The beginners guide to whether you qualify for an American Express sign-up bonus or not

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On 21st March 2019, American Express made some major changes to the rules on how you qualify for a sign-up bonus.

I have put together this one page summary of the new rules.  I will add a link to this page to the sidebar on the desktop and tablet version of Head for Points.

For absolute clarity …. the rules below do NOT stop you applying for any of the cards.  They simply influence whether or not you will qualify for a sign-up bonus.

The new Amex sign-up bonus decision tree

This is the decision tree you need to follow:

Have you had ANY personal American Express card (excluding MBNA and Lloyds Bank cards) in the previous 24 months?

If ‘no’:

You can apply for any personal American Express card and receive the full advertised bonusThis article outlines my recommended application strategy to maximise your bonuses.

If ‘yes’:

You CANNOT get a sign-up bonus on the following cards:

  • Platinum Cashback
  • Platinum Cashback Everyday
  • British Airways American Express (free card)
  • Preferred Rewards Gold
  • Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Nectar
  • American Express Rewards (all three variants)

You would need to cancel all of your existing American Express cards to start the 24 month clock.  In two years time, you could then use the strategy I describe in this article to get two or three cards in quick succession.

You MAY still qualify for a bonus NOW on:

  • The Platinum Card (30,000 Membership Rewards points)
  • British Airways Premium Plus (25,000 Avios)
  • American Express Gold Business (20,000 Membership Rewards points)
  • American Express Platinum Business (40,000 Membership Rewards points)

As an existing or recent cardholder, under what scenarios might I still get a bonus NOW on The Platinum Card, British Airways Premium Plus, American Express Gold Business or American Express Platinum Business?

You can get The Platinum Card sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points if:

You have not had a Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, Platinum Business, Gold Business or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months (BA, Starwood, Nectar, Platinum Cashback are OK)

You can get the British Airways Premium Plus sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios if:

You have not had a British Airways or British Airways Premium Plus card in the previous 24 months (Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green, American Express Rewards, Starwood, Nectar, Platinum Cashback are OK)

You can get the American Express Gold Business or Platinum Business sign-up bonuses of 20,000 and 40,000 Membership Rewards points respectively if:

You have not had a Gold Business, Platinum Business, Preferred Rewards Gold, The Platinum Card, Green or American Express Rewards card in the previous six months (British Airways, Starwood, Nectar, Platinum Cashback are OK)

American Express sign-up bonus rules

Let’s do the same analysis from the other direction:

The new Amex sign-up bonus rules by card type

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

American Express sign-up bonus rules

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.  Let me stress again – these new rules do NOT stop you applying for any of the cards.  They simply influence whether or not you will qualify for a sign-up bonus.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points – 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 Rewards – bonus up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points based on card variant – apply hereour Amex Rewards review interest rate varies depending on which card variant you choose

British Airways American Express – bonus of 5,000 Aviosapply hereour BA Amex review – representative APR 22.9% variable

British Airways American Express Premium Plus – bonus of 25,000 Avios 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

Nectar – bonus of 20,000 Nectar pointsapply hereour Nectar Amex reviewrepresentative APR of 28.2%, including £25 fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200

The Platinum Card – bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points apply hereour Amex Platinum review

Platinum Cashback – 5% cashback bonus (max £125) for three months – apply hereour Amex Platinum Cashback review – representative APR of 28.2%, including £25 fee, based on a notional credit limit of £1,200

Platinum Cashback Everyday – 5% cashback bonus (max £100) for three months – apply hereour Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday review – representative APR 22.9% variable

Starwood Preferred Guest American Express – bonus of 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy pointsapply hereour Starwood Amex review –  representative APR 39.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit

American Express Gold Business  bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards pointsapply hereour Amex Gold Business review

American Express Platinum Business – bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards pointsapply 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. O/T – anyone know of a UK (free) number to call Marriott to request a transfer of Bonvoy points between family members please?

  2. Quick Question. Does anyone know if applying for and then holding the Business charge cards will effect the 24 month hold on any of the personal cards. I.e. will I have to wait another 24 months after cancellation if I churn those in six months time?

    Also do the Business Cards offer referrals or Gold to Platinum upgrade bonuses of any kind?

  3. Andy S says:

    Does anyone know as a sole trader if I open a business gold account does the spending have to be purely business related spending or any spending? Thanks

  4. I’ve got the Gold charge card. If I upgrade to Platinum, will I still get the 25k odd bonus MRs?

  5. Just to clarify, if I cancel my personal Preferred Rewards Gold card now, I am eligible for the Platinum Business bonus in 6 months, correct?

  6. Peter 64K says:

    I agree. These are also exempt from the interchange cap so Amex would be getting a decent return on them as well.

  7. Zack Wood says:

    I was just about to sign up for the BA AMEX Premium Plus card but it looks like they have caught on and changed the conditions once again. It now says

    You will not be eligible to receive any welcome bonus offer for: (i) the British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card, if you hold or have held any personal British Airways American Express Card product in the past 24 months, or (ii) any other Card, if you hold or have held any personal American Express Cards in the past 24 months

    It would seem now that if you have any of the reward cards you can no longer get the welcome bonus.

    • Er, no. That’s not what it says. Read it again.

      • Zack Wood says:

        Apologies Rob. Just read again and understood. I’ll put the mix up on my part down to jet lag:)

        Out of interest I currently have a gold card. Can I refer myself for a BA premium plus for the points?

        Thanks.

  8. Barbara Haillie says:

    If I am a second card holder on spouse BA Platinum Amex, can I still open new card in my own name and qualify for bonus, or do I also have to give up existing card and wait 24 months?

  9. Dee Kay says:

    Slightly OT but I cancelled my Amex Plat as I lost my job and didn’t need the benefits nor the costs as I wasn’t travelling. Starting a new job, so thinking of getting the Amex Plat again. I know I won’t get the sign up bonus but is there a period I must wait following closure before applying?

  10. ChrissyH says:

    Just wanted to say I had the free BA card and in January upgraded to the BA Premium. I’ve just received my 30k bonus avios points 🙂

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