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.
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.