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End of ‘mistake’ Membership Rewards points for Amex Gold holders

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There has always been something odd about the way that American Express awards Membership Rewards points at certain retailers if you have an Amex Gold.

As a reminder, Amex Gold gives double points on all foreign spend transactions.  (It also gives double points on travel spend as well as, in the first year only, supermarket and petrol spend.  It is also free for the first year and has a bonus which converts into 20,000 Avios points – more in my review.)

In the internet age, the definition of ‘foreign spend’ is complicated.  You will have read how firms such as Amazon bill you in Luxembourg, for example, to take advantage of the lower VAT and corporate tax rates.

This led to strange anomalies.

Amex Gold 350

Back in December 2013 I wrote a piece entitled ‘When is £ credit card spend treated as foreign spend?‘.  The list of companies who processed your £ transactions outside the UK, thus triggering double points on the Amex Gold card, included Apple, iTunes, Amazon, easyJet, hotels.com, ebookers, American Airlines, Hotelopia, lastminute.com, Ocado and Paypal.

The following information has just started appearing on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold statements:

Information regarding additional Membership Rewards® points earned for spend at non-UK merchants

It has come to our attention that you may have previously earned additional Membership Rewards points where a transaction was charged and billed in pound Sterling at non-UK merchants, although such transactions do not attract a bonus under the Membership Rewards programme linked to your Card.

From 21 March 2015, transactions charged and billed in pound Sterling at non-UK merchants will no longer attract 1 additional Membership Rewards point for every equivalent £1 spent. This includes transactions that are converted into pound Sterling by the merchant before being charged and billed (known as “dynamic currency conversion”). Please note that we will not remove any additional Membership Rewards points that have been awarded to you for such transactions up to and including 20 March 2015.

You are (and will remain) eligible to earn an additional 1 Membership Rewards point for every equivalent £1 spent on non-Sterling transactions. If your transaction is converted into pound Sterling before submitting to us, you will earn at your normal rate. Transactions charged and billed in pound Sterling at merchants registered outside of the UK do not attract 1 additional Membership Rewards point for every equivalent £1 spent.

Looking at this, it seems that Amex was also giving double points if you used Dynamic Currency Conversion.  This is where you let an overseas shop or hotel charge your card in £ rather than in the local currency.  I hope that no Head for Points readers are daft enough to do this because the exchange rates used are generally pathetic.

Whilst Amex has changed its strategy, there are other credit card issuers who give double points for foreign spending.  These include the IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa and the TSB Avios and TSB Premier Avios cards.  Test in the past showed that a far smaller number of merchants triggered double points on these cards for £ transactions.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  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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Comments

  1. Hiltonhotelfans says:

    In the Netherlands Amex will also stop with double points at foreign expenses at their Amex Greencard. Lots of customers are not happy.

  2. Shame hotels.com don’t do gift cards like I understand they do in US and Canada, I’d probably stock up.

  3. Slight tangent (but related!). I have the Amex Gold and my wife has a supplementary card on my account.
    Would she get the 20k MR if she applied for the Amex Gold in her own name?
    Thanks all.

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