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

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As we covered yesterday, American Express has announced a 2nd round of ‘no notice’ changes to its personal credit and charge cardsThe details are here.  This follows the changes made in late March to the rules on how you qualify for a sign-up bonus.

To help you get your ahead around the new state of affairs, I have updated this one page summary of the new rules and the new bonus levels.  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)

Keep reading to see if you do qualify …..

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, or American Express Rewards card in the previous 24 months (BA, Starwood, Nectar, Platinum Cashback are OK and, importantly, you CAN get The Platinum Card sign-up bonus if you have Platinum Business or Gold Business)

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, Platinum Business and Gold Business 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 cards do not count)

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

If you currently have a Platinum Business or Gold Business card:

You can get a bonus NOW on ANY personal American Express card IF you have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.

For clarity … the bonus rules on the personal Amex cards now only look at what other personal Amex products you have had in the past 24 months.  Any small business Amex cards you have are not taken into account.

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 10,000 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 of 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 40,000 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. Stewart says:

    And actually more important question – how do the business gold/platinum cards work wrt ‘personal’ and ‘corporate’ card (non)surcharging? ie – if I use a business gold card, will BA and others hit me for the ‘corporate credit card’ surcharge?

  2. Robert says:

    Can I self refer myself for the platinum card from my BAPP card?

    • Michael says:

      yes if self referring is still a thing. try it, some people have luck, others don’t

  3. Boobaholic says:

    Do Amex do any checks as to whether an applicant actually has a business for the Amex gold / platinum business cards ?

    • It says you need to have a business bank account, whether they ask for the account number during the application I don’t know. Legally the liability is personal, not with the company, so I doubt they are too bothered.

  4. I wonder if I can apply for business gold card and hit the spend target using it as a personal card and pay off personally. It’s free for a year so no cost to the company to justify.

  5. Hi. I am desperately in need of 44,000 Mariott points (or 30,000 MR Points) before the end of May. I hold the Amex gold credit card that used to accompany the gold charge card, but have not held a gold or plat card for about a year. My wife has the old gold charge card still. We have both held BAPPs in the last few months – Ive not gotten around to cancelling mine yet.

    Getting those extra points was a piece of cake until recently – we could have taken 30,000 each from the SPG card. But now I am a bit stuck! We cannot get that signup, nor can we get any other Amex signup. What really hurts is that I transferred out my last 30,000 MR points a few days ago for a redemption that will no longer happen. I cannot spend £30k to generate the 30k MR Points I need in that sort of time, so my plan is:

    1) upgrade the wife from gold charge to platinum for the 20,000 MR bonus – I cannot see that it has been gubbed by the changes?

    2) the wife can then refer me for an SPG card (might as well have it) to get a referall bonus, which I think is another 9k now?

    3) prey they all hit her account in time; transfer to Marriott; and have her transfer her Marriott points to my account.

    Does this work? I know it can take time for the points to post but this is the only real chance I have unless anyone has a better plan. If it doesn’t work I guess I cut my losses on 15 May and pay for the 44,000 points I need before the 50% bonus expires, but I really want to avoid that if poss!

    Any thoughts welcome!

    • Sounds OK, except the referral bonus from Gold is now 6k MR.

      • sorry, I meant my wife would upgrade to plat and then refer me for an SPG. That use to be 18k I thought, but was now 12k. In either case – good to have your confirmation that it works in principle, thanks!

    • George says:

      What is the 50% bonus you mention?

      • Optimus Prime says:

        50% bonus when buying Bonvoy points.

      • Apologies – another error. Should read 25%, being the current bonus on buying points. But I am hoping I don’t have to.

        This is my first ever Marriott redemption – I LOVE that you can book before you have the points. Absolutely brilliant.

        With the 5 nights for 4 thing and some pretty luxurious hotels in the Marriott group, Avios is no longer necessarily my plan for any MR points I earn. It will be interesting to see what sort of status recognition I get as a gold. As a Spire Ambassador in IHG I have always been really impressed with status recognition at Crown Plaza but not at IC hotels, so let’s see how far gold gets me with Marriott. I see from Rob’s article that one of us gets lounge access in some hotels but seemingly not the one I’ve just booked (Ritz Carlton). Despite being very rusty at this having not had a holiday for years, with the help of this website in the last 48 hours I have booked 5 nights in Moscow, flying first class and staying at the Ritz Carlton for a total cash outlay of £110. Not bad!

    • Ricatti says:

      Except it is 25% discount on Marriott Bonvoy points, not 50% (as it should have been to make things comparable to SPG discounted points sales).

  6. How does it work for supplementary card holders? Is it counted as holding the card?

  7. Gregor says:

    After consideration I’m afraid all these changes are going to drive me away from being an Amex customer – the incentives are now so diminished. For 20 years I’ve spent many many £thousands across a range of cards but it’s time to target my charging elsewhere. Who specifically should I write to with my feedback before I go?

    • None fussed says:

      To someone who cares, certainly not amex

    • Shoestring says:

      You can post it here if you like! 🙂

      I’m sure there are plenty who would love to hear your point of view

    • I’m sure they will immediately reverse all recently announced plans you disagree with. Perhaps even put you on the board too. Amex is no different to RBS, Barclays, HSBC etc. they are just a credit provider that offer products that benefit them and their shareholders. They won’t give a gnats chuff what you think… but hey fill your boots. It’s Charlotte Duerden who you should write to.

    • Freddy says:

      What card are you intending to get which offers similar level of benefits – geniune question as I’m yet to find it

    • Gregor says:

      My sense is that Amex do value customer feedback, so despite your understandable cynicism Natty I will share my thoughts with the business. Yes I’ve churned but still, since 1999 that accounts for perhaps £200k spend on Amex; that money will now go on my legacy Hilton card and/or a new IHG card and/or a new Virgin card. It’s a marketplace and providers vie for business but they’ll be losing mine. Each to their own I guess.

      • Supermix says:

        200k over 20 years – so 10K a year?! Hey big spender! I bet Amex are really worried about losing your custom.

      • Freddy says:

        The IHG provides a return of 0.8%. The virgin card is either 0.75% or 1.5% for the paid card. Don’t think these are realistically churnable. I’m struggling to see the great alternative

    • Crafty says:

      SPG doesn’t exist…

  8. Antony says:

    What would be best for me to get/eligible for next? New to reward points, so I’ve done things arse about face to what suited at the time.
    Currently got the British Airways (no fee) card and cancelled my Nectar card (got that first to buy stuff for house with Double Points event) just under a year ago.
    Guessing the Platinum card?

  9. Murray says:

    Hello! Slightly OT – I’ve been reading your helpful posts on Head for Points and am looking into getting the Platinum Amex this summer when my Gold card comes up for renewal. I’m particularly interested in the access to Delta Sky Club – but am confused about the access policy. The way it’s phrased on Amex’s website suggests you can admit yourself, two guests AND children under 21 for an extra cost, however Delta’s website makes no mention of this. We are a family of five, with two children under 21, so I’m hoping we would all get access under one platinum card?

    Also, we are flying indirect from LHR to Jacksonville, FL with Virgin Atlantic via Atlanta – the Atlanta-Jacksonville leg is run by Delta but obviously we booked it via Virgin – would we still be eligible for entry to the Sky Club in Atlanta?

    As we currently have the Gold card, (one for my wife, one for myself), I know we wouldn’t be eligible for the Platinum sign up bonus. Any ideas on what would be the best way to maximise points switching over?

    Thanks!

    • NO guests with Delta lounges – see https://www.americanexpress.com/idc/en/benefits/the-platinum-card/global-lounge-collection.html

      Only the Platinum cardholders gets in free, so if your wife got the free supplementary Platinum card then you still need to pay for the other three. This is unlikely to be a great deal.

      • Murray says:

        Thanks Rob – so is it certain then that my wife as my supplementary cardholder would also get to admit two people? I was really just stuck on whether my family of 5 would get access, as it’s not worth it if I can only admit two guests myself and the supplementary cardholder none. I knew about the extra cost to admit guests, but figured that with a five hour layover in Atlanta, with no other lounges included with the Platinum card, it might be a good option? I’ve heard the food options and facilities are decent but of course if they aren’t we will reconsider.

        • For a Delta lounge, you get no guests. You have a Plat, your wife has a (supp) Plat, so you both get in. Tough luck for the kids.

          With a Priority Pass card (which you would both have, as your wife is a supp Plat), you can do 2 people each in a Priority Pass lounge, so 4 of you are covered.

          Similarly, flashing Amex Plat at a Plaza Premium lounge lets each Plat cardholder come in with a guest, so 4 of you are covered if your wife has a supp Plat.

        • Murray says:

          Thanks Rob – is it absolutely certain then that supplementary cardholders can also get into Delta Sky Club free of charge in addition to the main cardholder (and admit their own two guests)? I’ve read information on another site (American admittedly so I’m sure the rules are different) saying that you need to pay extra to add an “authorised user” who can get their own access. Is there anywhere that actually outlines the policy in full – I’ve looked all over and can’t find anything conclusive about supplementary cardholders.

          Looking into Centurion Lounges, it looks like only the main cardholder, and not the supplementary cardholder, gets access (plus two guests)?

          Sorry for all the questions – I’m trying to add up whether the Platinum card is worth the annual fee and these might swing it for me! Really appreciate your help!

          • I thought Delta was ‘cardholder only’ – but obviously a supp has their own card so they get in. No guests, I thought.

            Not an expert on this as I’ve only ever gone into a Delta lounge with Amex whilst travelling solo.

  10. Steve F says:

    I had a BA premium plus, applied for a gold premium rewards card, have been assured will get the bonus. Its showing on my account and Amex confirm I’ll get it.
    Now to refer my partner… but which card first BA or Gold??

  11. Lay flat sleeper says:

    I cant find it mentioned anywhere, so I presume that it doesn’t effect earning sign up bonuses, so if you downgraded to the Basic card that does not earn any points, after 2 years could you then apply for a gold/ ba or Plat card? I’m just Thinking that I’m really going to miss shop small in December if I don’t have some Amex cards to play with.I’m also presuming that the basic card enables you to take part in the shop small promotion in December?

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