Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

HSBC no longer taking £TC's from June 27 – last chance to boost Amex sign-up spend!

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

If you need to boost your American Express spend to hit a sign-up bonus, one way to push yourself nearer to the target is to buy some Sterling travellers cheques from American Express Currency Exchange.

As I have written numerous times on Head for Points, American Express treats an order of foreign currency or travellers cheques as a PURCHASE and not as a cash withdrawal.

This ONLY applies if you make your transaction via their own travelmoneynow website and ONLY if you use an Amex-issued American Express card.  Lloyds Amex and MBNA Amex cards do not qualify.

There are three advantages of doing this:

You don’t pay a cash advance fee when buying foreign currency or travellers cheques (although there is a 1.5% fee for £ travellers cheques)

You earn Membership Rewards points, Avios, SPG points or Nectar points via your Amex card

You get nearer to the sign-up bonus on your American Express card

You used to be able to pay Sterling travellers cheques into UK bank accounts without any problems.  In the last couple of years it has got harder with some banks withdrawing totally.  HSBC is now following suit.

HSBC notice

From June 27th, you will not be allowed to pay £ travellers cheques into your HSBC bank account.  This means, of course, that for the next 10 days you can do it without any problems!

Amex is aware that using a credit or charge card to order currency is an easy fraud route.  It imposes arbitrary limits on how much – if any – currency and travellers cheques it will let you buy.

That said, if you are £500 short of hitting the sign-up bonus on your new Amex card, paying the £7.50 fee to order £500 of Sterling travellers cheques – and immediately paying them into your bank account – is a decent deal.  Be very careful before doing this that your bank will still accept them.  If you have a HSBC account you may just be able to squeeze in an order in time.

Comments (44)

  • Andrew S says:

    Huge frustration with AMEX today. Apparently i can get a cash facility on the platinum charge but cannot get any cash on the BA AMEX (where i need the spend for bonus) for 6 months.

    This seems ludicrous.

    • Varth Dader says:

      Probably to stop people doing it straight off for the bonus Avios

      • Idrive says:

        I use TCs as insurance/back up cash while travelling and no one can challenge me, they must have decided as the markt is going towards plastic probably

    • Polly says:

      Andrew s. Buy tesco vouchers or wherever you buy food and petrol. At least then you know you will spend the dosh in any case, just spending ahead of time.

  • Sully says:

    I’ve successfully ordered TCs and Foreign Currency using my Amex on several occasions, to the sum over over £3k. All delivered to my home address without any problems.
    All attracted MRs too.

    Rob, is there a list anywhere of banks that do accept TCs?

    • Rob says:

      Not that I know of

      • Idrive says:

        There can be no list you need to hold an account at each. I enquiried every bank you must be an avcount holder at each. Post office asks 1.5% for cash

        • Lipton says:

          Is there a limit on how many times you can order traveller cheques and how much you can spend ?.

          • Rob says:

            Yes. With a BA / SPG credit card you will see a cash advance limit on your statement next to the credit limit. The charge cards have a similar limit but you are not told what it is. This is absolute cap, Amex may stop you earlier if it thinks something odd is happening.

          • Lipton says:

            Thanks. Would that be a daily limit ? So in effect if the limit was £1000 for example could you do that every couple of days ( for bonus purposes with Amex) . ?

          • Idrive says:

            That is not clear i always have thought it is a statement period limit

          • Rob says:

            It is statement period. Even worse, rejected transactions – should one not go through, perhaps too close to the last one and Amex got suspicious – also count against the limit.

  • Polly says:

    Lipton, that would be pushing it, and definitely stopped by amex, it would look like suspicious activity, and draw attention to you. You don’t want ever to upset amex!

  • Alan says:

    I have recently had an Amex Gold card. I had thought to use it to buy traveller cheques for a trip to New York in the Autumn. Amex tell me that purchasing any TCs will not count as a purchase in attracting points towards the sign up bonus?

    • Rob says:

      Who do you believe, Amex or me?!

      As long as you use travelmoneynow.co.uk and use an Amex issued Amex (ie Gold) then all is fine. I will personally underwrite your loss if wrong!

      • lipton says:

        I bank with first direct, which is owned by HSBC and phoned them today re this. they told me that there is a 2% fee to handle sterling traveller cheques ? and also that the traveller cheques had to be in the banking system by 27th June which, when probed a bit further , said that it meant that by paying them into the account on the 27th was not an option. this contradicts the photo that raffles highlighted at the top of the post which indicates that you can pay them in on the 27th. the cost of paying in £1000 worth of amex traveller cheques would therefore be £35 according to the employee I just spoke with. happy to order this evening if anyone can confirm. I also have an account with Barclays. Do they take amex sterling traveller cheques ?

        • Rob says:

          No idea is the 2% fee is correct. There certainly was NOT a fee about 9 years ago when I was doing this in bulk but a lot could have changed!