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. Sorry if this has been answered already. So my husband referred me for a BA Premium plus last week as it had been 6 months since I had one. I’ve been accepted but yet to receive card. Presume he’ll get referral bonus but will I get bonus for spend? Thanks

    • Michael says:

      You should do as you applied under old terms. This new policy came into effect today or yesterday.

      • So my card just arrived. I registered it but no banner on my page regarding spend bonus. Called Amex and they were not sure but said it SHOULD be ok as I applied before the change. time will tell i guess

    • BlueHorizonuk says:

      If you applied and been accepted before 9pm last night (I think that’s when Rob said the change happened) then you are good to go

  2. Rob mc says:

    Extremely bad news. Is there going to be a knock on effect for visitors to HFP as well?? Personally without amex sign up bonuses the hobby is pretty much over.

    • Yep 🙁

      Back to economy and fewer holidays for me 🙁
      I shall console myself with the fact that AMEX will be able to make a few more quid 🙁

  3. This was rumoured almost a couple of years ago.. so it was just a matter of time given the changes in the US market.. The difference here is that the sign up bonus and earning rate don’t come anywhere near the US.. Other difference is you have other provider (Capital One, Citi..) that also offer rewards.. options here in the UK very limited

    Well, we’ll just earn less points now… Amex is still worth applying for.. we just have to wait 2 years now

  4. Well, Amex’s UK market share is about to get even smaller!

    • Genghis says:

      But more profitable. I know which I’d rather have.

      • Perhaps. But what does it mean for cardholders long term? Fewer churners means fewer cardholders, which means less incentive for shops to take the card…

    • It is a sensible business decision which will have minimal effect on their market share. The proliferation of churners and effective ‘printing’ of Avios was bad for the loyal customers. Handing out these bonuses is not free; it is ultimately paid for by the core customer and that became increasingly unacceptable.

      The existing cards and earning potential are valuable in their own right.

      As a BAPP holder continuously since 2001, I’m sorry to say this is excellent news…

      • I guess we will see. My company gave up corporate Amex back in the day, like many others. And the only cardholders I know these days are churners…

        • Lady London says:

          Yes i’ve worked for 2 large corporates recently that gave their employées Amex cards for expenses, for décades. Both had dropped Amex and had switched to Citibank in thé past 2 years or so.

      • Don’t see how this is excellent news ! If anything you’ll earn less points

        The 6 months wait period was there in the terms and conditions.. So Amex has reasons to have it like that and now they don’t !

        • I won’t be earning any fewer points, and such points as I earn will be more valuable.

        • Def not excellent news, but would be interesting to see how this impacts avios redemption availability going forward, hopefully noticeably more availability, maybe wishful thinking…

          Lots only have enough avios for club world redemptions from a combination of companion voucher and churn.

      • camille55 says:

        Agreed – it is a prudent business decision which, if it makes the card/points issuer (Amex) more financially robust, then it is to be welcomed. Wholesale printing of avios and MR’s is not good for anyone…..simply leads to inflation which, again, benefits no one.

        Personally, I have never churned and I’ve been a card holder since 1999. This will likely benefit me through (hopefully!) richer earning for my years long loyalty. However, those who did churn needn’t worry, Amex need customers like any business (but also need to money out of them!), so there will still be offers to earn xyz points. They are simply refocusing. One door closes, another will surely open. T’was ever thus in this game!

      • How have existing customers paid for them? Are they now going to increase earning rate on the cards? Improve customer service/benefits in some other way? I’d predict no…

  5. Where are all you people doing all your referrals!?

    • Jimbob says:

      Self referral and to the OH, tends to hit your credit rating though, so avoid if you’re thinking of remortgaging in the next year.

      • Martin says:

        I’ve just remortgaged to a new deal and bank,
        No issues and I’m a serial churner and burner, self referrer.

  6. Whizz68 says:

    Wow, 413 comments already and it’s not even noon. A new comments record

  7. Makes the gold bonus for spending £10k in a year more attractive, anyone have any idea how long it takes to credit? as have to pay annual fee, but amex refund on a prorata basis normally if you cancel before the year is out.

  8. Amex just told me on the phone that if you refer someone who has held a card within the last 24 months then you are not eligible for a referral bonus.
    Now it might not be true but if it is that seriously dents the benefit of the platinum card. I’ve probably maxed out my friends and family the past few years!

    • That cannot be right! It used to be and should still be completely separate.

    • Genghis says:

      I tend not to trust Amex’s advice so much.

      • That has not been the case in the past for people who broke the 6 month rule.

        • Well I’ve just referred my wife for an everyday card so will see if the referral bonus posts or not. That’ll probably dictate whether I cancel my Platinum card or not.

        • Shoestring says:

          Bad news if it’s true! Wouldn’t be difficult to enforce but Amex would have to make it clear this was the rule.

        • From Amex’s current (today’s) terms:
          “You will receive 18,000 bonus Membership Rewards points if your friend or family member uses the Referral Programme to apply for a card (other than a Basic Card) and is approved”
          and
          “I understand my friend will not be eligible for any welcome bonus offer if they hold or have held any personal Membership Rewards-enrolled American Express Card in the past 24 months.”
          Nothing to indicate that the referrer will not receive the referral bonus if the friend is not eligible for a sign up bonus.

        • Shoestring says:

          @Louie – yet! 🙂

  9. I would have expected a much better earning rate or a bigger sign up bonus as with other countries when they stopped churning.

  10. i hope earning rate improve on the back of this – thoughts ?

    • Genghis says:

      If the Plat earn rate went up to 1.5 or had much better bens like in the US (e.g. 5x points on airlines and hotels with Amex travel; USD200pa Uber etc for cheaper $550 = £418 currently), I might actually hold long term.

      • Damn right! American might have a once in a lifetime deal but earning 5 times the points on airlines would encourage us all to keep cards long term.

      • The interchange fees for USA card are roughly 2%
        In Europe they are capped to 0.3%

        This effectively caps earning rates in the UK in terms of cash back or points to less than 1% and in my opinion nearer the 0.5% mark unless you are looking to grow market share and reduce benefits in future and hoping inertia keeps enough customers to stay.

        • But it opens the door for amex travel partners like Etihad, American airlines, Singapore etc to offer MR points transfer bonuses into their schemes.

          It’s far to early to make hard plans based on breaking news. We still have to hear from Amex’s competitors: Visa, MBNA who are waiting in the wings. Don’t play the knee jerk game on their terms and think you have to get referrals for Amex, that’s their job. There’s more to come.

        • I thought AMEX own branded cards weren’t subject to the 0.3% interchange limit?

        • Correct

      • Shoestring says:

        and wasn’t Gold 2 points/ £1 in the first year? that could come back

  11. A week ago I saw the Amex upgrade offer where you get 20k points for upgrading from Gold to Platinum – would I not get these points then?

    • Michael says:

      I also saw this but now it’s gone from my amex account.

      • Richard says:

        I’ve still got it. They’re making less of a fuss about it (the link suggesting I upgrade doesn’t mention the bonus), but when you click through and look at the details, it’s there.

        Which makes sense. The bonus for upgrading isn’t about churning, it’s about tempting you onto a more expensive product in the hope that you’ll like it and keep it – a completely different calculation for Amex.

  12. Funkypigeon says:

    Nutmeg… what else and why aren’t people saying?

  13. I applied SPG card yesterday and accepted immediately. The approval email was received 20:30 last night. What’s the best way to find out if I am eligible for bonus?

    • Do the spend anyway, you probably made it before the deadline…and pls report back!

  14. Sign up Bonuses and ongoing earnings are not exactly generous in the UK when compared to USA. And no I don’t think more redemptions will become available as points across the pond are still handed out In vast quantities that would put the Zimbabwean Crntral Bank to shame!

  15. DavidK says:

    Shame. Although I do put a reasonable amount of cash through the cards I do not put anything like enough to make it worth my while. I needed to churn cards every so often to make this hobby work for me. It was fun whilst it lasted. I probably wont bother with AMEX now either after I get my next sign up bonus. Hope it doesn’t have to big of an impact on HFP but I suspect it will.

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