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

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.

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  1. James67 says:

    I am not sure how this could work. As I understand it when you receive a new amex card it cannot be used for currency or TCs because it has no cash facility. I have been told by cs you need to wait 6 months to apply for that which obviously exceeds the time limit on target spend. Am I missing something here; if you have a cash facility on an existing card do all new cards come with it automatically?

    • Polly says:

      Hi James , all new credit cards come with a daily cash facility. You just need to activate it separately, it’s written somewhere in t and c … Or call up cluster re services. I had to do it for our BACC as my euros order was too high, so had to make two smaller orders. And you can do it immediately, no waiting time as you think.

      • James67 says:

        Thanks Polly, this is what I did (twice) . Both times I was told I had to wait 6 months then complete and send a form.

        • Polly says:

          That’s weird, I definitely did it in march after getting my new plat, within a few days needed euros, and baht, got both. I did call up c s, and they were v helpful. We also did it last year with both our SPG cards, as we also needed currency then. Maybe they have tightened their currency rules. But it would have been a blow to us, as we needed the currency for travel soon after. I would question that again. You might get a better informed csa next time you call in.

    • Existing Amex customers seem to be treated differently.

  2. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    I’m surprised that they’re withdrawing the facility with so little notice. I assume you’ve deposited a sterling TC in the past? Have they written to you about the change? First Direct customers especially would be unlikely to see that notice in branch.

    If this is all the notice they’re giving, seems to me they’re setting themselves up for a bad relationship with the FCA…

  3. Sinizter says:

    Which bank do accept travellers cheques ?

    • James67 says:

      Had no problem at Halifax or Nationwide

    • Barclays accept hem but I am the only person in Glossop that ever has any according to the counter staff.

  4. Fenny says:

    This reminds me that I really ought to find the $150 or so of TCs I’ve had sitting around in the spare bedroom for the last 15 years or so.

  5. Volker says:

    On a side note: For the first time, a money transfer through HiFX (which I used for sending money abroad on a regular basis) was treated by MBNA as a cash advance rather than a purchase last month. I earned thousands of AVIOS via this channel but obviously have to say “adios” to this great opportunity now. Despite using the same BMI CC for this purpose for years, they even declined the transaction temporarily and sent me a fraud alert message!
    Our hobby seems to get more and more difficult…

    • James67 says:

      Oh; huge missed opportunity for me. Could have raked in lots of miles withthat.

  6. idrive says:

    Raffles, why do you write “an easy fraud route” what do you mean exactly?
    is the cash limit on the card daily or monthly?

    • What I mean is that if you could fraudulently get an Amex card then buying currency is an easy way to liquidate it. That is why Amex is more cautious.

      • idrive says:

        yes but still you need to access the flat/mail of the receiver, you can not send them to an office address or else. Moreover, if you do not sign when royalmail comes, you need to collect the splip at the post office, if it was not delivered showing a document or….a Card! so in this case it would be successful but otherwise, it could easily raise suspects on the cardholder if royalmail pushed the bell while you are at home! so this could be an internal fraudster in your building or with access to it on a daily basis

        • idrive says:

          PLUS, Banks do not allowed to withdraw cash against TCs. They only accept TCs if

          1) you have a bank account at their bank
          2)if you cash in your own account (in that case how can you get the money)?

      • idrive says:

        you did not answer, is the cash limit daily? so far I have done 1 a month sometimes, not more as I thought that was a limit one a month

        • Not officially but 99 per cent certain there is one they don’t tell you about

        • idrive says:

          i ask you because I tried once to buy a 750TC order with a 900limit printed on statement but was refused and got a message on my mobile advising this would have brought me over my cash limit, which means they must have setup a ratio to cash limit for TCs.

  7. Is manufactured spend like this considered fraud?

  8. Clive says:

    If memory serves me correctly there is a 500 avios bonus on currency exchanges with BA at the moment for orders over £500

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

    • 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 ?.

        • 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

        • 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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?

    • Who do you believe, Amex or me?!

      As long as you use 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 ?

        • 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!