Rewards program. The only exception appears to be for corporate cards.

Who benefits from this extension?

The three-month extension for meeting spending requirements on a new American Express card means that if you apply for a new card in April, you have until September (six months) to make your purchases. This is a great opportunity to score a big welcome bonus that would normally be out of reach. This puts quite a few welcome bonuses within my reach, since I no longer have to worry about spending thousands of dollars in a relatively brief three-month time period.

With so many people affected financially by the current crisis, this three-month extension provides a much-needed reprieve. It not only makes cards with big welcome bonuses much more attainable, but also creates an opportunity for people to earn cash back bonuses from cards like the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express. Plus, it's a great way to maximize the return on your daily spending. For example, if you plan on charging about $834 of nonbonus category spending to an Amex card with a welcome bonus, you'd normally earn 1-2 points per dollar spent on most Amex cards. Put use those expenses toward meeting the spending requirement on the The Platinum Card® from American Express and you'll effectively get 11 points per dollar spent in the form of a 60,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months of account opening.

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Related reading: 11 ways to meet credit card bonus minimum spending requirements

Are other banks following suit?

At the moment, no other card issuers have announced a similar extension on meeting spending requirements. Hopefully, this announcement from Amex will lead other issuers to follow suit. The three extra months gives cardholders who would otherwise struggle to complete spending requirements the incentive to apply for cards with bigger spending requirements. For me, the Delta Reserve card just moved up on my list of cards to apply for.

Cards to get

With extra time to meet spending requirements in order to cash in on a big welcome bonus, this is a great opportunity to take advantage of some Amex card offers. Welcome bonuses are topping 100,000 points for some cards, so this is a great way to save up points for a post-coronavirus vacation and maximize the return on your spending while in self-isolation. Amex has no shortage of great card offers. Here are a few worth looking into:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Bonus: Earn 60,000 points after spending $5,000 on the card within the first three months of account opening.

Best use: There is a lot of fun to be had with 60,000 Membership Rewards points. My favorite option is to transfer 55,000 miles to ANA Mileage Club for a round-trip, business-class ticket to Europe. You can also stretch your points further by redeeming as few as 10,000 miles each way for an economy-class flight between New York and London on Virgin Atlantic. If you're hoping for a beachfront getaway close to home, flights to Hawaii go for just 30,000 Flying Blue miles round-trip.

You may be able to qualify for a targeted 100,000-point bonus through the CardMatch tool, which TPG values at $2,000 (targeted offer subject to change at anytime). .

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first three months of card membership.

Best use: 100,000 points open up many redemption possibilities. Treat yourself to a Lufthansa first-class seat to Europe for 70,000 Aeroplan miles or save up for a Singapore Suites flight between Singapore and Sydney for 85,000 miles each way.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card or Delta SkyMiles® Reserve Business American Express Card

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

Bonus: The Delta Reserve consumer card is offering a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021. The Delta Reserve business card is offering a welcome bonus of 80,000 bonus miles, 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs), and a $200 statement credit after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/21.

Best use: The Delta SkyMiles program no longer has an award chart, making redemption rates unpredictable. Delta SkyMiles can still offer incredible value, depending on how you redeem them. For example, short-haul domestic flights can be booked for as few as 5,000 SkyMiles each way. Long-haul flights can also be bargain – I've seen round-trip, economy-class awards between the West Coast and Paris for as little as 26,000 SkyMiles. Be sure to check out our Delta SkyMiles sweet spots post for more ideas on how to put your Delta Reserve welcome bonus to good use.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

Bonus: Earn 100,000 points after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first three months of opening your card. (Offer expires on April 8, 2020.)

Best use: We currently value Marriott points at 8 cents each, making the welcome bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card worth $800. You can easily get more value by redeeming Marriott points at high-end properties like the St. Regis Bora Bora. Even if you redeem your points for lower category properties, your welcome bonus can go a long way, since a free night starts at just 5,000 points per night.

Bottom line

This extension from American Express is great news if you've applied for a new card this year because you have three extra months to meet minimum spending requirements to earn those lucrative welcome bonuses. This makes Amex welcome bonuses much more attainable. It also creates a great opportunity to further maximize your daily spending by earning a new welcome bonus. When things finally go back to normal, you might have enough points to book a much-needed vacation.

Featured image by Cardmembers are eligible for referral bonuses with a handful of popular consumer cards. Photo by 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.