Episode 26 – American Express Increases Signup Bonus Period to Six Months

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Thanks for joining me for episode 26 – American Express Increases Signup Bonus Period to Six Months. I’ll talk about how this change can help you earn more cashback, points, and miles.

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Rough Transcript:

You’re listening to the Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast. I’m your host, Justin Vacula, here to help you travel the world at next to no cost through credit card points, miles, benefits, and rewards. Make money, save money, and take advantage of great deals!

Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com where you can contact me, read episode transcripts, complete a free credit card questionnaire to receive tailored recommendations, follow me on social media, view helpful resources, and listen to past episodes. Visit my Patreon page, linked on my website, to subscribe for monthly one-on-one conversations, a custom podcast episode, and the opportunity to have your questions answered by episode guests.

I’ll be livestreaming from YouTube with business coach Cakeologi on Tuesdays and Fridays in coming weeks starting April 28th at 9PM Eastern as the shelter in place time continues. We’ll talk about all things money, business, and credit while answering questions from a live audience. Find announcements for upcoming streams and archives of past livestreams on my website at hurdygurdytravel.com.

Thanks for joining me for episode 26 – American Express Increases Signup Bonus Period to Six Months. I’ll talk about how this change can help you earn more cashback, points, and miles.

Earlier this April, American Express updated their website telling current and future cardmembers that they will have three additional months to reach minimum spending requirements for signup bonuses. This applies to cards approved between December 1st of 2019 and May 31st of 2020. This applies not only to existing cards, but will also apply to new cards through May 31st, so if you are approved for a new card on May 30th, for example, you will have six months, near the end of November, instead of the usual three months to reach the spending required for the welcome bonus offer.

This should especially come as a sigh of relief for low spenders who are spending even less because of the shelter in place restrictions during this current pandemic in April of 2020, but the opportunity shouldn’t end there because this change will allow people to reach signup bonus requirements they otherwise would not reach or may struggle to reach.

I predict that spending will go up as time passes. I think this is uncontroversial for most situations – people begin to travel, businesses open, many aren’t sitting home most of the day, and many will likely be eager to spend to do things they could not. For this reason, many listeners may consider waiting until the end of May to get a new American Express card to have the most opportunity to spend and hit a high goal.

Let’s look at current offers for American Express cards I see through my referral page at hurdygurdytravel.com – sign up for a card using my referral link to help support my efforts at no extra cost to you! I favor American Express business cards over the personal cards as their business cards don’t appear on one’s personal credit report and, for most, after their first American Express card, inquiries for cards #2 and up are just soft inquiries so neither hard pull or opened account shows on one’s personal credit report. Keeping personal credit reports low on activity is really helpful for getting cards with other issuers since ‘too many recent accounts’ or ‘too many recent inquiries’ can be reasons for denial even for people with high credit scores.

The Business Gold Card gives a 50,000 point bonus for spending $5000 now in six months instead of the usual three. This card comes with a $295 annual fee, but the signup bonus return well covers that annual fee in year one. American Express may provide a retention offer in the second year with the card leading you to keep it or, as always, canceling after one year is always an option if the annual fee isn’t worth paying for a second time.

The Business Gold Card also gives 4x points on categories including select advertising; technology providers; gas stations; dining; and shipping. Referring people to a new account from your Business Gold card typically gives a big bonus of 20,000 points – much more than other cards – and that alone can justify an annual fee payment in later years. If a $5000 spend goal in three months seems too high for you, getting this card at the end of May could be a very special opportunity.

For an even higher spend goal, consider the American Express Business Platinum card: 85,000 points for $20,000 spend now in six months instead of three. This card comes with a $595 annual fee and many benefits: 1.5x points on purchases of $5000 or more; bi-annual Dell credits of $100 each – often $300 total for the cost of one annual fee; a 35% rebate when using points for one cent per point in the Amex travel portal; access to airport lounges including Centurion Lounges; a $200 yearly airline incidental credit – often $400 total for the cost of one annual fee; various hotel statuses; and a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck. While you won’t be able to use many benefits in April, travel will return and you can be ready for it. If you don’t see yourself spending $20,000 in three months, but can in six months, this can be a great opportunity to apply in late May.

Next, consider the American Express Plum card – a card I never hear much about probably because the returns aren’t so impressive, but surely better than a 2% cashback card for those who can spend $30,000 now in six months. The Plum card has no first year annual fee and gives a $600 bonus for $30,000 in spend atop 1.5% cashback with the card’s early pay discount. I almost never suggest this card, recommending many others before this one, but this can be prudent now given a six month timeframe.

I’m a fan of the American Express Blue Business Plus card which gives 10,000 points after $3000 spend in now six months. This no annual fee card also gives 2x points on all purchases up to $50,000 spend in a calendar year and a 0% APR introductory period. This card is especially great for spending which doesn’t fall into a bonus category and may be a long-term keeper for most. The Business Green Charge card also has a $3000 spend goal for 25,000 points and no first year annual fee. Many can likely spend $3000 in three months with little effort, but really low spenders may enjoy this time extension for a more modest goal. However, I’d suggest going for a higher spend goal than usual to take advantage of the time extension.

I wouldn’t suggest getting the Marriott Bonvoy Business card, any of the Delta cards, or the Hilton Honors Business card at this time. Delta cards often have increased offers, but aren’t at the moment with the last increases ending on April Fool’s Day. Bonvoy has seen an increased offer, at least twice in the past year and a half, and the Hilton offer is currently low following an increased offer towards the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020.

American Express also recently spent one billion dollars buying Hilton points, so we may soon see an increased offer. Prioritize increased offers to maximize your returns. Listeners may also not want to get specific program points given current uncertainly surrounding travel thus favoring the more flexible Membership Rewards points which can even be cashed out for 1.25 cents per point with the Charles Schwab Platinum card.

I’m not as enthusiastic about the American Express personal cards, but some stand out. Unlike the business cards, the spend goals aren’t reaching five figures. The personal Green, Gold, and Platinum cards with $2000, $4000, and $5000 spend goals are solid cards with the extra three months giving low spenders more wiggle room to reach minimum spend requirements. I like that American Express’ charge cards don’t count against the current five credit card limit – one can have up to ten charge cards and five credit cards at one time.

Personal cards including Cash Magnet, Everyday, Blue Cash Preferred, Blue Cash Everyday, and Everyday Preferred pale in comparison to other options and don’t have large spend goals. I’d suggest passing on the Hilton, Bonvoy, and Delta personal cards for similar reasons as the business cards.

Hilton Aspire is a particularly difficult sell at the moment because its many benefits including the resort credit and diamond status won’t get much use. Regardless, there may soon be an increased offer, so it can pay to wait for that in a world where we can travel more. Aspire is indeed a very strong card, but it’s not as powerful now inside a pandemic.

Hopefully this episode was helpful in suggesting some changes in your strategy given American Express’ recent announcement extending time for welcome bonuses. Maybe you’ll be able to hit a higher spend goal and get a card you otherwise would not. The end of May 2020 might just be the best time to get a Plum card! As always, feel free to reach out with questions you have about American Express cards. Complete the credit card questionnaire form on my website at hurdygurdytravel.com so I can give you a free tailored recommendation for your specific situation.

Thanks for listening and stay tuned for more content!

Visit my website at HurdyGurdyTravel.com where you can contact me, read episode transcripts, complete a free credit card questionnaire to receive tailored recommendations, follow me on social media, view helpful resources, and listen to past episodes.

Support my work through Patreon, PayPal, the Cash App, and referral links by visiting the donate tab on my website. Subscribe on YouTube at Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast; like my Hurdy Gurdy Travel Podcast Facebook page; follow HGtravelpodcast on Twitter; and follow Justin Vacula on Instagram.

Schedule a free 15-minute consultation with full-time business coach and YouTuber Cakeologi who can help you formally establish your business, build business credit, and get premium business credit cards. When you select from various paid services after the free consultation, I will receive credit for referring you. Listen to Cakeologi on episode twelve of my podcast.

Visit my other podcast at stoicsolutionspodcast.com where you can find practical wisdom for everyday life inspired by the ancient philosophers of Greece and Rome.

Thanks to generous patrons and fans of this podcast who help support my work. Have a great day.

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