The Amex Once Per Lifetime Rule Snaps Back On My Recent Attempt
A week ago I shared my experience shaving years off of American Express’ once per “lifetime” rule. Since the rule launched we have assumed the lifetime parameters really meant 7 years. That was until recently when people started getting approved at only 5 or 6 years since they last carried the card. I tried pushing the envelope and was able to get an Amex Green card, and the welcome offer, at 4 1/2 years. I decided to push that a little further still with my wife, and it didn’t quite work out.
Update 4/24/21: I recently had my wife attempt signing up for the Amex Gold Business card via my personal referral. She received the pop up for that as well even though it is not a card she has ever had. I am not sure if the Amex Green application put her on the naughty list or if she already was on the list before applying for the Green card and that throws all of my “findings” off a bit. I am inclined to believe the Green card application put her on the pop up list for all cards because she had not been very active with Amex but that is a guess on my part. It could also be the personal referral that is causing the pop up which has been known to happen from time to time. But I figured I would update you on what is going on since more data helps us all out.
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”. From Amex’s terms on applications, “welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this card”. This means that holding the card at any point is the important part, not receiving a welcome offer for the card. So upgrading or downgrading to a card you have never had before would eliminate you from being able to get the welcome offer etc.
There are targeted offers without lifetime language are semi-frequent, and data points also suggest that “lifetime” is more likely 4-7 years. Because of this “lifetime” language, holding out for high welcome offers is recommended.
My Experience & Theories On Why It Worked
I don’t want to go into too much detail since you can read last week’s article. But I was able to get the Amex Green card and the bonus at only 4 1/2 years after closing my account. There were some theories thrown out there on why it worked:
- Amex had an IT overhaul 2 years ago that reset the clock for people.
- The newly revamped Green card was considered a new product and not the same as the old Green card.
- Maybe the “lifetime” requirement dropped from 7 years to 4 years.
I decided to test these options out with one application. Remember that this is just one data point so we can’t say anything for sure but I thought it would be interesting nonetheless. And it just so happened to test all of these parameters, which was kind of perfect.
I also couldn’t resist dipping my toe in that referral bonus pool one more time.
My Wife’s Recent Experience
My wife is currently sitting at 4 credit cards with Amex and I am not able to close any of them to free up space. She just got a retention offer on the Aspire card and her Everyday Preferred (even though I had planned to close it). Her Hilton Business card is less than a year old and I am not touching her Blue Business Plus. So that left me with non credit cards as her only options.
She has already carried the Platinum and Green card, plus she currently has the Gold so I didn’t have a ton of options. I didn’t want her to get a business card since the spend requirements are on the higher end (she currently has the lower spend Green Business card). That had me checking her Amex Green personal card closure date to see if I could give that another run. The 50K offer plus $200 in home improvement credit is a great option. Not to mention the 25K referral I would get as well. So I said let’s do it!
Her Application Details
She had last held an Amex Green card in January of 2018. That was less that 3 1/2 years ago which sounded like the perfect time frame for my experiment.
- It was under the theorized 4 year lifetime clock.
- It was later than the IT change over in Amex’s systems.
- She had the old version of the Green card and not the new version.
This would test all 3 Amex once per lifetime rule theories in one shot, that is what I call perfection. So she filled out her info and hit submit and….
Bam! The Amex Pop Up 😥.
What Does This Mean?
What does this mean? Well nothing really since it is just one data point but I will say I think we can rule a few things out:
- The application terms specify that you are ineligible if you had this, or any previous version, of the green card. So I don’t think that the newly revamped card being a new product is a viable explanation.
- The time frame is well past the 2 years ago or so that Amex had their IT revamp so I don’t think that plays a role really.
- The 4 year limit could be a thing although we have seen data points for less than those.
- I will say those data points could have been no lifetime language offers.
- And if they were business cards Amex tends to treat those a little differently (i.e. more loosely).
This could be a totally unrelated pop up as well for her entire account. I won’t know that for sure until I try another application. I would put that at a low chance of probability since she has never had it before, hasn’t had a lot of applications or closures and spends a ton on her cards.
Amex Once Per Lifetime Rule – Final Thoughts
The one good thing about the Amex pop up is that it gives you a chance to cancel the application once you see it. So there isn’t a ton of harm in testing the limits. Plus Amex rarely does hard pulls for current members any way.
I think with this experiment I was able to dispel some of the theories out there. The 4 year theory still has a little bit of meat on its bones but without more data points we just don’t know for sure. Or it could be that the pop up decides everything and we will never know exactly what the criteria is for the Amex once per lifetime rule is. I do look forward to trying to figure it out anyway though 😁.