Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may support the site by paying a commission.  See here for all partner links.

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 points from credit cards? – February 2024 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

2% cashback on all your business spend for 3 months (1% thereafter) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (34)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Thomas says:

    One gets triple points on hotels abroad..

  • Irons1980 says:

    Off topic, but I have just opened an IHG premium card – it says double points for hotel stays, but no-where can I see on my literature that is says double points for foreign spend?

  • Andrew C says:

    It’s good to see Amex are handling this professionally at least. 1) advance notice 2) a few months grace period before introducing the changes and 3) not recovering points retrospectively (admittedly that could be very difficult to do)

  • Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC) - Master Thread - Page 110 - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] more on the message: https://headforpoints.com/2015/01…ith-amex-gold/ […]

  • 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.

  • Stuart says:

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

  • Pete says:

    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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.