Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

When is Sterling credit card spend treated as foreign spend, earning double points?

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You will, no doubt, have seen stories in the press about companies such an Amazon and Apple who go to great lengths to minimise their UK tax bills.  One of the ways they do this is to process credit card payments outside of the UK, to ensure that the transaction is not seen as taking place here.

This can often lead to a good result for you – you may receive bonus miles on your credit card, even though your transactions are in Sterling!

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

There are a few credit cards which offer double points for foreign spending:

About 14 months ago, I discussed this on Head for Points and we came up with the following list:

Companies treated by Amex Gold as foreign spend (and of course – except for the first three – travel spend as well, so 300% bonus):

Apple, iTunes, Amazon, easyJet, hotels.com (but, oddly, not its parent company Expedia), ebookers, American Airlines, Hotelopia, lastminute (may treat non-travel as travel spend), Ocado, Paypal

Companies treated by Priority Club Black as foreign spend:

Amazon, Expedia, Paypal

I’d like to revisit this topic, so if you have any other examples, please let me know.  In particular, if you have the Amex Gold card, it would be interesting if you could go online and look at your Membership Rewards statement.

This is because Amex shows you the points you earn on a transaction-by-transaction basis, so it is easy to see if a particular merchant comes up as double points. (Remember that travel companies post as double points anyway, so you would be looking for travel transactions that post with triple points.)  What else works with that card?


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 (28)

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

  • James Ward says:

    Aibnb gets double points – I’d never understood why, so thanks for the explanation.

    If you’ve never used airbnb, it’s a great way to travel. You stay in people’s homes, which I much prefer to soul-less hotels when I’m on a solo business trip. Last week, I got to enjoy the full Thankgiving experience with my host family in Phoenix. A really memorable occasion.

    This is a referral link [Raffles – fee free to edit / remove if you don’t think it’s appropriate for me to post a referral link]

    https://www.airbnb.com/tell-a-friend?airef=b6okz0d198zz5

  • Jonny says:

    Recently booked a hotel room with Ebookers, then cancelled a week later and rebooked with Cheaptickets.com, as they had a better promotional code (both are owned by Orbitz).

    Ebookers was in £ and got 2x MR’s (as expected). Cheaptickets.com was in $ and got 3x MRs (base, travel, foreign spend). Though the extra MRs alone are insufficient to compensate for the FX transaction fee applied

    Incidentally, I had a 30% off code on cheaptickets, and they regularly seem to have 25% off codes, which is very decent, though doesn’t work for quite a few chains

  • Blackberryaddict says:

    I only ever use my Gold for spend abroad or non-BA travel spend in the UK, and Shell. easyjet and Qatar only showed double (travel bonus only). Avianca only showed outbound.

    I use my BA Amex for the rest at 1.5. At least I get 1.5 guaranteed – I can never remember the others, and risk only getting 1.0.

    I do get around 3.3 points per pound on the Gold on average including the annual bonus.

    • Duncan S says:

      You know the 2.99% fee for non-Sterling transactions makes the Amex Gold much worse than something like the Halifax Clarity for foreign spend, even considering the double reward points.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, but you’re back to debating whether you want to bother with an extra card just for foreign spend.

        The Lloyds Avios card is better than Clarity as you get Avios AND no FX fee. £24 card fee but if you spend enough abroad it beats Clarity.

        • Duncan S says:

          I didn’t know the Lloyds Avios didn’t have an FX fee – not bad! I also like the fact that there’s a MC as well as the Amex for countries/shops that don’t accept Amex… although the points earned is pretty poor!

          I think my partner would prefer that we suck to just having one card but then… where’s the fun in that?!

          • Rob says:

            This is the new Lloyds Avios card, for clarity. Not the old ‘Duo’ card, which is now issued by TSB.

  • MarkCam says:

    I got an outbound bonus on a Vistaprint purchase in the last few days.

  • vindaloo says:

    I’ve recently dropped out of my first year, and I am no longer getting any bonus on Ocado. It registered only double in the first year, suggesting it earns a bonus only for being a supermarket and not FX.

    Also since I dropped out of the first year I have an easyJet booking that earned travel bonus but no further bonus, so even if it has done so before I don’t think it is doing so now (although this booking was for a UK domestic flight – I wonder whether that makes any difference).

    With Amazon, my wife and I have been doing a lot of Christmas shopping recently and it seems a bit random. A few days ago we had two transactions on the same day: one with Amazon and one with Amazon Marketplace. The Marketplace one earned the FX bonus but the other one didn’t.

    The list of places that earned triple points in the first year is too long to enumerate, but supermarket petrol stations seemed to earn both the supermarket and petrol bonus pretty reliably (whether buying petrol or not), and a huge proportion of travel spend in sterling earned triple or even quadruple (a large United Airlines booking on their UK web site and paid in sterling earned me 4x early this year).

    During my first year I used this card only for (non-BA) travel, supermarket and petrol spend, and I earned over 3 MR points per pound on average, plus the 7,500 bonus at the end of the year. I’m now going to cancel, sit it out for six months and come back for another go at the first year bonanza!

  • Idrive says:

    I am fairly disappointed with my Gold Pref an I am going to drop it now and wait till December next year to apply again.
    In the meanwhile I have completed my 75% of my targets and I am now focussing on other loads.

    Posting the bonuses has been very random for me for a long time now…with no apparent benefit at all.

  • Pierre says:

    Tripsta was also considered a foreign spend on my last statement.

  • Nick says:

    My Ocado spend is only showing up as a standard UK spend, with single points earning.

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

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