In response to the economic downturn, American Express is now allowing six months instead of the usual three months to meet minimum spending requirements for sign up bonuses on their credit cards.

The following are Amex’s words:

“Due to the impact of COVID-19, for eligible Card accounts approved from December 1, 2019 through May 31, 2020 for which you are eligible for a welcome offer, the period to make eligible purchases to earn your welcome bonus will be extended for an additional 3 months. Eligible Cards are U.S. Consumer and Business Cards issued by American Express National Bank to a Basic Card Member.”

It’s safe to say that most of us are spending less these days, so this change makes a lot of sense. Amex is giving those that recently signed up for cards some leeway for meeting their spending requirements, and also attempting to incentivize new sign ups by giving people a more realistic window for earning bonuses.

Who Should Keep Reading and Who Shouldn’t

If you’re certain that you can still meet these spending requirements and also certain you can pay off your bill every month, then keep reading. If not, please don’t read any further. Interest accrued for the majority of these cards–with the exception of the cash-back cards which come with introductory 0% APRs–will negate the value of the awards earned and potentially leave you worse off then where you started.

Below I’ll go over what are, in my opinion, the more lucrative consumer offers from American Express; especially considering how our travel/spending patterns are shifting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Note on Varying Sign Up Offers

Sign up offers for Amex cards vary depending on the person and where you’re looking. The *asterisked* credit cards below are affiliate links, meaning when you apply through them MileValue will earn a commission. For cards that I am aware of with possible higher bonus offers than what’s offered through said affiliate links, I have made notes below so you can pursue whichever is going to reward you the most.

For Cash Back:

*Blue Cash Preferred Card from American Express*: $250 cash back when you spend $1,000 within three months (for now, actually six months).

  • 6% back at grocery stores, on up to $6,000 in spending ($360 value per year)
  • 6% back on streaming services
  • 3% back on transit (taxis and rideshare services, parking, etc.)
  • 1% back on everything else
  • 0% APR for 12 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • $95 Annual Fee

Possible Higher Offer: Sometimes when I look at American Express’ website, I see an offer for $300 cash back instead for the same spending requirement. Other times it doesn’t show up and the standard $250 offer is displayed.

The no annual fee version of this card is called the *Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express* with lower cash back earning rates. That affiliate link’s offer is $150 cash back for spending $1,000 in three months–now six months–but I do sometimes see an offer for $200 cash back for the same spending requirement on Amex’s website. This card also offers 0% APR on purchases and balances, but for 15 months as opposed to 12.

These cash back cards may make more sense than any other card right now as we’re staying at home and shifting spend to grocery stores. If you’ve got enough Membership Rewards for future travel, consider shifting to a cash back strategy so you can get an immediate return on your spending.

For Membership Rewards

The cards below earn Membership Rewards, which are super valuable for their ability to transfer to 17 different airline loyalty programs. I value Membership Rewards around two cents a piece when you spend them as airline miles. These bonuses will help pad your balancesfor that trip we’re all dreaming of when flying is safe again.

Cartagena, Colombia. Photo by Home Skillet Photography

*American Express Gold Card*: 35,000 Membership Rewards for spending $4,000 within three months (for now, actually six months).

  • 4 points per dollar spent at restaurants
  • 4x at supermarkets (capped at $25k in supermarket spending per year)
  • 3x for flights booked on amextravel.com
  • 1x on everything else
  • $250 annual fee

Possible Higher Offer: Check Amex’s website where sometimes I see a 50,000 Membership Rewards bonus for the same $4k minimum spending requirement.

*American Express Green Card*: 30,000 Membership Rewards for spending $2,000 within three months (six months).

  • 3 points per dollar spent on a variety of travel purchases
  • 3x at restaruants
  • 1x on everything else
  • $100 incidental airline fees statement credit
  • $150 annual fee

Possible Higher Offer: Check Amex’s website where I sometimes see a 45,000 Membership Rewards bonus for the same $2k minimum spending requirement.

*Platinum Card from American Express*: Normally I mention the Platinum as a top option, as it normally is, but right now it may not make a lot of sense to sign up for such an expensive card. The majority of benefits that make it worth the $550 annual fee revolve around travel, so consider this one carefully.

That affiliate link offer is 60,000 Membership Rewards for spending $5,000 in three months (or six months, if you sign up before May 31). I sometimes see offers for 75,000 Membership Rewards for the same spending requirement on Amex’s website.

The best offers for the Platinum I regularly see come from the *CardMatch tool*, with 100,000 or sometimes even 125,000 Membership Rewards for that same $5k spending requirement. These are targeted and not available to everyone. Another place to check for those big Platinum bonuses is Your Amex Prequalified Offers. Neither the *CardMatch tool* nor the Amex Prequalified Offers tool will trigger a hard credit pull.

For Hotel Points

*Hilton Honors American Express Surpass Card*: 125,000 Hilton points for spending $3,000 within three months (six months).

  • 12 points per dollar spent at Hiltons
  • 6x at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations
  • 3x on everything else
  • Automatic Hilton Gold Status, and a fast track to Diamond Status
  • $95 annual fee

Possible Higher Offer: I’ve sometimes seen 150,000 Hilton points for the same $3k spending requirement available on Amex’s website.

I personally wouldn’t spend on Hilton Surpass past meeting the requirement for the bonus, as A) I don’t care about hotel elite status and B) Hilton points aren’t worth as much Membership Rewards. For example, I’d rather earn 4x Membership Rewards at supermarkets on the Gold Card than I would 6x Hilton points on the Surpass card. But the bonus could certainly be useful for that light at the end of tunnel trip you have in mind post pandemic.

For Delta SkyMiles?

I am leaving the Amex Delta SkyMiles credit cards off this list on purpose as their offers are not historically very good at the moment. The Delta card bonuses fluctuate regularly and it’s not wise to open an Amex when its bonus is subpar as you likely won’t be able to get it again for at least seven years.

A Thought For Small Businesses

The Blue Business Plus from American Express earns 2 Membership rewards on all purchases, no matter what category the purchase is in. The 2x bonus applies to the first $50,000 in spending. After that you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent.

There’s no bonus for this card but it’s an easy and essentially free way for small businesses to earn around $2,000 worth of airline miles. That amount came from a valuation of Membership Rewards of around 2 cents each. $50,000 of spending x 2 = 100,000 Membership Rewards.

Bottom Line

For any American Express credit card applied for between December 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020, you will have six months instead of three to meet any minimum spending requirement for any sign up bonus.

If you’d like help considering any of these offers for yourself and whether or not they’re worth it, we’d be happy to lend a hand. Drop us a line at info@milevalue.com or sign up for a free credit card consultation which can be done via a quick email survey or over the phone if you prefer.