BIG NEWS: American Express blocks multiple sign-up bonuses, starting immediately

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American Express unveiled massive changes to its UK card sign-up bonuses last night.

This will effectively end card churning for most people.

Before I go on, I want to stress one thing.  The new rules on bonuses do NOT stop you applying for any of these cards.  They simply influence whether or not you will qualify for a sign-up bonus when you do.

It is also worth remembering that, even if YOU no longer qualify for a particular bonus, your partner or other adult family members might.

American Express restricts UK sign up bonuses

What is changing?

Until today, American Express sign-up bonuses followed two basic rules:

Cards were grouped into families based on reward type (Membership Rewards points, Avios, Starwood points, Nectar points) and your eligibility for a bonus depended on whether you had recently had a card in the same ‘family’

There was a six month restriction in place between cancelling an American Express card and being able to re-apply – with a new bonus – for a card in the same ‘family’

This is what is changing for the personal American Express cards:

The concept of ‘families’ has gone for most products.  The eligibility rules now span ALL personal American Express cards in most cases.

The look-back period increases from six months to 24 months

Whilst there are two exceptions, in simple terms you cannot get a sign-up bonus on a personal American Express card if you have held ANY personal American Express card in the last 24 months.

Are there any exceptions to these new rules?

Yes.  There are a few exceptions to the above:

The British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card is only impacted by the change in the look-back period to 24 months.   The old rules on eligibility remain – you cannot have had either of the two British Airways American Express cards in the previous 24 months BUT American Express does not count any other card you may have had.

(In plain English: if you’ve had a Platinum / Gold / Starwood / Nectar / Platinum Cashback card in the last two years, but NOT either of the BA Amex cards, you are eligible for the bonus on the Premium Plus card – but not the free BA Amex)

The Platinum Card is only impacted by the change in the look-back period to 24 months.   The old rules on eligibility remain – you cannot have had a Preferred Rewards Gold, Green, Platinum or American Express Rewards card (all of which earn Membership Rewards points) in the previous 24 months BUT American Express does not count any other card you may have had.

(In plain English: if you’ve had a BA / Starwood / Nectar / Platinum Cashback card in the last two years but NOT a card offering Membership Rewards points, you are eligible for the bonus on the The Platinum Card – but not Preferred Rewards Gold)

Small Business and Corporate products are not impacted at all.  The existing rules apply for those.  Importantly, the six month rule continues to apply for these cards.

(In plain English: if you’ve not had any personal or business card offering Membership Rewards points in the past six months, you are eligible for the bonus on the American Express Gold Business and American Express Platinum Business, assuming you own a qualifying small business)

American Express scraps UK sign up bonuses

Can you summarise this by card?

Here you go:

If you currently have the free British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus credit card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways, British Airways Premium Plus, Preferred Rewards Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, American Express Rewards, American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business card in the previous six months and meet the qualifying criteria for having a small business

If you currently have Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card or American Express Rewards credit card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways American Express, Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on British Airways Premium Plus IF you have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months

You would need to cancel and wait six months before you can get a bonus on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business, assuming you meet the qualifying criteria for having a small business

If you currently have a Nectar or Starwood Preferred Guest credit card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways American Express (free version), Preferred Rewards Gold, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on British Airways Premium Plus IF you have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, American Express Rewards, American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business card in the previous six months and meet the qualifying criteria for having a small business

If you currently have a Platinum Cashback or Platinum Cashback Everyday card ….

You would need to cancel and wait 24 months before you can get a bonus on Platinum Cashback, Platinum Cashback Everyday, British Airways American Express, Preferred Rewards Gold, Green, Starwood Preferred Guest, Nectar, American Express Rewards

You can get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on British Airways Premium Plus IF you have not held a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months

You can get a bonus NOW on American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business IF you have not held a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous six months

Discussion of the American Express sign-up bonuses changes continue in a further articles here.

Reference information

Here are links to our reviews on each of the cards, a link to the application website and the legally required interest rate information:

IMPORTANT: Note that the reviews have not been updated with the new bonus rules yet

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – apply here  – our review is here – representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit

American Express Rewardsapply hereour Amex Rewards review interest rate varies depending on which card variant you choose

British Airways American Expressapply hereour BA Amex review – representative APR 22.9% variable

British Airways American Express Premium Plus apply hereour BA Premium Plus Amex review – representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, interest rate on purchases 22.9% variable

Nectarapply hereour Nectar Amex reviewrepresentative APR of 28.2%, including £25 fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200

The Platinum Cardapply hereour Amex Platinum review

Platinum Cashbackapply hereour Amex Platinum Cashback review – representative APR of 28.2%, including £25 fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200

Platinum Cashback Everydayapply hereour Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday review – representative APR 22.9% variable

Starwood Preferred Guest American Expressapply hereour Starwood Amex review –  representative APR 39.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit

American Express Gold Businessapply hereour Amex Gold Business review

American Express Platinum Businessapply hereour Amex Platinum Business review

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Sellers says:

    Presumably this only applies for new cards issued from today?
    Will existing cards will still redeem the bonus once criteria hit?

  2. Still possible to get the 2-4-1 voucher with a 10k spend, just not the bonus?

    • Jimbob says:

      Yes

    • Sellers says:

      Even on existing cards?
      My partner has the Plat issued a couple of weeks ago and is £300 away from 2k spend. Does this now mean she won’t get the bonus?

    • Yes. What I don’t know if how often you can do that. For example, on a £2k per month BAPP spend could you use the card for five months, earn your 2-41, and then cancel. Sign up again in month six and repeat the cycle?

      Probably a bit of a moot point since earning the Avios to make use of the 2-4-1s will be harder now.

      • barry cutters says:

        you can do it immediately .

        I have earned 4 in a year before

        • Barry do you mean 2 vouchers for you and 2 for partner/wife etc per year?

        • He probably means he earn’t 4 himself, as there isn’t a waiting time for the vouchers

  3. Costco has no bonus.

  4. Is there a full update to T&Cs or is it just the 24 month statement on the application pages? Lot’s of supposition here to other loopholes being closed, but I guess we won’t really know until someone presses to test?

  5. Dominic says:

    This is certainly a sudden change. The highly wishful part of me hopes that they could make some of the benefits of having the card more attractive in the first place, but perhaps I am being too hopeful… increased offers on earning rate, perhaps?

    Not overly fussed by the lack of churning – being able to get the BA Amex for 12 months, then return to the Gold. Also, if the BA Premium Plus stays as it is, the 2-4-1 voucher is worth it, anyway.

  6. SimonW says:

    Refer, refer and refer again. It’s all gonna be OK. The rules have changed, but the game continues…..
    If anything, my wife will be getting a new Plat card every 2 months now, not every 8. Why wait at all?

  7. Drat. I was due a churn on the BA Amex and I was being lazy (I like to think not overly taking the p…).

    Shame. This has been a nice little earner over the years, and has got me lounge access etc. through Amex on top. I guess things are going to have to change, or I’m actually going to have to accept the annual fee without large points kickbacks…gulp

  8. Ragman says:

    Wow. If I understand this right then my whole CC strategy will have to change.
    I have a BA Prem which I only pay £35 a year instead of the £195 because I have had it for so long) I churn the Gold with my wife every six months ( she also has a BA Prem) .
    Once we have earned the Companion tickets on the 2 BA Cards we also get another card ( normally the Starwood) to get more miles. I probably spend £30-35k every year on Amex.
    I know a lot of people who have this as a strategy.
    Given that you need to keep the BA CC until you use the Companion ticket ( which we book a year in advance). I think that will have to stay in the wallet.
    I will now give serious consideration to the other cards/ airlines.
    Time for reflection me thinks

    • LewisB says:

      But will you keep the BAPP in the wallet or the BA Amex?

      • Ragman says:

        My immediate response is probably not once I have burnt my Avios. IMO the companion ticket is only worth it for Club or First longhaul. So I need circa 100k Avios. ATM we get two Companion Tickets a year which cost us £230 in CC fees.
        I need to look at my spend and my other options (I.e. Virgin)

    • I thought that AMEX only told you that you needed to keep the card you earned the 241 on but you only needed to have another AMEX to buy the ticket with?

    • You don’t need to keep the BA credit card until you use the Companion voucher

      • But you do need to keep an AMEX card of some description

      • the T&C’s – are as follows “All Taxes, Fees and Charges must be paid for using the British Airways American Express Card”, while we know they’ve not enforced these previously. Going forward possible it might change?

        • LewisB says:

          It should be fine to earn the 241 on the BAPP then downgrade to the BA Amex, keep that in the wallet and pay the taxes on a amex card. If questioned on check in the BA Amex should be fine even if you used the BAPP to earn the 241. That’s the one part that’s unclear if they do start to enforce this rule. I can’t see how BA would know.

        • No. And Amex does not do name verification so could use a friends etc even if they did.

      • There appears to be some suggestion, on what basis I do not know, that the requirement to have a BA Amex at the time of travel on a 2-4-1 voucher may now be more rigorously enforced.

        You need to have an Amex of some description when booking with a 2-4-1 to pay fees and taxes.

        • Genghis says:

          Pure speculation! It would require BA to enforce it (is it possible using the BIN or do other series use the same BINs?)

  9. Dominic says:

    Must say that the amount of people commenting saying that there is no point in them having an Amex now speaks volumes. If your only way of making an Amex useful was to churn churn churn, you are not the type of customer that Amex needs.

    Those that benefited from churning, whilst also continually spending large sums of money are the people that Amex needs; not those that spend to get a bonus and then stop.

    • There are those of us that sit somewhere in-between, we keep three paid cards rolling year after year and top-up using other bonuses. We also advocate Amex to friends and colleagues, yes there’s something in it for us but also it can get people started on the same path. I’m probably responsible for Amex having around 30 customers they perhaps wouldn’t have done otherwise and I’m fairly certain most of them still are. I never mention the unspeakable strategy to them. I think there will still be a way forward; we probably spend around £35k a year across cards, however, it will need some careful thought as to how to maximise the rewards.

    • Freddy says:

      I churned and continued to spend 20-30k per year on amex. I’m of the view it’s not worth the hassle purely for the points based on spend especially when card fees are taken into account

    • The worst part in my opinion is that you can’t get the bonus from other families of card – I was thinking of getting the SPG card soon but now won’t as I won’t get a sign-up bonus

      Similarly, unless I’m going to get rid of every AMEX card I have (I’ve got an amex red card from 2006 which I keep as I get the best AMEX offers on it), I’m probably never going to give Platinum a try as I can’t effectively reduce the first year annual fee with a sign-up bonus

      One thing I hope they might have in the pipeline is more anniversary bonuses like the 10,000 points for £15k on gold l, to reward loyalty and high spend

      • Genghis says:

        Yep. First thoughts are perhaps Amex Gold for two years (basically paying 140/2 = £70 annual fee and switch to partner with BAPPs thrown in there as and when. I don’t generate too many external referrals. I’ll do the full numbers analysis in due course but I don’t think I’ll be doing regular Plats at £450 pa.

      • Doug M says:

        If things appear in offers you want and can use the £450 sort of comes back to. I got £200 of Amex Travel twice in the last year (once may have been on BAPP, but you get the idea), and each time been able to find flight through them at same cost as with airline. Prefer to book direct with airline, but £200 is well worth hassle of travel agent. Took a friend to Amex Stadium this week for Q&A with the Brighton manager, whilst free it was easily worth £100 to me as an experience. Couple of referrals, bit of lounge use the Platinum can make sense. It’s just thinking about it’s real value and not going no way am I paying £450 for a credit card, well charge but you know what I mean.

    • Doug M says:

      My thoughts exactly. Amex looking to switch things in the era of fees cap on BA Amex, shift to a more spend orientated customer base, and weed out the multiple churners. Understandable, sadly feel I may be in the weeded out section.
      I guess the follow on from this should IT be capable will be limited referrals for same person. Otherwise you just refer partner and they cancel, repeat every two months on the Platinum whilst doing a much slower 24 month+ switch between partners on the BA Amex for the 2-4-1.
      My guess is this will drastically reduce the Amex cards in circulation, and the spend, but lead to better per card numbers for Amex. Could be be quite damaging to the scale of Amex use in the UK? Or are we churners a small subset not understanding the real world pattern of use.

      • We are 5% of amex base customers. So they don’t really need us v the huge biz spenders out there.
        Also such regular referring and cancelling, say every 2 months, would def damage the credit rating.

        • Doug M says:

          I don’t care about my credit rating. Amex seem to care about your relationship with them, not what Experian or whoever think. Cancel a few cards and wait 3 or 4 months and credit rating repairs in my experience.

        • I disagree. The more people holding the card, even for short periods, increases it’s usage and visibility. Fewer active users will impact on acceptance rates. And Amex can’t piggyback on another network like Diners has done to increase acceptability. I’d also like to know if is this the start of Amex reducing their exposure to a post-Brexit UK.

    • They also not the big spenders who earn rob any money do I’m sure he won’t miss them

  10. The comments about 2 for 1 on ba, is that suggesting that cancelling the bapp will now potentially mean the 2 for 1 voucher will be cancelled?

    • Jimbob says:

      There’s nothing in today’s article that suggests that.
      Rob, however, may know otherwise

    • I don’t see that as the point being made. I think it is more a suggestion that the requirement to have a BA Amex at time of travel on a 2-4-1 voucher may now be more rigorously enforced.

      • Jimbob says:

        I’m assuming it’s guess work. Anyone with insider knowledge probably can’t say anyway.
        Time will tell

      • for clarification has amex ever given anyone a steer on whether the BA blue meets its requirements if voucher earned on BAPP?

        • Shoestring says:

          it would have been fine in the past, any Amex would have done

          I think Jeff (he’s got an inside track to Amex, probably works for them) has given a decent steer in comments above, I think Amex will be trying to enforce same card is kept until 2-4-1 is redeemed, not sure how they will manage that as currently any Amex card will do

        • it would be very simple: just hardcode the card number on the payment form.

        • @Mark2 although they’ll then have lots of hassle with reissued cards, telephone bookings, etc. I don’t have much faith in BA or Amex IT! Still trying to get them to work out which random Hilton Honors number they appear to have added to my account!

    • There is no suggestion, just you jumping to conclusions that aren’t there

  11. If you’re paying £35pa for the BAPP no question you’d keep it.

  12. Looking to fly to Denver in August for birth of grandchild. Google flights have just told be a CW return AMS-LHR-DEN is now under £1,000 !

    So why both with points and Amex fees when you get deals like this and BA wants £600+ in fees on a redemption ticket?

    That’s the way it is going folks: great deal to Melbourne ex LHR on Garuda in business for £1100 – ticked off a box. Iberia 9 flights for £180 gave me the 90,000 points for business MAD-Havana. Another box ticked.

    Deals like these are now the way ahead.

    • I agree completely, ex-EU possibly combined with TP runs but only if you can use the BA status and Avios.

    • The point in this hobby is to use miles/points when fares are high. Usually you get more value from short haul redemptions, especially if you have to travel during Easter, Christmas, Peak Summer holidays, half term… etc.etc.etc

      • Doug M says:

        Yes it’s all very much each to their own needs. Ex-EU never going to be optimal for families, especially young kids, and we don’t know where these fares will go anyway. I’ve had Lloyds for a while and those vouchers, and BA 241 and never yet used a voucher long haul. It’s just what has worked for me. I don’t kid myself Avios are worth 8p because I happened on some particularly expensive time to fly, I just go nice, I had the Avios otherwise that would never have happened. All of these things are indirect devaluations of Avios, or are they? If it’s harder to earn points through Amex, does that really increase the value of Avios to those that earn from flying. My guess is that on FT they’ll be some very positive things said about this, there’s a lot of people there that feel redemptions are hard because too many Tesco/Amex flyers competing with the ‘real’ BAEC members earning their Avios from flying.

        • You can’t have everything, and there’s no guarantee that having had something in the past, you will get it i the future. As has been said many times, this hobby is very dynamic – changes is the only constant. In order to succeed, you need to adapt.

          The only thing is you will be more conservative about how you spend Avios, if the big Avios income came from churning.

  13. My Strategy to maximise points collection via sign up bonus
    I currently Hold Platinum Card & BA Amex. I have had SPG, Platinum, Gold, Nectar, Costco in last 24 months
    My strategy:
    Sugg cancel Plat and Ba Amex – wait 24 months to reapply then follow strategy 3 to maximise
    Apply for Gold/Plat Business card after 6/12 since MR points card cancelled and churn up to 18 months then wait 6/12 before applying for SPG > Plat > BAPP

    My partner
    Currently Holds Amex PRG, SPG,
    Cant recall cards in last 24 months so will check BUT
    If not had BAPP/Free BA Card in last 24 months then refer from Plat for that and spend 3k
    If had BAPP in last 24/12 then cancel all cards after maximising Gold PRG 10k Bonus if possible or max MR points then wait 24 months to follow strategy 3

    PS. We both hold supplementary cards for our partners current Amex cards

    Any holes/thoughts in my strategy?

  14. I cancelled a Gold last month – how long do I have to wait till my O/H can refer me for another one from a PLAT? Not worried about the sign up bonus from the Gold as we would get the 18K from PLAT referral etc. Interested to know if I’d pay the Gold 12 months + fee though ? Don’t have a mortgage so not worried about credit checks going forward.

    • Shoestring says:

      no particular period to wait, except you do actually have to be accepted for the card, they might turn you down if you re-apply so quickly

      a new card gives you a new fee-free 12 month period & 2 Lounge Club passes

  15. Will the comments on this Article surpass the one Amex pulled from Curve? Let’s see.

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