Amex Application Rules - What You Need to Know Before Applying for an Amex Credit Card

Amex Application Rules - What You Need to Know Before Applying for an Amex Credit Card

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American Express announced they have added new rules to their credit card approval process. While rumors have swirled around Amex limiting the number of credit cards for some time, American Express has now confirmed this practice. This joins a list of other restrictions that Amex has on how many cards you can own and how often you could apply for Amex products and earn the offers on those cards. Before you apply for your next American Express credit card, be sure to read on about Amex's current application rules.

Amex application rules

Just like the Chase 5/24 rule, American Express has rules to limit consumers from having too many credit lines issued to them. Before you apply for an American Express credit card, be sure you won’t be violating any of the rules below. If you want to apply for an Amex card, it may be wise to consider canceling a credit card, or delaying your application.

"4 card" rule

It was recently confirmed by American Express that they implemented a four-card rule. Consumers may only have four American Express products at a time. It is important to note that American Express offers several types of cards — business credit cards, consumer credit cards and charge cards — and that the rule only applies to consumer credit cards where you are the primary cardholder.

Below is a screenshot of an American Express online account. Though the cardholder has five different card products, they technically only have one American Express consumer card that counts toward the four card rule.

Sceenshot of cards in an American Express account

So while this rule can seem limiting, you can still diversify your American Express credit card portfolio in different ways.

10 charge card rule

American Express limits consumers to 10 charge cards per person. American Express does not have 10 charge cards to offer consumers, so it appears that this rule extends to both primary and authorized user accounts.

Charge cards operate the same as credit cards, except they technically do not have a spending limit. A few examples of charge cards offered by American Express are: The Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card.

"1 in 5" rule

The one card every five days rule is exactly how it sounds — you can’t be approved for more than one card every five days.

American Express had had this rule in place for some time. The rule exists mainly to prevent credit card fraud in case you fall victim to identity theft.

This puts a damper on consumers who prefer applying for multiple cards in a short period of time to get their applications in before credit bureaus have time to adjust their scores.

"2 in 90" rule

The Amex “2 in 90” rule limits cardholders to two credit card approvals every 90 days. This rule builds on top of the one card every five days rule.

The rule prevents consumers from being issued too much credit, along with limiting the number of welcome offers consumers can earn. Welcome offers in the form of cash back or travel rewards cost credit card companies billions of dollars per year. Amex is ensuring that it isn't on the hook for fulfilling more welcome offers than it can afford.

Once-in-a-lifetime rule

The Amex once-in-a-lifetime rule means that consumers can only earn a welcome bonus for a specific product once. If they earn it, and cancel the card at a later date, they can no longer earn that bonus. Consumers may be approved for the product if they reapply, but the welcome offer will not be available.

This rule prevents "churning" — opening a card just to earn the welcome offer, closing the card and then reapplying later to earn the welcome offer again.

Best strategy for applying for American Express credit cards

With all of these rules in place, what is the best strategy for applying for American Express credit cards?

If you are a small business owner, it is best to start with a business credit card. Since business credit cards do not count toward the four card rule, you will be able to earn great rewards for your business expenses while not losing out on opportunities for consumer cards.

If you can't apply for a business credit card, your next best option is a charge card. Because you can have up to 10 charge cards, you can fulfill your points and miles strategy through these products before moving on to consumer credit cards.

Lastly, you can apply for the consumer credit cards until you reach the four-card limit. Keep in mind that if you have hit your four-card maximum, you can cancel one consumer card to apply for a new one.

Which American Express cards should you apply for?

American Express credit cards are extremely competitive because of their outstanding rewards and features on each product. Whether you want to earn American Express Membership Rewards, cash back or build your credit score, here are some top offers from Amex:

CardBest forWelcome offerAnnual fee
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American ExpressCash backEarn $200 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.$0
Delta SkyMiles® Platinum CardOccasional Delta Air Lines flyersEarn Earn 60,000 bonus miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months, Offer Expires 10/28/2020.$250

American Express® Gold Card

Foodies and travelersEarn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.$250

For rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, please click here.

For rates and fees of the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

The information related to The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, American Express® Green Card, and Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

Brett Holzhauer

Brett Holzhauer is ValuePenguin’s travel rewards expert, focusing on credit card rewards maximization, consumer travel trends, and personal finance news. He has earned and burned over 5 million points and miles throughout his travels, saving him roughly $75,000 in travel expenses.

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How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).