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Why December Is the Best Time to Open New Amex Cards

Many Amex credit cards offer excellent benefits and credits that can be used year round. These include Uber credits, hotel credits, and airline incidental credits.
Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Why December Is the Best Time to Open New Amex Cards

Many Amex credit cards offer excellent benefits and credits that can be used year round. These include Uber credits, hotel credits, and airline incidental credits.

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Many Amex credit cards offer excellent benefits and credits that can be used year round. These include Uber credits, airline incidental credits, hotel credits, and shopping credits for merchants such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Dell. In this post, we explain why timing your application in December can help maximize some of these credits before your second annual fee is due.

Calendar Year vs Card Year Credits

Credit card benefits usually are based on the calendar year or card year. Calendar year benefits can be used once between every January 1 and December 31. Meanwhile, card year is defined by when you open the credit card. For example, if you open a card on September 1, that card’s annual benefits can be used once between every September 1 and August 31.

Based on this, you can see why calendar year bonuses can be so valuable. If you open a card in January that has a calendar year benefit, you’ll have over 11 months to use that card’s annual benefit. While it can be nice to have a lot of time to use the benefit, it also means you’ll have to wait a lot longer to use it again. Compare this to opening that same card in December. You’ll only have a few days to use the benefit, but starting on January 1, you can use that benefit once again.

Best Amex Calendar Year Credits

Many Amex cards offer generous credits based on calendar year. In this chart, we'll cover some of our favorite credits from the following cards:

This handy chart displays some of the most useful credits, showing how much you can earn before having to pay the second annual fee on your new card:

BenefitCard(s)AmountBreakdownAmount received when second annual fee is due
Uber CreditsPlatinum
Gold
$200 (Platinum)
$120 (Gold)
Platinum: $15/month Jan-Nov and $25 in December
Gold: $10 monthly
$250 (Platinum)
$140 (Gold)
Hotel CreditPlatinum
Gold
$200 (Platinum)
$120 (Gold)
Full amount available throughout the year$600 (Platinum)
$300 (Gold)
Airline Fee CreditPlatinum
Business Platinum
Hilton Aspire
$200 (Platinum, Business Platinum)
$250 (Aspire)
Full amount available throughout the year$600 (Platinum, Business Platinum)
$750 (Aspire)
Saks CreditPlatinum$100$50 between Jan 1 and Jun 30
$50 between July 1 and Dec 31
$200
Dell CreditBusiness Platinum$400$200 between Jan 1 and Jun 30
$200 between July 1 and Dec 31
$800
Dining CreditGold$120$10 per month$140

Wondering how we calculate the amounts in the far right column? Let’s walk through the math, starting with the Amex Platinum card’s Uber credits.

If I open the card in December 2022, I will immediately receive the $35 Uber credit for December. (Note, the credit can also be used for Uber Eats.) I will then have access to the full $200 throughout 2023. The second annual fee on my new Platinum card should post in December 2023, but that statement will only close in January 2024. So, starting on January 1, 2024, I’ll have access to another $15 monthly Uber credit. $35 + $200 + $15 = $250. This single benefit covers over a third of the Platinum’s $695 annual fee!

This same rationale applies to the other credits in the chart above. To see how much value you can earn, simply take the amount of credits you can use in December, and add the amount of credits for the entire next calendar year, along with any credits that can be used in January after that.

Final Thoughts

If you have been eyeing a particular Amex card, December is likely the best time to apply. Of course, there are other factors to consider when applying for a credit card, such as the 5/24 rule. For example, always consider if the current welcome bonus good enough. But, if maximizing Amex credits is your priority, then December is definitely the ideal time to go for it.

What are your plans to maximize your Amex credits? Come over to our Facebook group and learn what others are doing!

Travel on Point(s) has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Travel on Point(s) and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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