American Express Introduces New Welcome Bonus Restrictions

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There is a way to coexist with the banks and card issuers in a way that is rewarding for us as point-a-holics but that keeps us in the good graces of the banks, too. For example, I obtain several new cards a year, but I usually don’t just hit the spending requirement and then dump the cards completely. I keep many cards for years, and the other cards that I might only keep a year or two still get periodic use beyond the initial spending requirement. However, not everyone plays by those unwritten rules. Some folks like to just take the welcome bonus and run. Not once or twice, but over and over and over again.

Presumably to deal with customers that they feel are gaming the system and are not profitable, American Express recently added some language to their card applications that gives them wiggle room to not only deny you the welcome bonus if you have already had that specific card before, but also for more nebulous reasons. The new term states that “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.”

At first, we didn’t know if this was something that was going to be regularly used in deciding who is or is not eligible for welcome bonuses, but we didn’t have to wait long to learn one of the ways it is being enforced.

This week, American Express started displaying a pop-up if you apply for a card and they do not wish to provide you with that card’s welcome bonus. This may be because you have already had that particular card before, but it may also be based on your behavior with other American Express card and offers.

The pop-up language reads:

“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?”

If you receive that dreaded pop-up when applying for an Amex card, you can proceed with applying knowing you probably won’t receive the welcome bonus, or cancel out of your application before they run a credit check.

I view this as a good news/bad news situation. Obviously, when a bank further clamps down on who they will award welcome bonuses to it is bad news for those heavy into the world of rewards credit cards. However, being very upfront about whether or not someone is eligible for a welcome bonus is infinitely better than getting an ugly surprise down the road. I’d rather know from the beginning that I wasn’t going to get a welcome bonus than hit the spending the requirement and get into a messy dispute when the bonus doesn’t arrive.

Have you seen the new Amex pop-up or welcome bonus restrictions on any of your recent Amex applications?

Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.

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.


  1. THANKS For this info. I recently applied for the hilton card and really think it offers a great value to my family. We love embassy suites! I plan to keep it for a long time, assuming the benefits don’t change for the worse. I applied on Tuesday and did not receive this message. I was worried because I get the delta card a Few months ago. As a previous chase loyalist, I am presently surprised with how much I like American Express.

  2. This is a great bit of IT that amex added. I understand if they want to crack down on churners. But approving someone and after the fact denying the bonus is borderline bait & switch.

    If they are going to pay for the technology to identify churners I felt they needed to add the tech to deny them BEFORE the approval. Good on then for doing it.

    Any type of crackdown sucks. But echoing the thoughts in the post, I’d rather know before I go to the trouble of meeting the bonus than after that I’m not getting the points.

  3. IM sure this will work out well for all the card peddling bloggers who rely on the commissions for doing nothing. I like this feature too, I find very Little value in their cards but occasionally do sign up, now at least I know not to waste my time and then have to argue about the bonus

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