American Express repeated applications
People often ask me whether they can cancel a credit card and then apply for the same card again to get a new signup bonus. The answer is “it depends”. Every bank has different rules, and sometimes the rules vary from one card to another with the same bank. In previous sections I have discussed repeated applications with Citi and Chase. This section discusses American Express’ rules and some strategies you can use to get signup bonuses over and over.
American Express Cards
Unfortunately, American Express will only let you get a bonus once per lifetime per product. This means if you have ever had that specific card before, then you won’t be eligible for a sign-up bonus on it again.
Here is an example of the language used on the Premier Rewards Gold application: “This offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”
One big exception to this rule is if you receive a targeted offer that does not include this language. In that case, you can get the bonus again.
Multiple Amex Platinum Products
While American Express does limit you to one sign-up bonus per product, each of their American Express Platinum cards is considered a different product. Currently American Express issues four different personal Platinum cards and one business Platinum card. The personal cards are: The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley, Platinum Card® from American Express for Ameriprise Financial & the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz.
You can get the bonus on each one of these cards one time each.
Targeted Offers Without “Once Per Lifetime” Language
American Express often sends out targeted offers to customers. While many of these offers do have the “once per lifetime” restrictions, some do not. If you receive a targeted sign-up offer from American Express, it is a good idea to check the terms carefully to see if this language is there. If not, you should be able to get the bonus even if you have had the product before. This applies to both personal and business card offers.
Personal and Business Cards – Same Brand
American Express treats personal and business cards as separate entities, so it may be possible to get the bonus on one even if you have the other. For example, if you recently signed up for the Starwood Preferred Guest personal card, you can get the sign-up bonus again by signing up for the SPG business card. (*As long as you qualify based on the churning rules mentioned above.)
The simplest strategy is to wait for increased bonus offers since you will not be able to earn another bonus on that card according to current rules.
American Express Platinum Strategy
If you are looking for the benefits of the American Express Platinum card you may want to stagger your applications so that you sign up for a different Platinum card each year. Here is an example of how that would work.
- Year 1: The Platinum Card® from American Express
- Year 2: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
- Year 3: The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley
- Year 4: Platinum Card® from American Express for Ameriprise Financial
- Year 5: Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz
Of course the rules are likely to change in the next 5 years, however this shows how you can receive a bonus on the Platinum card for 5 years under the current rules. And, more importantly, you can keep the Platinum card benefits that entire time (Lounge access, $200 per calendar year airline fee reimbursement, Hilton Gold status, SPG Gold status, etc.)
Before cancelling cards after a year, it may also be worth checking to see if you can get a good offer for upgrading the card. See this post for details: Targeted Amex upgrades.
Always check my Best Signup Offers page before applying for any new cards to see if there are better deals than you’re aware of. Also, keep an eye out for offers in the mail. American Express, more than any other bank that I’m aware of, often sends out their best offers as targeted mailings.
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