Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Get 30,000 Membership Rewards points with the Amex International $/€ Cards

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Even if you no longer qualify for a bonus on any of the personal UK American Express cards, there IS one generous bonus which you may well be able to get.

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

We last covered this offer back in March.  I assumed it was a temporary deal but it is still there so I thought I would highlight it again.

You will 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.  However, in my experience and that of many other HFP readers, this ONLY applies to the same national MR scheme.

The ICC cards operate via a different Membership Rewards scheme to the UK cards and so you will almost certainly get the bonus.  The fact that you must be an existing Amex cardholder to apply for an ICC card means that this must logically be the case – because otherwise very few people would qualify for the bonus.

American Express International Currency Card review

What is an Amex International Currency Card?

American Express issues two cards for anyone globally 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.

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 cannot apply if you live in the European Union (EXCEPT the UK), USA or Singapore

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 21% (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 roughly 26,000 UK points if you take out a Euro card and 23,000 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 benefits, and Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards, Shangri-La Golden Circle and MeliaRewards hotel status benefits, as you would get with the UK Platinum Card

American Express International Dollar 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 $.  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 have a Euro or $ bank account then you can pay by direct debit.  A Euro-denominated Revolut account, for example, works fine based on reader feedback.

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.

American Express International Euro Card

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)
  • Marriott Bonvoy 1:1 (UK scheme 2:3)
  • Radisson Rewards 2:3 (UK scheme 1:3)
  • SAS EuroBonus 3:2 (UK scheme 1:1)
  • 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 30,000/1.17 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.

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.

Comments (54)

  • SultanOfCroydon says:

    The income requirements appear to be tiered for each colour of the International Dollar Card.

    So the income requirements for the green card is $35000 a year and $50000 a year for the gold card.

    Might be useful information for some.

  • Sheikh Mahmood says:

    Are these charge cards like the UK Platinum or credit cards like the Golf card?

  • Anna says:

    I know it says that currently holding an Amex won’t affect the sign up bonus for this card, but will holding this card affect bonuses on future Amex cards?

    I am planning a few substantial $ purchases in the spring so this might work for me.

  • MikeSchu says:

    I have the Euro card as I moved to Spain 6 weeks ago. Had the platinum and BAPP in the UK previously, and have kept the BAPP for trips back until I use the 241 voucher.

    The first bill needed to be paid by bank transfer, and be careful if using a money transfer service – your 15 digit card number must be the reference and mine got truncated. After a few calls and emails, AMEX eventually found it and applied it to the account. They were quite relaxed about the extra time to pay, maybe as the back of the card has the word ‘credit’ on it.

    By the time the second bill had arrived, my Sepa direct debit was up and running from my Spanish account. Most uk banks also support these, even on gbp accounts, but you’ll likely be hit with high fx fees.

    The card has a few cons other than the MR conversion rate:
    It is still plastic
    You need a separate login to the Amex website
    There is no ‘travel’ section online – you must call up, and even then they’ll try to charge you in gbp
    You need to reapply for the Priority Pass – this does not continue if you have a GBP Plat, not is it automatic. Have fun filling in the paper form with your tiniest handwriting and waiting six weeks for the cards. I have BA silver so managed fine during this time, but Mrs Schu had to kick up a fuss at the lounge. Lounge called Amex and problem was sorted.

    Now that I’m settled in Spain I’m wondering whether to keep this card or get an actual Spanish Amex platinum. Same for airline status – I’ve hit renewal threshold for BA silver but will likely not make gold, but I will fly enough to also get Iberia Oro. Worth it?

    • John says:

      Plastic is a pro to me

      • S says:

        You can get the AC on your own account. The additional card (not the supplementary) is still plastic too.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Guess the only thing to consider is would you be likely to hit gold for life as the additional TP over silver still count for that.

    • David says:

      Have you changed address on the BA Amex to Spain? – if so are you still being offered U.K. market retailer offers?

      – I’ve seen different reports on this.

      • MikeSchu says:

        All cards using my UK address still – thanks for the reminder to change before the tenants get too annoyed. Will let you know…

        • Bagoly says:

          There were specific stories in the past that changing address to ex-UK will trigger cancellation of your BAPP (and loss of vouchers).
          Probably also an offerr to Spanish Amex (with no sign-up bonus).
          I don’t know whether they would cancel ICC if you do not have a UK address.
          Not wanting to risk a similar situation, I switched all statements to paperless and maintain an address with a family member in the UK.
          And I deliberately have not tried to take out a local Amex.

          Perhaps they are more relaxed now about multiple addresses in different countries – does anyone have any recent experience?
          Otherwise I recommend either staying completely with a UK address, or closing both UK accounrd and getting signup bonus for the Iberia card.

          • Rob says:

            It does not get your card cancelled BUT Avios are held with Amex and the voucher can’t be redeemed until your account moves back.

            This is all due to Amex’s BA contract.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        My Amex UK cards (Plat, Gold and ARCC) all have an Aussie address, and I still get UK retailer offers.

    • Lady London says:

      Hey MikeShu

      Have you switched the SEPA direct debit to Revolut to avoid Bank charges? another poster Saïd something recently about this working for EUR although not GBP.

      If you can use the few extra avantages of Oro i would seriously look at not bothering with BA Silver. Only trouble is, it’s Iberia though. Would the apparently annual 50% off all miles bookings promotion on the Sendo card that you can get if you are résident in Spain, sway you?

  • Genghis says:

    “Your balance will be increased by the current exchange rate, so your balance is boosted by 17% (Euro card) or 32% (Dollar card)”

    Where do you buy your currency?

  • Chris says:

    6 months ago! Must have a time machine 😉

  • Chris says:

    Can I pay this with a Revolut euro bank account? Can’t see why it shouldn’t be possible…

    • MD says:

      I would love to know the answer to this too. I can’t see why it wouldn’t work, and it would obviously make the whole bill payment in foreign currency issue trivial.

    • Rob says:

      A reader emailed me to say it could, yes.

      • Benylin says:

        Fyi: I tried paying by normal UK amex bill with my Revolut debit card and it wasn’t working.

        Maybe it’s just me though…

        (Unless you are talking about direct debit)

      • Bagoly says:

        Yes, I do this.
        The first time I could not see where to put the Amex account number, so I had to call Brighton, who found it quickly given amount and date.
        Now on the app, there is a field “Add reference” which takes the card number.
        If using the website (for a business account) there is a field “Purpose” – unlike some providers where one can only select from E.g. “Pay bills”, “Rent” one can just type in the Amex card number.

        I have not explored direct debits from Revolut.

  • Lux says:

    Regarding payment – I’ve had this card for some years. It was once possible to pay by cheque from a uk-based dollar account, but this option was withdrawn and it had to be a bank transfer to the US. Pricey.

    There were complaints about this and Amex both wrote *and called* to tell me the cheque payment option had been reinstated, not that it it written anywhere.

    This may be possible for new applicants. Worth asking.

    • GeorgeJ says:

      As long as your bank can handle it, you can set up a direct debit in dollars, works fine for me.

      • Lady London says:

        Costs would normally be the issue but someone said HSBC is good for this kind of thing.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          HSBC have been prohibitively expensive in my experience (poor exchange rate and fees). Citibank are excellent, if one qualifies for the account.