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Update on my ‘5,000 Membership Rewards points for £100 FX transfer’ experiment

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A couple of days ago I posted about American Express’s new promotion of 5,000 Membership Reward points for making a £100 foreign exchange transfer.

At the time, I posted:

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.

Well, the first part of the experiment has worked.

I sent £105 (in Euros) via the American Express foreign exchange website to my MBNA bmi credit card account.  I used the IBAN number on their website.

A few days later, a credit of £102.15 has appeared on my MBNA online credit card statement.

My total cost has therefore been £12.85 – ie the £2.85 FX loss taken by MBNA plus the £10 Amex fee.

So, if the transfer does work for the purposes of this promotion, I will have earned 5,000 Membership Rewards points for £12.85.  Given that those are worth 5,000 Avios or plenty of other things, it will be a good deal.  However, I need to wait some weeks to see if the points post …..!

Comments (8)

  • Dev says:

    Does the transaction show as a cash advance or is it a nornal transaction?

    • Roger says:

      I’d say that depends on how your bank treats the transaction. In my case (with Nationwide), it was a straightforward Visa debit card transaction.

    • Raffles says:

      I charged mine to me HSBC debit card and that went through as a normal transaction. If you use a credit card I would expect to be charged.

  • phil says:

    Hi Raffles, a related question. If i pre-order currency (AUD) through the Avios/ BA website to get Avios…in your experience would BA AMEX Credit card treat it as a cash advance ? DO you know the cost of this? thanks

    • idenvillage says:

      I could do with some advice here.
      i have plat amex, and ba amex, and world points cards.
      I want £1000 in thai bhat. (notes)
      so how do i get the best rewards.
      how do i aviod cah advance fee.

      • Raffles says:

        Bhat is tricky. Let me tell you why.

        Amex Currency Exchange has a spread of 12.5% on Bhat (ie the sell rate is 6.25% below the spot rate. ACE sells at 46.14, spot rate is 49.25.)

        If you get your cash from an ATM when you arrive, on your debit card, you will get 47.77 to the £1, ie spot rate less 3% FX fee for the debit transaction. The Avios, Worldpoints and MR points do not make up for the poor rate ACE give you.

        If you DO want to take some cash with you, the process is as I described. Book in advance via the Amex web site I link, pay with your Platinum Amex (no cash advance fee), pick up your currency at Heathrow, show your Avios/BAEC and WorldPoints cards when you collect the money.

        Amex may not let you do a £1,000 FX transaction, though. Try it, but if it gets rejected try a smaller amount like £500 and see what happens.

  • Geoggy says:

    Have taken a punt and done the same Raffles – will se what happens!

  • gnarly says:

    This is quite hard work. I transferred from my HSBC UK account to HSBC Malta. It took an age to set up, as I kept expecting there to be a simple way to fund the transfer. The transfer itself took a fairly long time.
    I guess I’m used to making near instantaneous transfers between my UK, Malta and Hong Kong accounts. My transfers to the US and Russia via HSBC are also much quicker. (I’ve got debts in many currencies!)
    Anyway, it would have been worth it if the MR points arrive.