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. Graham Walsh says:

    Time for you to release your own HfP churning card Rob 😂😂

  2. Outrageous practices such as churning should be stopped by all card companies.

    • Here,Here, !

      • you possibly mean ‘hear, hear’. To quote from t’intenet:

        “is a shortened version of “hear ye, hear ye,” which goes back to British Parliament in the 1600s, if not earlier.”

  3. If I refer someone who has had a card for less than 24 months and they are accepted, even though they wouldn’t be eligible for the 22,000 (for example) sign up bonus- would I still get the 9,000 referral bonus? Could constantly referring and cancelling your other half, writing off the sign up bonus but generating 90,000 of sign up bonus is each a year a potential new approach ?

    • Optimus Prime says:

      That sounds feasible except for the potential damage to your other half’s credit score?

    • Memesweeper says:

      In my experience referring to a card that does not qualify for a sign up bonus does pay the referral bonus. YMMV.

      • Shoestring says:

        they are independent of each other, ie to get a referral bonus there’s no need for the new cardholder you referred to earn a welcome bonus

  4. Volker says:

    I am surprised that card churning seems to have been the main source of Avios for so many readers. I have never done it, I only travel by plane for leisure, and yet I have earned hundreds of thousands of Avios by passionately following Rob‘s advice on HFP.
    I am sure that Amex will have made their own thorough calculations to evaluate the impact of pulling the plug on churning, and they would have come to the conclusion that it would make sense economically. Therefore, many angry comments here won‘t be a cause for concern to them. Time will tell…

    • It is the only way we have been able to collect loads of Avios. I’d say passionately following Rob’s advice nets us roughly 20% of our total Avios. We can’t afford to take long haul flights that net a lot of Avios. To be honest I was expecting this day and we only put about £10k between us through AmEx a year but that will drop to nothing now. Time for a new hobby and a lot of Ryanair holidays.
      It was great fun whilst it lasted though!

      • Shoestring says:

        I’m with Volker, only a smallish proportion of my Avios comes from sign-up bonuses

        easy cheap Avios to earn other ways such as life insurance policies, Avios + Money option on tickets etc

        • What life insurance policies? Since Tesco closed theirs I thought earning avios that was was dead or am i wrong?

        • Shoestring says:

          You’re wrong because you can earn Avios on life insurance in more places than just Tesco

        • hmm, intriguing! Well I guess I’ll see if I can track down any opportunities unless you want to drop a hint?;-)

        • Shoestring says:

          there aren’t that many other places to earn Avios that you can transfer to BAEC, it’s not Tesco or Amex or BA shopping portal

          can’t say any more as it’ll get deleted

        • Jimbob says:

          Yes, thank you for the hint on life insurance a couple of weeks ago

  5. Be fair, Rob’s business is obvs going to be hit pretty hard by this.

  6. Booooooooooommmm!!! That’s over as well. The good thing is that, perhaps in a year or so, availability will greatly increase.

  7. Shock and horror here! In my case I think Amex will lose out long term. I have a BA Premium Plus card I pay £195, aside from that my partner and I do churn Amex Gold cards but that’s it so no fee refunds from Amex.
    We probably put £15k-20k worth of spend through Amex as a result. We don’t earn many Avios from flying so the gold churning helps us earn enough for a CW return.
    I guess moving forward I’ll cancel all the Amex cards and put the £15-20k on a couple of hotel earning cards like the IHG creation card where we get a free night stay and points without having to pay taxes etc

    Only other thought would be to keep the BA Amex and refer my partner for 5 cards throughout the year, cancelling them straight away to earn the referral bonuses, would that work?

    • You would aim for a one night a year in a HIE …

    • Shoestring says:

      @David – you weren’t exactly a net profitable customer to Amex so they’ll be pleased to see the back of you! 🙂

      no offence intended but remember most people here are complaining because they were net winners in the Amex churn/ sign-up bonus/ referral game – which made Amex the loser

      • Fair enough! Blimey so putting £20k a year through Amex cards and paying £195 annual makes me not a profitable customer? No wonder they’re closing the cards then!
        How much would I have to spend to be a profitable one?

        • Shoestring says:

          *net* profitable, I’m assuming you got spend points, referral points * new card sign-up points out of them @0.65p/ point…

    • 5 cards opened and closed every year would hit a credit score, l fear.

  8. Shoestring says:

    referral bonuses are intact

    so the math still stacks up if there are 2 of you (or more, my 18YO son might come in useful!), you’d be timing it to make referrals every 6 months same as now, just won’t get sign-up bonuses on first £000s spend

    but 18K points (Plat) or 9000 points (Gold) referrals x BA/ Nectar/ SPG cards (& Amex MR card for partner), twice a year…

    could still be 90K referra points on your Plat plus another few 000 K from your partner’s card…

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      This is true – need to run the maths properly.

      I guess that’s a potential 90K points offset by one off annual fee (either 450 or 140) plus you could spend the 15K on the gold card to get 10K bonus points.

      I think it probably kills the BAPP for us – if points are limited they are better held as MR points and then converted as necessary for RFS/hotels.

      • Shoestring says:

        the BAPP trick would still work if you can use 2-4-1s (free BA card to £9999, upgrade to BAPP to get 2-4-1, bank it then down grade to free BA card to save £195 fee)

      • Shoestring says:

        might work best on his ‘n hers Golds with permanently waived fees

    • Totally, my point exactly posted elsewhere…2 x plats pa a couple can easily do it. As most of our spend goes on amex. Just keep an eye on spreadsheet…and not overdo it. Could still aim for a J 241 in new suite to Asia annually. People Must remember to double dip always in Tesco tho. Useful source of avios, still.

  9. Rob, you missed one card 😉 what if you hold the Amex basic blue? I’m probably the only person on here with it. I just always have it so in between other cards i so maintain a credit relationship with Amex. It earns no points, is it in scope?

  10. Dominic Montgomery says:

    Always thought they would eventually do this, but I hoped that at the same time they might have increased the bonuses for loyalty. Doesn’t look like they are doing that. Bad news.

  11. Memesweeper says:

    Bye bye Amex. I’ll complete my remaining target and then see you in 24 months. Such a shame, I was a month away from reapplying for the BA EC PP and starting on another 2-4-1 earning journey.

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