American Express adds family language to Green card


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.

a hand holding a green paper
The latest member of the Amex family (rules)

Quick Thoughts

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.

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Mark in DC

With AMEX now having introduced very large charge card “family”, are there any data points on successfully downgrading one of the non-vanilla Platinums or upgrading from Gold/Green to say Schwab Plat?

[…] Amex is continuing to tighten up the welcome offer restrictions associated with some of its cards. In recent months we’ve seen new restrictions on the Amex Gold Card and the Amex EveryDay Card, and now we’re seeing new restrictions added to the Amex Green Card, as flagged by Frequent Miler. […]


If you’ve been refused, a new Delta business plat card. When is the best time to reapply? I think I got refused because I had too many AMEX cards but now I’ve dumped one of them. Thanks.


Does this language apply to someone who was added an authorized user? For example I added my wife to my Gold card but now she wants a card in her name. Can she get the SUB?


It can only be a good thing for the rest of the world facing continual devaluation of awards with the amount of churning that only the USA cardholders can do.

In Australia and New Zealand you can only get a joining bonus on one card in the Amex family. I got my first amex card 7 yrs ago and they still will not give me any points signing for another amex card unless I cancel my current card and wait 18 months before reapplying which is actually to their detriment. Far better to delay the welcome bonus for say 13 months so amex gets two years card fees. I would be ok with that as I would keep the card anyway since churning with a single provider is not really worthwhile outside the USA. There is some value swapping between banks but alas only in Australia not New Zealand


Marriott is a little different as it’s Marriott’s own rule that you can only get SUB(s) from Chase or Amex per 24 months, but not both, plus you can’t double-dip if you still hold legacy cards from before the SPG merger.

Personally, I think this won’t have much effect unless the Green gets further revamped as $150 for 3X travel/dining isn’t really compelling against no fee cards (WF Autograph) or even the lower-fee Venture and CSP (unless you spend a lot on travel). Gold and Platinum at least offer things that aren’t so widely available.


One might say that Amex has become less attractive to the hobby. But, it really goes beyond that to include non-hobbyists. The designed breakage embedded in the various statement credits is a major disadvantage to everyday consumers. At this point, my use of Amex cards has become more surgical than broad.


They definitely want to deter ‘maximizers’ as they aren’t making much or any money off of them.

Tyler C

Use of Amex cards is purely surgical for me at this point as well

Evan D

I agree. With the expansion of the statement credits to make them as challenging to use as possible, higher annual fees, and restrictions on welcome bonus offers, I have moved away from Amex and just keep a few no-fee Amex cards to retain my points. Far better card options out there right now besides Amex.


Yeah basically Amex wants cardholders not SUB chasers. A reasonable take really,