It has been spread around that May 1 is the official date that American Express will use to prevent repeat customers from getting the same card and bonus again. So, for example, if you have had the American Express Premier Rewards Gold card before, under the current rules, you cannot get the bonus for that card unless it has been over 12 months since you last had it open. If it has been 13 months, you are fine and can get the bonus. Under the new rules, if you have ever had the card and received the bonus, you will be ineligible to get the bonus again – no matter the amount of time that has passed.
What Is Changing?
In fact, even though Amex reps cite the May 1st date, applications for American Express consumer cards (this new rule will not be applied to business cards) are already carrying the wording that you cannot have had the card before to be eligible for the bonus. This is a huge disappointment to the many people who have received repetetive bonuses from American Express for years. It is also a disappointment since American Express is kind of cheap when it comes to giving any type of anniversary bonus on some cards.
Why Keep Them?
One such example is the American Express SPG card. The annual fee is $65 but all you get with that is 2 stays and 5 nights towards elite status. In contrast, every other major hotel co-branded card gives a free night (or a free night after meeting a certain spend amount) and some sort of hotel status. Many of those cards give the mid-tier elite status within the hotel chain. The SPG card does not – though the American Express Platinum does give SPG Gold status. So, by removing the ability to close and then sign up again for the card when it suits the purpose and to receive points, most holders of the SPG card may find themselves less enticed to staying a cardholder (even though Starpoints are one of the most valuable currencies available for travel).
Will American Express Offer Different Bonuses For Past Cardholders?
All of that brings me to what I have been noticing and which leads me to wonder if American Express will be offering different bonuses for past members. When clicking on a card link, it brings me to the offer page but has some interesting language at the top of the page. You can see it in the image below, but it says – You have been identified as a current American Express Card Member. This welcome offer below may not be the same as the offer you saw advertised previously because the other offer you saw is not available to current American Express Card Members. You will not be eligible for the below offer if you have had this product within the last 12 months.
The offer for current cardmembers (not of the SPG card -it still must have been 12 months since you had it) is only for 10,000 Starpoints after first purchase instead of the total 25,000 available to new customers when meeting the spend. Yes, it had the language about the previous card not being held in over 12 months, but when you actually go to the application, it shows the same language that is on the other card applications now.
In fact, this has already happened with a couple of people I know. They applied for the SPG card and only received 10,000 Starpoints because they have held the card before. When they tried talking to Amex, that was the reason given as well. The 10,000 points were automatic but the other 15,000 Starpoints that would normally come after meeting the spend never came.
So, is this just a current thing that American Express is doing until May 1? Is it a glitch of some kind? Or will American Express actually offer past cardmembers a different bonus as a way to draw them back? Something is better than nothing, so it would be nice to see some kind of offer, even if it was lower.