There are increased sign-up bonuses on SPG, Hilton and Platinum cards, and lots of talk around application rules and strategy. For people who are just starting out in this hobby this is a lot of information to process. Several blogs covering Amex applications have incorrect facts so we thought it would be good to summarize everything important in one place.
There have been many changes behind the scenes in the American Express in the past ten months. These changes eliminated most of the tricks which were used by repeated churners and people using manufactured spending. But don't worry we wont take such a deep dive here - this post is aimed at the regular folks trying to earn a couple of sign-up bonuses and not planning to find ways around the rules.
What's changed??? Amex no longer prorates annual fee if the card is canceled after 30 days of the AF being billed. Residents of MA are the only ones not affected by this change.
Ok, what about downgrading? Amex no longer allows you to downgrade platinum cards by chat. You have to call in and have a fairly long conversation with the rep. While some people even got retention offers others just decided to keep the card for now since they dread calling and are afraid of being asked questions about their cards. We had a few very nice friendly reps but also got a few aggressive ones asking why we applied for the cards only 6 months ago but were already not interested in the benefits anymore.
Following the leak of 100k platinum link last year a lot of people had their Amex Membership Rewards points frozen, i.e. they cannot be transferred to partners anymore. For some people they cannot even be used on Amex travel. We had over 1 million points frozen in fall and have not even used the leaked link. We had bonus miles clawed back from 3 cards but the rest were magically unfrozen last week. There are a lot of different data points on forums and blogs but what's clear at this point is it was not limited to people who used the link, other tricks, or people who used manufactured spending methods to meet the minimum spending requirements. The scope of the problem and where AMEX will stop is still not clear but you definitely should not be doing the following things to meet your spending: Amex gift cards or Serve, buying discounted store gift cards online, any type of refund where the original purchase brings you over the required amount to earn the bonus. Moreover, we saw accounts which had no applications in the past year, only upgrade bonuses met with regular spending and were still frozen. The only issue we could see was a small return many months after earning the upgrade bonus. It can take months for AMEX to review your account and if you don't have other miles to use for your trip you may be out of luck.
There are many recent data points of being able to get 5th credit card account with Amex. We tried to go over 4 and were immediately rejected but this has not resulted in a credit pull. There are many other data points which make me believe the bloggers who say that there is no credit pull for people who already have another Amex account and get rejected right away.
There are bloggers who reported that one is only able to get 4 charge cards. This is simply not true. We both had 7 charge cards at a time, so a total of 11 Amex cards. We do not even know if this is the max since we never had enough various offers to use to try to go higher than this.