Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

30% bonus on American Express (IDC / IEC only) Membership Rewards points to Avios

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This is, admittedly, a minority post since not many readers will have an American Express International Dollar Card or International Euro Card.

These cards are issued in the UK to people who would prefer to have a card which bills them in $ or Euros. If you have a bank account in those currencies, you effectively get your foreign exchange transaction in $ or Euro (depending on your card) for free as you won’t be paying any foreign exchange fees.

American Express Green card

The Membership Rewards scheme is also more generous than the general UK scheme, since it offers 1 point per $ or per €, compared with 1 point per £. However, this is offset by poorer conversion rates to most programmes. Avios, for example, is a 3:2 conversion ratio instead of 1:1 from the UK scheme. (There are still some foreign airlines that allow 1:1 conversion from the $ card, though, although not Avios or Flying Club.) I will do a longer explanatory post on this in a day or so.

There is currently a semi-secret transfer bonus from the IDC card to Avios. I say ‘semi-secret’ because a HFP reader was emailed about it and passed the email to me. However, I never got the email and the offer does not feature on the IDC Membership Rewards website.

I rang Amex, though, and they said it was open to all IDC cardholders. I did a test transaction of 5,000 IDC Membership Rewards points and, indeed, I received 4,333 Avios (ie 3,333 at 3:2 plus 30%).

The original email goes:

Transfer your American Express Membership Rewards Points into the British Airways Executive Club and receive 30% bonus Avios before 31 August 2013.

Whether you’d prefer to fly further or upgrade the choice is yours. For example, if you fly return Economy Class New York City to London, it costs 40,000 Avios. Normally you would need to transfer 60,000 Membership Rewards Points to receive this. Right now, you only need to transfer 46,800* Membership Rewards Points (saving you 13,200 Points).

Avios are redeemable through British Airways or any of their oneWorld ® partner airlines; transfer your Membership Rewards Points today and decide where your Avios will take you.

I am in the US soon, so I may put a few $ charges through my International Dollar Card and then transfer the points across to Avios before the end of August.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 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, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel 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

50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – 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 (12)

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

  • MaltapointsTom says:

    Raffles. Not sure how widely applicable this is or whether it’s unique to Malta, but I have a GBP Amex and an Amex International Euro Card (through Bank of Valletta). As a result of this arrangement, I of course have two Membership Rewards accounts. The great thing is, once a year I am allowed to transfer my MR points from my IEC-linked MR account to my GBP card linked MR account. This is a no-brainer as it means i) I benefit from the €1:1 MR point ratio and ii) I can bank them up then flip all my Euro-earned MR points to my GBP MR account to use the better redemption rates available.

    • Rob says:

      See tomorrow for more on this. Not such a no-brainer with the $ card because only a handful of airlines are still 1:1.

  • Mottelgamz says:

    Is it not better to convert to iberia at 1 for 1. Is that not available any more?

    • Sir Stamford says:

      Sorry, the conversion rate to Iberia Plus is no longer 1:1. It is the same as BAEC i.e. 3:2.

      Sir Stamford

  • Sir Stamford says:

    I recently received an invitation to apply for the ICC at half the usual first year fee i.e. US$/€50 instead of the usual US$/€100. The offer is only applicable those applications which are approved by 6 August 2013.

    I believe the foreign airlines that still allow 1:1 conversion from the $ card include Krisflyer (Singapore Airlines), Asia Miles (Cathay Pacific) and possibly Enrich (Malaysia Airlines).

    The last time I looked at Asia Miles they have a very similar redemption chart to Avios especially for long haul (e.g. LHR-HKG return in J uses the same number of 120,000 miles as Avios). One way is less generous. Krisflyer allows you access to the Star Alliance flights. The real attraction for me is the greater availability for award seats in SQ’s A388/77W J class.

    Sir Stamford

    • Rob says:

      I am running through this tomorrow, but the 1:1 list is:

      •Alitalia (SkyTeam)
      •Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (oneworld)
      •Finnair (oneworld)
      •Malaysia Airlines (oneworld) (not in the UK MR scheme at all)
      •Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance)

    • oliuk says:

      Its worth noting that there is a permanent referral option for the IEC/IDC cards too. This gives the person signing up both the first year half price (like the current offer), and a 15000 MR bonus (for plat, less on gold etc).
      I’m happy to refer, if raffles doesnt, anyone that wants an ICC card with the sign up bouns, just let me know on olireaction [at] gmail

      • Rob says:

        I was under the impression that the referral option had gone? It has disappeared from the IDC website.

        It is a good deal and indeed I joined via a referral. First year is $50 (for Green) and both parties (for Green) get 5,000 MR points each. Do contact oliuk if interested, assuming it is still running.

        • Oliver says:

          You could be right, although I was never even aware of it mentioned on the IDC site and could never find it there. The referral I’m aware of is a physical form, and I last used it a couple of months ago to refer a family member for a card with no problems. I have no idea if it still works but would suggest that any applicants probably have nothing to lose by trying?!

          • Rob says:

            I used the same (paper) form! If you’ve still got it, there is no harm in trying it. My discounted fee and 5,000 points arrived just fine, although the person who referred me had to chase up his own bonus.

  • Gabbai says:

    The UK cards generally give much poorer point / mile benefits than their American $ cousins. American AMEX Membership Rewards points are convertible 1:1 to British Airways and there are frequently, i.e. at least once a year for the past good few years, bonuses of 35 – 50%. Given that the award ratio is $1 : 1 MR point, a spend of $15,000 / £10,000 can get you 22,500 Avios if changed at the right time. The same £10,000 spend on a UK AMEX gets you only 10,000 Avios. I have not seen any bonus offers offers with the UK site conversions.

    • Rob says:

      There are regular UK MR to Avios / Flying Club / Etihad etc bonuses. Latest one finished in February, offered 20-30%. However, they are generally targeted so unless you ‘opt in’ to post and email junk mail from Amex then you won’t be included. There is also a theory that you are more likely to be targeted if your MR account is already linked to BA.

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

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