American Express has negatively changed the language it uses for its welcome offers. The new changes see welcome bonuses switching from absolute amounts to “up to” an undisclosed amount of Membership Rewards points, without understanding your bonus offer until after you apply. Here’s what you need to know:
Amex Makes Ambiguous Changes to Welcome Offer Language
American Express is making a curious update to its welcome offer language. Instead of the typical wording – offering “X Membership Rewards Points” after meeting minimum spending goals – Amex is switching to a dynamic “Up to” verbiage, with the actual welcome offer not revealed until an application is submitted and approved.
The change in welcome offer language is puzzling for applicants who don’t have a credit score approaching 800. Because you won’t know the amount of Membership Rewards points you stand to earn, you are effectively taking a gamble on the welcome offer. What’s more, there doesn’t appear to be an equally dynamic “minimum spend,” amount. All welcome offer amounts seemingly require crossing the same spend threshold, as seen below.
Amex Looking to Stamp Out Churning?
The move by American Express appears to be aimed at credit card churners – people who open multiple card accounts solely to maximize welcome bonuses and then proceed to close the accounts. The process is legal but spurned by banks, who often seek to reclaim fraudulently won points through what are known as “clawbacks.” Banks have attempted to combat churning through lifetime language on credit cards – essentially stating that an applicant can only earn a welcome bonus once from a particular card.
But while taking steps to combat credit card churning is understandable, the everyday consumer is hurt the most.
As seen above, the Platinum Card® from American Express offers “up to 150,000 Membership Rewards Points.” Despite that, the mystery points total is only reachable “after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card within the first six months of Card Membership.” This could mean 150K points for spending $8,000 or a much lower sum – say, 75K points, for example – with that same $8,000 spending minimum.
It’s unclear if this language is being applied to all offers or if a minimum welcome offer is available to applicants.
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Featured image by American Express
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