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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, 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 18% (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 25,000 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, Eurostar lounge access benefits and Marriott Bonvoy, Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards 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.

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:

  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles (oneworld)
  • Finnair Plus (oneworld)
  • Malaysia Airlines Enrich (oneworld)
  • 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 30,000/1.19 for the Euro card)

remember that, unless you intend to spend €5,000 or $5,000 in local currency 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 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

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

60,000 points, £200 travel credit 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 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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:

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

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (29)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Ls says:

    Isn’t there a limit on the number of times you can transfer points between different MR programs (X/year)?

  • yorkieflyer says:

    If I recall correctly the travel insurance also has a no pre existing conditions clause

    • Ls says:

      Correct. At all. For anything. No exceptions. Makes it useless for many.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Not being able to pay extra for preconditions was a factor in us ditching the uk variant, that plus the inability t in practice access uk lounges with PP ahead of the prebooked Jet2 boozers

      • Rob says:

        UK Plat now covers a lot – search for the article we did when it changed.

    • Morris says:

      I believe there is a defined list of pre-existing conditions that are (or are not) covered.

      • yorkieflyer says:

        Yes but a list of relatively minor conditions only included. Cover if you have elevated cholesterol not included for example

        • QwertyKnowsBest says:

          Correct, Amex really need to address this if they wish to retain customers as they age and ‘collect’ such conditions. Nationwide was simple to add conditions such as Cholesterol, for a small premium. This for a card that has an annual fee at a much lower level than Amex Platinum.

        • moe8555 says:

          But what does that actually mean? If I fall ill with a condition that has nothing to do with high cholesterol – but happen to have high cholesterol – they will automatically deny the claim???

  • NFH says:

    I’ve never understood why American Express requires a separate card to be issued for each settlement currency. Why does American Express not do for credit and charge cards what Revolut does for debit cards? A single card with multiple settlement currencies. It could be very simple. For example, you would tell Amex which currencies you can settle in, i.e. currencies for which you have bank accounts, and then you would receive a separate bill for each of your settlement currencies without any currency conversion. Transactions in any currencies in which you can’t settle would be converted as usual to your primary settlement currency (e.g. GBP).

    Because of American Express’s failure to issue credit and charge cards with multiple settlement currencies (despite Revolut being capable of this for debit cards), I have Amex cards issued in the UK, Germany and the United States. I previously used UK-issued International Currency Cards, but they give no Membership Rewards without paying an annual fee. I certainly don’t want to pay a separate annual fee for each settlement currency.

    • Track says:

      First, they will need to put systems on top of systems to present multi-currency to you as something seamless.

      Second, why destroy a profitable business? FX fees, annual fees. The benefits of your US/German cards likely not be utilised in full if you live in the UK.

      • NFH says:

        It’s not about destroying a profitable FX business. It’s about not forcing FX upon customers who don’t want FX. If I spend in EUR, then I want to settle in EUR. If I spend in USD, then I want to settle in USD. And I don’t want a separate card for each settlement currency.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Totally different markets and customer segments.
      Revolut has combined regular banking with the fx conversions like Wise.
      Amex operates in a different regulatory space. Also the ICCs are primarily issued to wealthy and businessmen in other countries in tie up with wealth managers. These people care less about fx fees and more about platinum benefits and concierge services etc.
      for example hsbc expat services can get you an Amex icc:
      https://www.expat.hsbc.com/credit-cards/products/amex/

      • John says:

        Or maybe they never bothered to find out and don’t realise how much they’re being fleeced, though it could also be argued that they don’t need to care

    • Phil W says:

      It would probably require Amex UK to invest in a whole new credit card platform to make those types of changes and credit card replatforming projects are horrendously complicated, risky and costly. I can’t imagine Amex UK would want to go down that route.

  • Michael AC says:

    Specific question… do you know what country the dollar card appears as? When I was living temporarily in the US, sometimes I would encounter problems when using e-commerce because it knew my credit card wasn’t American. This is often an issue when paying for things like streaming services. It’s not to do with billing because sometimes they don’t even ask; it must have been to do with the starting digits.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Rob has mentioned it is managed out of Brighton. But legal entity could be one of the offshore locations.

    • John says:

      Search for Amex BIN checker and see what they say about the first 6 digits. If I had this card I could do it myself and just post the results but I don’t.

    • moe8555 says:

      It does have to do with the starting digits. My USD ICC card is recognised by Amazon.com as a UK card, and ironically offering to let me pay in GBP instead of USD.

      • Michael AC says:

        Thanks for clarifying! Not really worth it for me right now then.

        • moe8555 says:

          I will say that nearly every charge I’ve made has been fine, including streaming (Paramount+). In most cases, simply listing a U.S. billing address of any kind is good enough and works. And to be clear about Amazon.com: it doesn’t force GBP, merely recommends it based on the card number.

          • astra19 says:

            Paramount, Peacock and Hulu don’t seem to care. SiriusXM is always a pain though.

  • NFH says:

    I previously used UK-issued International Currency Cards, but they give no Membership Rewards unless you pay an annual fee. I certainly don’t want to pay a separate annual fee for each settlement currency. So instead I have Amex cards issued in the UK, Germany and the United States for settlement in GBP, EUR and USD.

    I’ve never understood why American Express requires a separate card to be issued for each settlement currency. Why does American Express not do for credit and charge cards what Revolut does for debit cards? A single card with multiple settlement currencies. It could be very simple. For example, you would tell Amex which currencies you can settle in, i.e. currencies for which you have bank accounts, and then you would receive a separate bill for each of your settlement currencies without any currency conversion. Transactions in any currencies in which you can’t settle would be converted as usual to your primary settlement currency (e.g. GBP).

  • Stu287 says:

    Thanks Rob… didn’t know this existed and have a large project in Europe this year so will be there for a few months to spend the 5k

  • Nate says:

    Amex’s insurance on Platinum is pretty useless. They now allow some preexisting conditions but many of the regular (and generally accepted) preconditions are expressly excluded. Also, learnt the hard way, the insurance is not very premium! I got caught in the Cathay cancellations and no cover for cancelled flights – just £300 travel inconvenience! More protection if I had booked in the BA credit card! A refund of the unused portion of tickets is hardly helpful when needing to travel home with only a few days notice of the cancellation over the Christmas/NY period – the most expensive time to travel!

  • Dan says:

    There is one other thing to consider when applying. They run credit check (normal) and apply the results to ALL your Amex cards. Example. I have a BA card with £30k limit, a platinum charge card which usually has a spending power of about £120-150k but can be bumped upwards with a prepayment, when I applied for the international card, I was told if I took it I’d have a £50k limit across that and my platinum charge card, with no way of extending for large purchase.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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