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Lifetime means as long as American Express sees you as having had a card in the past. Often that seems to be around seven years. You can ask American Express what cards you’ve had in the past and they’ll tell. But there’s no more guessing, because American Express has a new popup when you submit an application — before they pull your credit — noting you’ve had the card in the past (or currently have it) and therefore aren’t eligible for a bonus. You can proceed with the application if you wish, or stop the process. (HT: The Points Guy)
Frankly this addition is a convenience, and reduces uncertainty in the process. It avoids angering customers who don’t realize they aren’t eligible for a bonus for a card they had years earlier and feel unappreciated.
In spite of cancelling the application though I did receive an email from American Express telling me my application is in process, so the kinks haven’t all been worked out just yet.
American Express has also just added new restriction language for bonus eligibility,
Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card. We may also consider the number of American Express Cards you have opened and closed as well as other factors in making a decision on your welcome offer eligibility.
We don’t yet know exactly what this means. It seemed to me to be too ambiguous on its own to be meaningful. However a similar popup will come up if this criteria is going to exclude you from a bonus. (HT: Award Travel)
[Applicant name] based on your history with American Express welcome offers, introductory APR offers, or the number of cards you have opened and closed, you are not eligible to receive this welcome offer. We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?
As we accumulate data points on this new rule we’ll learn just when it excludes someone from an American Express initial bonus offer.