Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Two new bonus promotions from American Express Foreign Exchange

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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.

Comments (24)

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

      • Gus says:

        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).

  • 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.

  • 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!

    • Rob says:

      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!

  • 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!

  • 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.