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. So this effectively means you cannot earn any amex avios or amex points for 2 years if you want a bonus as you cannot have had ANY amex card in the 2 years before?

    I think people will gravitate towards the BA premium card, pay the fee and get a 241 each year.

    • Almost, earn the 241, downgrade to receive part of the fee back. Wait until £9999 the following year, upgrade, earn 241 then downgrade again. For us we’ve had one Plat and two BAPP and have paid the full fees because I felt slightly guilty about churning the others. But now I will be following the above strategy which should save £195 a year.

      • No, the rules have always stated you must be a BA Amex holder AT THE TIME OF TRAVEL. It hasn’t been enforced up to now, but as part of stopping the churn is going to be enforced. That is fair to the non churners. FCA and CMA issues on fair treatment.

        • I didn’t say cancel the BAPP, I said downgrade to free one. So I WILL hold a BA Amex.

        • Scallder says:

          The letter of the rule says the same card. Given you have 2 years validity on the BAPP voucher this would mean that you could incur £390 of charges to use a voucher earned 2 years ago. Can’t see the FCA allowing that. Just because it’s in the T&Cs doesn’t mean it can’t be struck down if the condition is unfair. And im sure it is only booking with the original BA card – not requiring it at time of travel.

          However the BA website greys out all options bar Amex when paying using a 2 for 1 so you will need some kind of Amex at the time of booking

          Very similar to the issue previously with the Creation IHG card and having to incur the second annual fee before they changed it given it was unfair

        • Any evidence to back up this assertion, Jeff?

      • But you have earned the 2-4-1 from the lower threshold on a diffferent card. All these loopholes are to be closed for the greater good. That is part of this plan to improve the offering for genuine new customers and loyal customers. The churners are not good business.

        • Shoestring says:

          They were good business for UK Amex mgt, Jeff – at least admit that! You seem to have the inside track…

          Amex mgt surely not blind to churning these last few years (obviously *not* as churning was already stopped in other markets) and therefore we can only assume new sign-ups were part of their business targets & therefore welcomed previously…

        • LewisB says:

          How exactly are BA going to enforce that you need to have your BAPP when checking in for your First / Business flight? As long as you have the BA Amex they are never going to question it.

        • Doug M says:

          Jeff you say ‘are to be closed for the greater good’ is that your view, or are you an Amex representative? Because if you are don’t you think you need to state that clearly, so people understand the context your remarks are made in?

        • Jonathan says:

          Do you think if he is an AmEx employee he’s here in an official capacity?! I’d take what he says with a pinch of salt but his tone implies some inside knowledge.

        • The point above is the exact one. When you check in BA are not going to say you can’t fly because you don’t have this specific credit card, absolute nonsense. It is my choice which credit cards I choose to take with me when I go on holiday.

  2. I’ve had a BA Premium card for several years. Just this week I received my new Amex Preferred Gold card. I’ve never held any other Amex previously. I’ve not yet spent the £2,000 to get the 20k sign-up bonus. Would this change impact me, or only new applicants as of today?

    I logged into my Amex account and it still shows my progress towards the sign-up bonus, so hopefully?

  3. If you have an existing unused 241 voucher I suppose you cannot cancel all your cards as you need to pay the tax on an amex card?

  4. Gutted. This is pretty disastrous for us. Neither of us fly for work so all flights are leisure only and takes a while to build up sufficient avios for a decent redemption, even with the 241 companion voucher so we need to do 12 monthly churns to help get us enough for CW or F redemptions. Also find MR great for topping up my Hilton points. Looks like we’ll be doing far less redemptions now.

    • Ditto Tilly – Churning is (was) the only way I can afford a yearly CW/F redemption………..I am gutted

  5. Michael says:

    Amex are offering me the 20k MR (1k in a month spend) upgrade from gold to plat, i presume this offer is not impacted by this?

    • Colin JE says:

      Upgrades can’t be affected I’m sure. As a matter of interest is your existing Gold a credit or charge card? How did Amex offer the upgrade? I’m thinking of trying for an upgrade bonus but have a Gold credit card.

      • Shoestring says:

        I’ve recently had the upgrade to Plat offer in an email and on my online Offers

        btw you can’t upgrade from Gold credit to Plat charge card

  6. not good news, but just mean i have to adapt earning strategy. I used to focus purely on avios cards to max my balance. Instead, will have to start looking at the Virgin card and the IHG card and keep earning points but over a wider number of points schemes than before. Opportunities still remain for maximising points from spend bonuses and credit card spend.

  7. I was only ever a light churner – holding on to the BAPP to get the annual voucher, then churning a Gold card every six months or so. But will now struggle to get enough points to make the voucher worthwhile (ie minimum Business Class).

    Hard to know my new strategy yet – maybe keep the BAPP and be more strategic with spend (Economist, BA store, Rocket Miles etc). It’s either that or just accepting I’m probably a Premium Economy-level consumer, paying for that when travelling long haul, and looking for Avios upgrades / hoping for upgrades. In which case the BAPP is maybe not worthwhile…

  8. Just like to say thanks to Rob for running this site over the years – an invaluable source of points earning.

    This announcement for me will also personally kill off a lot of the smaller earning opportunities as I don’t think it worth the effort without the card bonuses. It will just take too long to get a decent redemption. You can see them enforcing the requirement to keep the BA card open to keep your 241 voucher next, which just adds further to the cost.
    Nice while it lasted, but the customer acquisition costs must have been insane.

    • Likewise for me too. I guess they must have done the maths and guessed that this will be cheaper for them despite a considerable drop off in fees from reduced Amex spending.

      I suppose the one silver lining is that I look forward to boosting my Virgin air miles given the KLM/AF opportunities that we’ll soon be able to take advantage of.

  9. Andy Sparrow says:

    Does anyone know how you stand with regards to referrals from existing cards. Could you still refer your partner, get the 9000 miles (BAPP) they get the new card don’t spend on it as there is now no bonus and then refer for another and how quickly could you then cancel them

    • They don’t mention referrals. It’s the spend, cancel, and churn cycle they are slowing down. You might as well be earning 1 avios/£ on a free card ongoing, whilst the referrer gets a bonus. So l guess you could keep the rotation going, but just not getting the spend bonus as usual. Much slower accrual of avios of course.

  10. LewisB says:

    I’m predicting a new comment record! It’s not even 08.30am and there’s almost 250 comments :O

  11. If I am reading it right, Amex ICC cards are also not affected. So you can still get sign-up bonus on ICC Plat.

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