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Let’s be clear…learning the “rules” associated with miles, points, and credit cards can be extremely overwhelming and confusing. Rest assured you are not alone.
Today, in my continuing series to answer reader questions, I received an email from a 1TP subscriber asking the following:
Congratulations. I saw your interview online and you mentioned “no lifetime language” concerning American Express but did not talk about it in depth. It piqued my interest but I could not find any information on your website. Could you explain it more? What does “no lifetime language” mean?
This is a great question and I appreciate the feedback.
Many of the banks have rules when it comes to applying for credit cards (read about it HERE). You’ll often hear these rules referred to as the Chase “5/24 rule,” Bank of America “2/3/4 rule,” Capital One “1/6 rule,” etc.
However, American Express follows a different path than many of the other banks. The card issuer limits your eligibility to obtain a welcome bonus based on your card history. Essentially, you’re eligible for one welcome bonus…per credit card…per lifetime. Let’s take a look at an example.
When you apply for a credit card, you will probably see a message like this…
Understandably, many people do not read (or even click on) the “Offer and Benefit Terms” seen below the application button, as it’s often filled with pages of legal jargon.
But when it comes to Amex, this could prove to be a mistake.
After you click on the benefit terms, more times than not, the fine print on an Amex credit card states “Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or previous versions.”
In the case of the American Express Gold Card mentioned above, the terms were as follows:
As you can see, it is mentioned in the first sentence. However, every once in a while we see targeted offers that do not contain this language in the terms (thus “no lifetime language”) and you should be eligible to get a second bonus on the same card even if you have had the card in the past.
Generally, these offers are sent out by email or by snail mail. However, there have been more recent reports of these offers appearing in the Amex Offers section of your profile.
BUT WHAT IF I DON’T KEEP TRACK?
I trust that you remember every single Amex cards that you’ve ever obtained (in which you’d therefore be ineligible to receive the welcome bonus again). But if you may have forgotten, Amex recently installed a safeguard.
Now, after filling out your application and clicking “submit,” you’ll receive a pop-up alert that you are NOT eligible for the bonus. At that point, you can continue with submission or abort the application.
Given the Amex “once-in-a-lifetime” rule, it’s wise to apply for a card when it is offering the highest welcome bonus possible.
If you’re unsure if it’s the highest offer you’ve seen, you can quickly complete a Google search with “(insert card name) highest offer” and you should be able to determine how good an offer is.
It’s also worth noting that as far as Amex is concerned, “lifetime” usually means seven years. If you’re not sure what cards you’ve had within that time period, you can always apply and see if you get the pop-up alert. If you do not receive the pop-up, then you know you’re eligible for the welcome bonus.
But having an application with no lifetime language is a great opportunity to get another welcome bonus on a card that you have had in the past and it can make sense to apply even if it’s not the best offer available.
Have you ever applied for an Amex card with no lifetime language?