The complete guide to Amex’s one-bonus-per-lifetime restrictions

American Express is known for its rewards credit cards that offer generous welcome offers and worthwhile benefits. However, unlike other issuers like Chase, American Express has certain application rules and lifetime limitations that cardholders need to be aware of. In this article, we will explore American Express’ once-per-lifetime rule and how it affects cardholders.

The once-per-lifetime rule refers to American Express’ policy of allowing customers to earn a welcome offer on a specific card only once in their lifetime. In the past, American Express used to allow customers to earn welcome offers on the same card multiple times. However, since 2014, the issuer has tightened its application rules and limited customers to one bonus per card per lifetime. This means that even if a significant amount of time has passed since you last applied for a card, you will not be eligible for the welcome offer again.

For example, if you apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express and earn a welcome offer, you will not be able to receive the same welcome offer again in the future. This is clearly stated in the offer details on the card’s application page. While the current welcome offer on the card may be attractive, it is essential to consider the possibility of receiving a higher offer in the future. If you apply for the current offer and a higher offer becomes available later, you will most likely be ineligible for it.

In addition to the once-per-lifetime rule, American Express has also implemented new restrictions to discourage cardholders from earning welcome offers on lower-tier cards if they already hold more premium cards. This means that if you have held a higher-tier card within the same card family, you may be disqualified from receiving the welcome offer on a lower-tier card.

For example, if you have previously held the Amex Platinum card, you will not be eligible for the welcome offer on the American Express® Gold Card. This restriction aims to prevent cardholders from applying for lower-tier cards solely for the welcome bonuses.

These restrictions have been introduced progressively across different families of Amex credit cards. The most recent addition to this list is the American Express® Green Card, which now disqualifies cardholders from receiving the welcome offer if they have previously held the Platinum Card®, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Charles Schwab, the American Express® Gold Card, or previous versions of these cards.

It is important to note that while these restrictions are in place, there have been reports of people getting approved and earning the welcome offer again several years later. Additionally, you may still be approved for the bonus if the offer terms do not include the language about previously having the card. However, it is always best to carefully review the offer details and consider the issuer’s policies before applying.

In terms of the number of cards you can have with American Express, there is no official cap. However, American Express has an unofficial policy that most cardmembers will be restricted to at most five consumer and business credit cards and 10 cards with no preset spending limit. This means that if you already have five consumer and business credit cards, you may not be able to apply for another card unless you close one of your existing cards.

To determine if you qualify for an American Express welcome offer, it is important to keep track of the cards you have applied for in the past. American Express has a welcome bonus qualification tool that can help determine if you are eligible for a certain card’s welcome bonus. If you are unsure if you are eligible, American Express will alert you with a pop-up message before pulling your credit.

It is also worth noting that there may be exceptions to the rule for targeted offers. If you receive an offer that does not include the restrictive language about previously having the card, it could mean that you have been targeted for the card by American Express and are eligible for the offer. It is always best to double-check with American Express before submitting your application to ensure you are eligible for the welcome bonus.

In conclusion, while American Express offers rewards credit cards with generous welcome offers and worthwhile benefits, it is important to be aware of the issuer’s application rules and lifetime limitations. The once-per-lifetime rule and the new restrictions on card families aim to discourage cardholders from solely applying for cards for the welcome bonuses. By carefully considering your options and timing your applications, you can make the most of American Express’ rewards credit cards.

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