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Amex All Day – 10 Things You May Not Know About The Card Issuer

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Amex Card Info

Amex Card Info

Recently, I described eight things many people may not know about Citi.  I now figure the time is right, or overdue, to talk about a few similar angles with American Express.  After all, Amex is my favorite card issuer – by far.  Over time, Amex has taken up more of my headspace than any competitor, and for good reasons.  Most all cardholders, from casual fans to hardcore hobbyists, can do better by concentrating on Amex’s unique wrinkles.  I’ll go over ten Amex card info areas today.  While I certainly can’t cover them all, I look forward to hearing from you on others in the comments.  But for now, let’s go.

Card Limits, Sort Of

Amex customers are generally limited to five Amex credit card accounts (Hilton, Delta, Everyday, Blue Cash, Blue Business Plus, etc) and ten pay over time card accounts (Green, Gold, Platinum, etc).  Occasionally, cardholders have totals over these limits.  For instance, they were grandfathered in – they exceeded these numbers before the rules were installed – or they were approved for new cards despite already being at the supposed maximum.  Approvals over the limits aren’t common, but do happen.  And the Green card matter is a headscratcher, as well.  Don’t expect to be a special case, but consider yourself lucky if you are approved above the limits.  Therefore, prioritize your Amex cards of interest and apply accordingly.  Also, if you play a more aggressive game, schedule out your application and closure timeframes.  But, of course, don’t close an Amex card within 12 months of card opening.

Amex Card Info

The Best Referral Bonus Program In The Business

As many of you know, a current Amex cardholder can refer another individual to an Amex card.  If the referred individual is approved for the card, the cardholder earns a referral bonus.  Big whoop, other banks do that, too, you might say.

But this is where Amex’s program shines.  The referred individual isn’t required to apply for the same product the cardholder recommends.  In fact, the referred person can apply for almost any Amex card, and the cardholder will receive a referral bonus.  A few exceptions exist – individuals can’t receive referrals to certain cards.  The Schwab Platinum is one example.  I can refer from my Schwab Platinum card, but the referred individual cannot apply for the Schwab Platinum card.

Regardless, Amex’s program allows the referrer and the applicant the best of both worlds.  The referrer can offer a link from the card providing the best referral bonus, and the applicant can choose the best card for his or her situation.  You can dive more into Amex’s referral bonus program here.

Product Changes and Bonuses, With Limitations

Cardholders can easily product change within card families.  For instance, I can upgrade from the Hilton Surpass to the Hilton Aspire, or I have the option to downgrade an Amex Platinum to a Gold or Green after the next whopping $695 annual fee hits.  Changing from a Gold to a Hilton card isn’t possible, however.

But you may not want to product change too quickly.  If you haven’t held a card before, don’t upgrade to it – you may lose the opportunity to earn a welcome offer on that card in the future via a new application.  Obtaining a card via traditional application is generally the best first move.  Also, Amex periodically offers upgrade bonuses to move to certain cards, such as the Hilton Surpass or Aspire and the Gold or Platinum.  If you don’t have an immediate need for a card, maybe wait a bit to see if an upgrade bonus appears.  Even better, cardholders are often eligible for an upgrade bonus although they’ve already held the card they’re upgrading to.  Reading the Amex fine print can pay off.


Amex Chat Is Your Friend

I and many others have had excellent experiences chatting with Amex agents via our online accounts.  Many tasks can be accomplished via this method, including product changes, obtaining spending offers, reviewing existing offer terms, activating benefits, and asking for retention offers (more on that in a bit).  Chat wait times can vary, but I generally accomplish tasks in the same or less time via chat than I will via phone call.  Multi-tasking is a myth to me, but I enjoy being able to work on other stuff on my computer while waiting for that chat bubble to update.  But be careful – the Amex site can quickly auto log off individuals who stray too far from their chat windows for too long.

Push for Retention Offers

As I mentioned above, Amex chat is definitely useful for closing cards.  During this process, cardholders are sometimes offered retention bonuses for keeping cards open.  Most of the time, cardholders are forwarded to a retention specialist when they ask to close a card via chat – just like when they call in to close.  Discussion dynamics vary, but if the retention specialist doesn’t offer you retention bonus, ask for an offer to keep the card open.  You can find out what’s available, if any, without much effort.

Of course, if you prefer to call in for a retention offer, go for it!  But I prefer chat for a few reasons.  I can take time to compose more thoughtful responses via chat, and I can screenshot and save retention terms.  I also like the survey format via chat more than the phone version.

Surf Around!

Amex is probably my favorite site to log into.  So much good stuff exists when I log in.  Amex Offers update often, some upgrade offers only show up in an online account, and the referral bonus program is handled online.  Also, be sure to enroll in all of your card benefits, if necessary, under the Benefits tab.  Many benefits, such as the Platinum’s Saks, digital entertainment, and airline fee credits and elite status must be registered online before using them.

Don’t Give Up On This Credit

Okay, here’s the bad news first.  The Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts site can be tremendously difficult to navigate.  The search and filter functions aren’t great – that’s on purpose, I suspect.  You should know what location or property you’re looking for, or prepare to manually view all options to truly see what’s possible with the program.

The good news?  The relatively new $200 Fine Hotels & Resorts credit on the Amex Platinum can provide excellent value and experiences.  In my view, it’s the best ultra premium card benefit in recent memory.  I largely don’t hold elite status, and using the FHR credit unlocks many benefits synonymous with status.  Think early check-in, late check-out, inclusive breakfast, and property credits.  In my view, the FHR credit enables customizable, a la carte elite status, on demand.

That’s just my opinion, but I encourage all Platinum cardholders to put the effort in to use this credit.  Fine Hotels & Resorts don’t always beat rates via direct bookings, but I’ve consistently found useful options.

This Amex Card May Not Be Absolutely Necessary

The Amex Blue Business Plus justifiably gets a lot of love in the credit card rewards space.  One cannot dispute that it’s a fee-free way to collect and save Amex Membership Rewards points.  (I redeem as quickly as possible, but I can appreciate others’ methods.)  And 2x points on the first $50k of annual spend is useful for many.  But is the Blue Business Plus worth holding in perpetuity?  For some, I don’t think so.

Why?  Because it takes up a valuable credit card slot in the five overall limit.  Active Amex cardholders can’t obtain as many new card welcome offers as quickly when the Blue Business Plus permanently exists in their accounts.  Of course, holding the card long term is highly dependent on one’s redemption strategy.  It may be a no-brainer to hold the card for many, but others can do just as well elsewhere.

Once Per Lifetime?  Not Really.

Many are hyperfocused on Amex’s notorious one welcome offer per lifetime language on individual cards.  Some delay an application, hoping the welcome offer will rise.  I’m not concerned about this rule one bit, though.

Amex has offered many methods for cardholders to effectively obtain multiple welcome offers on the same card product.  Here are a few examples:

  • Targeted welcome offers without lifetime language
  • Upgrade offers
  • You become reeligible for a welcome offer after years of not holding the card
  • Referral Bonuses – Some of these offers are so high, they’re actually better than welcome offers on certain cards.
  • Many other options appear – look around and experiment.

Spend Away!

Sure, some merchants don’t accept Amex, but it seems the number decreases by the day.  And I’ve hardly ever had an erroneous fraud alert when using my Amex cards.  From what I can tell, Amex likes people to spend on their cards and enjoys cardholders paying annual fees.  That’s not rocket science.  But by appreciating those two elements, one can be confidently aggressive to obtain lucrative rewards.

Some are concerned about spending flagging a financial review on their Amex accounts.  Based on the data points I’ve collected, those who have been honest during the Amex application and financial review processes generally survive without issues.

Amex Card Info – Conclusion

I’ve hit on ten prominent Amex card info areas where I feel cardholders should focus.  Inevitably, there are others – I dedicated an entire article to avoiding Amex pop up box.  I love to learn more about Amex and other card issuers so that I can continue improving my own strategies.  With so much out of our control in this hobby, it’s important to cherish what we can.  One of those areas is our own knowledge of each card issuer.  I’ll never know it all, but I know I can always push for more.  Indeed, I look forward to learning about your Amex card info in the comments!

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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Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.
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. Pam / PDXDealsGuy, the best hours are 830am ET to 1130am ET.

    Benjy, don’t forget to mention that with FHR, a person can also enter one’s hotel loyalty program number and earn points in that program — it’s on the payment page. This is a carve out from the book-direct rule that Amex worked out with the programs. For example, for Marriott types, this gives a person better than Platinum level benefits and points. And, the person ACTUALLY RECEIVES the benefits.

    • Reno Joe,
      Yes, thanks for mentioning. I and many others take advantage of this. But the article had to end sooner or later. 🙂

    • Where is this found? When I tried to do this via amex this did not get any hotel benefits. Amex took them. How do I confirm this?

      No tier nights, point accrual or anything in the hotel program.

  2. I’ve had a green card since 1969 (!). For my 50th anniversary they sent me a couple of champagne glasses. Not exactly a generous reward for half a century of loyalty.

  3. I have cobranded cards for Hyatt, Hilton , IHG and Choice. Hilton AMX is the only one that won’t give me a decent credit limit despite many years of payments on time and in full. Until recently, even my Barclay Choice card had 5 times the limit of AMX and still way higher. When I requested AMX catch up to the others, they even requested tax returns which no one has ever done, then turned me down . Even though I have Diamond Hilton status, I don’t have enough credit for long stays. But that’s OK, I’ll stay at Hyatts. Other than this issue, I’ve been happy with AMX.

  4. I think if one is cashing out MR via Schwab or likes to fly premium international cabin, Amex is as right as rain.

    For me, I enjoyed Amex (Membership Rewards) via transfer partners. As of late, seems as though more and more programs are leaning heavy into their own currency and limiting or almost eliminating saver space via their alliance partners.

    Because of the saver space drought, MR points have become my least favorite/useful currency and the Blue Business Plus is what’s keeping my current stash of MR points alive. I’ve since ditched the Platinum and Gold card because it made no sense to keep earning a currency that I don’t find useful.

    That’s not to say that MR is dead to me, it’s just in the current climate, they’re at the bottom of my currency list.

    For all of the other shenanigans I do, the Citi Premier, Prestige, and Custom Cash works out just fine as none of them have earning caps and I can cash out at 1cpp if I wanted to go that route.

    • Your conclusion 2808 Heavy is the exact one I’ve arrived at as well. The relative value of MR has decreased because of the domestic availability drought, and it has affected which card I pull out of my wallet in some cases. At least the Biz Plat 1.53 cpp pay-with-points option supports the relative value somewhat.


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