The greater manufactured spend and churning collective has been slowly twirling toward a land of confusion with American Express application rules, especially related to no-lifetime language (NLL) applications. Let’s clear it all up: Lifetime language and a popup during a new credit card application aren’t the same thing, and they don’t matter in the same ways.

(No-)Lifetime Language

Lifetime language with American Express cards means that the application’s terms and conditions say something like the following, usually in bold, usually as the very first sentence:

“Welcome offer not available to applicants who have or have had this Card or previous versions of [CARD] from American Express”

No-lifetime language (NLL) means there’s no such language in the terms and conditions.

Practically speaking, this language doesn’t actually matter to a churner because unless you need to arbitrate with or sue American Express, the terms and conditions don’t affect whether or not you get a sign-up bonus. What does matter then?

The Popup

If you’re not eligible for a sign-up bonus, American Express will tell you before you submit your final application. You’ll see a popup that says:

Name, based on [reasons], you are not eligible to receive the welcome offer. We have not yet performed a credit check. Would you still like to proceed?”

If you get that popup, you’re not going to get the bonus whether or not the card has NLL. If you don’t get the popup, you are going to get the bonus whether or not the card has NLL provided you hit the spend requirements.

Why You Should Care

Since lifetime language doesn’t matter unless you want to sue or arbitrate with AmEx, why do we talk about it so much? A couple of reasons:

  • No-lifetime language offers are less likely to give a popup
  • No-lifetime language offers will often let you get multiple accounts for the same card

So, don’t be afraid to lob in an application for a juicy American Express sign-up bonus because you’ve already had the card and it’s not NLL. If you don’t get a popup, the bonus is in the bag.

Pictured: The bonus in the bag.

We haven’t seen publicly available 250,000 transferrable miles credit card bonuses since, well, pretty much ever (*), but Capital One seems to be jealous of its cousin, Big Bonus AmEx, and introduced Business Spark Travel Elite card (there’s currently no public link) to one up them. A few vitals:

  • It’s a Mastercard
  • 50,000 mile bonus after $10,000 spend in three months
  • 200,000 mile bonus after $50,000 spend in six months
  • It earns transferrable miles
  • There’s a $300 annual travel credit through the travel portal
  • You get access to Capital One lounges (and yet another Priority Pass membership)
  • Capital One business cards are very friendly to cycling, they’re down to clown
  • 2x earning on general spend, more on some travel booked through the travel portal
  • 10,000 additional miles every anniversary
  • $395 annual fee (Thanks to Jim for noting that the fee was missing)

You have to apply for this card through a Capital One business relationship manager and that’s a good thing because applications through a business relationship manager have different, looser approval requirements. If you don’t have a contact, call your closest Capital One branch and ask to speak to one. You do have an e-commerce business, right? You know, selling stuff on ebay once a year? Great, I knew you did!

For what it’s worth, I was approved for this one at well above 5/24, but my recent hard-pull count was low which probably helped.

* There’s an AmEx Business Platinum 250,000 Membership Rewards Platinum card link that’s been floating around for a few weeks. I haven’t written about it because it’s a “post-targeted” link, meaning this is a link you get after you’ve been directly targeted for the offer, not a link to see if you’re targeted. American Express hasn’t been kind to applicants in the past when post-targeted links make their way out. (If you still want it and haven’t seen it anywhere, here it is, you’re all adults, right?)

SoCal residents: If the Capital One bonus isn’t enough for you, SDCCU has your back. Expires July 31.

  1. There are shopping portal spend bonuses at Southwest and United, and giftcards.com currently shows up on both. Coincidentally some types gift cards are again easy to liquidate at an old favorite payment processor with the right type of target.

    Southwest: 2,000 bonus miles after spending $550 or more plus 2x per dollar
    United: 2,500 bonus miles after spending $600 or more plus 2x per dollar

    Likely Alaska’s portal and AA’s portal will add similar back-to-school bonuses shortly, so keep an eye out.
  2. Chase is now giving out retention offers on even more co-brand cards. We’ve recently seen:

    Hyatt $95 statement credit
    – Sapphire Preferred $100 statement credit
    – Sapphire Reserve $200 statement credit
    – Marriott Premier Plus: $100 statement credit
    – United MileagePlus Explorer: $50 statement credit

    It’s probably worth calling Chase when you’ve got a minute and saying something like: “I’m considering canceling my Chase Credit Card Type, and I’m wondering if there’s any spend bonus or retention offer available?” (Thanks to Sharky’s reports via MEAB slack)
  3. Kroger will do something this weekend that they’ve done every single weekend for the last month-and-a-half, and frankly I’m surprised they keep doing it: 4x fuel points on third party gift cards and fixed value Visa and Mastercard gift cards, Friday – Sunday.

    The continued Kroger fuel points promos have effectively killed most of the major buyers’ capacities for the first time in a very long time. I don’t expect much traction this weekend, and if you want to take advantage of the deal you may find that selling fuel points on ebay is your best bet, which is almost never the case in the normal, right-side-up world. (Thanks to GC Galore)

Cheering for the Tuesday Triple.

Beginning in mid-June I started receiving reports that American Express has imposed spending limits on charge cards and lowered limits on credit cards. Based on the number of reports I’ve received directly and the volume of chatter I’ve seen in various groups the issue is widespread, much more so than we’ve seen in the last several years. What’s going on?

Charge Cards

With charge cards, it seems American Express is doing on of two things to affected accounts (but probably not both):

  • Imposing spending limits on mostly unused charge cards
  • Taking up to a week after payment to free-up available credit

For active charge cards, spending limits don’t seem widespread (but there are a few reports).

Credit Cards

On the credit card side we’ve seen:

  • Credit lines slashed on both idle and actively used cards
  • Taking up to a week after payment to free-up available credit

Unlike the charge card side, activity on a card doesn’t seem to protect it from a reduced spending limit.

Observations

So far, everyone that’s been affected by the recent charge limits has one of these two traits with their AmEx accounts:

  • Big balances (think 30%+ of stated annual income)
  • Lot’s of cycling (similar magnitude)

The language used on the AmEx website when a limit is imposed mirrors the language used when a financial review results is reduced charging privileges. That could mean we’re seeing a new type of financial review (perhaps a “silent financial review”), and having a big balance or cycling your cards quite a bit triggers it.

Assuming this round is like past rounds of spending limits, it’ll probably be stuck on your account for a year.

Why is AmEx doing this?

I don’t have inside knowledge about why AmEx is doing this, but I do know that their two major banking partners aren’t rosy on AmEx’s recent financial performance (Morgan Stanley’s bank analyst downgraded the stock this week and Charles Schwab has given the company a “D – Underperform” equity rating as of yesterday.) Perhaps AmEx is looking for ways to reduce their risk or for ways to shore up their balance sheet?

AmEx’s public Q2 financial results are scheduled for early Friday of next week, so perhaps we’ll learn more then. In the mean time be aware that AmEx seems to be more on edge lately and act accordingly, like maybe drink a beer and chill.

AmEx understands “no preset spending limit” as well as this shop understands 99 cent stores.

Have you ever heard the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” knock-knock joke? Well, that, but Prime Day.

  1. Do this now: Register for Radisson’s double points promotion on two-night stays or longer through August 31.
  2. Simon’s volume gift card buying site is running a promotion for 72% off of purchasing fees through Friday with promo code JUL22SUPER72, which will be a total cost of somewhere around $3.60 to $4.25 for $1,000 Visa or Mastercard gift cards depending on how many you order.

    The usual warnings: American Express doesn’t award points on Simon purchases, and Simon gift cards are Metabanks so can be trickier to unload, but there are avenues online and in person.
  3. It’s been reported that Chase is offering $95 statement credits as a retention offer to some World of Hyatt credit card holders (they also occasionally offer $100-$200 statement credits for the Sapphire Reserve). If you have a Hyatt card, I’d call Chase and say “I’m thinking of closing this card, but before I make a decision, I’m wondering if there are any retention offers or statement credits available?”
  4. Meijer MPerks has $10 off of $150 in Mastercard gift cards through Saturday after clipping the offer in your account. Scale this one with multiple MPerks accounts, and rejoice that you can often avoid Metabanks at Meijer. (Thanks to GC Galore)

Have a nice Wednesday friends!

Amazon Prime day and all the articles about it summed up in a single picture.

  1. American Express has another set of no-lifetime language (NLL) heightened offers available. To see if you’re targeted, login to AmEx and check the following links for two great no-annual fee cards:

    Blue Business Plus 75,000 Membership Rewards after $15,000 in spend in 12 months
    Blue Business Cash $750 after $15,000 in spend in 12 months (discussed yesterday)

    Both of these have phone in employee card offers available, 5,000 Membership Rewards after $2,000 in spend on the Blue Business Plus and a $50 statement credit after $2,000 in spend on the Blue Business Cash. Both work for up to 99 employees, or 450,000 bonus points on the Plus or $4,500 in statement credits on the Cash.
  2. Check for email from Citi for targeted 5x on PayPal spend, up to $600 by September 30. This has been seen on:

    – Double Cash
    – Premier
    – Rewards+
    – AAdvatage

    Related to the above: PayPal raised its credit card fees for person-to-person payments to 2.99%, and stopped allowing friends and family payments from personal accounts to business accounts.
  3. Check this link for Barclays credit card targeted 5x spend bonuses on grocery, gas, and restaurant purchases up to $700 in spend through September 15. (Thanks to San_K)
  4. Staples has fee-free $200 Visa gift cards, limit five per transaction running from Sunday through the following Saturday. These are Metabank gift cards, and based on lots of prodding from reader Jim, I won’t say anything bad about Metabanks (today). (Thanks to DDG)
  5. Simon’s volume purchasing program has for 50% off of bulk Visa and Mastercard gift card purchases using promo code JUL22WKND50.

Jimmy’s dog helps us jump toward the weekend with a Delirium Tremens. #JimmyStyle

  1. Norse Atlantic Airlines has launched new US flights with ~$250 economy roundtrip fares from the US to Oslo, Norway on multiple dates this fall. They currently operate out of FLL, MCO, JFK, and LAX. Obviously this is an amazing deal if you live in or near one of those airports.
  2. A new no-lifetime-language (NLL) link for the no-annual fee American Express Blue Business Cash card with a $750 sign-up bonus after $15,000 in spend within 12 months has surfaced.

    This card also still has a phone in offers for up to 99 employee cards with 5,000 bonus Membership Rewards after $2,000 in spend per card. (Thanks to jackal3000)
  3. Brex has a 25% transfer bonus to Avianca Lifemiles through July 31, which is well timed with the impending shutdown of many Brex accounts on August 15. Best uses of Lifemiles:

    – Award chart anomalies, like JFK-Lisbon in business class for 35,000 miles or JFK-Zurich in coach for 16,500 miles (you can find these in other major North American cities too)
    – Flying to or from Europe in business class and tacking a coach leg onto the end to lower the price
    – Economy flights to or from the Caribbean for 12,500 miles each way
    – Short haul domestic US economy for 7,500 miles each way
  4. The crypto bank Voyager has declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The discharge of debts will probably mean that crypto holdings are locked up for months or years and will be treated like other corporate assets, meaning holders will likely get only a small percentage of their original crypto holdings on the other end. US Dollar holdings at Voyager will likely be returned in full.

    I’d consider this a canary for other weird crypto fintechs and act accordingly, especially given that a recession is imminent or present.

Pictured: Voyager crypto bank’s vault.

Watch for a barrage of promotions over the holiday weekend, especially for the gift card resale markets. In the mean time, there are a few interesting promotions to kick off the weekend:

  1. Starting today and running through July 15, the OnJuno debit card has 10% cash back on spend of up to $1,000 provided that’ve set your spending source to USDC. Effectively any manufactured spend should work to meet this promotion.
  2. Many Hilton free night certificates are expiring today thanks to past COVID extension policies. Some customer service representatives will extend these for you, and I have multiple reports of successful reinstatement and extension of the certificates if you call the day of expiration and ask to use them.

    You may have to try a couple of different times to get a representative who knows how to extend though, and you shouldn’t sleep on this if you’re affected because it’s not likely to work after today.
  3. Yun was the first to let me know that the Upgrade rewards debit card has a new referral bonus program of $100 for the referrer and referred after three debit card transactions within 60 days. Upgrade’s debit card pays:

    – 2% at drug stores, gas, subscriptions, restaurants, and utilities
    – 1% everywhere else (including PIN transactions)

    Nearside’s 2.2% cash back debit card is currently more interesting, but at the end of 2022 their rewards rate will also be 1% so it may be worth grabbing a $100 sign-up bonus from Upgrade in anticipation of that if you’re in the rewards debit game.
  4. The Citi Shop Your Way Rewards Mastercard, a MEAB Unsung Hero, has a new targeted offer for 15% back in statement credits on gas, grocery, and restaurant spend up to $90 for each month between July and September. (I got and maximized the same offer for April through June too.)

    Check your inbox for email with the subject: “[NAME], activate your limited-time statement credits offer now”

Finally, I’m going to be like a normal blogger for a second and vent about something that none of you care about and isn’t related to the site’s mission — sorry in advance: The Crown City Classic is a 7.4 mile race for July 4 (7/4), and it’s something that P2 and I have participated in for years. This year though, they moved it to July 2 because reasons, and we didn’t figure that out until a week ago after our travel was already booked. Why do I bring it up? Always double check dates for events that you’re traveling to. I wish I had.

Have a nice holiday weekend!

The Crown City Classic race organizers trying to figure out exactly when 7/4 is.