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In addition to expiration dates, some credit or debit cards may display how long you have been a member with their banking establishment. One of the most well known banks that shows you this date is American Express which states it as “Member Since.” But what exactly does this date mean and how is it determined? The process might surprise you.
In this article, I will break down everything you need to know about your Member Since date.
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What does “Member Since” mean for Amex cards?
The American Express Member Since date may indicate the year that you first became an American Express customer or the year that you opened up a specific American Express card account. I will explain the differences between these dates below so keep reading for more!
Note that there is also a Member Since American Express program just in case you were looking for that.
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How is the Member Since date determined?
There is a lot of confusion about the Member Since date because it has been determined in different ways and also has been used in different ways for credit reporting. I’ll try to clear up some of the confusion below.
The Member Since date may be determined in the following ways.
Year you first opened an account with American Express
Many times the Member Since date will be based on the year that you first opened an account with American Express. So if you first opened a Green Card in 2012 and then opened up a Platinum Card in 2019, it’s possible (and likely) that your Member Since date will display as 2012 on your Platinum Card.
So in that case the Member Since date is an indication of how long you have been an American Express customer and not necessarily a cardholder of a particular card. You could chalk it up to marketing but that is just how American Express does it.
Year you open the account
When you initially apply for an American Express card and get approved, that card may be sent out to you with the current year as the Member Since date. So using the same example as above, your Platinum Card could also say Member Since 2019.
However, if you had American Express cards in the past then your Member Since date may be updated when your card is re-issued.
For example, if you had the Green Card in 2010 but closed it in 2012 and then applied for the Platinum Card in 2019, your Platinum Card may initially show Member Since 2019. However, if you were to request a new Platinum Card, it is possible that your Member Since date would change to your first year with American Express which in this case would be 2010.
Presumably this is just caused by systems that need to be updated after your account is opened.
If you are added as an authorized user, then your Member Since date could be determined based on when you were added as an authorized user on a specific card. So if you were added as an authorized user in 2014, then your Member Since date would be 2014.
But your Member Since date could also be based on the first year that you were ever an authorized user/customer with any American Express card. So let’s say you were added as an authorized user to a Green Card in 2014 but you were previously added as an authorized user to a Platinum Card in 2010. It is possible that your Green Card would show that you have been a member since 2010.
Also, in my personal experience, the Member Since year is based on when you were added as an authorized user and not when the primary card holder’s account was open.
However, that might not always be the case. I know some people who have Member Since dates that pre-date their own birth and they received their Member Since date based on when their primary card members a.k.a. their parents opened up their accounts.
I think this may have to do with the fact that American Express used to backdate accounts.
In the past, American Express would backdate the account history to when you first opened up a card with them.
That is, they would use the date of your earliest opened account and choose the month that you opened up the account and then report that to your personal credit report. So for example if you had an account opened up from 2010 and then opened up a new account in October 2014, that new account would report back to October 2010 as the open date.
Again, this was not just what showed up as your Member Since date, this is what actually reported to your credit report.
Don’t ask me how this was legal or allowed but that is just how things were done. This offered people a great way to boost their credit score since they could get approved for more American Express cards and therefore increase their average age of accounts.
But this is no longer the case (they stopped doing this back in 2015).
Does this date show up on my credit report?
Your Member Since date will not necessarily reflect what is on your personal credit report.
This is very important to realize because it could lead you to make bad credit decisions.
For example, if you see that your Member Since state is 10 years older than the account actually reported to your credit report, you might be tempted to keep that card open in order to preserve the average age of your accounts since that can affect your credit score.
In that case, you might end up paying for an expensive annual fee that you don’t need to pay for each year or perhaps just holding onto a card that you don’t need to hang onto any longer.
So my advice would be to just avoid what date is displayed on your credit card for the most part. If you are going to make any type of decision regarding closing or opening up credit card accounts, make sure that you use the date on your credit report.
The Member Since date on your American Express cards is essentially a badge of honor used to remind you of your loyalty to the brand since you first became a customer. In many cases it has nothing to do with the age of your account and so you should refer to your personal credit report if you are curious about the age of your account.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.