A reader asked in the comments yesterday if I could write an easy-to-understand guide to how your current credit card portfolio may impact what other cards you can get. I thought I would put something together to answer some of the points the reader raised and some of the other questions I get asked on a daily basis.
Please note that there are always exceptions to the rules below, often caused by dodgy IT. You can always find someone who has a personal Amex Gold card and managed to get the bonus on the Business Gold charge card. I can show you 3-4 people who did not, however. If you breach the guidelines below then you can’t complain if you don’t get the bonus you expect.
The questions below represent a bit of a ‘mind dump’ and are not in any particular order.
“Can I get a specific American Express card if I already have the same card as a supplementary on my partner’s account?”
Yes, this is absolutely not a problem. As far as Amex is concerned, your supplementary card belongs to your partner, not to you. It doesn’t treat you as an existing cardholder.
“Can I have both British Airways American Express cards at the same time?”
No. If you apply for the other card, your first card will be automatically closed and all your transactions carried over. Your card year remains the same.
“Can I have both MBNA Virgin Atlantic or both Emirates credit cards at the same time?”
Yes. MBNA treats these as separate products. You will get the sign-up bonus on both cards too.
“Can I have both IHG Rewards Club credit cards at the same time?”
I don’t know the answer to this. My best guess is that you can’t – although the comments below suggest I may be wrong.
“Can I apply for an Amex Platinum if I already have an Amex Gold, and get the sign-up bonus?”
You can get the card, but you won’t get a sign-up bonus.
“Do I get a pro-rata refund of the annual fee if I cancel an Amex-issued American Express card?”
Yes. This is in writing in the terms and conditions.
“Do I get a pro-rata refund of the annual fee if I cancel an MBNA, Lloyds or Creation credit card, Amex or non-Amex, with an annual fee?”
“Can I apply for a Business Amex Platinum / Gold if I already have a Personal Amex Platinum / Gold (or vice versa) and get a sign-up bonus?”
Yes, you can apply. No, you can’t get a sign-up bonus. This is because the driver of whether you get the bonus is whether you already have a Membership Rewards account, which you do.
“When can I re-apply for the same American Express card after cancelling it?”
You need to wait 6 months after cancelling an Amex card before you can apply for another card in the same “family” and get the sign-up bonus. Amex Gold and Platinum constitute one ‘family’ because both give Membership Rewards points. The two British Airways cards are one ‘family’ as both give Avios. The Starwood Amex and Nectar Amex are not part of any family.
“Can I apply for, and get a bonus on, a card from a different Amex ‘family’ if I already hold another Amex-issued Amex card?”
Yes. If you have a BA Amex you can get a Gold / Platinum, or Starwood, or Nectar card and qualify for the bonus. If you have a Gold / Platinum, you can get a BA, Starwood or Nectar card and qualify for the bonus.
“But the American Express rules say ‘you cannot receive the bonus for a Gold card if you have held a Membership Rewards card in the last 6 months’, and I have a British Airways card”
I get an email a week on this point. When Amex mentions “Membership Rewards” they are talking about the proprietary “Membership Rewards” points scheme that it operates for Gold and Platinum charge card holders. They are NOT talking about generic ‘membership rewards’ issued by the BA, Starwood or Nectar cards.
“Can I get the British Airways Amex if I have the Lloyds Avios credit cards?”
Absolutely. Amex doesn’t really care about what non-Amex issued cards you own. This also works vice versa.
“Can I apply for the Hilton credit card – issued by Barclaycard – if I already have another card from Barclays?”
There are some rumours that the Hilton card is being dropped by Barclaycard, but these are not confirmed yet. Barclaycard is known for changing its rules on a regular basis about how your existing cards impact and it is not possible to say with certainty whether you will be accepted if you have another Barclaycard card.
“Can I re-apply for the Lloyds Avios cards and get the refer-a-friend bonus if I have had the cards before?
No. Lloyds won’t even give you the refer-a-friend bonus if you bank with Lloyds, Halifax or Bank of Scotland, or if you have ever had any other Lloyds credit card.
“Can I re-apply for an MBNA card and get a bonus if I have had and cancelled the same card before?”
Yes, for the Virgin Atlantic cards (the wording changed recently). No, for their other cards – but check the specific wording for each. That said, I have had the bonus on the Miles & More cards three times now, but this is over a period of 10 years with a multi-year gap each time.
“Can I apply for, and get the bonus on, another MBNA card if I already have a different MBNA card? eg I have the Virgin card and want the Emirates one too.”
Yes, not a problem.
“How many American Express cards can I hold?”
There is no published rule. There is a widely repeated mantra that Amex is happy for you to have two charge cards and two credit cards at the same time, but you will not find this on paper. Your own personal credit situation – ie the number of cards you have, the total credit limit across them, your annual income etc – is more of a deciding factor. Lloyds or MBNA Amex cards do not count towards these totals.
Find out more
Here are links to all of our Head for Points credit card reviews if you want to find out more about any of the cards above:
American Airlines, American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, American Express Platinum, British Airways American Express (BA Amex), British Airways Premium Plus American Express (BAPP Amex), Emirates, Emirates Elite, Etihad, Flybe, Hilton Honors, HSBC Premier, HSBC Premier World Elite, IHG Rewards Club, IHG Rewards Club Premium, Lloyds Avios Rewards, Lloyds Choice Rewards, Lufthansa Miles & More, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG Amex), Tesco, Tesco Premium, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic White, Virgin Atlantic Black
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2022 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.