Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

5,000 Membership Rewards points (= 5,000 Avios) for a £100 Amex FX transfer

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American Express has launched an interesting promotion to promote its foreign currency transfer service.

Full details can be found here (deleted as now dead).

In summary, Amex is offering 5,000 Membership Rewards points to Platinum or Gold card holders who sign up for their foreign currency transfer service and make a £100 transfer before the end of 2012.

5,000 Membership Rewards points are good for 5,000 Avios or points in 15 other programmes.  See here for my guide to spending Membership Rewards points.

If you have an overseas bank account (or have a friend or family member who is willing to accept a payment from you) then this is a good deal.  There is a £10 fee and you will take a small foreign currency loss to cover Amex’s spread, but this is still a good deal for 5,000 Membership Rewards points.

(If you have a Starwood Amex, you can still register and receive 5,000 SPG points instead.  The same goes for some other Amex cards as well, but not the BA ones – see the small print in the link above.)

You will need your passport or driving licence plus your Amex card number to register.  Ironically, you cannot fund your transfer from your Amex card.  You need to use a debit or Visa / MasterCard credit card, or do a bank transfer to Amex.

I am trying a little experiment which, if it works, you can try later.

MBNA credit cards (bmi, American Airlines, United etc) accept payment by IBAN – ie, by a payment to their International Bank Account Number.  If you search the FAQ on the MBNA credit card site it will give you the account details.

I have done a £105 payment in Euro to my bmi credit card account, which MBNA will automatically convert into Sterling.

Now, does this count as a foreign payment?  It is, after all, going to a UK bank account.  However, the payment is in Euro and went to an IBAN, not a standard account number.

We will see.  Hopefully the 5,000 MR points will post before 31st December, which would give you the chance to try it as well before the offer closes.

Comments (14)

  • uk1 says:

    I wonder whether you can make qualifying payments into a paypal account?

    • Raffles says:

      I had a look at the Paypal website. They give a standard UK bank account into which you can make payments, so if you could get the IBAN number for that account then you’d be OK – but its not online and the idea of getting that data from the call centre does not fill me with enthusiasm.

  • Morland says:

    Thanks very much for this spot Raffles – I have a bill to pay in France I was not looking forward to paying and 5k points eases the pain (just a little, but it helps). Also does Amex’s job as I didn’t know that they provided this service and I’ll use them in the future (earning more points…)

  • James ardron says:

    If you used a Gold Card with the double points in first year, would this qualify as forigen spend as paying a non UK bank account.

    • Roger says:

      If you mean by using the gold card for payment, the answer is No because it can’t be used for payment.

      If you are asking whether the 5,000 bonus MRs become 10,000, I highly doubt it but it’s too soon to know as the bonuses don’t seem to have been awarded yet.

  • Jibe says:

    Thanks for the response. It was inrelation to the potential doubling of the points

  • Kim says:

    Hi Raffles, when you’re using the MBNA’s credit card to transfer fund into Amex, are they charging you for the transaction?

    • Raffles says:

      There is a post on this tomorrow. Basically, the Co-Op Bank (who banks MBNA and is where your money goes) has charged me £2.85 on a £105 transaction (ie 2.75%) to convert the £105 of Euros back to Sterling. Amex charged me £10. Total costs therefore £12.85. Good deal if I get the 5k, bad deal if I don’t because technically I sent it to a UK bank! I should be OK, though. No difference to Amex whether the Euros ended up in the UK or France.

      • Kim says:

        Thank Q … appreciate that.

      • Roger says:

        MBNA are charging 2.75%. For once, AmEx themselves seem to be undercutting the competition.

        Based on the limited experience of my single example, AmEx charged 1.75% F/X commission to send some Swiss franccs to a Swiss account.

        • Raffles says:

          It was the Co-Op who charged the 2.75%. MBNA has a Sterling bank account so it was the Co-Op that did the conversion so that the money could be deposited in their account.

  • whitenoise says:

    I guess if you don’t have a foreign bank account this won’t work. Since even with the IBAN number it still wants to know the destination country, and United Kingdom isn’t listed. That is of course unless I’m missing something?

    • Raffles says:

      Yes, you’re missing something. When you actually try to do a transfer, the UK IS listed. That list when you sign up is simply a ‘favourites’ list and has no impact on what you can really do.

      As you can see from my example, I was successful in sending £105 (in Euros) to a UK bank account, in this case the UK bank account of MBNA credit cards.

  • Trevor says:

    While a good idea and experiment (if you have no foreign account to send money to) to send money to your own credit card, why not take this one step further and just send money to your own bank account via the IBAN?

    I don’t normally need to perform international transfers and would also send to my MBNA card if your experiment does post the points, but as it turns out I do need to perform a transfer to SA (of a little less than £100, but I can recoup this later). So for the benefit of those without MBNA cards, I can report that the costs are almost the same to transfer money elsewhere (infact possibly less since the GBP:ZAR spread is probably worse than top currencies). The static charge of £10 is of course the same, but to change £100 to Rands is £2.66 worse than the best pick-up pre-order rate available (according to MSE), so total cost of £12.66 for 5,000 MR is very comparible to Raffles’ experiment.

    About to sign up, thanks for the tip 🙂