Amex Will Now Tell You If You’re Eligible For Welcome Bonus Before Submitting Application

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards

The major credit card issuers have been cracking down on those who apply for credit cards exclusively for the welcome bonuses. While credit card issuers sometimes offer big welcome bonuses to get customers to apply, they do so with the hope of people holding onto a credit card long term. While it’s understandable that sometimes a card might not work out for someone, those who constantly open and close cards may find themselves more restricted than in the past.

In the case of American Express, they’ve had a restriction for years that limits you to earning the welcome bonus on a particular card “once in a lifetime.” Anecdotally a “lifetime” in this context typically refers to a period of around seven years, though that policy isn’t published. So if you’ve had a card before, you won’t generally be eligible for the welcome bonus on the card again.

Then last week, American Express added a further restriction to credit card applications. Here’s the language American Express has added (the bolded part is what’s new):

Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.

As you can see, this is quite a vague description, and it made a lot of people wonder if they’d be opening a credit card and putting the spend on it, only to later realize that they weren’t eligible because of this restriction. We don’t know if they’ve added this language just to scare people, or if there’s some new secret rule that is being enforced.

There’s some good news on this front, as reported by The Points GuyAmerican Express has added a new tool that will now tell you if you’re eligible for a credit card welcome bonus or not.

The way this works is that when you apply for a credit card, you’ll potentially receive a message before submitting the application if you’re not eligible for the bonus. That way you won’t have a hard pull on your credit.

If you apply for a card you already have, or one you’ve had in the past, you’ll get the following message:

Because you have or have had the [Card Name], you are not eligible to receive the welcome offer.

We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?

Amex will also tell you if you’re not eligible based on the vague new restriction they’ve added. If for whatever reason they deem that they wouldn’t offer you the welcome bonus, you’ll receive the following message:

Based on your history with American Express welcome offers, introductory APR offers, or the number of cards you have opened and closed, you are not eligible to receive this welcome offer.

We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?

This suggests that there is a strict new restriction, we just don’t know what it is yet.

Note that because this technology was just added, it’s possible that it won’t work 100% of the time yet. For example, some report that even after hitting “Cancel Application” they still received an email indicating that their application had been accepted. So there may still be some kinks they’re working out.

Bottom line

It makes sense for credit card issuers to increasingly try to encourage profitable behavior. Offering generous welcome bonuses is costly, and they want to get a return on their investment.

If they are going to have restrictions on card applications, I really appreciate that they have added this technology where it will tell you before submitting your application if you’re eligible. This is a positive development.

What do you make of Amex’s new welcome bonus qualification tool? Has anyone used it yet and found anything interesting?

  1. It’s so refreshing to see that a company is truly doing something transparent!

    I’m tired of companies claiming to be transparent but not truly acting out such claim.

  2. I had a blow out battle with an executive liaison @ AMEX corporate months ago
    over the very issue.
    After reps telling me I qualified for the offer by phone they later downright denied the bonus me after spending thousands to qualify and stringing me along
    I am really glad to see them doing this and appreciate the post!
    One of the things I brought up in the conversation was exactly this!
    I’m not sure if our conversation went somewhere or this was already in the works

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