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Absorbing the devastating changes to AMEX business cards – new card bonus now 1x per lifetime!

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

amex rewarding free thinkers

AMEX may advertise that they encourage rewarding “free thinkers” but they no longer encourage rewarding “free pointers” if you will, that is, the rule is now, that I first learned about from Miles to Memories yesterday as I was flying home, that you can only get a new business card, and get the bonus, once, EVER!

warning from amex that you can not get bonus offer again once in a lifetime
Notice the new wording for the Delta GOLD business cards!

This truly is crushing and very bad news. A while back AMEX made the change to the personal cards to only allow you to ever get the new card bonus once in your life. Now the same horrid rule has spilled over to the business division of AMEX cards as well.

So what to do with this bad news? Well there is not much good news to share, just how to deal with the situation as it is already in force. Had we got any kind of warning we could have cherry picked a card or two we may have had at some point in our lifetime before this but that window is now closed (think of the commercial of the guy at the bank walking up at 1 minute before closing and the teller asks him to wait then closes the window).

Now that I have NOT sugar coated this let’s see how to deal with this change and the tiny bits we can salvage from it.

First off, just like with the personal card, you need to see if you have EVER had any kind of AMEX card before, personal or business, and you can simply find that out in this post. The list of cards you say you have ever had may not be the same that AMEX says you have had.

The next advice I cannot say clearly enough and I will say it again and again:


Are we clear on this now? I can say it again if you did not hear me. Please understand that doing either of the above will destroy your shot at a new card bonus for that card in your entire lifetime on earth. Let that sink in – please! I will make this even more clear as we go on.

Now if you have been around the points game for a long time it is very likely that you have received just about every new card bonus that AMEX offers (I know I have). However, there have been a number of cards I just never got around to that now will be the only choices I have open to me. Here is how I will address that situation and you should too. Wait for LARGE bonus offers for ANY AMEX card you ever go for as it will be the only bonus you ever get in your lifetime.

This also applies to Delta AMEX offers (mostly). Let me explain. The good news is AMEX views the Delta Gold, Platinum and Reserve card, personal and business, all as unique products. That means, as long as you never ever upgrade or downgrade a card, you have a shot at six bonus offers, that is, one from each card. The Delta Reserve card offer has, to my knowledge, never had a large promotional offer because the stock offer is so valuable that there really is no need. So, you only go for either the personal or business offer when the 10,000 MQMs helps you the most. But the Delta Platinum card is another story. Delta has, with the business card, had increased MQMs now and then. If you have never had this card, I would hold off until such an offer is announced before I applied for that specific card. If you are in a bind for MQMs consider the Reserve instead of the Platinum business card. What about the Gold card? Same thing. Unless you can benefit more from bag fees etc. I would hold off getting the personal or business card until a strong new card bonus is promoted.

What else to know and consider. A bunch!

The good news for many, is that few folks for whatever reason, are in the habit of going for business cards. They say I don’t own a business so I cannot get business cards. For once, I am happy for your incorrect thinking as there are a bunch of AMEX cards still open to you to go for and get the new card bonus. Keep in mind anyone can get business cards just be honest about your business income (say buying and selling on eBay) and fill in the fields for the rest of your income to show you are able to pay off what you charge on the cards. If you are married I can see a bunch of spouses will soon be considering applying for business cards they likely have never had! 😉

Before you ask let me say I doubt you can get an EIN as a workaround to get the same bonus twice. The T&C seems to state it is tied to YOU not to the business number but that is yet to be tested so I will update this post if new data comes in.

Keep on the watch for targeted offers, regular mail offers and promotions (and do screen shots). AMEX is very good about honoring what they put in print. So, if and when they do the above they may exclude the wording that you cannot get this specific bonus deal if you have ever had this card before in your lifetime. Again, details details details and do screen shots or save the mail in offer (i.e. make photo copies) so you can prove what the offer T&C were.

Consider cards you never considered before. This is the category I fall into. Some of the less than 20,000 bonus offers for cards I would not use on a daily basis for spend I have never applied for. Sure they are somewhat anemic offers, but at least I have never had them before. I will take the offer if it fits in my travel math and point goals. After all, when that is all that remains that is all I can get. Sad, but true.

Remember it is the bonus offer that is once in a lifetime not the card. OK this is not really a silver lining at all but some cards you may cancel because your travel life changes and later on you want the card again for the perks some card offers you (like Centurion club access). All these once in a lifetime to get a bonus offer rules in no way affect your ability to get an AMEX card (you just will not get the bonus deals offered). But, there are still creative ways to make points and once you get the card again you can get to work.

Look to co-branded offers. There are a great number of cards that may seem the same but are not the same. For example if you have a relationship with Morgan Stanley (i.e. a brokerage account) they offer a co-branded non-Delta Platinum card that is very much like the non-CO-branded AMEX Platinum card. Since the two cards are not the same product (even though they just about are in all respects) you can get the bonus for each one. Once!

This change really is a gut punch folks – no way around that. This one hurts and hurts bad. The Chase 5/24 rule for the most part blocks most of us from ever going for their cards again, that is, if we are the type of travel enthusiast who goes for a number of cards every 91+ days. With AMEX, this again means we need to be VERY selective of what cards we might include in our application cycles.

Lastly some speculation on my part. Will AMEX ever change the rules that are now in place. Who knows. I think this could have some really negative impact on AMEX. Banks do not like people who go for new card bonuses again and again but what they hate even more is for someone who say held a card YEARS ago, applies, is denied a bonus and then decides they are done with AMEX and closes all their banking relationship accounts with them and walks away for good. I think the real possibly of that exists and could happen over and over again. If this change costs AMEX money they will make adjustments. If it does not, then this is the new reality we must live with! – René


Editorial Note: This content is not provided by American Express. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. Reader from Connecticut Reply

    Could you clarify one thing – if I currently possess a Delta Platinum AmEx, and want to upgrade to the Reserve, will I receive the same offer as someone who has never had a Delta-branded AmEx card? Thx

  2. @Rene – Churners who have already received a bonus on the AXBUS cards must feel the pain! But for most of us, this isn’t a big concern. I’ve done exactly one AXBUS card thus far so I still have my whole (bus card bonus) life ahead of me.

    This reminds me of the end of The Matrix (movie) when Smith pins Neo down on the subway tracks. “Hear that, Mr. Anderson? That … is the sound of inevitability….”

  3. So this is my confusion — from the Reserve T&C: “Offer not available to existing Delta SkyMiles Credit Card Members upgrading to another Delta SkyMiles Credit Card”.

  4. Good thing I don’t need my Business Reserve card back this year for the bonus MQMs for DM status. My plan was to get it in December again after a year and a few days off. Would have helped with Delta status next year but honesty if Delta mucks up the DM benefits much more and restricts MQM earning to only butt in seat MQM then I made a good move and saved myself $450 AF.

    I’m all AMEX’d out at this point. Too aggressive in past as I have held almost every card for a while. Can still get personal Gold charge card but why bother at this point? Hopefully we see some aggressive targeted offers to lure in those of us who were heavy spenders in the past but closed the card. Meh.

  5. If your spouse or child has had a card on your account can they still get the bonus if they apply as the primary cardholder with their SS#?

    • @DoylP – Being an AU or authorized user on an account has no impact on the chance to get a new card bonus for the 1st time oneself.

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