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.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – October 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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 offers:

American Express Business Platinum

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

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (24)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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