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Meet your Amex sign-up bonus spend with a home delivery of £ travellers cheques!

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Last year I ran a number of articles about American Express Currency Exchange, the new bureau de change partner of British Airways Executive Club. See here, here and here.

What we discovered was that Amex Currency Exchange treats pre-ordered foreign currency purchases on an Amex Platinum or Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card as a purchase.

I tested this myself, with a test purchase of Euro 200 generating:

  • 166 Avios via Amex Currency Exchange (you get Avios for using them)
  • 166 Membership Rewards points on my Amex Platinum charge card
  • 16 BAA WorldPoints (as I collected the currency at Heathrow and you earn 1 per £10 spent)

As well as being a profitable way to get your foreign currency (especially as the Amex Currency Rates are competitive if you pre-order), the fact that it goes through as a ‘purchase’ on your card means that it counts towards the minimum spend for a sign-up bonus.

Over at Flyertalk (see this thread, eg post 18 and post 48), some posters have been taking this further, with interesting results.

Here were the questions they set out to answer:

Does a transaction on a British Airways American Express card (and therefore also a Starwood Amex) work the same way, counting as a purchase?

Does this work if you order Sterling Travellers Cheques?

Does it work if you arrange for home delivery rather than airport collection?

The answer to all these questions is Yes.

£50 travellers cheque

Why Sterling Travellers Cheques?

On the face of it, you may wonder why you would want to buy Sterling Travellers Cheques. After all, Amex Currency Exchange charges a 1.5% fee for buying them, and you do not earn Avios on such purchases.

The reason is simple – they can be paid into your bank account like a normal cheque. I have done this in the past with no difficulties.

Let’s assume you need to meet the £2,000 minimum spend on the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card. For a fee of £30 (1.5% of £2000) you can, in theory, order £2,000 of Sterling Travellers Cheques from Amex Currency Exchange. It will go through your card as a purchase, triggering the 20,000 point bonus, and you can immediately pay them into your bank account to pay your credit card bill.

The BA link for ordering currency from Amex Currency Exchange is here.

Now, is it that simple?

Well, yes and no. All credit card companies are security conscious. Any large order of travellers cheques (which, until signed, can be cashed by anyone and so are equivalent to cash) will arouse suspicion. If it is the first payment on a new credit card, your chance of getting a large order away is very slim!

If, however, you have already spent £1,000 on your new card and place a £400 order for Sterling Travellers Cheques, then I would imagine you would be OK.

All Amex cards have a ‘daily cash advance’ limit on them. Even though Amex Currency Exchange transactions are treated as purchases, you are still limited by the size of the ‘daily cash advance’ limit on your card. This seems to be £400-£500 but the Flyertalk thread reports figures as high as £1,300.

Please note that this is still an ‘idea in progress’. If it sounds interesting, read the Flyertalk thread and give it a go. Start small, though, and be prepared for potential bumps along the way.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (34)

  • Mark says:

    I’ve now completed 3 Sterling T/C purchases from Amex by home delivery, on both platinum and gold rewards cards. For my newly received gold rewards card, my first transaction was for £550, and then, a second for £1450 about two weeks later. Both approved no problem – now have 24030 MR points showing on balance within three weeks of getting the card (22000 sign up, 2030 from T/C spend).

    • Raffles says:

      Very nice! I’m impressed they let you do that on a new card. Perhaps I am too cautious with my advice, although there are numerous reports on FT of people not being able to get transactions through.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    I purcahsed £1000 in Thai bart 2 weeks ago on plat amex..no probs

  • tangey says:

    As the one who was the guinea pig for this on flyertalk, I can also confirm that if using a gold card (and I assume plat card) via the amex site directly, you also get points for the value of the purchase. Note for the free dellivery you must order OVER £500, ordering £500 will incur a £5 delivery charge.

  • Ninmurai says:

    Raffles, I think you might have unearthed the UK’s equivalent of vanilla reload cards. Let the deluge of points begin!

    • Raffles says:

      As per my other comment, you can buy 10,000 MR points a year for 1.5p each by ringing up Amex. No need to muck about with TC’s! And 1.5p per MR point is not a great deal by any stretch – I consider myself lucky if I get 1p per point when I redeem them – although as a source of ‘topping off’ an account, or transferring during a bonus period, you can clearly do better.

  • adey says:

    Does it make sense simply as a method of gaining Membership Reward Points.

    E.g. Virgin UC reward LAX return = 100,000 points ~ equiv £3500 to purchase cash.

    1.5% of £100,000 sterling TC = £1,500 fee for 100,000 points

    Better than half price….

    Not sure I’d be able to get £100K of TC in one go though 🙂

    Adey

    • Raffles says:

      You can buy 10,000 MR points a year for 1.5p each by ringing up Amex. No need to muck about with TC’s!

  • Mark says:

    Just for information’s sake, (sadly I work in retail FX!) both Gatwick and Heathrow have recently announced new tender arrangements for their Foreign Exchange providers. At Gatwick, Moneycorp will be the exclusive provider from 1 April. At Heathrow, both Travelex and Moneycorp have won contracts – no more Amex at LHR, or Travelex at LGW. Not sure of date for changes at LHR yet.

    This of course won’t change the ability to order Amex FX and T/C online for home delivery though.

    • Raffles says:

      Seriously?!

      So BA has signed a multi-year deal with an FX partner who will no longer have a presence in either of BA’s main airports?!

  • I’ve phoned up Card Services to get my Cash Advance enabled – they’re claiming that a purchase of TC’s still attracts the 3% cash advance fee as well as the 1.5% fee for Travellers Cheques.

    Perhaps there is a loophole for now, but if the cash advance fee is mandated the value largely is gone.

    • Raffles says:

      You don’t need Cash Advance enabled. Forget the rubbish the website tells you.

      I actually used to think that getting Cash Advance enabled WOULD lead to you getting charged, but since this also worth with Amex credit cards – which are set up to work in ATM’s from day one – I don’t think so.

  • Georgie says:

    Whilst in theory this is a great idea to meet the £2000 or £3000 spend you require for an introductory bonus in the first three months or card ownership. In practice I would imagine if folk use it on an endless rinse and repeat cycle it will get pulled in a pretty short space of time.

    • Raffles says:

      Very true. That is actually why I am happy that the fee is 1.5 per cent and not 0.5 per cent! If it was 0.5 per cent everyone would be jumping onto it. At 1.5 per cent, it only makes sense for the small number of people who have sign-up bonuses to meet and can’t manage them from their day to day spending.

    • tangey says:

      AS I said in another place, £2,500 for what, 50 odd days at a cost of £37.50, makes Amex the lowest cost payday loan company in existence.

    • Simon says:

      I imagine if people keep phoning AMEX to query if they will get charged a cash advance fee when purchasing from Amex Currency Exchange that might raise the profile of this and result in it being pulled as well.