American Express Membership Rewards international points & account transfers – a primer, with my experience

I am a UK expat, and have lived in Australia for a fair few years now. For some reason American Express in the UK allowed me to maintain a UK Credit Card tied to Membership Rewards and even target me with a few new card offers here and there.

I had a stash of UK based Membership Rewards points which I wanted to move out of my UK account so I could close it down, and a did a bit of digging around to look into the best way of keeping them.

I could have transferred them into Avios, Starwood or some other programs but eventually found out about, and settled on, an international transfer to my Australian account. I figured up I’d write up what I learned in the process.

Membership Rewards International Points Transfers

So why an international points transfer? I was already focusing on collecting Australian Membership Rewards points, so topping up the account had some further value for me. Amex also apply an exchange rate to points from other countries, so in my case I could achieve an approximate 50% uplift in raw point terms due to the 1:1.55 GBP:AUD exchange rate at the time.

Actually doing the transfer was straight forward enough with some messages in online banking in my UK account, and a follow up phone call. Two weeks later the points were credited to my Australian account, with a confirmation letter sent by post.

There’s one key limitation – you are only allowed one international transfer per year, meaning you can’t maintain regular spend and sweep your points between countries for arbitrage.

This is a pretty niche scenario I’ll admit; but if you need or can use it, it’s there.

International Card Transfer

For those of you who travel regularly to or partially reside in another country, it could also be worth looking into an American Express international card transfer of your whole account, so you can maintain accounts in multiple countries without needing a long history of credit in the destination country. I did this when I first moved to Australia, bringing one account from the UK with me.

To be eligible for an international card transfer you need to have an address and phone number in the destination country, and be willing to have the Australian account that you transfer closed (but potentially reapply for the product again to open it again). I’m not sure if you have two Amex accounts open whether you could transfer just one – I believe so.

In this scenario you could then spend on your accounts in both countries as you wish and arbitrage your points yearly into the account with your preferred redemption option.

Unfortunately sending points back to the UK from Australia isn’t really worth doing due to the same exchange rate reasons for which I received a bonus going the other way, however if I was desperate for Avios, I may consider it.

American Express Membership Rewards international points & account transfers – a primer, with my experience was last modified: June 10th, 2016 by Keith