Rookie Wednesday: Does the AMEX 4/5 Card Rule Count for Business Cards?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

huge-stack-of-credit-cards-points renespoints blog

AMEX has a bunch of unique rules; rules that change every now and then and we have to stay on top of them. For example, for many years in the past AMEX had a rule that you could only get a new card bonus if you had not had that specific new card bonus for the past 12 months. Then things changed on the consumer or personal cards to once EVER in your lifetime. But, the OPEN or business cards stayed with the 12 month rule for new card bonus offers. Now, for the most part, ALL AMEX cards are one new card bonus ever in your lifetime per card. I say for the most part because some testing by bloggers like “Frequent Miler” here on BoardingArea have shown it may in fact be possible to get the same business new card bonus over again if you have a different business that you are applying for (YMMV so keep that in mind).

Another rule AMEX has is just how many cards you can hold with them at any given time. First some education. With AMEX you basically have two types of cards that apply to consumer and business and they are credit cards or charge cards. The simplest way to think of the difference between the two is this: a credit card you can carry a balance on (but you never should) but with a charge card you must pay it off in full each month (under most circumstances). Additionally you have one more card type that is a card like BlueBird or Serve that are loadable cards that only have credit on them when you add funds to them in some manner.

So just how many cards can you hold at any one time with AMEX? When it comes to charge cards and loadable cards the sky is the limit (as far as I know – and I know some who have or have had a LOT of these cards). But when it comes to CREDIT cards you are limited to 4 cards in total. This applies to both your personal cards AND your business cards. That is, if you have 2 personal AMEX credit card products then you are limited to holding or getting 2 business credit card products like the Delta AMEX cards:

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express <— Link

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card from American Express <—LINK

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express <— Link

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express <—LINK

Does this mean if you already have a total of 4 personal and business AMEX credit cards they will not, no matter how good your credit score, approve you for another credit card? Very likely – YES! This means you would have to close some other card before going for a new AMEX credit card you have never had before. Also as a data point, all the Delta AMEX cards, Gold, Platinum and Reserve cards, both personal and business, are credit cards.

You may say:  “But I have heard the rule is now 5 credit cards in total.”  Yes, some are reporting this is the new rule while others are reporting they are still blocked by the 4 credit card total rule. Bottom line is that in the current environment I can say with certainty that if you have 3 credit cards your chance of getting a 4th is very good but a 5th is not assured. Also, clearly, if you have one or two charge cards they should have no impact on your ability to get new credit cards from AMEX.

One last warning when it comes to holding a bunch of cards with AMEX. Something we all would like to avoid is the AMEX Financial Review process. It can be a simple quick thing or a long drawn out nightmare of paperwork. Many point to “too many” AMEX cards as one of the triggers of this event. Since there is no info in print we can point to for this I am just sharing what I have learned along the way. – 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.


  1. Five is the new rule but it hasn’t been set in the computers or at least that is what I was told. I was declined for the DL Gold Biz due to having 4 cards but I called and they said you can have 5 and resubmitted my app. Now I’m waiting on it to be approved. If I’m approved after today, will I still be eligible for the 50K bonus since I applied before the deadline?

  2. @Deborah – You should yes as the T&C for this latest offer was apply by date NOT approve by date as some offers are.

  3. I had just applied for DL Platinum for business and the automatic process had stopped the application since I already had 4 amex cards (spg, spg bus, DL platinum, DL reserve bus). I called to inquire and the gentlemen told me because I had 5 amex cards that is why my application was not processed automatically (he assured me not declined). I politely made him aware the fifth card was a business plat charge card and he was amused and reprocessed my application on June 19th and I received my 5th DL platinum for bus on July 5th. Hope this helps. Thanks for fantastic updates Rene!

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