Should You Upgrade Your American Express Card?

Does it make sense to upgrade your American Express card when you receive an offer? In this post, we are going to use the Amex Blue Cash Everyday card as an example. 

One of my friends had an Amex Blue Cash Everyday and received an offer to upgrade to the Amex Blue Cash Everyday Preferred. The offer is to spend $1,000 to receive a $150 upgrade bonus, which comes out to be 15% return on spend. 

On the surface, it seems like a good deal, but it's more complicated because American Express limits your ability to get a signup bonus if you already had the product.

For example, if you had an Amex Platinum card that you for some reason did not receive a signup bonus for, you will not be eligible for another Amex Platinum signup bonus in the future.

Going back to the Amex Blue Cash Everyday example, this means that if you take the upgrade bonus, you will not be eligible for an Amex Blue Cash Everyday Preferred signup bonus because you already have the card.

On the other hand, if you were not planning on applying for the Amex Blue Cash Everyday Preferred in the future, then taking the upgrade offer might be the optimal strategy. 

Optimal Strategy

Scenario A (1 Card)

  1. Signup for the Blue Cash Everyday card and get the bonus
  2. Wait until you receive an upgrade offer from Amex to upgrade the Blue Cash Everyday to the Blue Cash Everyday Preferred

Scenario B (2 Cards)

  1. Signup for the Blue Cash Everyday Preferred and earn the bonus (either cancel or keep for step 3)
  2. Signup for the Blue Cash Everyday and get the bonus
  3. Wait until you receive an upgrade offer from Amex to upgrade the Blue Cash Everyday to Preferred bonus
  • You can downgrade one or both = Blue Cash Everyday/Blue Cash Everyday Preferred OR Blue Cash Everyday/Blue Cash Everyday
  • You can also cancel one or both if they don't make sense to keep, but the Blue Cash Everyday is a good anchor/foundation card to have since it doesn't have an annual fee

The main difference between the two scenarios is one signup bonus. I wouldn't recommend going through the hassle since it's only $150-$200, but I think it's important to understand the game theory since this is technically a min-max problem. 

The more applicable scenario is for premium cards like upgrading an Amex Premier Gold Rewards card to an Amex Platinum card. These scenarios also apply to downgrades. 

When you request a downgrade, you also disqualify yourself from receiving a signup bonus from the respective card. 

Bottom Line

It's not optimal to upgrade your card unless you don't plan on getting the respective card in the future because it will disqualify you from receiving a signup bonus in the future. 

For other credit card issuers, these scenarios aren't applicable because they're more forgiving than American Express. With Chase, you can receive a signup bonus for a product once every 24 months.