Credit Cards

Is Amex Walking Back Their Once Per Lifetime Policy?

american express 1099s referral bonuses
Written by Charlie

With many reports of targeted Amex offers not carrying the once per lifetime bonus language, could Amex be considering opening up their doors again for previous customers to receive bonuses?

American Express used to be a card churner’s gift – the ability to get bonuses again and again on the same cards was fantastic. Amex realized that this was not exactly what they were looking for and shifted to a once per lifetime policy with regards to personal card bonuses. Could they be walking this back now?

Is Amex Walking Back Their Once Per Lifetime Policy?

Once per lifetime

This once per lifetime policy does not exist on many targeted offers – could that soon be true for all offers?

To be quite honest, I believe that this policy was somewhat a knee-jerk reaction and pretty dumb. I am not just saying this because I was unable to get any more card bonuses with Amex personal cards! On a side-note, this policy is actually why I decided to not get direct affiliate links for Amex cards (even though I was approved for them) since I did not want to deal with poor sign-up bonuses, this restriction, and all the compliance checks while still needing to meet their quota. I do have the link above this article but that is does not come with that same level of compliance checks and quotas.

Hurts “Regular” Customers

Consider this: a customer who used to use American Express years ago decides to come back to them because he/she finds the advertisements for XX,000 points interesting. They think they remember getting that card when it had no bonus at all or they cannot even really remember if that is the card they had. Because of Amex’s policy, that customer gets no sign-up bonus and is a decidely annoyed customer.

This change in policy did not just stop card churners – it had a real affect on customers that Amex really needs. Like the people that used to have a Delta card when they flew Delta but had switched to United for several years. Now, they are back to Delta and thought they would like to start their account out with a new bonus. Oops, not for you! To make it worse, these customers are willing to sign-up at the hugely advertised bonuses that are terrible – offers like 30,000 miles (when the card typically offers 50,000 miles or more at least once per year). Amex should be happy to get someone willing to apply for such a low bonus but no, if you had the card before, no bonus at all for you now.

The above situations are the stories of real customers.

Targeted Offers Not Including That Language

To be clear, here is what the current public offerings on personal cards say about the once per lifetime bonus:

Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

According to many people, the targeted offers on various American Express products being sent out through the mail (and some via e-maildo not contain that language. If you receive such an offer, read through the terms to be sure, but you should be okay to apply again since the language is not there. Just be sure to hang on to the paper in case they do not award you the points.

Could They Roll It Back Soon For All Customers?

American Express is certainly not having the staying power in people’s wallets that they used to have. Between losing accounts like JetBlue and Costco and having co-branded partners like Delta upend their award redemption program, they need to do something to draw a customer base back in. Ending this ridiculous ban on returning customers and bonuses could be a good step.

Of course, if this does happen, it will likely come with increased spending requirements. Otherwise, we will all just hit them again and be good to go after spending just a couple of thousand. 🙂 It could be that shutting down Bluebird for many customers will help them make such a decision since one of the most popular (and easiest) ways to meet spending requirements was through loading Bluebird.

These offers are certainly not new (Doctor of Credit reported on them last year) but I have been getting more e-mails/comments from readers that they are getting these targeted offers so maybe Amex is sending them out more frequently.


If you receive one of these targeted offers and have previously held that particular card, read the terms carefully. If there is no mention of the lifetime language, seriously think about applying for the card since these offers are typically much better than the public ones anyway.

In the meantime, if you need points/miles and have already held Amex personal cards on most products, consider their business cards. The only language on those is that it must have been 12 months since you held that product to get the bonus again.

What offers have you received and have they had the exclusionary language in it?

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • It really wouldn’t surprise me if Amex gets rid of their lifetime policy. It doesn’t make sense for Amex. Yes, they do this for a while and it stops churners, but it stops people from applying and reaping the full benefits of your card. Also, with the benefits of Amex not being what it used to be, they need to get customers anyway they can. Friends, colleagues and such that I know, who are not into the points game, have cancelled a lot/all of their Amex cards because the fees are not justifiable now. Now with a lot of people in the hobby no longer applying for the card/using it to get minimum spending, they need to change something.

    • Exactly right. I have a feeling it will change soon but they may see what things will be like with Delta since that has to be their biggest co-brander and they have the new revenue system coming in June for redemptions.

  • There’s gotta be a happy medium between lifetime and 12 or 24 months. I’m actually surprised they don’t consider 24 months to be long enough. Are there that many churners that imposing a once-a-lifetime rule really helped them not to dole out bonuses? Sure I would like tons of bonuses on short churn rules but I also want the system to be sustainable. There’s enough cards and I only have so much credit that 24 months seemed to be good.

    I pretty much don’t use Amex anymore, there’s little to no reason unless there is a good business card offer.

    • Good points. I would imagine that if they put the 12 month rule in place right now again, it would give them sometime to get some data since likely many people already have the cards they would want to apply for anyway so it would give Amex a year to see if it was feasible to return to that length of time or if they should go to something like 24 as you say.

  • I got a targeted offer for the Premier Gold from Am Ex. I had this card about 4 years ago. It was $1000 spend…50K points. I was unsure but didn’t see language excluding me. Got card, met spend, got 50K.

    A few days ago I was able to get the same offer to pop up on some obscure link using the private mode. I was actually looking for a deal on another Am Ex card…and low and behold the 50K/$1000 spend popped up so I applied for my husband. I ignored the once in a lifetime wording though….

    After I read this post I got a little nervous. I had a chat online with rep and she confirmed the bonus offer to me. I am assuming that if he didn’t qualify then shouldn’t she have known this? I guess I am going to spend the $1000 and see what happens. Worse case I get some membership rewards points and use up the incidental $100 towards travel.

    • Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter what the reps say (had a problem with that some years back – his 2 day error cost me 100,000 points) as they will go by the terms. I imagine you will not receive the bonus but, like you said, you will still get some value from it before the fee comes due.

  • my hubby just applied for the AMEX Everyday Card and got approved! The cool part is that he got the 15K bonus after $1K spend when it is usually 10K bonus only! He has the AMEX SPG and thought he would try if he gets the AMEX everyday card and he surely did!