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American Express has a recent history of cracking down on people who attempt to game their sign-up bonuses. And now they’ve updated their terms and conditions to be even more draconian. Or…at least as draconian as current practice.

Important update to Amex’s sign-up offer T&Cs

The terms for American Express card offers now include the following:

“If we in our sole discretion determine that you have engaged in abuse, misuse, or gaming in connection with the welcome bonus offer in any way or that you intend to do so (for example, if you applied for one or more cards to obtain a welcome bonus offer(s) that we did not intend for you; if you cancel or downgrade your account within 12 months after acquiring it; or if you cancel or return purchases you made to meet the Threshold Amount), we may not credit the welcome bonus to, we may freeze the welcome bonus credited to, or we may take away the welcome bonus from your account. We may also cancel this Card account and other Card accounts you may have with us.”

This language basically gives American Express free reign to freeze your account if they believe that you obtained any of your points improperly. Language explicitly excluding gift cards as eligible for earning a sign-up bonus is also included, which goes beyond the previous “prepaid cards” language in the terms and conditions.

What you need to know

Moving forward, I would be wary or avoid the following:

  • Canceling an American Express card within the first 12 months
  • Returning items that will take you below the spend you need for a sign up bonus
  • Using an offer or offer code that you did not directly receive from American Express
  • I might venture as far as to say that you shouldn’t use a card offer that shows in incognito mode (since Amex seems to have account-specific offer targeting)

Ultimately, this is bad news, but it is not entirely unsurprising from Amex. It now gives them the legal protection to completely deprive you of your MR points if they believe you have obtained your bonus from them “illegitimately”.

This is obviously the handiwork of the Amex rewards abuse team (RAT).


Be aware of these new terms and plan accordingly when applying for American Express cards. If you’re used to using any sort of gift card reselling or MS to meet Amex minimum spend, I would avoid it. This language is even on the Delta cards, so Amex could potentially have the ability to claw back your Delta miles. Some cards are not yet affected, but I’m guessing eventually all will be.

H/T: Doctor of Credit

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