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.)

LAST DAY for IHG's (genuinely good) UK and EU flash sale, and last day for IHG's 100% 'buy points' bonus
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Comments

  1. Mark L says:

    Wow, this change makes a real difference to me. I don’t really care much for avios as I have a family with 2 kids and am happy with flying economy. My real goal in life is to see as much as the world as possible, so my points go towards hotels. Essentially, I’ve been putting all my effort into Marriott (for the Marriott plat benefits) including my weekly work stays. This change means I will need to check my stays are maximising points, to may need to move to IHG for the regular bonuses.

    It also means I won’t be putting spend through Amex anymore (except every 2 years for the new churn cycle). I wonder if Amex is in a financially better position by losing my 3k+ spend a month, compared to giving sign up bonuses every few months. They could loose a lot of spend going through their cards, but do they save this on not giving points?

    Also, USA have a similar 2 year gap, but with much larger sign up bonuses, i just hope (although I won’t hold my breth) that the UK will see greater bonuses in the future. Oh well, time to see how else I can maximise other cards.

    • Shoestring says:

      Amex is an obvious winner by stopping churning, we worked out the points cost them 0.65p each so you can do the math yourself

      They don’t earn much net on your £3K/ month card spend (and their Amex commission) when a referral (9-18K) and start up bonus (11-22K) is costing them 0.65p x points awarded to you

      • Mark L says:

        Oh Well, all good things must come to an end, else there wouldn’t be anything else to look forward too

        The card churn is dead, long live the referral churn 🙂

    • If you really want to see more of the world I would recommend airbnb etc rather than any of chain hotels which are almost identical wherever you go. Also, cheaper to get multi room accommodation (which I assume you need if travelling with kids) this way.

      • Until the owner of the property cancels your booking within a week of you staying and you are left scrambling around for somewhere to stay.

  2. The other Kevin says:

    Just cancelled personal Gold. Understand I can get Gold business after 6 months but does that reset the 24-month clock on getting personal Gold again?

  3. James A says:

    Is this an effective immediately no notice change?! Or have I been living under a rock? I am gutted 🙁

  4. Martin Roberts says:

    Bad timing for me I was going to do it this week 😩Hope they don’t go and change the Gold free for 1st year basically for my wife to hold while I keep the BA card otherwise they will lose one of us

  5. nooo – I am three days short of my 6 months to re- apply for a gold amex!

  6. Nick G says:

    Well that’s the end of this game for me! I’m out now….

    We as a family don’t go away for our work. Good job I’ve booked the q suite in october to Doha using points which even with churning gold cards took us 3 years to collect enough for the 3 of us.

    I’ve no idea how to start to collect the amount of points required for flights in the future. Sad day but other that paying cash for the flights which we couldn’t afford to do on Qatar business etc I guess my days of living the high life for a few hours are well and truly stuffed!

  7. New Card says:

    Is the BAPP 241 voucher still churnable, even though the 25,000 point sign up bonus is now heavily restricted?

  8. Mikeact says:

    No surprise at all….I flagged up this possibility a couple of months back or so, when I saw what was happening in the US, and now ? Watch out Australia, their next.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Ours are already like this and have been for several years, except the no-hold period is 18 months.

      • Mikeact says:

        But more changes planned for next month..

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Yeah, true. My MR account is being emptied prior to then. We’re all moaning about it, but I was actually thinking earlier, there are some cards which earn 3MR/$1 and transfer 1:1 to airlines, we’ve had a great run. Yeah it’s annoying, but the RBA cap (same as the EU interchange cap) has killed the competition.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      In the US at least they get nicer signup bonuses and their earning rates are a lot better. Some cards pay out 5 points per $1 spent on travel or 3 points per $1 spent on restaurants, etc plus no FX fee.

      I think the US Amex Plat even has some extra benefits such as $200 airline credit and $50 Uber credit per year?

      • > In the US at least they get nicer signup bonuses

        The YQ charged on BA redemption flights starting *from* the US is significantly higher, though…

      • Yes they do, and they tend to use AA as less taxes, so basically still win win for the US cards.

      • The interchange fees that US card companies earn for spend are massively higher than UK (or Europe)

  9. Hey Siri, set a reminder for 24 months….

  10. Are these Amex changes with immediate effect?

  11. Ashic Mahtab says:

    Damn… Wife’s platinum had been ready for churn for a month, but was being lazy. Ah well…

    • Never put off til tomorrow what can be done today, sadly same here, OH needed his BAPP…old sayings matter,,it seems.

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