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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.

Review American Express International Currency Card Platinum

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, this ONLY applies to the same national MR scheme.

The fact that you must be an existing American Express 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 Dollar Platinum 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 Points.  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.

American Express International Currency Card

I have the Green version myself mainly to allow points transfers to the Jumeirah Hotels ‘One’ scheme at 4:1 and to the Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer scheme at 1:1.

Here are some reasons to apply:

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 Hotels which are not in the UK Membership Rewards 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 10% (Euro card) or 35% (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 27,000 UK points if you take out a Euro card and 22,000 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

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.

Which partners offer 1:1 transfers?

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)

These 1:1 transfers can offer you a great deal.  Remember what I said above – if you transfer your UK Membership Rewards balance to your new International Currency Card, your points balance is grossed up.

Let’s assume you have 200,000 UK Membership Rewards points, worth 200,000 KrisFlyer miles.  If you open the International Dollar Card, you can move across your UK points and they are grossed up by the current $ exchange rate of 1.35.  You will suddenly have 270,000 $ Membership Rewards points, worth 270,000 KrisFlyer miles.

Which partners offer weaker 3:2 transfers?

The following airlines and hotels are also IDC Membership Rewards partners but are NOT worth transferring to directly because they have adjusted their transfer rate compared to the UK scheme. 

It would make more sense to transfer your points from your IDC card into your UK Membership Rewards account and move them from there.

  • 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)

Which new partners will be available to me?

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 One – 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 30,000/1.10 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 points from credit cards? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

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

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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 offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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 card

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

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (23)

  • Michael says:

    A reasonably do-able way to hit the Euro or USD spend target in local currency would be to make bookings via Hotels.com (or similar booking sites may also work) in the applicable currency. They always charge you in the currency you select regardless of where the hotel is located, and this is calculated based on the bank exchange rate of the day, they do not appear to be making any margin on the exchange rate. May take a few bookings to hit the target, but could get you most of the way or even the full way quite easily without ever going near Europe or the US.

  • NeilP1234 says:

    I wonder whether you can settle say a $ Amex bill with a Halifax Clarity (or similar) fx commission free card.

    It feels the same as drawing cash out of a foreign atm, checking the app to find the £ charge and settling straight away in £’s to avoid any interest.

  • Chris says:

    I have this card as I live mostly in Austria. Just one note the card is like 90s Amex. You get no offer and to do anything you have to phone.

  • Tom says:

    Rob – Can you use Revolut to pay the bill, therefore avoiding the transaction fees and also getting the spot exchange rate?

    • kk says:

      no

      i got rejected a few times.

      ive even gotten rejected for a us bank account.

    • Rob says:

      You couldn’t at one point because Revolut did not allow payment references which are needed for Amex to allocate the £. Not sure if this has changed.

    • the_real_a says:

      I used to do Revolut convert to $ -> HSBC $ account in the uk -> AMEX US @ £4 transaction fee.

  • Jonathan says:

    Its worth knowing that ICC cards have to be settled in the relevant currency. So you have to pay the Euro card from a Euro account…

    • BuildTheWall says:

      You can open euro and $ accounts with Revolut, TransferWise etc

      • Genghis says:

        Thought Revolut can’t be used due to not being able to enter a ref?

        • guesswho2000 says:

          It can’t. You can enter a ref., but the payment still gets rejected for some reason.

    • Rob says:

      No you don’t. I pay mine from a £ account, and get HSBC to make a $ payment from it.

  • Chris says:

    I’m assuming the card can’t have some sort of US address association. Currently, have inherited a Microsoft O365 account which was based in the US, you can only pay with a US card. Don’t want to lose the phone numbers by transferring to the UK, so have to have a friend in the US pay and reimburse them which isn’t ideal.

    • BuildTheWall says:

      It only requires a credit card i think. Use a US vpn, login, and change the card to a UK one, preferably with no fees, like Halifax Clarity.

      • Chris says:

        No, unfortunately it requires a US address with the card. The FAQ says it must a US issued card as well.

    • Lumma says:

      Don’t normal AMEX cards not check address details? Just us a UK card and put any USA address in (obviously you’ll pay the 3% fee but it’s not exactly an expensive service)

      • TGLoyalty says:

        If I remember correctly you change the zip so it’s the numbers from your postcode then the rest as 0’s

  • Stuart says:

    I had this card and the downside to it was that to pay off the monthly balance you have to make an international transfer to a bank in New York. So you’re incurring extra fees and it takes much longer for that to clear. It was way more hassle than it needed to be so I cancelled this card earlier this year.

    • Rob says:

      For me, the sweet spot is having the Green card but never using it, swallowing the fee. Saves the bother of paying it off (although, when in the US, I put some charges on it just to stop Amex closing it).

      It is worth the nominal fee for Green purely to retain the 1:1 transfer rate into KrisFlyer plus the Jumeirah benefit.

      • Jay-Marc says:

        At first glance at the ICC site the green card isn’t offered (platinum / gold / basic are) but it does if you select the option for all cards. For $/€ 100 though it doesn’t seem to offer much at least for my purposes.

  • Tatti says:

    Is this a time limited campaign? I’m about to go to Europe for work and most of my expenses will be in EUR. Am considering getting euro platinum and cancelling GBP one until I’m back. I won’t be using special offers anyway being on the continent and I don’t call Amex that often but I do find their travel benefits useful.

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