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Credit/charge card churning is when you apply for a card in order to get a juicy sign up bonus, cancel the card and then re-apply sometime later to get the sign up bonus again (and then do the same again, and again, etc, potentially).
For many years, churning American Express cards like the Amex Gold / Platinum, British Airways Premium Plus and Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, has been one the easiest ways to rack up a lot of Miles/Points each year. Sadly, the rumour mill is on overdrive with the news that those days could soon be over.
HeadForPoints published an article today on the issue, lending substantial credibility to the rumours that have been swirling for some time now.
What do we know so far?
The existing American Express policy is that you have to wait at least 6 months after you cancel a card which earns a particular type of ‘loyalty currency’ (eg Avios, Membership Reward Points, SPG Starpoints), before you are eligible to receive a signup bonus in that ‘currency’ again. This has been the policy for many years.
Rumours have been popping up for quite awhile now, largely from people who work at the Amex call centre, that the policy will be changing.
As with most rumours, the details are unclear and contradictory – with some people claiming that sign up bonuses will become ‘once in a lifetime’, while others maintain that the change is to increase the 6 month minimum to 2 years. What does seem to be very consistent is the direction of travel, unfortunately.
Whether any changes would be retrospective or not is currently completely unclear, though if Amex are looking at ‘once in a lifetime’ bonuses, that wouldn’t seem to make much commercial sense. If it’s a 2 year minimum gap instead, then I could perhaps see it applying retrospectively to people who are currently mid-churn.
What should I do about it?
If you are currently eligible for a sign up bonus that you were intending to get, but just hadn’t got around to applying for the card again yet, I would suggest it might be prudent to get your application done asap.
More generally, it looks like many Points and Miles collectors (myself included) will be receiving fewer Points/Miles from American Express sign up bonuses in the future. That means we will have to work harder to diversify how we earn Miles, and focus even more on making them stretch further.
Whether this is really the end of card churning in the UK remains to be seen, but it does look like we might be in for some negative changes.