How to earn Membership Rewards points with American Express FX International Payments

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Let me say up front that this opportunity is only relevant to a small part of our readership, but it will be valuable if it does apply to you.

Amex has a payments business called, with no great leap of imagination, American Express FX International Payments (full details here).

Your business can make payments to other businesses (minimum £1000) in 80+ currencies to 100+ countries.  Everything is handled via an online platform.  You can even have Amex issue you with a draft for any suppliers who insist on cheque payment.

Here is the key bit.  You also earn Membership Rewards points – 1 point per £20 transferred up to a maximum of 5,000 points per payment.  Payments over £100,000 can be split to avoid the cap.

American Express FX International Payments

The website implies that you need a Business American Express card to take advantage of this, but this is not stated explicitly.  We reviewed American Express Business Platinum here and American Express Business Gold here.

This is what the small print says:

If you have an American Express Card enrolled in the Membership Rewards program, your business can earn points on eligible money transfers of £ 5,000 or more. Once you have registered your Card with both the central American Express Membership Rewards Programme and the FX International Payments Membership Rewards Programme, you can earn points on foreign currency transactions between the value of £1,000 to £100,000. For every £20 transacted, you will receive one Membership Rewards point, which will be  automatically credited to your American Express Card. You can earn a maximum of 5,000 points per transaction. Please note, same currency transactions are not eligible. Points will be credited within 12 weeks after the transaction is completed.

American Express FX International Payments

You may be expecting that this service is poor value for money.  However, a reader sent me this note last time we mentioned this:

“We send money to suppliers in China, paying in $.  We buy our currency on spot rates as and when required with the odd forward contract. AMEX offered me both options.

I assumed, since they rang me and were giving away Membership Reward points, that the rates would be poor, but amazingly they are the best I have received off any company since starting to work with with Chinese suppliers 5 years ago. They have agreed to a spot rate of just 35 bips below live market rate fixed for the life of my agreement with them.  All of this is trackable on an online platform.

We send about £2,000,000 a year to China so that will be 100,000 Membership Rewards points and a cheaper way to transfer funds (approx £9000 a year from our current supplier).  This seems to be a ‘win win’ for anyone moving money around the world. There is a £5 transaction fee per payment but that’s it.”

You can find out more on the American Express website here.

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Comments

  1. Does anyone have any reference points for comparison to TransferWise?
    I feel that that’s the benchmark that you need to compare anything against.

    • When I looked into it they wanted 2.5%-3% above spot, transferwise I believe is 0.5%.

      Looking at the reader comment in the article it seems they are more interested in the big money and not so much in piddly amounts like I send.

      • Vincent says:

        Although personal Transferwise gives better rates (they also have business accounts) – to transfer large amounts of money takes considerable amount of time whilst Amex is usually 1 working day.

        If you compare Transferwise business to Amex, the rates are far closer and there’s no question that Amex is better – even without the inclusion of MR.

        • I have a Transferwise business account, transfers are normally very fast. Normally same day for GBP-EUR, GBP-AUD. I’ll be amazed if Amex can match or beat the rates from Transferwise, but keen to find out.

          • Many providers like Currency Fair (always better rates) and Azimo (better rates sometimes) beat TransferWise by a mile. For Amex, like others said you have to negotiate, they are excellent for transfers on popular currency pairs.

  2. We use this service for as long as I remember – maybe 10 years? – and it’s great. We send payments for nominal value too so AMEX accept everything. Yes, even if the payment is for ONE Euro. I kid you not.

    We often compare the rates to TransferWise and as one can accept, there will be winners and losers. However when we need to buy a few thousands of X currency (even if split between dozens of payees), we alway call them and get a better rate.

    I just use a free AMEX card associated with the service to collect the MR points as I’m not an AMEX points collector otherwise.

    There is another option to double up the points you get by using the EURO/Dollar platinum cards but it was too much of a hassle for me.

    One last point, the terms do state that points will be awarded only for payments value more than £1000 but I’m certain they reward the points for the accumulated value of all payments in a day/month.

    • Can you please explain how you can double up with a currency card?

      • From memory, as it was a long time ago when they explained the option to me, the currency statement of card would be settled by the Amex fx account so you get points from the card and then points from the fx service.

  3. Reading some of the comments in here let me add to my previous message:

    rates are negotiable.

    Even the base rates. When we started using the service we paid more and over time they dropped the margin they add.

    The £5 per transaction mentioned in the article was indeed something that was there at the start but was taken off and today we don’t pay any of these.

    The only time we pay an extra fee is when we ask them to transfer GBP to an overseas account.

  4. 🤔

  5. Neil Donoghue says:

    I have been using this service for two years and highly rate it! For my business, the rates are perfect and of course I get 56 days credit so it’s a win win!

  6. Slightly O/T why cant the UK residents get a card like the American Express Hilton Aspire card that our friends across the pond get? The benefits are amazing.

    • Because our American friends across the pond can pay 1%+ on interchange fees whilst we have them capped at 0.3%!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I don’t think that is all of the problem. The cards over here were never as good as the USA even before the cap.

        US cards all offer 0% FX, better bonuses for travel or restaurants etc

        The answer is probably there’s more competition as well as the operators make more money.

        • Yep, exactly, it’s a combination of:
          – uncapped fees (and less financial regulation in general)
          – way more competition
          – much larger market

      • RussellH says:

        1%??
        Smaller businesses are often paying 5% to Amex (and not much less to Visa/MC) in the USA.

        As to the 0% FX fees, the majority of Americans never leave the country, so it is a cheap offer. Crossing the Canadian border does not necessarily require a passport – a number of alternatives are still available, though things are a lot tighter now, I read, than they used to be.

      • Riccatti says:

        Occurs to me that market size plays the bigger role.

        AMEX UK has to run full headquarters and be profitable as a business unit. It has much less revenue to do so than 327-million strong US market (plus widespread AMEX acceptance, and yes up to 5% swipe fees accepted by US companies as cost of doing business — but daily staples are more expensive in the U.S.)

        • Agreed, and don’t forget the UK market is very resistant to annual fees on cards, even small fees don’t seem to be well tolerated.

          Australia has similarly been capped in terms of swipe fees (0.8%), and rewards were hit, but not nearly to the extent they were in the UK, the key difference (that I can see) is that rewards cards almost all come with annual fees.

  7. I’ve been using this service for 3 years now and it’s a good earner, around 150,000 MR points a year. However, you need to negotiate hard with them. My spread is around 20 points so if say the GBP/EUR spot rate is 1.1755-58, my rate to buy EUR is 1.1735. Originally they wanted a larger spread but I talked them down to 20 points because I had another company who was willing to do it for 14 points on my kind of volumes. So my opportunity cost ends up being just about a penny per MR point. But given that this is a business expense and tax deductible, my real cost is much lower after tax, probably half a penny. But you really need to compare at what cost you can get it for elsewhere and calculate your after tax cost per point to decide whether it’s worth it or not. But yes, I agree it’s a great service and they don’t charge extra to make the transfer overseas.

    • I’ve been using this for 9 years, and I agree that you need to negotiate the rate. I probably don’t have your volumes, my margin is 0.5% – on selling USD and EUR. I’m probably unusual on here in that I’m a seller not a buyer. Do keep an eye on them though, I agreed the 0.5% margin and it stayed there for a while, then started to creep up around 0.6-.7%. Each time I challenge it, they revert to 0.5%, then is starts to creep up again after a few months…

      Also agree that I’ve never been charged transaction fees.

      Only pity is that it used to be 1MR/£10, they reduced it to 1MR/£20 in April 2013. Perhaps that was the start of the Amex benefits reductions!

  8. RussellH says:

    I too used this service in the past. At the time I only had an MBNA Amex, and had never heard of MR points, so did not understand fully the offer being mad,so missed out on the points, but I found it a good value service to start with. I only used it for about a year, though, as they told me that they had offered me a time limited fee-free deal, which had come to an end.
    🙁
    I probably made too many lowish value forward transactions – easily possible with an online gateway, while the other firms I dealt with were all telephone only at the time.

  9. Interesting timing as we have just signed up for this.

    Currently use Moneycorp but they claim they will be beating their rate so I’ll be doing some comparing over the next few months.

    We don’t do a huge volume (approx £1,000,000 to USD going to China) but they said I’d get a double up bonus on the rewards points if we did over £250k per quarter. I view the points as a bonus.

    Do I understand correctly from comments below that you get your usual time to pay or is it an instant transfer required. I assumed the latter but the former would be amazing!

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