Is American Express About To Seriously Limit The Number Of Credit Cards You Can Hold?

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A tweet from Doctor of Credit caught my eye this morning as it linked to a Reddit thread in which an American Express card holder relayed a conversation he/she had with a customer services representative. The poster describes how the conversation developed with the CSR explaining the rule that, at the moment you can only hold four American Express credit cards at one time (note: this is a well-known rule and nothing new) but then went on to add that this rule was changing soon….and not for the better.

Screen Shot 2016-03-15 at 12.33.30

Here’s the Reddit post in full:

As part of a conversation today with a very helpful CSR (I was confused why they’d declined my application for an SPG Business card) she explained that, at present, a person can only have four lending cards. We didn’t discuss the once in a lifetime bonus, but she indicated that there was no limit on the AmEx charge cards. I ended up closing my SimplyCash Business card to free up one of the four spots for the SPG. She mentioned in passing, and during the hand off to the CSR handling the cancellation that “in 90 days you’ll only be able to have two lending cards”. The second CSR confirmed that this was the case, but indicated that it didn’t apply to my quest for the SPG. Moreover, they implied that, as I’ll have four cards before the change, I’ll get to keep them, but may not be able to fill two of those slots after the change if I ever try for another lending card by cancelling and applying. TL; DR: AmEx CSR’s spoke of a change in terms where a person will only be able to have two lending cards.

To clarify, the “lending cards” that the poster is talking about appears to just mean “Credit Cards” (I’m not sure why the term “lending cards” was used).

Hilton HHonors Surpass Card from American Express

The rule that Amex only allows its cardmembers to hold 4 credit cards (note: this limit doesn’t include charge cards like the Amex Platinum Card) isn’t new and, to be honest, hasn’t really been too much of an issue…but if this is about to drop to just two cards then this isn’t good news at all.

Here’s a list of currently available credit cards from American Express:

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Gold Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Plenti® Credit Card from Amex

The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Blue Sky from American Express®

Hilton HHonorsTM Card from American Express

Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Credit Card

Blue from American Express®

Delta Reserve® Credit Card from American Express

Hilton HHonorsTM Surpass® Card from American Express

The Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express

And those are just the personal cards…there’a whole lot of Business Credit cards you can get too and they also count towards the current four card total.

It’s not too hard to whittle down those cards (and the business cards) to just four that you like and you want to keep, but if American Express reduced the allowance to just two which would you pick?

Delta Platinum Amex copy

Delta flyers would be hit particularly hard by this as, presumably, one of their two cards would be a Delta card (the personal and business version of the Delta Platinum card earn elite qualifying miles and waive the minimum spend limits that Delta requires for Elite status) so that would leave them with just one slot left for an American Express Credit Card.

American Express Restriction On Welcome Bonuses

It’s also worth remembering that, recently, American Express went down the route of restricting what welcome bonuses you can earn.

You’re now only eligible to earn the welcome bonus on a personal or business card once regardless of how long it has been since you last held the card.

This means that, if American Express was to reduce the credit card limit to just two, you couldn’t really ease the annoyance by simply rotating the cards in your wallet every year or so. You wouldn’t earn any welcome bonuses when you reapply for the cards so you’d be taking a hit to your credit score (albeit a temporary one) for very little benefit.


Could American Express Do This?

Of course they’s their ball so they can take it home any time they like. Whether they will or not is another question.

American Express is in a little bit of trouble right now and, following the loss of the Costco contract, the company appears to be looking very hard at where it is and isn’t making money – the recent Bluebird and Serve shutdowns are one example while recently adding the welcome bonus restriction to Business Cards is another.

If American Express perceives that it’s losing money on too many customers who hod their credit cards then it’s very possible that they’ll bring in measures to stem those loses (that’s would be natural thing to do). Perhaps Amex thinks that by reducing the number of cards a customer can hold will help their bottom line? Off the top of my head I’m not sure how that would be the case….but then I don’t work for Amex 🙂

Bottom Line

It’s worth bearing in mind that, for the time being, this is a single data point from a customer services representative so it’s hardly conclusive. However, while CSRs aren’t always going to be on top of all the latest news or privy to all the changes that are about to happen, this does seem to be a very specific piece of information that I can’t imagine a CSR would be passing on unless he/she had heard it/see it somewhere.

Yes, there is definitely a good chance that wires have been crossed somewhere and that this is just a miscommunication but it’s information that’s worth bearing in mind.

If American Express was to introduce such a rule change there’s no reason to believe they’ll give us any notice so, with that in mind, if you were thinking about changing your Amex credit card portfolio you may want to hurry that process up just in case.

If Amex was to reduce the credit card limit to just two cards which would you choose?


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