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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.

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)

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.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards. You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 60,000 Avios or other airline miles, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (SPECIAL OFFER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital on Tap Visa card

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (1171)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • sue says:

    So re below. Despite Amex telling me that I WOULD still be entitled to the sign up bonus because my card was approved before the new rules, there is still no countdown ( banner/window – sorry not sure of the term) telling me that I need to spend £X before target is reached.
    Anyone else have this??

    Thanks

    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
    Reply

    Michael says:
    21 March 2019 at 09:44

    You should do as you applied under old terms. This new policy came into effect today or yesterday.
    Reply
    sue says:
    21 March 2019 at 12:20

    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
    Reply
    BlueHorizonuk says:
    21 March 2019 at 09:45

    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

    • Jimbob says:

      There’s often no count down banner for the sign up bonus, nothing per se to worry above.

      I don’t have one for my SPG Amex that I’ve had for 2 months

      • sue says:

        thanks. Ive ALWAYS had one before on every card Ive had so bit concerned, Ill keep checking!

        • Lady London says:

          I think I saw previous recommendations to look on the app rather than the website?

      • sue says:

        So banner has now appeared confirming welcome bonus countdown to 25K points. Got in just in time and will be last for over 24 months. hey ho! thanks for all advice

  • Mark Bridgewater says:

    Hi . I have within the last 3 weeks got the starwoods Amex. I already have the Ba Premier and the platinum card. I have about £700 of the £1000 I needed to trigger the bonus. Will Amex honour this in the next week or so as I had the card before the announcement or will I lose out ?

    • Obi says:

      Bingo! We have another one!

      Honoured.

    • Peter 64K says:

      I’m sure this has been answered earlier a few times 😂

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Tbh a simple edit from Rob which said if you applied for a card pre 9pm on 20th March you should be ok might have stopped about 200 comments.

        • Obi says:

          Tbh these 200 comments have been an eye opener as to how financially naive some of the HfP readership are if they seriously think AMEX can retrospectively change T&C’s at will.

        • Bazza says:

          But some people will tell you “it’s not rocket science”

        • Peter 64K says:

          More to the point, it tells you how lazy people are at reading things and paying attention. Plus many want others to do the work for them.

    • janes says:

      and they were happy to do so, its what lead us here… :o(

  • David Franks says:

    I guess this site might now go the way of the shopper points one.

    Raffles. Thank you very much for all of your efforts over the years, I have benefited greatly from your insight and analysis.

    I hope that there is room in the ‘new world’ for your excellent website.

    • Rob says:

      I think the 90% of our readership which travels heavily (but rarely comments) will be just fine. Remember we have 30,000 regular readers of which 100 provide all the comments.

      As we never wrote about churning we won’t have the SP issue of losing content.

      • James1 says:

        Of the 100, unfortunately 10 provide around 90% of the comments, but worst of all are the 3 that post around 80%

        • James1 says:

          …….and please, no comments about cancelling my subscription etc zzzzzzzzzzz

      • Peter 64K says:

        @James1
        While we all have our personal opinions on various commentators, at least the comments generally are much more useful, beneficial and erudite than those on the US blogs. Thank goodness.

      • janes says:

        never wrote about churning? really?

        “Once you’ve cancelled the card, you can reapply after six months and get the bonus again. This article explains the rules about getting American Express sign-up bonuses.”

      • Rag on a stick says:

        Hoorah, at least with the articles on churning becoming less frequent there will be more room for reviews from obscure airports showing ‘lounges’ containing 3 plastic chairs and a water dispenser, plus more articles on how to bore yourself to sleep at the Emirates stadium using points, and of course let’s not forget Dubai.

    • Squeal like a pig boy says:

      Shopper points? That’s the site which has hardly any articles anymore because Tesco stopped doing nearly all the promos due to blatant abuse? Soon the trough here will be just as empty due to all the greedy swines who’ve been busy stuffing their cheeks.

      • Peter 64K says:

        Ha ha ha. Your grasp of Tesco’s finances and the wider grocery scene is hilarious 🤣🤣🤣

    • Jimbob says:

      If you’ve been reading this blog and only get your majority of points from churning, then you’ve been seriously missing out.

      HfP is about far more than churning.
      Oh, and as I don’t travel for work, none of my Avios come from flying.

  • Bob says:

    How does supplementary card for Amex platinum work? Can I give 1 card to someone and then close it and switch it to someone else after couple months to save the fee for the 2nd one?
    Is the fee for the 2nd supp card on a prorata basis?

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Don’t see why not but they might detect something it up. Why the need to move the free supp card?

      As Amex fees are all pro-rata, guessing this will be too. Jump on a web chat with them and ask.

    • Peter 64K says:

      You can give a one platinum supplementary with the same benefits of the main card for free. You can also give a couple of gold coloured supplementaries for free on top of that with no added benefits for the holders IIRC.

  • Adam says:

    Does anyone know if this affects the international euros and dollars platinum cards?

  • Rachel says:

    Seems very short-sighted. I’ve started putting most things on my no foreign-transaction fee US cards. I have the free BA and the Gold, and will probably close both of them this year and wait two years to apply again.

  • Aar says:

    Hi there, does anyone know if the upgrade offer (20,000 MR points for 1k spend within 3 months) to go from the Gold credit card to the Platinum card is still available?

    • Rob says:

      It was never available from Gold Credit, only Gold Charge. Still there if you google.

  • Charlie says:

    Churning was something I did approx every 2 years, I generally kept the Gold Charge card for about 11 months, then upgraded to Platinum, referred my other half, and cancelled after a month. I would also self refer the SPG card, cancelling after I achieve the initial spend.

    My other half would repeat the above, and we’ve been doing this since approx 2013. I have never churned the BA card.

    The upgrade from Gold to Platinum is gone, and I think the SPG cards clash with Gold/Platinum, so a hefty reduction but the game is far from over.

    Since getting hooked in 2012, the main HfP highlights for me were:

    -35000 AA miles from MBNA (2013)
    -17000 Ethihad miles from MBNA (2013)
    -Free cathay gold from Platinum Amex (2013)
    -Plugging my Uber code for quite a few referrals (2014)
    -Buying £100 Harrods gift cards with £30 amex cash back x 4 and redeeming at the Apple concession (2016)
    -18,000 Avios for 3 day car hire (2016)
    -90,000 Avios for booking 10 flights (2018)
    -Learning about EU261, I credit HfP with a massive successful claim (Avios long haul redemption booked but not “ticketed”, so was denied boarding, for of us so 2400 Euro ).
    -Reading about things I would otherwise not have a sniff off, such as super low tax HKG redemptions and IHG Ambassador.
    -I even have a lovely suitcase I got from BestSecret I think that was £50 off, so I only paid £9. I still have the free watch.
    -I’ve have kids now and I still refer to the flying with kids articles.

    HfP is much much more than churning.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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