Navigating The Amex Pop-Up
My wife and I have been navigating the Amex pop-up for a few years now. Since we are both in pop-up purgatory we haven’t been able to grab a regular American Express welcome offer in 3-4 years now. That means we have to be a little more creative than the average bear. This year has been easier than most to do just that, because of the slew of no lifetime offers that have been going out to business card holders. Luckily, these no lifetime language offers also get around the Amex pop-up. But, what if we want a personal card? Well, you can still make it worthwhile if you play it right. We just did that very thing by grabbing the Blue Cash Preferred card.
What Is The Amex Pop-Up?
Maybe I got ahead of myself a bit here and should go into a quick overview of what the Amex pop-up is for anyone that isn’t aware.
A few years ago American Express started a program that would alert people if they were not eligible for a welcome offer. This pop up would appear after you hit apply telling you that you would not receive the welcome offer. When that happened you would be offered the chance to cancel the application.
It sounded like a pretty customer friendly thing at first. Amex was going to let us know if we had the card in the past and just forgot about it etc. The program quickly morphed into something much more obscure though. Amex had changed their terms that they could pretty much deny anyone for any reason they wanted. That is when the pop up started appearing in large numbers for people in the miles & points hobby. We were labeled as gamers or abusers and we were locked out of Amex applications.
There is no real known thing that causes you to get on the pop-up list. Some people that have never had an Amex card before even get it. But, it is believed that opening or closing a lot of Amex cards, canceling before the first year is up or not spending enough on your Amex cards can lead to it.
Why Did We Grab The Blue Cash Preferred Even Without A Welcome Offer?
You may be asking, why did we sign up for a card with no welcome offer? Well, there are still ways to make it worth while, assuming you pick the right card for your situation. This is the case if you have a two player system at least. That is because I can refer my wife or she can refer me etc. By doing this we get a Membership Rewards refer a friend bonus. Some of these can be as much as 45,000 points, a welcome offer sized bonus on its own.
The best offer we had on our accounts was for 25,000 points, worth $300+ to us. That is a decent little bonus right there and the nice thing is we don’t need to spend anything to get it. The points post very quickly too, another plus.
We settled on the Amex Blue Cash Preferred because of the earning structure. The card comes with a $95 annual fee but earns 6% back at US supermarkets on up to $6,000 per calendar year. That timeframe is an important distinction there.
Crunching The Numbers
Since we are grabbing the card in the middle part of the year we would have $6,000 in grocery spend available this year and then another $6,000 in spend available starting January 1st. That means we can grab $12,000 in grocery spend while only paying one $95 annual fee.
If we maximize the $12,000 in grocery spend in the first cardmember year that would net us $720 in cash back. If you subtract the $95 annual fee from that you are left with $625 in profit, or a return of 5.25% on the spend. That is a better return, in terms of cashback percentage, than even my beloved Amex Gold card earning 4X Membership Rewards points per dollar on up to $25,000 in US supermarket spend a year.
This is without even considering the 25,000 refer a friend bonus we got too. If we add in that $275 in cash out value, with a Charles Schwab Platinum card, that is a return of $900 in total, or 7.5% on the spend. Those totals will go nicely with my quest to earn $25,000 this year using miles and points.
If you are in Amex pop-up purgatory don’t get too down in the dumps. There are still ways to navigate the Amex pop-up and provide yourself value, especially in a two player system. When the year is up we could close the Blue Cash Preferred, if there is no retention offer, or we could downgrade to the no fee version and hope for an upgrade offer. The Blue Cash Preferred is an underrated card, in my opinion, and a good option for anyone not chasing Chase 5/24.
Hopefully this shows you that when you are hit with a roadblock you just need to look at things in a different way. Even though we are being blocked by the Amex pop-up we can still use their program to our advantage.