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

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!

Credit 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?

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. Raffles,

    1st Yr Gold-4 recent Amazon purchases.

    2 of AMAZON*MKTPLCE EU-UK AMAZON.CO.UK =1 base points + bonus points (i.e. double), 1 base points + zero bonus(!)

    2 of AMAZON EU AMAZON.CO.UK= 2 base points + bonus points.

    Thank you, Worz.

  2. Yes I experience what you mention regarding apple and amazon. I also note that all my IHG bookings (direct) post quad points as follows:

    Base points
    Travel bonus
    First year welcome bonus
    Travel bonus

    This is great but not sure why!

  3. My £36 hotel room gave 144 MR points 🙂

  4. Phillip says:

    Interestingly, my paypal transactions never counted double! However, so far, all my John Lewis spend has received bonus (travel) points!

    Amazon is a mixed bag. Early in the year, none of my marketplace orders qualifies for bonus but most recently they all have.

    Another interesting thing I noticed on my Amex recently, is that genuine foreign currency payments only attract a couple of pennies for a transaction fee regardless of the value, after the exchange rate is applied.

  5. On Amex Gold I’ve only ever received double points for spends at Amazon etc. The only time i have received triple points was on a spend at Dubai duty free.

    • Correction, after reading Philip’s post, travel bonus spend for John Lewis. So triple points.

  6. It seems to be a completely random bag for me, and I’m not sure precisely what’s included in the first year welcome bonus.

    I have some hotel transactions that I only got single points for.

    When I bought my new coffee machine in October, I got base + first year + first year = triple points (nice on a £650 purchase!), but have rarely had this again for Amazon.

    I was also getting triple points on Tesco but this has also stopped. I wonder if this was just a mistake which has now been resolved.

    As far as I can tell I don’t get outbound bonus on Amazon orders though, only the 1st year bonus points. I’m beginning to think that this card isn’t nearly as good after year 1 (other than the obvious fact that you’re charged for it)

    • The triple instead of double points on supermarket spend was an error, now corrected, good that they didn’t seek to claim the overpaid points back

      • That was particularly lucrative for fuel, as I would get 5x points from Tesco fuel, which adds up to quite a lot. 3x now.

  7. I booked easyjet flights a few months ago but only got single points! And this was at the time that travel was going through at 3x or even 4x in some cases. They added on manually but was a bit disappointed not to have got 3x pts.

    Amazon seems to be a bit random- just a mixture of single and double points.

  8. Just gone through my statement and here are some things I’ve discovered on my Amex Gold.

    • PayPal doesn’t appear to offer outbound spend
    • Netflix membership earns outbound spend bonus
    • iTunes still gets outbound spend bonus
    • Amazon Marketplace orders seem to be getting Outbound spend
    • Hotels.com getting outbound spend AND travel bonus (Triple points)

    That’s all of note that I can find since I got the card in September.

  9. Where did you get the ideal that Paypal gives double points?
    Spent £9000 via paypal already (I have a safe way of converting Paypal to cash for no fees) and would have been nice to get an extra RFS Y return…

  10. 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]


  11. 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

  12. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • 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?!

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

  13. MarkCam says:

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

  14. 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!

  15. 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.

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

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