1,000 bonus Avios when you convert £300 at Amex Currency Exchange or Moneycorp

Some people received this offer by email yesterday.  However, it is NOT targetted and is described on the Amex Currency Exchange website, and so must be open to all.  It is not a bad deal and certainly worth a look if you need foreign currency.

Back in the Autumn, in this post, I explained how American Express Currency Exchange had taken over from Travelex as BA’s preferred partner (and thus Avios-awarding partner!).

Amex at Heathrow T5

A few weeks later, I showed the results of my experiment to show that American Express treat ACE transactions as a purchase.  This means that:

a) you don’t pay a cash advance fee on your BA, SPG, Nectar, Gold, Platinum or Green Amex card, and

b) you earn the relevant reward for your spending

This meant that if you ordered your currency to collect at Heathrow via the link on the BA website, you could triple-dip:

a) Avios for the transaction due to their BA partner status, at 1 Avios per £1 exchanged

b) Avios or Membership Rewards points from your Amex card

c) BAA WorldPoints, at the rate of 1 per £10 exchanged

The new offer is simply icing on a very generous cake!

You can find full details here.

Here are the summary points of the deal:

  • You earn 1,000 Avios if you exchange £300 at American Express Currency Exchange between 28th January and 31st March
  • It doesn’t matter if you pre-order online or just turn up at an ACE counter (although you would be a total idiot not to pre-book, given how poor the on-the-spot rates are)
  • If you pre-order, it must be via the BA link and not the general www.travelmoneynow.com link
  • You do not get the bonus if you earned Avios from ACE between 1 September 2012 and 27 January 2013 (so, for me, I will have to put a transaction through my wife’s BA account)
  • You can also get the deal at branches of Moneycorp
  • Avios are awarded after 40 days (and not before – I have experience of this) because of the 31 day buy-back guarantee on orders.  Refusing the buy-back guarantee does not speed up the 40 days!
  • Sterling Travellers Cheques do not earn Avios and are therefore not valid for this promotion

The Moneycorp note is important, because ACE does not have an outlet at Gatwick.  However, Moneycorp does – they are also at Southampton, Stansted and Southend.  (Important note – we do not know if transactions at Moneycorp incur a cash advance fee.  Be very careful if using an Amex card to pay here.)

Amex Currency Exchange can be found at:

  • Heathrow Airport Terminals 1, 3, 4 and 5
  • Edinburgh Airport
  • Birmingham Airport

But are the rates any good?

I noted back in September that the ACE rates as long as you pre-ordered were surprisingly competitive with the best deals in the market.  However, there has now been a subtle change – whilst the ACE rates via their own website www.travelmoneynow.com are competitive, the rates via the BA portal are now slightly worse.  (This was also the case during when Travelex was BA’s partner.)  For example, the £ / Euro rate is currently €1.133 via the BA portal and via €1.141 via www.travelmoneynow.com.

True, it is not a major difference – €3.80 when changing £500 – but there is a difference nonetheless.  Those Avios don’t come free ….

For clarity – if you order via www.travelmoneynow.com then you WILL earn Avios / MR points via your Amex card and you will earn WorldPoints if you collect at Heathrow.  However, to get the additional 1 Avios per £1 on your transaction and the 1,000 bonus Avios, you need to go via the BA portal and thus get the slightly worse exchange rate.  For order under £1,500, though, you should still come out ahead (factoring in the value of the Avios) going via the BA portal.

(You should also note that, in my experience, you will end up chasing the BAA WorldPoints – they should post within 48 hours, and if they don’t then you should email WorldPoints with a scan of your receipt and they will add them on promptly.)

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Comments

  1. I am flying from Heathrow on 11 April. Do you know if I qualify so long as I place the order by 31 March or does the actual exchange physically need to take place by 31 March?

  2. Andrew Grant says:

    Damn! I exchanged £300 to Filipino Peso’s on the 27th Jan at the ACE in LHR T4 using my BA Amex.

  3. Looks like home delivery will be an option from 1st Feb. I couldn’t see the details of how much it costs.

  4. And you can get 1.15 in cash if you know where to look…, but I guess most readers here do most spending on cards anyway so only need a small amount of cash.

    • If the best on the market is only 1c worse than the Amex rate, then Amex – with the triple dip – must work out best value overall

  5. I use this tool to find the best rate: http://travelmoney.moneysavingexpert.com/holiday-money/

    I’m off to Switzerland this weekend, if I were to get ch560 I’d spend £400 instead of £390 going through Amex… might still do it though for the triple dip

    • But where is that £400 coming from? Is it delivery (in which case you need to wait at home to sign for it) or is it collection, which causes you inconvenience to pick it up?

      Assuming you are flying from Heathrow and paying on an Amex, you would get:

      400 base Avios for using ACE
      1,000 bonus Avios from ACE
      400-600 Avios on your BA Amex or 400 MR points
      40 WorldPoints, worth another 60 Avios

      And you get your currency at the airport where you will be hanging around anyway. Seems a no-brainer to me.

      • Well I guess luckily that the cheapest place is a kiosk just 5 minutes walk from my office :-). But yeah, you’re right about the Avios – will load up for both the OH and I on upcoming travels.

        Just querying – which card did you put it through on, and do you think Amex Gold will give any bonus MR for this?

  6. Presumably if you pay on a BMI MBNA Amex you will get charged the cash advance fee?

  7. IMPORTANT NOTE. Anyone reading the above and wanting to do the minimum spend just to qualify for the bonus Avios will NOT get the avios. The terms specifically say OVER £300. If you order £300 as per the above, you won’t get the 1000 extra.
    “If you are a new customer exchanging over £300, you will also automatically receive 1,000 bonus Avios to get you on your way”

    • update, one part of the terms says minimum £300, two other areas say over £300. I got caught out on the ACE website by ordering £500 and being charged the delivery fee of £5, as its only free “OVER £500″

  8. Hi, I called Amex. They say such a currency purchase would be treated as a cash advance thus a fee (3%) is chargeable.

    Confused.

    Also, could I use different Amex cards to get separate bonuses on each?

    Cheers

    • There’s a statement just as you’re about to pay:

      “Please tell us which card you’ll pay with. American Express
      Cardmembers must have Express Cash activated.”

      • Ignore it! You don’t want Express Cash activated either.

        • You can barely get away from it. I’ve done a transaction without Express Cash once, but ever since I’ve been unable to get the purchase accepted. On calling Amex I was told occasionally it may go through, I was lucky. I think it may go through the first time, but not thereafter. Either way, lucky or not the first time, I have been unable to purchase again until I had it activated, and having just done a test run with it activated, it still comes up as “Finance” rather than a cash advance, so no harm in having it – just don’t visit the ATM!

      • Scrub that, I just put a transaction through and it’s come up as Finance spend not cash advance. Good news!!

    • You can’t be telling me you trust an employee in an Amex call centre over the combined experience of many HFP readers?!

      The bonus is based on the BAEC account, not the card used. If you credit different transactions to different peoples BA account then, yes, you could get multiple bonuses. However, Amex probably wants at least the surname on the BAEC account to match the payment card used.

  9. Raffles – I have already had an ACE transaction using my BAPP in November but had the Avios credited to my Avios account. Can I use the same card and credit to my BAEC account and still get the bonus?

  10. People on FT have used BAPPs with no problem.

    The only issue was one guy who had his card blocked for trying to buy too many, rang Amex, and was told there would be a cash advance charge if they let the transaction go through. But the person who told him that didn’t know what they were talking about, I expect.

  11. About qualifying, Mrs Roger has a Gold with me as a supplementary cardholder. I have a BAPP with Mrs Roger as a supplementary cardholder. Both cards have separate numbers for supplementaries, of course. (I’m discounting the plat which I’m about to cancel.)

    How many times could we realistically expect to get the bonuses? I think I could guess but am somewhat confused so would welcome confirmation. Thanks.

    • It counts per BAEC or avios.com account, I reckon. So 1 x 1,000 points per BA or avios.com account. However, since they take a lot of data from you for money laudering purposes, it is possible they will pick up duplicate transations and block them. There is nothing to lose by doing multiple small transactions of £301 instead of 1 large one, though – the rate doesn’t improve.

      • Thanks, Raffles. I hadn’t thought about avios.com accounts. Now that could raise some interesting possibilities.

  12. brucemaiden says:

    Am I correct in thinking that cash advances don’t count towards the 2K minumum spend for Amex Gold but assuming this went through as a purchase it would count?

    • Cash advances don’t count, but using your card for this “Finance” transaction does count, as long as at travelmoneynow.com! I’ve done it before buying Stlering Travlers cheques, and about to put £2000 through my wife’s card for a quick bonus posting :)

    • Correct

      • Thanks, the online delivery service is up and running early, minimum of £500 needed for free delivery else it’s £5. I’ve just bought a fraction over £500 worth of currency to be delivered and it’s come up as “Finance” on my pending transactions :)

  13. Quite annoying. I did get this offer, but I had ordered some currency in December so I don’t qualify. Sad as when I opened the email I thought they sent it to me because I used the service once.

  14. I’d suggest check by trying a dummy order if you see Glasgow in the list, as I remember when I ordered in December, Glasgow wasn’t an option.

    Also you won’t get BAA WorldPoints at Glasgow airport.

  15. Once again, no alert for me on this special, but thanks Raffles for bringing it to our attention.

    I’ve done some maths on this for my own good, so thought I would share the results, based on current rates:

    Best Foreign Exchange: £300 @ 14.000 = ZAR4,200.00
    Moneycorp (Collection): £300 @ 13.948 = ZAR4,184.46
    American Express Travel Money Now: £300 @ 13.5401 = ZAR4,062.03
    Biggest difference: ZAR137.97 which costs you £9.85 more if using Amex
    Amex/Moneycorp difference: ZAR122.43 which costs you £8.78 more if using Amex

    Best Foreign Exchange: £300 @ 9.870 = EGP2,961.00
    Moneycorp (Collection): £300 @ 9.864 = EGP2,959.32
    American Express Travel Money Now: £300 @ 9.4956 = EGP2,848.68
    Biggest difference: EGP112.32 which costs you £11.38 more if using Amex
    Amex/Moneycorp difference: EGP110.64 which costs you £11.22 more if using Amex

    Conclusion: You are going to pay more through Amex, though it really depends on your currency pair as to whether the bonus 1000 Avios count for anything or are worthwhile. I guess if you add up the 1000 bonus, the 300 Avios for presenting your BAEC and the 300 MR for the transaction, you’re getting them (in the worst case example above) at 0.71p/Avios – worth it for some, not for others, and that rate will be currency pair dependant, so do your own maths. Also, the extra BAA Worldpoints on an airport collection are marginal, as only 30 points on £300 spend. It is also cheaper to get your currency from Moneycorp if you still insist on the offer, yet not necessarily worthwhile depending on your currency pair, but we don’t know if Amex will charge us additional fees (I’m guessing they will) which could certainly kill any gains. I’d like to point out that the T&C state “including https://www.travelmoneynow.com/britishairways/uk/“, so not sure that you have to go through it and get the worse rate, but who’s willing to try…? Based on the above, it seems this icing is a little thin in this case, and the more you spend (I’ll be spending closer to £1,000), the less the bonus counts as a percentage of the total Avios gained, hence the cost of them increases.

    I was initially eager since I am about to purchase both of the above currencies, but on closer analysis, I think I’ll pass. I’ll probably be getting my currency from Moneycorp anyway as you get 3 weeks to collect it, you don’t prepay and then you get the best rate out of that booked or current on the day, and you can cancel altogether if need be. Transaction with your Amex card (I have Platinum charge card) definitely go through as “Finance” and not cash advance when used on travelmoneynow.com, but I don’t fancy paying huge credit card fees for it elsewhere.

    • Interesting comment on the ZAR, Trevor. More at http://www.thesouthafrican.com/business/currency/rand-hits-four-year-low.htm

      I usually (think I) get a better rate on the ground in South Africa using my Halifax Clarity credit card with no f/x surcharge, no separate cash fee and a notional 1% per month interest charge, less if repaid earlier by Faster Payment.

      I think I’ll bite the bullet, though, especially as we will also soon need some € and USD.

      • Thanks for the link, Roger. This is precisely why I want to buy my currency now, but through Moneycorp rather giving me a 3 week collection delay and possible cancellation. My trip is only at the start of April, but I wouldn’t want to lose out on the great exchange rate now by waiting to get currency until then when the ZAR could strengthen again. Also, I’d normally use a credit card with very low fees, but again, I’d rather a great rate now than a good rate then :) If I find the ZAR continues to slide, I’ll just cancel my order in 3 weeks time and place another, playing the same game again, ensuring I lock in the best rate I can! On £1000, that’s worth far more to me than a few Avios.

  16. Not sure avios.com would work. The T&C ask you to enter BAEC number.

    • The T&C link says:

      “This promotion is open to Eligible Participants. An Eligible Participant is a British Airways Executive Club Member or an Avios member who exchanges a minimum amount of £300 (GBP) for the first time from any American Express® UK airport location, Moneycorp® Gatwick Airport locations or online at http://www.travelmoneynow.com/britishairways or http://www.travelmoneynow.com/avios between 00:01 on 28 January 2013 and 23:59 on 31 March 2013 (“Promotion Period”).”

      So BAEC or Avios accounts are eligible.

      • Note too that the T&C state “Moneycorp® Gatwick Airport locations” which severely limits the changes for most people of using Moneycorp instead as a cheaper option :(

  17. I’m off to Canada on Friday. I have a Metrobank card that I normally use abroad (no FX fee) but for once it looks like this promotion might be a better deal. A quick check has the exchange rate through the BA portal about 4% worse than the xe.com rate. If I buy £300 worth on the BA Amex I’ll get:

    300 Avios at the base rate of 1 per £1
    1,000 Avios bonus through the promotion
    450 Avios from the credit card spend
    45 Avios via Worldpoints (if the exchange rate is 1.5)

    Total: 1,795 Avios for £300.

    I value the Avios at 1p each, so for me that’s equivalent to about a 6% rebate, i.e. well over the 4% I’m losing on the exchange rate.

    Any chance that paying on the Amex Gold might earn the travel bonus too?

  18. Is it likely that the SPG Amex won’t attract cash advance fees on this?

    • Correct. All Amex-issued Amex cards seem to be fee-free for now

      • I went ahead and ordered using my SPG, currently showing as a ‘Finance’ transaction – picking the money up on 14 Feb but will advise if it attracts a fee.

        • The transaction has moved from pending and no cash advance fee using SPG card- looks like it worked!

  19. Does it make a difference selecting Home Delivery for the money?

    • Don’t think so, as long as you order via the BA page

      • But I’ve done a dummy run (i.e. all the way to insert payment details, but not actually paying) and nowhere on the site does it ask for your BAEC or Avios number. Then the only way that BAEC or Avios get your card number is at the airport, so with home delivery…

        no number = no points + no bonus!

        Did I miss something? If not, you gonna have to go the airport, and it would surely make no difference booking on the …/ba or …/avios site, or indeed the base site with better rates. If so, where do they get your number?

        • Yes I think you must have done, the box is on the “Your Details” tab underneath where you enter your Date of Birth.

          • Simon, you are too right! Thanks for the explicit directions, and I really don’t know how I missed this before. Done a few more dummy runs now (or is it me that is the dummy…) and yup, it asks for your number under BAEC or Avios websites and works for forex or Stirling TC’s – great :)

  20. I think they add a 5 pound delivery charges…?

    • Unless over £500 ordered.

      • Picked my euros up today from Terminal 5. Upon presenting my worldpoints card and BA exec card he would only let me use one of them.

        • I saw this on Flyertalk. As it was Gatwick it would have been Moneycorp.

          But did you use travelmoneynow.com to book or the link on the BA website? Technically you don’t get Avios via travelmoneynow.com which is why the rate is a bit better.

        • In similar situations, always give your BA card, then email your receipt to BAA for late claimed worldpoints

        • Our BAEC numbers were already in our online orders so Mrs Roger and I showed our BAA cards on collection at LHR T5. The lady said she couldn’t swipe them as she didn’t have a machine(!) so she took a note of our numbers and will credit later. We’ll see.