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Most credit card issuers have rules in place to try to prevent credit card “gamers” from earning multiple bonuses for signing up for a slew of cards or the same cards over and over. This makes sense when you think of it from the perspective of the financial institutions: these issuers want long-term customers, not just customers looking to earn a bonus before dumping the card for another one.
is perhaps the best known restriction — it factors in how many cards you’ve signed up for from all credit card issuers (not just Chase) over the last two years. Other banks like Citi and Bank of America also have varying rules . But comparatively, American Express has had some of the most restrictive card-specific anti-churning rules over the last few years, allowing . Generally, the restriction has been listed in the offer terms and conditions as:
While this limits cardholders from getting a welcome bonus on the same card more than once, customers could still earn a welcome bonus on each of potentially dozens of American Express cards. However, last week the issuer added new language to the terms and conditions about welcome bonus eligibility:
This new language immediately brought up some concerns. Specifically, would American Express use this language to approve you for a card, but then deny a welcome bonus after you had already met all the welcome bonus requirements?
Well, it turns out there’s more to the story. Starting today, American Express has launched a new welcome bonus tool, letting potential cardholders know before a hard credit inquiry is initiated whether or not the cardholder is eligible for the welcome bonus.
Here’s how it works. When you apply for an American Express credit card, if you’ve already had the card you’re applying for, you’ll receive the following message before your credit is pulled:
I tested this for myself on Tuesday night by re-applying for, which I currently have. Sure enough, I received this message when I tried to submit my application:
However, despite selecting “Cancel Application” and receiving a confirmation page that I’d cancelled my application, I later received an email saying that Amex was “reviewing application now.” It seems the issuer is still working out a few bugs in this new tool.
If you haven’t had the particular card you’re applying for but you’re restricted by the new welcome bonus language due to your history with other Amex cards, you’ll receive the following message:
Luckily this message didn’t pop up for me when I applied for — and was accepted for — the.
Which Cards Are Affected?
If you’re wondering whether this restriction is only on certain cards, we can confirm that the new welcome bonus language appears on (at least) the following cards:
It’s no secret that. So, we’re certainly disappointed about the new American Express welcome bonus restriction. That being said, we’re greatly relieved that you’ll be able to know in advance if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus using the new eligibility tool. We don’t know how many credit cards will be too many for American Express, but between us and our TPG readers, we’ll undoubtedly be hearing more reports about this in the weeks and months to come.