I wrote about the upcoming changes to Amex’s bonus offers rules awhile back. It looks like these new rules have updated within the terms and conditions. Basically Amex is now making it so you can only earn the bonus once per lifetime on each of its cards. If you have received a sign-up bonus on a card in the past, you won’t be eligible for the sign-up bonus on the same card.

Originally news came out that starting May 1, you will not be eligible for a sign-up bonus on a American Express personal card if you have ever received the bonus on the same card in the past.

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The updated terms state “If we identify you as currently having an American Express® Card account, you may not be eligible for this welcome bonus offer. This offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”

Did the Rules Already Change?

I decided to confirm this with a few Amex reps and got mixed information: the customer service reps which I spoke with said the 12 month rule still applies and they were not aware of any one-time bonus change, however all the credit card application reps said that I would not qualify for a bonus if I have had the same card in the past.

Considering that the terms on the credit card landing page already reflect the new rule, I would not go out on a limb and apply for new Amex cards in hopes of locking in another bonus. I’ll keep you posted as things are clarified on the current rules. The change is not taking place on American Express business cards for now, for now the 12 month rule still applies to those cards.

Amex is the latest credit card company to adopt more restrictive rules about earning the bonus multiple times on the same card. Chase has had a similar rule that only allows you to earn the bonus once per unique credit card product, while other banks don’t have hard and fast rules. Some banks still allow you to earn the bonus and even hold multiple versions of the credit card at the same time—all while earning the bonus.

New Strategy

The best strategy to make the new Amex rules work with you is to apply when it makes the most logical sense. This will probably mean waiting for a higher offer, since you will only be able to earn the offer once on each card. With that said, if you have travel plans and need to earn some more points, you should not forgo signing up for a new credit card in hopes that the bonus will hit mega levels in the future. After all, the name of the game is to earn miles and points to go travel!

I have not held many American Express credit cards in the past, so I still have options when applying for new cards. This also means that I didn’t take advantage of the more lenient bonus rules in the past by re-signing up for the same card on a cycle. Oh well, things change, so I guess the lesson is to roll with the punches.

Likely my next Amex card will be the Starwood Preferred Guest card if it offers 30,000 points again this summer.

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About the author

Rand Shoaf

Introduced to traveling at a young age, Rand has since traveled to over 45 countries. Learning how to maximize credit card sign-up bonuses in college has allowed him to earn millions of travel miles and points. Using the same tips and tricks he writes about here has ultimately allowed him to explore the word for pennies on the dollar.