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

  2. Boo. Time to cancel my cards then to start the clock ticking!

  3. This will mean a major rethink of my spending – I can’t imagine a scenario where I put through the same amount of spend through Amex though.

  4. ….. a change of rules …. a change of strategy???
    I’ve never applied for an Amex (Gold/Plat) card for my business. A couple of questions:
    1) What’s your understanding of qualification for the cards as a business ie does it need to be VAT registered or simply registered at Companies House?
    2) What happens to the Amex mileage rewards when earned ie can they be transferred to your personal Avios account or can they only be transferred to a (new) business Avios account (or can they be merged with a BA family account).
    p.s just wondering what the impact is on BA as HfP readers must currently occupy and pay taxes / fees etc on a small but significant number of Club World and First seats? Potentially availability will improve but a drop in (reward) seat customers as well – perhaps?

    • Michael says:

      I’m assuming amex would of had to talk to BA about this as this will have a impact on them for sure. BA have made it no secret F is full of too many people on redemption – so it’s being reduced in terms of seat count and this may also be part of the plan. Am I thinking too much into this?

      This is the end of this game for me anyway – I’ll be ditching amex in a couple of months and just get some free avios in 24 months.

    • You can apply as a sole trader, that’s one of the option Amex let you select when you apply

  5. Combatjohnny says:

    Well that sucks, im not willing to pay the annual fee for the gold card so i guess ill take my spending elsewhere. I have the virgin card which gives a fair amount of miles so maybe ill focus on it

    • Shoestring says:

      2x referrals on your Gold pays for the fee in year 2, plus you get 2 lounge passes and points per £ spent & annual bonus 10K points

      not so bad

  6. Isolde says:

    Any news on referral bonuses?

    I feel that this makes the Platinum Charge Card more valuable as you can earn 90k MR every year through referrals.

  7. Well thats terrible timing, I just got an BA free card to kill 6 weeks until its time to get the Gold card again. I would have waited for the gold and then been able to get a BA premium after that but now im screwed for 23 months of sign up bonus’

  8. my favourite game has just been cancelled

  9. Isolde says:

    Apologies. Ignore this- I have just started reading earlier comments

  10. What about points for upgrade from gold to plat?

    I’ve got gold just a week ago, if in few months time I’ll request plat upgrade, can I still get bonus points?

    • can’t upgrade any more as the cards are different

    • Michael says:

      I just asked this but I think it will get lost in the massive chain of comments lol. Breaking it down logically, you should be able too I think…I was not going to bother doing this, but I’ll have too now, it will be my last major chunk of avios for a while.

  11. Rebecca says:

    It was somewhat inevitable that it was going to happen. I cancelled my Gold card earlier this week and had a reminder in my diary to reapply in six months! Never mind eh.
    I still have the BA free card, I may just keep it and accept the big bonuses are over as I like having access to Amex presales and the lounge at the O2.

  12. I got the rewards card a month ago and just about to hit the £1000 sign up spend. Held a preferred gold about 2 years ago. Will this stop bonus?

    • Michael says:

      No, I very much doubt it as you applied when the six month gap was still in force.

      • Thanks, will cancel when I’ve got my spend and wait 24 months, yikes

        Should have gotten the gold could have hit the £2000 spend easily. Ah well fun over for amateurs like myself

    • Yes, you signed up under old terms.

  13. Martin Roberts says:

    Rob a question so what happens to Amex Gold with the free priority pass and free 12 months I’ve been churning this and BA for a while now so I’ll need a new strategy. So if we apply every 11 months for my wife then me following 11 months would we still get free 1st year free and lounge access we lose points but the benefits are still useful. if that’s not the case Amex is loosing one card for sure from us (every 24 months)

    • Shoestring says:

      you can still get all that plus referral points

      • So, I guess you’ll be down at The Clydesdale Bank more frequently now Harry? Your 2M avios have suddenly jumped in value, should have made you a better offer last week 🙂

    • Do you mean gold or plat? Benefits you refer to are part one, part the other. If plat, each of you can get a bonus every two years provided you have not held the other MR cards within the two years. Holding other cards is ok. The churn cycle will be 24m not 12m.

  14. Ralphy says:

    It’s over Rob. Might as well pack up the site.

    Devaluations have been bad enough in recent times both for hotels and airlines to the point where Avios collecting for non-business travellers like me, was becoming marginal, especially with some of the emerging cheap-ish business class offers that appear throughout the year.

    Up until now, it was relatively easy to churn / refer 100k Avios a year but it is now impossible and so the game is well and truly over.

    To be fair, thanks to you, we have had 6 years of flying First and and Business and it’s been amazing. Got 160k Avios and one more 2-4-1 to use up (and almost 200k of Virgin miles that I am sat on awaiting for Air France to join that party) and that will be it for us.

    So, one last final thank you for all your hard work, we are truly grateful!

    • Speak for yourself. Carry on Rob! Plenty of us earn points in other ways than churning.

      • Spurs Debs says:

        Exactly… but hey the more that throw in the towel now makes finding reward flights easier for rest of us. I don’t fly for work, im a real low earner as in I’m my Mums carer who has dementia and I’m not wailing into my cuppa Adapt or die as they say.

    • Surely the value of advice which helps to ‘maximise your miles’ increases when those miles are harder to come by?

      • Freddy says:

        Alot will probably make the decision it’s not worth the hassle without the bonuses

        • Indeed, lounge reviews from Southend etc don’t really float my boat so I’m not sure I’ve much use for the site going fowards. I’ve had some good tips from this site over the years so thanks for that, but I don’t think most need help to find cheap business/first flights in order to earn miles, which will be the main source of points from here on.

      • Genghis says:

        It’ll certainly make the hobby more interesting. I enjoy the chase perhaps as much as enjoying the benefits.

        • Exactly, it’s the challenge going forward for us, to make it keep happening.
          So we will need Rob more than ever!
          The more that give up, leaves more seats for those who persevere.

        • Agreed. And the referral points are not going just yet. With referrals you can probably earn as much. You just need to change the strategy. And if you follow the site you actually learn about various strategies even in those Southend lounge reviews.

        • It’s only a matter of time before the referral points go too, as it will no doubt be abused even more that it is already. It’s like the scenario with Tesco points, how many people use the sister site now most of the earning opportunities have gone? People will still earn miles but more so via paid flights, and there are better alternative sites that cover those already.

    • Hey! The whole world operates with limited churning. I think the UK was the only country with such generous churning.

      • But the sign up bonuses are FAR more generous in the rest of the world.

        • Not in continental Europe.

          Maybe in the USA and Australia.

        • In the USA is once in a lifetime. You’ve probably earned more sign up bonus in the UK churning than in the USA. Don’t know in Australia.
          In continental Europe, the rules are similar to the new UK rules.

          BTW, USA =/= rest of the world.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Signup bonuses in Aus are repeatable, on a 12-18 month cycle in general (Amex is 18 months). Most banks have the no-other-cards with us within 12-18 month clause, except ANZ, which operates on a “no bonus for cards in the same reward currency within the last 12 months” basis.

    • Not a chance, think differently Ralphy, it’s game on 🙂 Big aspirational goals focussed through one or two schemes are obviously more difficult, however, think diversified portfolios for both miles and points, and miles-earning discounted premium fares. Will still be possible to do a lot of damage with this hobby , just one of the main rules has changed. Going forward I will probably be looking to pay cash for the big flight and save on hotels and regional flights.

  15. guesswho2000 says:

    I love how everyone’s like “thanks for the good times, that’s it for me”…

    When one door closes, another opens. I’ve got nothing to base that on, just trying to be positive!

    • Correct. This hobby is very dynamic. You just need to adapt to continuous changes.

      • Jimbob says:

        I think I get more Avios from referral bonuses than sign up bonuses, so annoying, but not the end of the game.

        In a few years we’ll be able to reminisce about the good old days of the sign up bonus, a little like we do about Tesco printer cartridges

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