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.
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.