A beginner’s guide to whether you qualify for an American Express sign-up bonus

American Express Platinum Charge
GUIDE: Earning Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 3 minutes
POSTED: February 27, 2018
UPDATED: February 26, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS: American Express Membership Rewards

Given the 80,000-point bonus on offer with the American Express Platinum Charge, I thought it would be helpful to answer some of the most common questions we receive regarding eligibility for American Express sign-up bonuses.

But first, let’s look at the policy…

In simple English

If you currently hold or have held almost any American Express card in the past 18 months, then you are not eligible for the sign-up bonus on another American Express card.

The official wording usually used with offers

Offer only available to new American Express Card Members who apply by …. Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product offered by American Express International (NZ), Inc in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for this offer.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I am a supplementary cardholder on my partner’s American Express card, will I be eligible for the sign-up bonus if I apply for a card as the primary cardholder?

Yes, holding a supplementary card is not a barrier to applying for your own and being eligible for a bonus.

How long do I have to wait from cancelling an American Express card and signing up for a new one to get the sign-up bonus?

It’s best to call American Express to confirm the exact date for your situation (here are the phone numbers for different card products and the general number is 0800 656 660).

From what we gather, it is 18 months from the closing date on the last statement after the card is cancelled but we’re not 100% on that.

If I close my existing card that has been held for 18 months, do I qualify for sign up points straight away, or do I have to wait 18 months from when I cancelled my Amex before I qualify again?

You have to wait the 18 months.

Can I hold multiple American Express cards at the same time?

Yes, you can but you will only earn the sign-up bonus on the first one.

So, if you earned the sign-up bonus on the Charge and then wanted to apply for the Platinum Edge, you would not earn the sign-up bonus on the Platinum Edge but you can still apply for it to earn more points at supermarkets.

Will I earn the sign-up bonus on a personal card if I already hold a business card, and vice versa?

Generally, no, as Small Business cards are included in the policy. The only exception is if you hold a Corporate card.

What was the previous (more generous) policy?

In the past, American Express differentiated between:

  • credit and charge cards; and
  • personal and business cards.

They allowed existing credit cardholders to earn sign-up points for charge card applications, and vice versa—as long as they didn’t already hold a card of the type being applied for (credit or charge) and hadn’t in the preceding 18 months.

The other part of the policy was that personal and business cards were separated, allowing holders of personal cards to be eligible for points bonuses on business cards, and vice versa.

Summing up

A lot of frequent flyers are frustrated by American Express’ tight sign-up bonus eligibility policies.

From a consumer perspective, it makes earning large sign-up bonuses on multiple cards more difficult, as you have to wait 18 months after cancelling a card to be eligible to earn a bonus on another.

From American Express’ point-of-view, this policy is designed to reduce the ability of customers to ‘churn and burn’ credit cards to earn maximum points.

As such, a wise strategy may be to wait until an attractive American Express bonus is offered, jump on that, supplement with any other American Express cards that offer a higher earn rate on certain categories, and apply for Visa and Mastercard options with other banks to pick up other bonus points.

Then, once you see that the value that you have extracted from the American Express card/s has been maximised, you could choose to cancel that card/s, wait 18 months and start the process again.

Just note that American Express does reserve the right to change this policy whenever they like—to make it more lenient or restrictive—so do make sure your credit card strategy can adapt to any future changes.

A beginner’s guide to whether you qualify for an American Express sign-up bonus was last modified: February 26th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt