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Amex Unease – Growing Concerns with My Favorite Card Issuer

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American Express Devaluation

American Express Devaluation

I can’t ignore it anymore.  Amex has recently taken multiple steps to tighten up the benefits of holding their cards.  In my view, no one of these changes is enough to warrant any big concern, but the summation of a few are enough to raise alarms.  Is it enough to consider the moves an overall American Express devaluation?  Opinions will differ, but here’s a case for why we should be concerned now.

Family Rules

The family rules across certain Amex cards are quite worrisome, both in terms of their reach and the speed of Amex’s implementation.  Long story short, the family rule means if you currently hold or previously had one card, you’re ineligible for a welcome offer with that or other cards in a family.  This is a concerning extension of Amex’s lifetime language from each specific card to a group of them.

American Express Devaluation
With the new family rules, you may be better off leaving that Amex Gold signup bonus behind.

As a result, Amex officially allows only one signup bonus from each of the following categories:

  • Consumer Gold and Platinum cards
  • Consumer Cash Back Cards
  • Amex Everyday Cards
  • Consumer Delta Cards

Taking into account the variety of cards within each category, that substantially limits what one can pick up now versus before.  Long story short, that’s now only four signup bonuses instead of well over 10.

American Express Devaluation
Trudging through an $8k Bonvoy Business MSR isn’t pretty.

Higher MSR

Amex has possessed higher minimum spend requirements than cards from other issuers for quite some time, especially on the Business Gold and Platinum welcome offers.  But recently, higher requirements to obtain a signup bonus have been spreading to other cards.  For instance, the current 125k Bonvoy Business welcome offer requires $8k spend.  Sure, Amex gives new cardholders six months to reach that, but it’s still $8k.  Back in late 2021, that same 125k bonus required $5k spend, and the offer also came with two bonus 50k free night awards!  This is just one example; others are out there.

Higher Annual Fees

For years, Amex has buried annual fee increases within various card refreshes.  Here are just a few cards where they’ve used this M.O.:  Amex Platinum products (both consumer and business versions), Bonvoy Brilliant, Amex Business Gold, and most recently Hilton Aspire and Surpass.

American Express Devaluation
The refreshed Surpass may have the least painful annual fee hike.

Some cards come with benefits which more than make up the annual fee increase for certain cardholders.  But more concerning and consistent across these cards is that coming out ahead puts much more responsibility, AKA work, on the cardholder.  Amex puts a flashy bumper sticker of benefits on all of these products while conveniently burying the limitations in fine print.  Many of us live for the fine print and can stomach the higher annual fees, but I suspect casual (read: most) cardholders come out losers here.


Do I consider these trends an overall American Express devaluation?  In our situation, no.  By adapting our Amex strategies, we can still do big things within and around the official rules.  Indeed, many others will come to the conclusion that this is a true American Express devaluation when taking into account their own lifestyles.  Across the board, coming out ahead with Amex has become even more nuanced.  I’m not surprised or offended with these Amex making changes.  As a business, it’s their prerogative to evolve as they pursue more profitability.  It’s on me to tweak strategies to ensure wins keep coming on my end.  And so, dear reader, I encourage you to revalidate your own goals and plans to keep doing big things with Amex.  Enjoy!

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I have been an Amex member for just over 50 years.
    Recently they sent me a personalized offer to upgrade to the platinum Business for a substantial mileage and I did.
    If I fail to renew the expensive platinum card for which I have no use, at the 12-month period Will I upset them and suffer any possible problems.
    This would be the first time for me.
    I have never dropped an AMEX card after the first year,
    And still pay annual fees on several cobranded amex cards that I should have canceled years ago.
    Any possibility of a problem?

  2. This is no new secret,American Express takes care of American Express, not their cardholders, the sooner you realize that better off you will be, if you don’t agree ,well then find out for yourself

  3. Spend aside Amex damage to their benefits had me cut up my cards after 40 years of loyalty
    And absurd annual fees
    Their int call centers suck and what remaining benefits I occasionally had to fight for
    Did I mention they suck at solving merchant disputes?Near impossible to escalate
    Was once the card now it’s a TPOS.I’m done
    Let the skilled players play they are foolish most of the time as their are much better cards out there

    • We don’t disagree. Skilled players recognize that there is always change and are not wedded to any particular issuer or card. The game is much like a water balloon: squeeze it on one end and it pops out on the other end.

    • Some readers only do organic spending and want to maximize what they can do with just that. Shawn, do you believe such readers are an inappropriate fit for your blog? Next, for those of us in the game, we know strategies get shut down when some overly aggressive person goes full tilt and then everyone gets screwed. We have to believe that Amex’s actions are in response to MSing and churning. And, one of the consequences is the new family SUB rule. Joe Average, who is not in the game, can’t get a SUB on the Gold Card because he has the Platinum Card. So, perhaps AC’s comment is expressing a frustration regarding such consequences. It’s okay to disagree with AC but don’t alienate him.

  4. I’m glad Amex is making these changes. Will weed out the max spend and churners. They want card holders that actually use the cards and keep them for years instead of signing up for initial bonuses then trying to get a retention bonus. Good moves if it eliminates the riff raff that never should be an Amex customer in the first place.

    • Lol, Amex cards are more churnable & profitable than they’ve ever been previously. Amex’s goal is to increase signups because that makes shareholders happy and that’s about it.

  5. A change is afoot. The skilled players will adapt. The unskilled players will whine. To the person not in the game, it won’t matter.


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