American Express Once Per Lifetime Rule, What Does It Really Mean?
We love talking about the application rules that each bank has, and each bank’s rules are unique. There is the Citi Premier 3/6 rule, the Chase 5/24 rule and the American Express once per lifetime rule to name a few. There have always been theories on what was really consider a “lifetime” by American Express. It was long believed that 7 years was a lifetime in their eyes. That doesn’t seem to be the case any longer, if it ever was.
Okay, so we had thought it was 7 years for the longest time…probably for like 7 years or so. Then Greg at Frequent Miler decided to test out the theory with the awesome new Platinum offer that is available right now. He was able to get a welcome offer at the 5 1/2 – 6 years range. That was awesome news, and because of it I decided to push the envelope a little bit further.
Background On The American Express One Per Lifetime Rule
Here is a list of the American Express application rules which you can find on our complete bank application rules guide:
- Maximum of 4 credit cards.
- A maximum of 10 cards without a preset limit.
- 2 cards in a rolling 90 day period.
- Welcome offers are once per lifetime.
- 7 years is considered a lifetime with American Express. The 7 year clock starts once you close the account. Upgrades and downgrades will count against you.
- A pop-up will alert you if you are not eligible for a particular welcome offer.
And here is what we have written on the once per lifetime rule:
The other rule is “once in a lifetime”. If you had this card in the past and received a new cardmember welcome offer on the card, and then received the points from that offer, you cannot get a similar offer and the associated bonus again. If you’ve received it once, you cannot have it again on the same card. Targeted offers without lifetime language are semi-frequent, and data points also suggest that “lifetime” is more likely 7 years. Because of this “lifetime” language, holding out for high welcome offers is recommended.
My Actual Experience
Well, it appears we may need to update the guide a bit because my recent experience was quite a bit different. If you read my recent post titled, I Just Can’t Stop: Another Mini Application Spree That Produced Juicy Results, then you know where I am going with this.
I decided to sign up for the Amex Green card with the current offer available via referral. By signing up I received a $200 statement credit at home improvement stores and my wife received a 25,000 Membership Rewards referral bonus. There was also a 50,000 Membership Rewards welcome offer attached that I could earn after spending $2,000 within 3 months.
The catch was that I had already had the old version of the Green Amex card which would exclude me from getting this offer. It hadn’t been 7 years since I carried it yet. It hadn’t even been 6 years or 5 and a half or even 5 years since I had the card. I had closed my Green card in September of 2016. That was only a short 4 and a half years ago, I surely wouldn’t get the welcome offer.
I explained in my previous post that I was okay with not getting the offer because of the 25K referral bonus and the $200 statement credit. That alone covered the $149 annual fee and gave me a bonus equal to what I got for the card 4 1/2 years ago.
So I went ahead an applied, fully expecting the Amex Pop-Up warning me I was not eligible for the offer. But, the pop-up never came. I figured this gave me a good chance of getting the offer. And lo and behold this is what showed up in my account yesterday, before the final charge even settled of course.
So what is the American Express once per lifetime rule? I really have no idea anymore. Is it now 4 years? Is it simply the fact that your mileage may vary based on the card and the account? Maybe. Is the Green card somewhat exempt because they massively changed the set up of it? Possibly, but that didn’t change anything when they did the same thing with the Amex Gold card a few years back.
If you have any similar data points share them in the comments below. I am guessing the 7 years limit is somewhat a thing of the past. Maybe it is now 4 years? Only data points will give us a clearer picture though.