Rules to Know for American Express Credit Card Applications

There are three major rules to know before applying for an American Express credit card:

  1. Once in a lifetime bonus
  2. 1 in 5
  3. 2 in 90

One thing to be aware of, if you are not currently an American Express customer, don't apply until you get targeted for a great offer. A lot of Amex card members are frustrated because they aren't targeted for great offers like new customers, but it's a user acquisition strategy for Amex. 

The highest offer I've seen is 100,000 bonus points for the Amex Platinum card. Again, it depends on your timing if you want to hold out for the offer or not. The higher offers are usually targeted and not publicly available. 

Once in a lifetime signup bonus

If you've ever had a certain Amex product past or present, regardless of if you received a signup bonus, you will not be eligible for the signup bonus again. The sole act of having X card means you will not be eligible for the signup bonus. 

For example, if you had the Amex Everday card in the past and canceled it (or product change), you would not be eligible to receive another Amex Everyday signup bonus if you applied for it again in the future. 

However, cards like the Amex Platinum card have different variations, which are all considered different products. You could receive the signup bonus for each variation of the Amex Platinum card. 

1 in 5 Rule

You can only get approved for one credit card every five days.

2 in 90 Rule

You can only get approved for two credit cards every 90 days. This means that if you apply for a third card within the 90-day window, you'll automatically be rejected. 

These rules apply to credit cards only and not charge cards, so you can apply for as many charge cards as you like. 

Optimal Strategy

Given the rules and restrictions, the optimal strategy would apply for a charge card and a credit card on the same day to combine hard pulls. This means you will only have one credit inquiry, as opposed to two.

Going back to a prior point, if you are already an Amex customer, they will only perform a hard inquiry if you are approved for a card. You can apply for cards and not worry about getting another hard inquiry unless you are not a customer.

Something else to consider is that Amex only allows you to have up to five active credit cards at one time. So if for some reason you want more, you'll have to close an account. 

Be aware that if you have more than a $35,000 cumulative credit limit with Amex, it will trigger a financial review. Your accounts will be frozen during the financial review. 

Amex will not match any increased offers. For example, if you applied for a card with a 50,000 point offer, and the next week a 60,000 point offer pops up, they will not match the offer. 

If you apply for a card and you're rejected, you can always call the reconsideration line to speak to an agent to look into your profile. Calling the reconsideration line will not help you bypass any rules.