There are plenty of Head for Points readers currently chasing a spending target on their American Express card. Why? Because they want to trigger a lucrative sign-up bonus in order to book a flight before the Avios devaluation takes place on April 28th.
(This article discusses cards you could get and still trigger a sign-up bonus before April 28th. Time is ticking away – your window is a lot tighter than it was when that piece was published three weeks ago. Unless you can hit your spending target within 1-2 weeks it is probably already too late to get a British Airways American Express.)
Here is a reminder of four ways to push your spend towards the target if you think you may fall short:
American Express gift cards
(EDIT: A reader report in March 2015 suggests that gift card purchases are no longer earning points. This was only one incident but be aware!)
As I wrote last week, Amex is currently selling its gift cards with no fees via a special promotional code. Until 31st March, you can order up to £500-worth per transaction. You can charge it to your BA / Gold / Platinum American Express card (it will go through as a purchase) and you can then spend it at your leisure during 2015.
Supermarket gift vouchers
The easiest ideas are often the ones you forget. If you are running a little short on your spending, just buy £xxx-worth of gift vouchers or gift cards for your usual supermarket. This brings forward spending that you would do anyway and doesn’t cost you anything.
If you buy your petrol from your supermarket, even better – it means you will be able to spend the gift vouchers more quickly.
Ordering foreign currency and travellers cheques from Amex
As I wrote here, ordering foreign currency from the Amex travelmoneynow website is treated as a purchase. (Ignore what your card rules or the Amex website says contrary to this, I promise you it will go through as a purchase.)
The currency needs to be delivered to your home or office, however, as Amex only has offices at Birmingham International Airport.
Details of Amex’s foreign exchange rates can be found here.
If you are not travelling, one option used to be to order Sterling Travellers Cheques. There is a 1.5% fee for this but that is relatively modest if it gets you to your spending target. However, in the last couple of years a few major banks have stopped accepting them as deposits – HSBC pulled out last June. Do not do this unless you are 100% sure that you can redeem them.
Use Paypal if a retailer accepts it but does not accept American Express
Some online retailers do not take American Express but do accept Paypal. In most cases (some retailers block Amex access to Paypal), you can select to pay with Paypal and use your Amex card through that. More information in this post.
It is, of course, also possible to send a payment to a friend or relative via Paypal, charged to your Amex. There will be a 3%+ charge for this. You need to be VERY careful if you do this, as Paypal operates under tough money laundering restrictions. Any signs of suspicious transactions will lead to your funds being frozen.
If you are a long-term Paypal user and / or have your personal bank account verified with them and / or have your Amex card ‘verified’ then, realistically, sending a few hundred pounds this way should not be a problem. You would be foolish to push your luck though.
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.
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
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
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
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
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
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
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
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.