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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 points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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