American Express is closing Travel Money Now (travelmoneynow.com), its foreign currency website, on 1st March. It seems highly likely that the Avios-earning version (travelmoneynow.com/avios) will close on the same date.
On the face of it, this is not a great loss. A couple of years ago, American Express lost its contract at Heathrow. This meant that it was left with a grand total of one foreign exchange counter in the whole country, at Birmingham International. You could, via the website, still order currency for home delivery but that is not exactly a niche with no competition.
However, as Head for Points has pointed out on a regular basis, there IS something unique about Travel Money Now.
As long as you buy your currency using an American Express issued Amex card (eg BA, BA Premium Plus, SPG, Nectar, Gold, Platinum etc), the transaction is treated as a purchase.
no cash advance fee
you earn Avios, Membership Rewards points, SPG points, Nectar points etc on the transaction
the transaction counts towards your spend if you are looking to trigger a sign-up bonus
The 2nd point made Travel Money Now exceedingly competitive. When you factored in the value of, say, 1.5 Avios per £1 for charging currency to your BA Premium Plus, it was good value.
The 3rd point was also very useful. However, Amex does limit its value:
on a credit card, eg the BA Amex, the amount of currency you can buy is restricted to your ‘cash advance limit’ printed on the front of your statement. This is usually 20% of your credit limit.
if you are new to American Express, it was likely that you would be blocked entirely from any sort of cash transaction, including buying foreign currency from Travel Money Now, for a few months – by which time it would be too late to trigger your sign-up bonus
Travel Money Now was a useful little trick to have in your points-earning arsenal, however, and it is a shame that it is going away.
It is not clear, at this stage, who will replace Amex as BA’s foreign currency partner. I would imagine that there will finally be one integrated solution covering both pre-ordering and ‘at airport’ purchases. It is possible, given that there was a short trial last Summer, that Travelex will be back on the scene.
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