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What’s Amex ‘Up To’ With Tricky New Welcome Offer Language?

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There are many questions to ask yourself before applying for a new credit card, perhaps none more pressing than: “How many points can I earn?” It's a pretty straightforward question … unless you're applying for an American Express card, that is.

U.S. Credit Card Guide recently spotted new offers popping up on two of Amex's most popular cards, now saying that applicants can earn a bonus “up to” a specific amount of points. That's a big departure from how banks typically market travel credit cards, offering a defined bonus like 80,000 points for spending $6,000 or so within a three- to six-month period. With Amex, that sign-up bonus could now be a moving target.

But that doesn't mean you'll only find out how many Amex points you'll earn after your new card arrives: You'll get a final number after submitting your application – but before accepting and getting approved. Amex says you'll have the option to proceed and accept whatever welcome offer you're given. If you're not happy, you can cancel your application without any impact to your credit score.

You also won't find this new “up to” language on all Amex cards – or even everywhere you can apply for an Amex card. The bonuses you see on sites like ours (and oftentimes even directly with Amex) still have the traditional welcome offer language. Still, multiple users (including myself) have reported seeing this vague new term by browsing new card offers on Amex's main card page. At best, it seems to be random and inconsistent.

Applying for a new Amex card soon? Here's what you need to know with these new offer terms.

Related reading: New Gold Card Restriction Makes It Even Harder to Earn a Welcome Offer


Which Cards Have the New Terms?

There's good news and bad news when it comes to these new “up to” offers from Amex.

The good news is that you won't find them on all American Express cards (yet). In fact, you'll hardly find them on any Amex cards at all. The bad news? The two cards that do have these new offer terms are the most popular in all of Amex's Membership Rewards points-earning portfolio.

Currently, only *amex platinum* and the *amex gold* show the new offers with an “up to” mystery bonus. This means you won't have to worry about accidentally running into one on a co-branded card like the *delta skymiles gold card* or the *Hilton Honors* – at least for now.

We also haven't seen any reports of them popping up on the popular *blue biz plus* or any business cards at all, for that matter.

Even if you're searching for the Amex Platinum or Gold card, you still might not see it. There seems to be no real rhyme or reason as to why (or when) Amex displays these new offers – potentially making them even more dangerous to those who aren't aware of the new terms.


The Platinum Card® from American Express

The ultra-premium Platinum Card from American Express comes packed with benefits that make it a mainstay in many frequent traveler's wallets. The card also offers a sizable welcome offer to new applicants picking up the card for the first time. Just how big of an offer you get will depend on when and where you apply.

The current welcome offer on the Amex Platinum allows new cardmembers to earn at least 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 on purchases in the first six months. That's no small sum of points but some customers can do nearly twice as well with a targeted offer via CardMatch

With this new sliding scale of offers, some new applicants can earn “up to” 150,000 Membership Rewards after spending $8,000 in the first six months when applying directly with Amex.

Amex Platinum up to 150K offer 

Getting more points for the same amount of spending is obviously great, but there's a chance that after completing the application you'll only be eligible for the standard offer … or maybe something in between.

There's certainly no harm in trying for a bigger bonus through Amex. And you can always scrap your application if you don't like what bonus you're eventually offered.

But this just means travelers may need to pay much closer attention while applying for a Platinum Card … or risk a disappointing outcome.

Read more: Why You Should Have The Platinum Card® from American Express


American Express® Gold Card

The Amex Gold Card is one of our favorite travel rewards credit cards, period.

While a big upfront bonus is great, what really makes it shine is that it's so rewarding for everyday spending. Earning 4x points on both groceries and restaurants is second to none, helping you rack up more and more points from the money you're already spending. Add in some relatively easy-to-use monthly credits, and you can come out way ahead on the card's $250 annual fee (see rates & fees).

The Gold Card typically comes with a solid, 60,000 point welcome offer after spending $6,000 in the first six months. Just like with the Amex Platinum, some people are able to do even better with CardMatch or by applying through a personal referral link: 75,000 or even 90,000 points with the same spending requirement.

Now with these new offers of “up to 90,000” points from American Express, you might be able to match it.

Amex Gold up to 90K offer 

Some applicants are seeing offers for up to 90,000 Membership Rewards points for the same $6,000 spending requirement in the first six months. But again, it's not clear exactly how many points you'll earn until later in the application process. If you're not careful, you could end up with fewer points and a whole lot of disappointment.

Related reading: A Full Review of the Amex Gold Card


Is This Good or Bad For Consumers?

American Express has long offered some of the best travel rewards cards on the market … and some of the biggest bonuses to go with them.

These new “up to” offers build on those big bonuses and give applicants the chance to earn even more points than with the standard welcome offers. So what's not to love?

In some ways, this is actually an improvement. American Express has long offered a slew of different bonuses on the same card … if you know where to look. For example, on *amex platinum* you can currently find:

  • The standard, 80,000-point bonus after spending $8,000 in the first six months directly with Amex
  • Open that same page in an incognito browser and you may see bonuses of 80,000 points … or 100,000 points … or 125,000 points … or even 150,000 points
  • Same goes for personal referral links, which can vary from user to user – and even change if you open the same link in an incognito browser
  • Select cardholders are targeted for a 150,000-point bonus via CardMatch
  • Apply through Resy and you can earn 100,000 points – plus another 10x points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide on up to $25,000 spent in your first six months of card membership


amex points 

Read more: How to Get the Biggest Bonus on Amex Platinum and Gold Cards

This new language could bring that all in-house, offering the best available offers to everyone in a “mystery box” kind of approach.

The downside is that it's entirely random as to whether or not you'll find one of these new “up to” offers in the first place. And if you're not careful, you might wind up feeling bait-and-switched by accidentally accepting a much lower bonus than you intended.

Beyond the potential confusion for which bonus offer you're accepting, this also opens the door for Amex to do away with standard welcome offers entirely, leaving customers guessing whether or not a given offer is actually any good.

Time will tell whether or not these new terms spread to more cards or if it's just a one-off thing that they're trying out. For now, it's an important reminder to always read the terms carefully in order to ensure you're getting exactly what you've been promised with any new card offer.


Bottom Line

American Express has added new terms to some welcome offers on its popular Gold and Platinum cards, promising “up to” a certain number of points if approved.

You won't find these terms on every (or many) cards currently. But if you do run across them, it's important to pay close attention throughout the application process in order to ensure the bonus you're accepting is the one you expected.


Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below 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.

3 Responses

  • Actually the wording is due to cardholders having applied and get the offers and points then cancel the card. Then wait and reapply later for the card. So the system will approve the card but with a different offer or none at all. So while I think the way Amex does business is deplorable. I for once understand why they are doing this!

    • Amex allows one to cancel an application. I found a better offer for the Gold card, the next day after applying. I called CS and they allowed me to cancel that application. Chase sometimes allows the offer code to be changed on your application/account. Whereas, B of A, allows no changes at all. So, Amex at least, gives one the opportunity to change to a better offer.

  • Amex is going to earn a bad reputation for SUBs. They limit to once in a lifetime. Now they’re playing games with definitions. I have moved from Amex. There are other ways to get miles and points.

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