What Does American Express Consider A Lifetime?

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Update 6/11/22: Seems like it’s now more like 5-6 years rather than 7+ years.

Original post 1/19/17: On the majority of American Express credit card application pages you’ll see that it states:

  • Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.

This is known as the once per lifetime rule. The question is are you really limited to one bonus per lifetime? or does American Express consider you to never have had the card after a set period of time? From the data points I’ve seen, if you haven’t held this card for seven years or more, you’ll be eligible for the bonus again.

Keep in mind that positive accounts can stay on your credit report for up to ten years, negative accounts can only stay on your credit report for up to seven years. This leads me to believe that American Express base their bonus eligibility on what is found in their own internal systems rather than what is found on your credit report.

Some readers have also reported that American Express chat representatives will give you a list of cards you’ve previously held before if you ask and this list should match up with what card bonuses you’re not eligible for. Keep in mind targeted offers and upgrade offers often don’t have these bonus restrictions, so this is another way to get the sign up bonus on cards again.

You can view the rules for getting the bonuses again with other card issuers here. You can also learn more about American Express credit cards here. Please share your data points on getting the bonus on an American Express card more than once in the comments below.



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