After reading Brian’s Guide to American Express Membership Rewards, you might be either applying for your first Amex card, finishing up your cycle of Gold Personal–Gold Business–Platinum Personal–Platinum Business cards, or making a second round of the cycle.
Wherever you are, here are 5 tips to support your American Express applications.
Context for Tips #1-2
American Express has a clause where if you are approved for the same card a second time, you cannot receive the bonus points again. However, how often that rule is enforced is not that often, especially with these first two tips.
The efficacy of these tips may vary but are generally regarded as best practices in the community. These tips have been consistent for the past few years but may change at any moment.
Tip #1: Do NOT check off “I am an existing American Express Cardmember”
… when applying for the same card you have previously received the sign-up bonus for.
The consensus amongst the crowd is you will have a greater chance to receive the bonus points again if you ignore the checkbox asking if you are currently an American Express cardmember. The theory is Amex’s system will notate your submission as a new member application and automatically distribute the bonus without cross referencing if you’ve received it before.
Tip applicable all to American Express cards.
Tip #2: Use a different business name
… when applying for the same business card you have previously received the bonus for.
To be eligible for the bonus on the same card again, apply under a different business that you have or under the same business as before but with a variation to the name.
For example, if I had previously held a Gold Business card under PointsNerd, I would not use PointsNerd on my next application. I would use another business like my main profession as Chao Business Consulting or I would just use a variation of the PointsNerd name such as PointsNerd Marketing.
Tip applicable to Gold Business or Platinum Business card.
Tip #3 Merge your Membership Rewards accounts before closing an account
When you close a card with a balance of Membership Reward points, you will have a couple options. Either you use the points within 60 days of closing or contact Amex to move your points to another Membership Rewards account. You can do the latter by calling or sending a secure message in your online account.
If you have another Membership Rewards account, it’s always better to merge and keep your points flexible rather than forcing a redemption or transfer.
Tip applicable all to American Express cards.
Tip #4 Apply for the American Express Platinum Personal in June/July
With the Platinum Personal card, your first annual fee of $699 grants you a $200 travel credit for the rest of the year and another $200 travel credit for the following year before your second annual fee. It’s important you give yourself time to utilize 2 x $200 travel credit benefit to reduce your first annual fee of $699 to only $299.
If you get approved for the card in June/July 2018, you will have at least 5 months to utilize your 2018 travel credit before the end of the year. You will also have at least 5 months to utilize your 2019 travel credit from January to June/July 2019 when your second-year annual fee is charged.
If you don’t plan to extend the card past the first year, be sure to cancel a minimum of 1 month before the second annual fee to avoid potential issues with American Express not fully refunding the second annual fee.
Tip applicable to the Platinum Personal card.
Tip #5 Call the New Accounts team to expedite the application process
Unless you have a stellar credit score, you will most likely receive an application pending status with a 17-digit reference number.
Instant approvals seem to be rare with Amex and although they may have instantly approved you, a lot of times they still want to speak with you to confirm your identity before issuing you the card.
This is why it’s totally normal to have the American Express New Accounts phone number on your cellphone. Right guys? Okay, not normal but at least it’s not on speed dial.
The number is 1-800-575-2273 and they are open from weekdays 8:30-21:00 ET and Saturday 10:00-18:00 ET.
Calling them to provide any missing information will expedite the time for you to receive your new card. Super helpful if you have an upcoming trip or a large purchase that would contribute to your minimum spend of your new card.
Tip applicable all to American Express cards.
And there you have your 5 tips you should know for Amex!
If you are starting a new cycle of American Express cards, here are my current preferred order of cards to apply for.
- American Express Gold Business– 40,000 Membership Rewards after $5,000 spend – No Annual Fee for the First Year
- American Express Platinum Personal– 60,000 Membership Rewards after $3,000 spend – $699 Annual Fee (get that to $299 – info in the review)
- American Express Platinum Business– 60,000 Membership Rewards after $7,000 spend – $499 Annual Fee
- American Express Gold Personal– 25,000 Membership Rewards after $1,500 spend – $150 Annual Fee
Do you have any tips I missed? Share with us below!
Thanks for sharing the tip! I am planning to start my churning career with Amex.
Is there a reason why you would apply in this order? And How long would you wait before applying for the second one? Thanks in advance.
Yep, the reason is the Gold Business holds the best value with 40,000 bonus points for $0 first year annual fee. Platinum Personal is next in value with 60,000 bonus points for $299 first year annual fee (after deducting 2 x $200 travel credits) along with the travel benefits like airport lounge access. Read more from this post https://www.pointsnerd.ca/more-changes-to-the-american-express-business-platinum
I would pick up the first two cards together within the month. Then after the first three months, if you plan to not continue with the Gold Business, cancel it before the 12th month. For the Platinum Personal, cancel it on the 11th month to maximize the travel benefits.
Is it possible to receive the welcome bonus a 2nd, 3rd, etc… time on the same card by using different business names while keeping the cards open? Or would one need to wait to cancel the existing card before applying for the same card with a different business name again?
Hi John, I personally have not held two of the same business card simultaneously (eg. 2 Platinum Business cards), however I have heard of data points of people holding multiples of the same card and receiving the bonus each time on different business names.
Chao, great article!
When calling the New Accounts team, should one indicate that he has large purchases coming up, to speed up the approval? Or is the call’s intent solely to see what information Amex might be missing for the approval?
Hi Dom! The call is solely to see what information Amex might be missing for approval. After approval Amex mails the card within 1 business day. The Platinum cards already get sent by air mail but the Gold cards are sent by regular mail, even if you mention about a large purchase coming up, they still come by regular mail in my experience.
Tip: Double check facts before publishing them. The changes to the Business Platinum have been well publicized. The annual fee is now $499 and the spend requirement is $7000.
correct, although i think it’s a typo as chao provides a link to an article saying the same
Thanks @David @Rhinehart. It’s been fixed now.
Lots of recent Amex changes to update, definitely need to double check facts before publishing. I appreciate the call out.
Excellent tips, thanks! I thought I knew everything about the AmEx cards, but I wish I had been aware of tip # 1 before re-applying for personal Gold after waiting a reasonable amount of time…did not get the bonus😞…Next time…
Not sure if others have experienced this but Amex clawed back my $200 travel credit for the second calendar year when I called in to cancel my personal Platinum.
Yes they do that if your annual fee has already posted on your account. It’s important to set a reminder 10-11 months after approval to avoid that situation.
Thanks for the list!
For #5, would you call in for a card you’re trying to get the bonus for a 2nd time? Thought I remember others saying it’s not a good idea to call in.
Great point about getting the bonus for the same card 2nd time. If you are not in a rush to receive the card, it’s probably better to wait out the pending period rather than calling in.
Although, one time I called in to expedite approval and was told I may not receive the bonus because I have had the card before. I hit minimum spend and they still automatically awarded the bonus, I assume it was because of tip #1.
Thank you Chao for the tips. I did # 1 for sure. IS it “safe” to cancel not long after the 3 mths, if you did the spend right away , and dont need the card anymore ? And I am always unsure about this, how long after the “cancel” is it safe to Reapply ? Any tips on spending for the business card, anyone sent a Invoice to there own company to get paid via Plastiq or Paypal or is that like recycling your own money? I am waiting upon my first Gold business, I did put our real company, we have a trade business. So you are saying that a legit name is not needed as the business name ? Again thanks for the article !
Hi Susan, glad you enjoyed the article!
I personally wouldn’t cancel a card less than 6 months in and wouldn’t reapply less than 3 months after cancellation. I’m not confident I can say what the best strategy for that is, as people may value their relationship with their card issuers differently.
Amex supports small businesses that may not require a business license yet so yes the business name does not have to be officially registered.
All good, but $699 – $200 – $200 = $299. 🙂
Dear Chao, 1 month ago I applied for the Aeroplan Reserve and was declined. I valued the partner redemption and Maple Leaf Lounge access. My credit score is excellent (>850 TransUnion score). I’ve never had a card with them and am new to the travel points game; I received the TD First Class Travel card 2 months ago but have had another credit card since 2003. I did have some student debts go into default almost 10 years ago but they were paid off and do not show up on either the online TransUnion Credit Report or free TransUnion Consumer Report that they say is what creditors see.
In 2 phone conversations with Amex they say that they can’t tell me why they declined me because it’s confidential. The rejection letter just said that they couldn’t approve my application. One of the Amex representatives said a few times that I should speak to TransUnion to discuss my credit report but there isn’t anything negative on it. In addition, I don’t see an inquiry from Amex on my TransUnion credit report.
Is it common for Amex to decline and not disclose why they did so? Should I call them again or just wait 6 months to reapply? I’m left wondering if I applied for a premium card too soon and should be trying for something like the Cobalt instead. Or perhaps I should be looking to their competitors instead. Maybe my credit history is too new and I need to wait 6 months to 1 year. I’m comfortable to wait because that First Class Travel card has been good to me.
Thanks in advance for your thoughts. I really like Amex and it will only be a matter of time before I have one of their cards.
I was declined an Amex card 3 years ago and they also mentioned I should speak to TransUnion to discuss the issue. I called TU and they noted there was nothing negative on their end that they could see. I relayed the information back to Amex, then requested an official reconsideration. After following up on the 7-10 business they had asked me to wait, they approved the original application.
Not sure if it will work for you but it’s worth a try to get your foot in the door with Amex!
Thanks for the reply! I’ll ask for an official reconsideration. They haven’t made a hard pull so there isn’t much risk to doing so.
Hey guys will there be new posts soon?
Coming right up!
So i’m currently running through the Big 4 amex MR cards with me and my family members and i just ran into something and i was wondering if I could get some advice.
So we started with the biz platnium card a few months ago and hit our minimums, i was the first to do so and then i applied for and receivd (after a confirmation phone call) the business gold.
a family member a few weeks later was denied the business gold and informed that you may only hold 1 business card and 1 personal card in the Amex family. This is apparently a new policy according to the rep
anyone else have any experience getting around this?
I ran into the same issue. I got the business platinum in March and then about 4/5 months later got the business gold. Originally I got a letter saying since I already have the business platinum I am not eligible for the business gold. I had to call in and explain myself and also make sure that the 2 cards dont get linked and are under 2 different business names.
I have almost hit the spending limit on the business gold card so will see if I get the sign up bonus for hitting the spending limit in the next few weeks.