Two new bonus promotions from American Express Foreign Exchange

Back in November, American Express was offering 5,000 bonus Membership Rewards points to anyone who signed up for its foreign currency transfer service and made one payment.

Two new versions of this promotion have now been launched:

This link is for Platinum cardholders and offers 2,500 Membership Rewards points

This link is for Gold and Green cardholders and offers 1,000 Membership Rewards points

Unfortunately, this promotion is nowhere near as lucrative as the one last year.  Amex is now insisting on a minimum £1,000 transaction for Platinum and £500 for Gold / Green.  Last year it was only £100.

However – for American Express Platinum cardholders – 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 an OK 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 3,500 Membership Rewards points.  (You get the 2,500 bonus points plus 1,000 base points for moving £1,000.)

To be honest, the Gold and Green deal is not worth it.  The £10 fee wipes out the value of the 1,500 points before considering the foreign exchange spread.  (You would earn 1,000 bonus points plus 500 base points for moving the minimum £500.)

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.  It is not clear if the transaction, on a credit card, counts as a purchase or cash advance.

You don’t even need to send money abroad!

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.

Last time this promotion ran, I did a £105 payment in Euro to my bmi credit card account, which MBNA automatically converted into Sterling.  I received the 5,000 bonus points without any trouble.  Amex clearly treated it as a foreign payment even though it was going to a UK bank account.

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  1. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Also nb that the standard earning rate is now increased from 1MR/£10 to 1MR/£1 (which was included in the calculations, to be fair)

  2. Presume I can use to spend against my AA spend via the Visa, but pay directly to MBNA. A £1k transfer nets me the 3500 MR points and gets me £1K closer to the AA sign up bonus. All for £10 + any spread..?

    • Yes, oddly, you can charge your MBNA AA Visa card by sending the money directly to MBNA to settle the bill! The costs wouldn’t normally make it work, but if it gets you nearer your £5k target it might make sense.

      • Simon says:

        Sounds like a good idea, just wondering if MBNA would classify this as a cash advance and so it wouldn’t be count towards the 5K?

  3. Does this offer extend to all or just new sign up to FX?

  4. The deal sounds better if you think about the 5k spend on AA card.

    • Fair point, as you can use the MasterCard to pay – although you may get hit with a cash advance fee

  5. Can you transfer to an overseas account in ££ in your own name? (HSBC premier – so I can send it back to myself instantly for no fee)

  6. 21h21j says:

    Don’t forget to factor in the credit card fee
    “Credit Card Payment Fee:
    If you are paying for the transfer using a Visa or Mastercard credit card, American Express FX International Payments charges an administration fee of 1.2%; additionally your credit card company, may charge you a cash handling fee. Please refer to your card Terms and Conditions or contact your credit card issuer for more details. Using a debit card costs you nothing. ”

    And the 1MR/£1 is a limited time offer
    “Register today and for virtually every full £1 you transfer before 31 July 2013, we’ll give you one Membership Rewards point”

    This is probably okay-ish for a one-off transaction. I’ve yet to find a better points earning method than ordering travellers cheques via – 2.5 avios per £1 to pay Mrs 21h21j’s USA student loan.

  7. Polly says:

    Slightly off message here, but is it possible to use the 2 for 1 BAPP voucher, when booking a BA flight through the AA website? Or is this too optimistic? Thanks for any info here.

  8. Sorry for being thick but I am a little confused. Does the £1000 funds come out of the plat card or do I have to link it another credit card or debit card. Can I also assume that if I use a credit card, there will be cash advance fees? Or is this simply to easy as my Santander accounts show the IBAN number on the statements. It seems that I can link a debit card, out £1000 into my santander and end up with 3500MR points for a small hit. In theory I could just churn my way through numerous sign up bonuses if I got down the credit card option?

    • Ironically, you can’t use an Amex. You must use a Visa or MasterCard.

      You cannot send £ to get the bonus, it must be a foreign currency.

      As I wrote in my old post: “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.”

      I am pretty sure, from the last promo, that you don’t get hit with a cash advance fee – but I can’t be 100% certain, and its possible different card issuers may treat it differently.

  9. knifeandfork says:

    Hmmm. This could suit me very well.

    Do we have any idea what sort of cash handling fee MBNA would charge for, say, £6k worth of USD on the old skool Platinum BD mastercard?

    6,000 x 2.5 = 15,000 avios
    6,000 x 1 = 6,000 MR
    2,500 x 1 = 2,500 MR for the sign-up

    All in all, a tasty little bit of business for a transaction I need to make anyway.

    • Be careful, there is no guarantee that it will go through as a purchase. A cash advance does not earn miles.

      Do a small transaction as a test, just enough to generate the bonus, and see what happens.

      • Any reports on how this is being classed by MBNA?

        Mrs Gus just got the AA Amex, so if MBNA are treating it as a purchase to use towards the £5k/35k miles requirement (like Amex do with AEFE) then this could be very tempting. Or alternatively, per knifeandfork, any idea what the transaction fees are anyway (to earn the MR’s).

  10. Susan says:

    Just done this with a BMI MBNA Visa and it has been treated as a purchase but obviously other card issuers may vary.

  11. What's the Point says:

    Hi Raffles

    Do you have any thoughts on when Amex might be offering a bonus transfer on MR points to Avios/Virgin?
    Same question, but about Tesco CC conversion.
    Your best guess will suffice!

    • Last Amex one ended in February, I think, but targeted and 20%-30%. Perhaps September.

      Same with Tesco – clearly nothing this quarter, so perhaps with the September mailing as people re-emerge after the Summer?

      Absolutely no promises though!

  12. Pointless says:

    Just spent 30 mins organising a transfer to Italy. VERY helpful customer service – note to AGNES, Employee Of The Month Award.

    Let’s hope it arrives and worth the 4,500 points accrued!

    Thanks goes once again to Raffles!

  13. David says:

    I found that I have been charged a £13 card fee by Amex in addition to the £10 transaction fee for paying with a MasterCard, so that’s a cost to consider if you plan to go down this route. Not sure what my forex loss might be yet.