The different banks have different rules about who is eligible for signup bonuses. In most cases, if you already have a particular card, and try to sign up for another of THE EXACT SAME card, you’ll (generally) be approved, but you won’t earn the signup bonuses (and in that case, why ding your credit?)
As an example, Chase’s policy is that if you’ve had the card any time in the last 18 months (even if you’ve already canceled it), you won’t earn a(nother) signup bonus. So if you’ve already got a Chase Ink Bold business card, if you sign up for another one, you won’t get the 50,000 Ultimate Rewards point signup bonus.
The trick is figuring out what is the EXACT SAME card. Banks don’t make it easy on us travel hackers as oftentimes it can be confusing. Chase’s policy is that a Visa and a Mastercard are different cards. So if you had a Chase Ink Bold MASTERCARD (like I do), if you then sign up for a Chase Ink Bold VISA, you will get the signup bonus again.
Citibank’s policy is wildly different depending on what card it was. Some cards limited you based on whether or not you had been a previous member, while others let you get as many cards and signup bonuses as you want. I have umm…. several Citibank Hilton HHonors cards.
The policy over at American Express has been pretty straightforward – if you had had the particular card within the last 12 months, you would not be eligible for another bonus. I first read rumors of this deal ending over at Dans Deals (no relation 🙂 ). He mentions that rumor has it that starting May 1, the policy will be changed so that you can’t get another bonus on a particular card… EVER. If you’ve had a Starwood American Express card, ever in your life, then you won’t be able to get another bonus for signing up for another.
Again, it will still be tricky to determine what makes an EXACT match, and at this point we can’t even confirm that this is fact and not rumor. Frequent Miler suggests that clamping down on this may allow Amex to give larger signup bonuses
What to do now?
Well, if you were planning on getting another signup bonus for an Amex card that you had previously, I’d suggest trying to do so now. It won’t affect me much personally, as all of the Amex cards that I’ve ever had I still have, so I wouldn’t be eligible for another bonus even under the current 12-month rule.
What about you? Any plans for a new Amex card?
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The writing is on the wall for this to be a year where the game is changed. I am anxiously awaiting news on the MS front.