The Amex “family language” disease continues to spread. The latest casualty is the American Express Green card. As per the new offer terms, you may not be eligible to receive the welcome offer on the Green if you have or have had that card, the Platinum Card, the Morgan Stanley Platinum, the Schwab Platinum or the Gold Card.
We’ve previously reported on Amex family language being added to various flavors of the Platinum cards, the Delta credit cards, cash back cards, the consumer Gold card, and the Marriott Bonvoy cards. Unfortunately, things are continuing to trend in an unfriendly direction. (h/t: DDG)
What is Amex family language and which cards have it?
Historically, Amex has had “lifetime” language. In the offer terms on most Amex application pages, there is a line that says that the welcome offer may not available to you if you have or have had that specific card before. Up until recent months, that lifetime language has only excluded those who have had that specific product before.
However, in recent months, we have seen Amex create restrictions around product “families” that indicate that, in some instances, you may not be eligible for the welcome bonus if you have or have had one of several cards before.
We have seen the following restrictions this year:
- Consumer Platinum cards: Whereas in the past you could qualify for the welcome bonus on each “flavor” of the Platinum card, you are now restricted from getting the welcome bonus on both the Schwab and vanilla versions of the Platinum card.
- Consumer Delta cards: You may no longer be eligible for the Delta Gold welcome offer if you have or have had the Platinum or Reserve. You can no longer get the Platinum welcome offer if you have or have had the Reserve.
- Cash Back cards: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus on the Blue Cash Everyday card if you have or have had the Cash Magnet, Blue Cash Preferred, or Morgan Stanley Blue Cash Preferred card.
- Gold card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus on the Gold card if you have or have had a Platinum card.
- Everyday card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus if you have or have had the Everyday Preferred card before.
- Marriott Bonvoy Bevy Card: You may no longer be eligible for the welcome bonus if you have or have had the Bonvoy Brilliant card before.
Thus far, we have only seen family language appear on consumer cards and the language has spread in stages slowly over the past several months.
What’s happened to the Amex Green card
Danny the Deal Guru recently noticed that the following language had been added to the Amex Green card:
You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card, the Platinum Card®, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Charles Schwab, the American Express® Gold Card or previous versions of these Cards.
This continues the pattern that we’ve seen with Amex’s Membership Rewards-earning and most co-branded cards. Now, the Hilton cards are the last “family” group standing that hasn’t yet added the restrictions.
It’s worth noting that this language varies from the previous restrictions with other Marriott cards in one key way: “may not” vs “not:”
Currently, the family language terms say that you may not be eligible to qualify for the bonus if you have or have had the more expensive Membership Rewards-earning cards before. That is a distinct difference from not available.
The second set of terms creates a seemingly ironclad rule, and it has been in practice. “May not” leaves the door open. In other words, although you may not get the welcome bonus, maybe you will. The terms go on to say that, if you are not eligible for the bonus, Amex will let you know before processing your application and give you the opportunity to withdraw it. In other words, if Amex doesn’t give you the pop-up, they are committing to giving you the bonus.
The FM team has all been recently approved for cards where the “may not” language was present and would be disqualifying if applied. In those cases it’s a good idea to take a screen shot of the terms on the off chance that you’re denied the bonus. You could then point to those terms in a complaint. That said, I’ve yet to hear of a data point of someone not getting the promised welcome offer when there was no pop-up.
It’s discouraging to see the continued spread of family language throughout the Amex card portfolio. Increasingly, those who take advantage of a welcome offer on a higher-level (i.e., more expensive) card risk locking themselves out of earning a bonus on a lower-tier card later.
Given the continued expansion of these terms, it might only be a matter of time before the the Hilton Honors cards are affected as well…although, as I said in my 2024 predictions, I still think that those cards might be the exception to the (family) rule.