Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘What credit cards can I get if I already have certain other cards?’ – your questions answered

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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.

credit cards

“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 EliteIHG Rewards Club, IHG Rewards Club Premium, Lloyds Avios Rewards, Lloyds Choice Rewards, Lufthansa Miles & More, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG Amex), Tesco, Tesco PremiumUnited Airlines, Virgin Atlantic White, Virgin Atlantic Black

There are also reviews of the Nectar Amex card, Amex Gold Business and Amex Platinum Business.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (81)

  • Jay says:

    Very interested in the “Rumour” about Hilton moving from the Barclaycard stable… is it another one bites the dust to Creation or is moving to Amex as per the US Card?

    Like the idea of refer yourself, will give it a go now!!

    • Will Squires says:

      Indeed – I had held off on this as I had no plan to use it soon. Might have to revise that if there’s a good chance it’ll be gone soon?

  • Alan says:

    Might be worth revising the IHG advice – seems like lots of us have successfully applied for the white card whilst holding the black one…

  • BigDave says:

    “the proprietary “Membership Rewards” points scheme that it operates for Gold and Platinum charge card holders.”

    No mention of the green card, but I assume as it also has membership rewards account you cannot jump to a gold or platinum from green and get the sign-up bonus/

  • Ron says:


    I just cancelled my Amex Gold card – can I still earn 9k per referral during these 30 days of grace period?


  • Calum says:

    My friend has held the Amex Gold for the last nine months or so, and originally referred me to the Amex Platinum which I quickly churned.
    If he once again refers me (> 6mths after my cancellation), will he get the 18k (or whatever) MR points again?

  • czechoslovakia says:

    ““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.”

    Successfully churned for bonus twice now on both personal and business Amex cards, my argument being I am not my company and visa versa – said my company turnover has nothing to do with my personal income. Twice was automatic (cards not linked), and twice bonus added manually. I`m sure the rule book says “no”, but can be done, although I do put a lot through the business card.

  • Andrew says:

    The classic question… “Can I have more than one of the same type of card with the same provider”?

    The answer to that is usually “if the provider considers your request reasonable” – the most common reasonable reason is that the individual travels regularly for business, has to pay expenses themselves and claim back, and wants to keep claimable expenses on a separate from their own expenditure but enjoy the benefits all the same.

    • Andrew* says:

      Indeed Amex Plat will issue you with a separate card on the same account if you want one for that purpose…

  • Simon Fisher says:

    Silly question perhaps, but when churning from one card (MBNA) to another (Amex) to get the next lot of intro bonuses how long do people wait before cancelling the previous card?

    We are currently referring our way through the Amex Gold as a family, with a view to having a family holiday next year (22,000 miles plus 9000 for a referral will pay for the flights.)

    I held both the IHG and HHonors Barclaycards for a short while so they do make exceptions.

    • Genghis says:

      I probably apply for about 10 credit cards a year personally and perhaps slightly fewer for the wife. I try to space out applications and cancellations as much as possible. Neither myself nor my wife have been rejected for a card. I monitor our “credit rating” with all three big agencies out of interest really and while they jump around a bit, they are still on the high side.

      • Michael says:

        Can I ask, when you cancel a card does your credit score take a bit hit? 100 points? etc?

        • John says:

          There is no credit score in the UK, only made-up numbers by agencies which don’t offer credit cards themselves.

          Each financial institution treats things differently, so to get a proper answer to your question, you would have to get an underwriter from every credit card issuer to break their employment contract and reveal exactly how they view potential applicants cancelling other cards.

          • leigh says:

            Only effects your score if you have had the card for a long time as it works on an average age of your credit across all your cards.
            Plus if your card is less than 6 months old it would actually improve your score .

      • Anon says:

        Wowsers, you’re on another level Mr G..! 🙂