For many UK travelers, accumulating already scarce credit card points is not going to get any easier. In a process known as churning, points collectors have long earned millions of points by applying for credit cards, receiving a points bonus, cancelling – and repeating. American Express has taken steps to combat this, and for many, the game will soon be effectively over.

Who

People who accumulate credit card points in the UK by applying for the same credit card multiple times. This process known as churning has been a lucrative way for travelers to earn virtually limitless credit card points and airline miles from the cards sign up bonuses. American Express is changing their terms to prevent this.

What

American Express is moving to a one card, one bonus rule in the United Kingdom. This effectively means: you will only get the bonus for any given card once in your lifetime. If you get an American Express card and cancel it, if you choose to reapply, you will not technically be eligible for the bonus. This would apply to Amex Platinum, Gold, British Airways and other UK American Express cards. There are caveats to this, but as per phone representatives – this is the new policy. For now the terms still state six months between cards, but that will change imminently.

When

Slightly unclear officially, but for many – now. We’ve received word from countless readers who’ve been told they will not receive a sign up bonus, since they’ve previously held the card they’ve applied for. We confirmed this in multiple phone calls with American Express. Hopeful reports have claimed a potential 2 year waiting rule, where card members could receive a bonus again after a two year waiting period – but we’re being told lifetime. Be sure to screenshot any offers or confirm eligibility for bonuses over the phone, before applying.

Why

Credit card bonuses cost banks like American Express significant money. These bonuses are a sales tool and must be recouped during card membership. Same for any other perks. If a card offers 25,000 points for signing up, a bank such as American Express would need to earn at least as much as they paid for the points off your transactions. The longer you’re a cardmember, the more transactions – the more they recoup and profit. Cardmembers earning a bonus and promptly cancelling, only to do the same thing again made cards unsustainable. It was only a matter of time.

Two Cents

This process has been incredibly popular with travelers because it’s long been the easiest. But we saw this coming a long time ago. In fact, it’s already happened in the United States. There are so many other ways to earn lucrative amounts of points and miles – and we’ve harped on these subjects for a long time. It’s time to diversify and branch out, taking your earning to the next level.

If you plan to apply for a card you’ve where you’ve already received a bonus, be sure to confirm with a phone agent that you’ll receive a bonus – or take a screenshot of the offer before applying. Otherwise…