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. Robert Kennedy says:

    In terms of impact to the UK points/miles collecting game, this has to be one of the most significant stories since this site launched. This really changes the game for a huge number of people.

    As an aside, does anyone know when the UK SPG Card will be re-branded as Marriott?

  2. Cantab says:

    Damn, I was just lining up to do my first churn from Gold Preferred to BA PP with a downgrade to the basic BA card once I hit 10k 241 voucher. Even with these changes obviously I can still get the BA PP signing bonus but will that be clawed back if/when I downgrade?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It shouldn;t be clawed back but Just don’t downgrade. atm the voucher works fine with any AMEX

  3. So are these changes retrospective or do they only apply to people who are just applying for cards after today?

    My partner cancelled her BA PP in Nov 2018, and her Amex Gold in Jan 2019.

    Does she have to wait until Nov 2020 to get a BA PP again, and Jan 2021 for Amex Gold? Or do the old rules (6 months) apply to her?

    I’m still holding a BA PP and cancelled my Amex Gold last week…Do the old rules or new rules apply to my eligibility for the bonus on Amex Gold?

    • As some else said earlier they are not “retrospective” changes as to future plans. These are now THE rules as of last night at 9pm. You both are not exempt from the changes.

  4. Richard says:

    Well, something like this was inevitable in the end.

    I suspect this will lead to a greater spending rate on existing Platinium cards held by people who hold it currently for the benefits but put their spend elsewhere. No reason to spend on other cards for the SUPs so why bother.

  5. @mkcol says:

    Sadly too many comments for me to trawl through.

    What I’d be interested in knowing is if they are considering rewarding loyal customers who don’t churn by increasing rewards for those who spend over certain targets? Or if this is it?!

    • SimonW says:

      Yes, read the small print. If you spend a grillion pounds you get a free elephant. Can only claim once per year though

      • If I could buy a house on Amex then I’d have somewhere to put the elephant

  6. Scottydogg says:

    Tis a sad day
    Ill be using IHG cards for a while now then , any hopefully Hilton cards when they start up again

    Was planning on upgrading Gold to Platinum for the 30k in May , wonder if they have taken that away now as well

  7. Hardik says:

    UK Credit Card Market is now officially broken. We are getting 0 value now officially on spending via credit cards. Look at US, they got tons of option. If Amex does get a credible competitor in the UK, these rules shall reverse overnight. We got no one now.

    • BlueHorizonuk says:

      Even MBNA (who was sort of a competitor in travel cards) has died.

      There is literally nothing left (apart from Lufthansa Diners)

      • BlueHorizonuk says:

        Even I have been swept up in the drama of today.

        Forgot about Virgin and IHG too but very slim pickings in the UK

    • But Brussels is MARVELLOUS and we must remain a Member at All Costs. The EU does absolutely nothing to stifle competition. That’s right wing Tommy-Farage hate speech.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Inter-change caps were driven by the UK. But yes, ignorance is MARVELLOUS.

      • Firstly, the fee caps were a UK idea adopted by the EU, not the other way round.

        Secondly, the cap was never intended to create or stifle a competitive credit card market. It was designed to stop debit card and cash payments (which are usually used by the poorer parts of society) effectively subsidising the awards being given to (usually wealthier) people who pay for things by credit card.

    • It won’t change overnight because there is no money any longer.

      The ONLY sources of revenue are FX fees and interest since the 0.3% pays for very little. Reward cardholders rarely pay interest. More and more are also wising up to the 3% grab on FX fees and are using a separate card abroad. There really is nothing left for them.

    • There´s nothing wrong with dreaming. But I suspect you will be very disappointed. The travel credit card market has crashed in the UK in the last couple of years… adapt and accept the changes or quit the hobby.

  8. We both had the £200 back on the £600 Amex travel spend on the Main Plat and the Sup Plat. We saved a genuine £400 on our early summer holiday. That was virtually the annual fee back there and then. Will use the T5 lounge a few times and a couple of PP lounges on our Asia trip. Plus the insurance for car hire and general travel – we are probably up a few quid. There’s also a genuine referral for a BAPP lurking this summer – 18K points. No reason as yet to ditch the Plat – although there’s no chance of any further actual spend going on it – unless there are any particularly useful offers.

  9. Taylor says:

    I bet Rob felt like he was pressing the big red button for a nuclear bomb when he clicked post for this article 🤣

    • Navara says:

      Take pity on him. Lot’s of work updating the HfP Bible.

      • Michael says:

        He’ll have something in the works for the non amex route tomorrow I’m sure. April credit card updates will be an interesting one. I guess i’ll have to start TP running now!

    • I was pleased that I’d agreed to spend on a Malaysia Airlines jolly, I have to say 🙂

  10. Martin C says:

    My 6 month “break” runs out this Friday for Platinum too. I guess it really is the end of point chasing for flights for me, shame really, it’s been fun.

    • Andrew MS says:

      I spend about £ 14 k per year on my Amex , booking my hotels through VS and BA shopping portals and still manage an Upper class redemption and an IB business class flight every 18 months so don’t give up !

  11. Graham says:

    I have been churning for a few years and have always been amazed at how AMEX have allowed this. I reconciled it to myself that it was likely there was only a small (relative) population of serial churners so it did not impact their business too much. Perhaps the popularity reached a point that they decided to pull the plug. I still have a reasonable amount of AVIOS and by the end of this year four 2-4-1 vouchers but as the rate I can replenish AVIOS spent is dramatically changed I may let one or two vouchers lapse as “reward availability” may well improve in a few years along with the Club World seats. In the meantime I will expedite my remaining Platinum referrals then cancel it.

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