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Advanced Avios: 30,000 Amex points sign-up bonus with the Amex International $/€ Cards

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American Express is currently offering 30,000 bonus Membership Rewards points when you apply for the American Express Platinum International Currency Card.

This article is NOT about the UK American Express Platinum card (reviewed here) which also comes with 30,000 bonus points, but UK residents CAN apply for the International Currency Card I am discussing here.

Importantly, you should get the sign-up bonus even if you currently hold a Gold, Platinum or any other Membership Rewards-enrolled UK Amex card as this operates via a different Membership Rewards scheme.

I need to be clear up front:  the rules of the International Currency Card say that you won’t get the bonus if you have another Membership Rewards card, or have had one in the last six months.  In my experience, this ONLY applies to the same MR scheme.  The ICC cards operate via a different Membership Rewards scheme to the UK cards and so you should get the bonus.  The fact that you must be an existing Amex cardholder to apply for an ICC card means that this must, surely, be the case – because otherwise very few people would qualify for the bonus.   I cannot be 100% certain of this however and you apply at your own risk.

What is an International Currency Card?

American Express issues two cards for anyone globally (except residents of the US or Singapore) who would prefer to bank in US$ or Euros.

These cards are known as International Currency Cards, with the individual cards known as the International Dollar Card (IDC) and International Euro Card (IEC)

They are available in Green, Gold and Platinum versions.  The cards are run from Brighton which is very convenient if you have any issues.

There is no sign-up bonus for the Gold or Green card.  However, the Platinum International Currency Card currently offers a sign-up bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points.   Full details can be found here.

Amex Platinum

There are a few very important things you need to know about the International Currency Cards:

30,000 Membership Rewards points does NOT get you 30,000 Avios.  The International Currency Cards have their own separate Membership Rewards programme.  The conversion rate to Avios is 3:2 so your 30,000 point bonus is only worth 20,000 Avios or Virgin miles.  I look at this in more detail below.

You must be an existing American Express customer and have held your card for at least six months

You must have an income of (equivalent) €65,000 for the Euro card and $65,000 for the Dollar card

There is an annual fee of €550 / $550.  I assume that this is refundable pro-rata if you cancel, as all other global Amex cards I know work this way.

There are some positive reasons to get one (and I have the Green version myself, mainly to allow transfers to Jumeirah Hotels and to the Singpore Airlines Krisflyer scheme at 1:1):

If you spend a lot of money in $ or € you will avoid the FX fee on using a £ Amex card

Some Membership Rewards partners transfer 1:1 out of the IDC / IEC scheme – see below.  There are also partners such as Malaysia Airlines and Jumeirah which are not in the UK MR scheme.

You can transfer your UK Membership Rewards balance to your new IDC or IEC Membership Rewards account.  Your balance will be increased by the current exchange rate, so your balance is boosted by 11% (Euro card) or 25% (Dollar card).  In most cases, however, this is not worth it due to the poorer transfer rate from the IDC/IEC Membership Rewards scheme.

You can transfer your International Currency Card Membership Rewards balance to your UK Membership Rewards account.  Your balance will be reduced by the current exchange rate.  This means that your 30,000 points bonus is worth 27,000 UK points if you take out a Euro card and 23,700 points if you take out the Dollar card.

You get free travel insurance with the card which has a maximum age limit of 80 years (UK Platinum card limit is 70 years) and there are minimal restrictions on having had to pay with your card

You get the same Priority Pass airport lounge access beenfits, and Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards, Shangri-La Golden Circle and MeliaRewards hotel status benefits, as you would get with the UK Platinum Card

The foreign exchange fees are an issue, however

To trigger the 30,000 bonus Membership Rewards points, you need to spend €5,000 (on the International Euro Card) or $5,000 (on the International Dollar Card) within three months.

If you do this spending in the UK, you will incur a 3% foreign exchange fee.  You will also incur fees when you pay your statement, depending on what your bank charges to send funds in € or $.  You CANNOT pay your bill by direct debit – it MUST be a bank transfer.  The $ card requires payment to a Standard Chartered bank account in New York, for example – HSBC lets me pay this from my current account but obviously the FX rate is not the best.

If you are in a position to charge €5,000 (on the Euro card) or $5,000 (on the Dollar card) in local currency then this is a far better deal.  This will be very difficult for most of us, unfortunately.

Be very clear – if you make the qualifying spend in Sterling and pay the 3% FX fee, as your card will be operating in Euro or Dollars, it will wipe out much of the value of the sign-up bonus.

How does the Membership Rewards scheme work?

Here is the Membership Rewards online catalogue for the IDC Amex cards.

The following airline partners let you transfer 1:1 from the IDC Membership Rewards programme into your airline account. This means that the 30,000 points sign-up bonus is worth 30,000 miles:

  • Alitalia (SkyTeam)
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (oneworld)
  • Finnair Plus (oneworld)
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich (oneworld) (Malaysia is not in the UK scheme at all)
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer (Star Alliance)

The following airlines and hotels are also IDC Membership Rewards partners but are NOT worth transferring to because they have adjusted their transfer rate compared to the UK scheme.  It would make more sense to transfer your points from the IDC card into your UK Membership Rewards account:

  • Avios (BA and Iberia) 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • Delta Skymiles 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • Emirates Skywards 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • Etihad Guest 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • Flying Blue 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • Hilton Honors – 4:5 (UK scheme 1:2)
  • Radisson Rewards 2:3 (UK scheme 1:3)
  • SAS EuroBonus 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • Starwood Preferred Guest 3:1 (UK scheme 2:1)
  • Virgin Flying Club 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)

The following are not in the UK scheme but are in the IDC scheme, so this is the only way to earn points via Amex in these schemes:

  • Jumeirah Sirius – 4:1
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club – 3:2
  • Malaysia Airlines – 1:1

Conclusion

Do not be swayed by the headline offer of 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points for getting this card.  You need to think very carefully before applying:

remember that the 30,000 points are not worth 30,000 Avios – to maximise value you need to transfer them to a UK Membership Rewards account and they will be devalued by the current exchange rate (eg 30,000/1.11 for the Euro card)

remember that, unless you intend to spend €5,000 or $5,000 in the next three months, you will be incurring foreign exchange fees on your Sterling spending in order to trigger the bonus

remember that you are likely to incur fees and/or weak exchange rates transferring money from your UK bank account to the overseas accounts Amex uses for collecting payments

This is definitely not something for beginners.  That said, if you are can spend €5,000 or $5,000 in local currency to trigger the bonus then it is worth a closer look.

You can apply via the International Currency Cards website here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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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Comments

  1. Hmmmmmm.. if overseas spending is really significant then this makes sense, but presumably in that case you’d downgrade to green UK card? I certainly don’t see value in two Plats (or as you say take the bonus then downgrade to green ICC – is that fee free?)

  2. I already hold the Green Amex USD card and just paying the $100 annual fee was expensive from my HSBC account. Dreadful exchange rate from the bank plus a fee (I think it was £3). I wasn’t able to use Transferwise unfortunately.

    • M Corrêa says:

      Revolut should solve the problem of transferring the money without incurring fees.

      • I’ve not used revolut before. Can you make bank transfers? I tried Transferwise and XE Money Transfer and both block transfers to Amex for some reason.

        You cannot pay the USD Amex card with a debit card either. I was hoping I would have been able to do that.

        • You can make bank transfers, but not the sort required to pay off these bills.

        • I have paid my ICC card off from Revolut.
          The challenge is that Revolut transfers provide no field for entering one’s Amex account number so the amount goes into a suspense account.
          As Amex have excellent CS, the ‘phone call to get it allocated was not painful.
          But I have gone back to using my EUR bank account for this.

        • Interesting, mine looked like it went OK but then auto bounced back into Revolut.

      • Sadly doesn’t work, tried it for paying off IDC just a couple of months ago. Caxton FX is still the most reasonable I’ve found (but still have a fee baked in to the exchange rate).

    • ‘Dreadful’ is a bit unfair, I think it is around 2 cents off apot (I also pay from HSBC). I don’t pay the £3 though as my staff benefits package is intact, 14 years later!

    • the_real_a says:

      There is a workaround. I held a USD account with HSBC in the UK which is free. I then converted currency using Revolut (GBP to USD), followed by a trasnfer to the HSBC USD account in the UK, then trasnfer to the ICC.

  3. I have got this ICC Plat card in EUR as I got it easier than a German Plat card upon moving to Germany. I did not get sign up points at the time so I think overall the 30000 points are not too badn”, especially (i) if you need the card for foreign spend (although admittedly the green might also work, depending on what you need); and (ii) if you transfer the points at some point to a 1:1 airline.

    In terms of benefits, though, I do not get any of the Spend X get Y back offers I typically got back in the UK. Every quarter though they upload some Plat benefits like complimentary breakfasts at restaurants; free tickets to some events, etc. but these are not too frequent I must say.

    Otherwise similar in terms of priority pass, travel insurance, etc, fairly similar to UK Plat. What I do not like is that these cards do not have an Amex mobile app to check balance, etc. Not sure why. You cannot add them to Apple pay either.

  4. Mmm I got so excited as I could fund it easily from my Irish account….except I don’t have anything to spend €5000 on.

    • This won’t get most people to EUR5,000 but might provide part of it:
      Ex EU-flights?
      AMS-LHR-HKG-LHR-AMS etc as often mentioned here.
      But also the return leg of trips to Europe, i.e. booked as two singles.

  5. I have a Platinum $ card and a Euro green card as I spend enough time in dollar and euro based currencies to justify the cards.
    In my view the $ Platinum card is a superior product to the GBP one as items such as insurance and car hire cover do not require the spend to be on the card – they are effectively general benefits. Also as Rob points out the travel insurance is to age 80 and for up to 240 days per year (GBP card much lower) and includes such things as skiing (we had a serious ski injury claim in the States last year which was handled very professionally). Though we are now UK resident, these cards are for residence in a wide range of countries and this was very helpful when I worked and was resident in Continental Europe.
    One point re settlement, if you have a $ or Euro currency account you can set up direct debit mandates which makes the cards easy to operate.
    Rob thanks for the detailed work on convertibility, very useful.

    • Yep I have IDC Plat too and very handy not having to spend on card, plus cover for over 70s useful for parents. UK card covers skiing though and doesn’t require spend on the card for car hire car.

  6. Blony Tair says:

    Interesting tidbit about ICC is that they’re the same size as Austria in terms of cardholders but produce the same billings as Germany.

  7. Joe Green says:

    Any good suggestions on hitting the $5k bonus with some form of USD manufactured spend.?

    • I wonder if Venmo transfers count.

      I heard Venmo no longer counts as spend towards the minimum for US AMEX cards so I don’t know if it would work for this card though.

  8. And also bear in mind in some Euro countries it can be hard to use an Amex – for example here in Spain the major supermarkets don’t accept Amex, neither do most bars and many restaurants (even McDonalds don’t take Amex!).

    I’ve got a Gold sign up target of 2000 euro to hit which I thought would be easy, not so! Thankfully Amazon and travel spending will get me to the target.

    • Same in France. I could hit E5000 easily if anywhere actually took Amex but it’s still chequeland here.

  9. Question about (normal) Platinum referrals – I referred myself a few months ago and got the referral bonus – is it possible to refer oneself AGAIN for a different card if I leave it 6 months???

  10. Does anyone know if there is a Business version of this platinum card with the same bonus?

  11. Simon Schus says:

    Hi all 🙂

    Are the AMEX Offers the same as on the standard UK cards? (E.g. AMEX travel offers, Hilton offers, etc).

    • You don’t get any offers!

      • Raving Shoes says:

        How about the business version, does that give offers?

        I’ve seen that personal cards can refer to business cards, but do you know if the business platinum can refer to personal cards for 18k MR?

      • Simon Schus says:

        Boooooooo!

        I have considered swapping out the UK AMEX Platinum to AMEX IDC but I value a number of the AMEX Offers too much (specifically, the offers I mentioned alongside a few others that come along from time-to-time).

      • Simon Schus says:

        Thanks for the information too!

  12. deepak gupta says:

    Hi Rob
    I found it interesting that the ICC Amex has got the age limit as 80 as this can be important. Recently my car broke down before a flight and it was only than I came to know that the Amex travel insurance only covers missed flights unto £300 per person. It would be an interesting article to compare the travel insurance offered by various credit cards/bank accounts.
    Thanks

  13. OT: Got hit by the Gatwick madness this morning flying BA to AGP. Flight ended up being cancelled and alrady got rebooked for Sunday. Paid with BA PP. What am I entitled to?

    • Do you have insurance? Check the policy.

      • I have BA PP insurance.

        • And what does the policy say?

        • Shoestring says:

          Amex Plat is refusing claims for the Gatwick disruption…

        • Lady London says:

          I wonder what will start appearing in insurance policy terms and conditions next year in order to exclude drone attacks and similar disruption of flights?

          Volcanoes caused the “ash cloud” or “natural disasters” exception that most policies now want an extra amount paid, to get cover for brought into the policy. I wonder what a “drone exception” clause could be called ? 🙂

          I am sure we will all find out the name for the upcoming new exclusion clauses in travel policies, as soon as the underwriters for travel insurance policies have time to bring this in to their regular meeting decision cycles…

    • Shoestring says:

      You are entitled to duty of care – hotel, food, drink (not alcohol), communications eg phone call – until your reticketed flight. You are not entitled to compo.

      • Shoestring says:

        For the benefit of HfP readers, you might want to know the limits of duty of care & what will get reimbursed. Around London, a hotel room up to £200/ night is generally seen as fine – more if rooms this price are all booked up so you have to pay more.

        Sometimes airlines give out a food & drink voucher at the airport, eg £2-£5. You can ignore this and go and get yourself a reasonably priced meal, (though alcohol is never normally reimbursed), clearly this is not acceptable for (say) a 2 hr delay but once the delay reaches serious levels such as at Gatwick today, it will be OK.

        A couple of phone calls a day or the cost of wi-fi for an internet connection will be allowed. Transport to & from your hotel is OK. Keep all receipts.

        Unfortunately if you decide to go home instead, you might struggle with anything but transport costs but worth a try, eg you didn’t have any food in the larder so had to eat out instead.

        There’s no need to sleep on the airport floor & go hungry.

  14. Can you make referrals using this card and earn 18k a time separately to the UK MR account?

  15. Lady London says:

    Pretty sure Metro Bank mentioned they could offer me a Euro or Dollar bank account. This was a few years back though. However their customer service is highly rated so could be worth a look as a way to feed this card. Euro payments might be free as Metro does not normally charge any extra for those.

    They open 7 days per week till about 8pm. Locations are -sadly – mostly Southern so far. But proceeding steadily Northwards and West from London.

    • Lots of UK banks can do these accounts – I have a HSBC Euro one and Citi did/does have a snazzy multicurrency one.

  16. Raving Shoes says:

    Rob, I asked a couple of questions above but I think they have been missed due to me quoting somebody earlier in the discussion.

    Do you know please if the business platinum receives card offers? Can a holder of one refer people to personal cards for an 18k MR bonus?

    (Asking these due to considering swapping personal for business.)

  17. I used to use these International Currency Cards for both EUR and USD. The only card with no annual fee is the Basic (blue coloured) card, which has no Membership Rewards, and doesn’t even support basic features such as contactless. Forget Apple Pay even on the chargeable ICCs and the online functionality is several years behind the GBP cards’ online functionality.

    Instead I now use a US-based Amex EveryDay card for USD and a German-based Amex Payback card for EUR. Both have no annual fee, support Apple Pay and give me Membership Rewards or other points.

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