Amex’s Application Pop-Up Warning Explained

Amex’s Application Pop-Up Warning Explained

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The major credit card issuers have various policies in place to crack down on those who apply for credit cards exclusively for welcome offers. While credit card issuers sometimes have big 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 facing some restrictions.

In the case of American Express, the issuer has a policy of only letting you earn the welcome offer on a 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.

In the case of American Express, there’s a pop-up that has been showing up during the application process for some people for the past few years, so I wanted to cover that in more detail.

What is the Amex application pop-up warning?

During the American Express application process, you might see that you’re faced with the following pop-up:

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

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

Note: Your application will be considered withdrawn if no action is taken on this page.

This will typically appear after you enter your personal information and submit your application. As the message states, there’s the potential that you won’t be eligible for the welcome offer on the card that you applied for.

This means you could still apply for the card and simply not receive the bonus. But this also gives you the option to cancel your application, so that there’s no credit pull.

What causes the Amex application pop-up warning?

There are several reasons you could potentially be faced with this pop-up warning during the application process.

You could get this message because you’ve applied for this card in the past, and just didn’t remember. In this case I’d consider the message to be genuinely helpful and a great feature, since you’re able to avoid a hard pull for a card where you won’t get the bonus.

Under other circumstances this can be a bit more confusing, though. The warning officially states that you could be ineligible due to one of four reasons:

  • Your history with credit card balance transfers
  • Your history with Amex welcome offers
  • Your history with introductory APR offers
  • Your history with the number of Amex cards that you’ve opened and closed

Suffice it to say that this is vague. What does all of this mean in practice? I’d say the most likely reasons you’d be faced with this message is the following:

  • Even though you may technically be eligible for a welcome offer based on not having had that exact card before, Amex may decide that you’ve had too many cards in that same card “family,” and maybe canceled too many of them too quickly, didn’t spend enough on them, etc.
  • Maybe Amex feels you have opened and closed too many cards with the issuer, and/or haven’t spent enough on the cards for it to make sense to approve you for another bonus
  • If you’ve engaged in any sort of other behavior that Amex frowns down upon, Amex may decide not to offer you a welcome bonus on a particular card

One other interesting twist is that sometimes these pop-ups are specific to certain “families” of cards. In other words, you may get this message when applying for a Hilton Honors Amex you’ve never applied for before, while you may not get this message when applying for an Amex Platinum Card.

Is there any way to get around the Amex application pop-up warning?

If you’re faced with this pop-up during the application process, is there anything you can do? Yes and no.

No, there’s no one you can (realistically) contact to appeal this warning, and there’s no way that you’ll get this removed from one minute to the next. For whatever reason Amex has decided you shouldn’t be eligible for a welcome offer on a particular card, and that’s that.

The good news is that just because you get this message once, doesn’t mean you’re locked out of earning welcome offers forever. While there’s no magic formula, here are some things to consider doing:

  • Avoid applying for Amex cards for some significant amount of time (maybe a few months, at least); I’d assume Amex is tracking how often people apply for cards, so don’t submit an application every few days to see if the pop-up still shows up
  • If you have a lot of open Amex cards you’re not spending money on, put some spending on those cards to show some activity
  • Since these restrictions are often specific to “families” of cards, after a few months maybe try applying for a card in a different “family,” to see if you have the same message (it’s also possible you might not get a message like this if you applied immediately for a different card, but I’m trying to recommend a conservative approach here

Like I said, there’s no consistent way to get this resolved. Assuming you’ve never had a particular card before, Amex has probably decided that something about your current relationship with the company isn’t ideal, and try to adjust things accordingly.

Bottom line

Amex has a pop-up warning during the application process, which will tell you if you’re not eligible for the welcome offer on a card, prior to even pulling your credit. This is helpful if you’re not sure if you’ve had a card before, given Amex’s “once in a lifetime” application rule.

But Amex isn’t just using this pop-up in situations where you’ve had a particular card before, but also sometimes in situations where the issuer has simply decided that you shouldn’t get the bonus on a card. This can happen for a variety of reasons, and the best way you can deal with it is by continuing to spend responsibly on your Amex cards, and not applying for other Amex cards for a while.

Have you ever dealt with Amex’s pop-up warning? If so, what was your experience?

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  1. Hyungyu Lee Guest

    Just got this pop-up while trying to apply for Delta skymiles gold. I have one amex credit card which I use extensively since last year and a half, and I never had any other amex account....so still confused why I would get denied. Called amex and tried to appeal to the higher ups, so we will see how that goes.

  2. dizzy Guest

    I've been in pop up jail for over 3 years now, but only on personal amex cards. Tried regular spend, big spend, just waiting it out, nothing works so far. Meanwhile I get targeted over and over for biz plat (I've only had 2, $15k is more than I want to do) and at this point have run out of biz cards to app other than NLL offers. I've only had 2 amex personal cards ever- delta gold (cancelled) and hilton no AF- my longest open credit card, which is still open.

  3. Sam Guest

    Was in pop up jail - for Delta cards only - for a year. Checked every month. Finally last month, no pop up on a 90k referral offer. The algorithm is too hard to figure out. Lots of spend & nothing shady.

  4. JorgeGeorge Paez Guest

    Maybe they should stop offering so many cards!!??
    First world problems.
    Get over yourself.....

  5. Dwondermeant Guest

    Although I am still able to get sign up offers from Amex I’ve moved on.I closed all my accounts at the start of the pandemic due to outrageous annual fees and declining benefits.
    The benefits that I wanted to use were complicated to fulfill on.I prefer Chase and Citibank by far in almost all regards and especially their superior transfer partners in my perception
    Vastly better customer service and easy to use the...

    Although I am still able to get sign up offers from Amex I’ve moved on.I closed all my accounts at the start of the pandemic due to outrageous annual fees and declining benefits.
    The benefits that I wanted to use were complicated to fulfill on.I prefer Chase and Citibank by far in almost all regards and especially their superior transfer partners in my perception
    Vastly better customer service and easy to use the benefits they advertise typically.
    After spending millions of dollars on Amex over 30 plus years why should I have to get into an argument over airline fee credits not posting?
    Call after call?And be reprimanded that the benefit does not apply when it fully does.
    The extra legroom in coach paid seat assignment refund shouldn’t be a court case.
    Amex customer service and corporate team which one time were a role model in the industry are filled with angry unhelpful folks that hate their customers and partake in predatory business behaviors
    The class action lawsuits tell one part of the bigger story
    Chase annual airline travel credit blows Amex out of the water.I laughed at the line out the door of the centurion club with all the suckers paying these annual fees like blind sighted cattle and dealing with yet a multitude of American Express failures and yet they still stay loyal
    I support the pop ups btw in fact I personally advocated for them years ago to corporate when I read about customers applying doing the required spending and then being denied the sign up bonus.If they don’t want you as a customer better to find out upfront.We have a choice despite what American Express thinks

  6. D3kingg Guest

    Think of it as being in a holding pattern. I actually stay at Hiltons and put spend on my AMEXs so the longest I’ve ever had the pop up is 3 months it will go away for me. I’m waiting for the AMEX Aspire. Got the pop up a few weeks ago and I’ll just try again in a couple months. You can’t open a CC for a bonus and then just stop CC spending.

  7. stirbar Guest

    Interesting thing is I still got the "spending bonus" , same as welcome offer, even I got the pop up. (AMEX green , which I closed only for 6 months)

  8. AM Guest

    Been in amex jail for almost 2 years now. Have put tons of spend and yet any and every card I get the pop up for. At this point I've decided to end my relationship with them since I have no other recourse

  9. Scott S Guest

    I got this message before. I know a former C-Suite exec who got me in touch with the office of the CEO. I appealed my case and they still told me no. I applied for the Delta reserve. Basically they told me, 5-6 years ago I had the Delta Gold card, I had it for one year and cancelled it. I anticipated to travel more than I did but when I didn't, it didn't make...

    I got this message before. I know a former C-Suite exec who got me in touch with the office of the CEO. I appealed my case and they still told me no. I applied for the Delta reserve. Basically they told me, 5-6 years ago I had the Delta Gold card, I had it for one year and cancelled it. I anticipated to travel more than I did but when I didn't, it didn't make any sense to keep it. Very frustrating as now I am a Delta Diamond and can't take advantage anymore of the sign up bonus.

  10. DenB Diamond

    I encountered the popup when I had a couple cards with nearly no monthly spending, for several months, after achieving the MinSpend on each. I started using both more (hundreds) for two months then reapplied successfully.

    1. D3kingg Guest

      @DenB

      Well good job. How hard was that ?

  11. Groene Guest

    Interesting article, my fiance tried to apply for that Hilton Amex offer today and got the pop-up. We don't understand how it is possible, she has a Amex Businses Green card since November and the Amex Gold Card in January. Do you think this 3rd Amex card in 5 months might be too much? Appreciate your thoughts on this!

    1. DenB Diamond

      That's a lot of new accounts in a short time. If you've already spent thousands on both and achieved the MinSpend on both, then I'm surprised you got the popup. If you haven't, then I'd say you've jumped the gun.

    2. GroeneMichel Member

      No clue what the minimum was on the Business one but we hit the minimum on the Gold one last month. We just arrived in the USA (and have lots of expenses paid by our companies) so it's also our only CC's we have.

  12. David Guest

    My wife has gotten that pop up several times which is so odd. She only has 2 Amex cards. I think she may have only cancelled one or two accounts in the last 5 years. And definitely not a credit related issue. I've done far more "churning" although still minor compared to what I read some people do and have never gotten the pop-up. Really a shame there's no one to reach out to to at least get an explanation - especially when you think they may have made an error.

  13. KKLQ Guest

    Given that there's 3 basic thoughts to getting out of popup prison (spend more on existing amex cards, apply->popup->cancel less often, and stop doing stuff amex thinks is shady)... I'd present myself as a data point that spending more on existing cards while avoiding shady stuff isn't enough. I don't do anything remotely shady on amex cards, and other than having opened maybe 6-8 cards with a variety of issuers per year for the last...

    Given that there's 3 basic thoughts to getting out of popup prison (spend more on existing amex cards, apply->popup->cancel less often, and stop doing stuff amex thinks is shady)... I'd present myself as a data point that spending more on existing cards while avoiding shady stuff isn't enough. I don't do anything remotely shady on amex cards, and other than having opened maybe 6-8 cards with a variety of issuers per year for the last 3 years, don't do anything shady outside the amex system either. I've put $thousands sprinkling spend across my existing amex cards (5) in the last year. I've been in popup prison for over a year. What I *do* do, however, is apply once a month or so to see if i'm still imprisoned. I've laid off for 2 months once, but maybe i need to lay off longer.

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Hyungyu Lee Guest

Just got this pop-up while trying to apply for Delta skymiles gold. I have one amex credit card which I use extensively since last year and a half, and I never had any other amex account....so still confused why I would get denied. Called amex and tried to appeal to the higher ups, so we will see how that goes.

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dizzy Guest

I've been in pop up jail for over 3 years now, but only on personal amex cards. Tried regular spend, big spend, just waiting it out, nothing works so far. Meanwhile I get targeted over and over for biz plat (I've only had 2, $15k is more than I want to do) and at this point have run out of biz cards to app other than NLL offers. I've only had 2 amex personal cards ever- delta gold (cancelled) and hilton no AF- my longest open credit card, which is still open.

0
Sam Guest

Was in pop up jail - for Delta cards only - for a year. Checked every month. Finally last month, no pop up on a 90k referral offer. The algorithm is too hard to figure out. Lots of spend & nothing shady.

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