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Over the years, credit card companies have been getting stricter when it comes to the terms of their sign-up bonuses. It’s a pattern we’ve seen across the board, where those who are repeatedly signing up for cards just for the welcome bonuses aren’t eligible anymore. For example, in 2014, American Express changed the terms of the sign-up bonuses on their personal cards, to make receiving the welcome bonus much more restrictive.
It looks like Amex has now made the same change to their small business credit cards, as they’ve updated the verbiage on their card applications. Under the old system, Amex had the following verbiage on applications:
Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product within the last 12 months
Now Amex has updated the verbiage to the following:
Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product
As you can see, based on the terms you can now only earn the sign-up bonus on an Amex small business card once per lifetime (and I believe that’s based on your social security number and not based on your tax ID).
You’ll see this reflected on the applications for all Amex small business cards, including the following:
- The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
- Gold Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card from American Express
This is definitely a drastic change, and it remains to be seen how strictly it will be enforced in practice. I suspect long term there will be some middle ground, between allowing people to sign-up for the card every couple of years, and allowing them to only earn a bonus once in their lifetime. For example, over the course of their life, people may own multiple businesses, so even if they close a card account, they could legitimately have a need for the same card a decade later, and still be a very profitable customer.
You’ll want to be even pickier with your Amex business card sign-up bonuses now, given that you can only earn a bonus once “per lifetime,” whatever that actually ends up meaning in practice.
(Tip of the hat to Miles To Memories)