What is your credit card ‘end game’ strategy?

(This article was updated in October 2016)

People who drift into this odd hobby of ours often apply for a couple of credit or charge cards almost at random, perhaps because they were on promotion or because they didn’t know any better.  They don’t have a long term strategy at that time, not surprisingly.

If you have just become involved in miles and points, the question to ask is:

“What credit cards should I get now, and which credit cards should I end up with?”

It’s like a substantially less exciting version of dating! You may meet someone who is good for a Summer of fun, but at the same time you also know that you will end up settling down with someone who better shares your long-term ambitions ….

Credit cards

What cards offer the most generous sign-up bonuses?

If you are just coming into the world of miles and points, you may be looking for something to give you a ‘big hit’ in terms of points. This will help you build up your balances quickly and get a good redemption under your belt.

Based on the size and flexibility of the rewards, the most valuable American Express and MasterCard / Visa option would be:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (20,000 Avios for signing up, no fee, good earnings rate) + Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa (free night at ANY hotel in the wider group, even the Conrad Maldives, for spending £750!)

These two cards will effectively give you £500-worth of sign-up bonuses between them, and will help you get the first redemption under your belt. And once you’ve done, say, a free weekend in Venice / Rome / Berlin with your other half (flights on Avios, hotel via the Hilton Venice, which is a lot smarter than you might imagine / Waldorf-Astoria Rome / Waldorf-Astoria Berlin) you’ll be hooked.

(Here is my full review of Amex Gold, here is my full review of the Hilton Visa)

You are then in a position to think about where you want to go next with your credit card strategy …..

Which cards offer the largest mileage benefits for on-going spending?

For most people, your ‘end game’ with loyalty credit cards – assuming you are focussed on Avios – will probably be:

British Airways Premium Plus American Express + Tesco MasterCard (0.3 Avios per £1)

The 2-4-1 voucher with the BA PP Amex, when you spend £10,000, is the most valuable perk in loyalty credit cards, as I showed mathematically here. And the Tesco MasterCard is the highest earning MasterCard / Visa for Avios unless you meet the very tough requirements for the HSBC Premier card – although 0.3 Avios per £1 is still not great.

(Here is my full review of the BA Premium Plus Amex, here is my full review of the Tesco MasterCard including how you can get 1,000 bonus Clubcard points if I refer you)

If you spend a lot of money abroad, you might want to add:

Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express & MasterCard (review)

because it comes with NO foreign exchange fees, saving you 3% on all your overseas spending. There is a £24 annual fee but you will save more than this if you spend over £800 outside the UK. You earn 1 Avios per £1 on the Amex and 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard – not great, but this is a card you can keep in the desk until you travel.

Supercard from Travelex is a better option for foreign spend if you don’t want to pay the fee for the Lloyds card.

You can still apply for other cards as good bonuses come along, especially once you’ve spent the £10,000 on your British Airways Premium Plus Amex to trigger your 2-4-1 Avios voucher. But these cards are both good choices for the long term.

“I don’t earn enough to spend £10,000 per year to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher on the BA Amex”

In that case, you are more likely to end up with:

British Airways American Express (free) or TSB Avios American Express (free) + Tesco MasterCard (0.3 Avios per £1)

… as the two highest earning free Avios cards (1 per £1 on the BA and TSB cards, 0.3 per £1 on the Tesco card). The TSB card offers double Avios on overseas spend but the BA Amex offers a sign-up bonus.  The TSB Avios card has never had a sign-up promotion.

(Here is my full review of the free BA Amex card, here is my full review of the free TSB cards)

“I tend to travel on my own so I can’t use the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher”

If this describes you, take a look at this article on cards for solo travellers.  You will probably find the upgrade vouchers earned via the Lloyds Avios Rewards cards more useful.  You are probably looking at:

Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express (£24) + Tesco MasterCard (0.3 Avios per £1)

“The Tesco card is embarrassing when I open my wallet and puts off the girls / boys”

In this situation, because the earning rate is poor on almost all other Visa and MasterCard products, I would go with:

British Airways Premium Plus American Express + whichever Visa or MasterCard is currently offering the most attractive sign-up bonus in your opinion


The point of this post is that, after a bit of churning, you will want to ‘settle down’ with cards which offer genuine long-term value and which can genuinely help you reach your Avios goals. One of the combos above is likely to be your best bet.

Please do post below if your choice of long-term wallet partners disagrees with mine …..

Representative APR rates for the cards above can be found on our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page.

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.

Do you need travel insurance to cover your redemption ticket?
Bits: Hilton flash sale ends today, new Danish BA credit card!, Viceroy joins Global Hotel Alliance
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  1. sandgrounder says:

    ‘“The Tesco card is embarrassing when I open my wallet and puts off the girls / boys”

    Fair point.’

    Fair point???? Get some self confidence people!!!!

    • It’s less embarrassing when you get 1.2 Avios / £, with the grandfathered card, although I appreciate it doesn’t beat the old BMI card, plus Tesco give name a coupon for 750 pts, each year, just for using the card!

    • Especially when shopping at Waitrose or Marks and Spencer, strewth! What would the neighbors say?

  2. Frankie says:

    As a couple our strategy is as follows. My partner has, and permanently keeps the BA prem Amex. We both constantly churn the Anex gold reward cards for the sign up bonuses and waiting the six months etc. (the double points for certain spending really boosts our balance. Uber seems to be quadruple points and no idea why!) I take out the BA prem Amex every two years or so and cancel the minute we return from the 2 for 1 reward flight. I have the tesco MasterCard. We are supplementary cards holders to all cards not in our names. We currently have 300k unused avios in BAEC. Neither of us fly for work or pay for business flights. We’ve always been BAEC blue. We have 2 upcoming club world flights each (using 2 for 1 voucher) within the next year. Phoenix in August and Mexico City in February. (We also suss out e reward surveys for avios and other avios bonuses wherever we find them. Usually with the help of Raffles’ great website). The end of churning would change our strategy should that no longer be allowed.

    • Our strategy and earning opportunities are fairly similar, except we travel as a family so use 2 x 241 each year.
      We both churn the platinum reward card and downgrade to gold, after hitting the target spend, for the double spend in supermarkets, travel etc triple in some places – petrol, esso garages with tesco express attached
      Did the e-reward surveys, but gave up with those as I could never get the points to convert to Avios :-(
      Collect a lot of tesco gift cards, 3v soon to be pay.com if they ever return and paid visa gift cards

    • Frankie,

      Can you confirm on which card are using for Uber for quadruple points?
      I use Uber a bit, so keen to maximise points (if possible).



      • @ Frankie, @Mark P

        I would also be interested to know what categories are applied to to give quadruple points.

        BA Preferred Rewards Gold is currently giving me treble points for Uber (base+”travel bonus”+”outward spend bonus”) because of the generous earning rates in year 1.


  3. I thought you got 1.25 Avios per pound spent with the Lloyds card – which makes it better than (most/all?) other Avios earning cards…

    • On the amex card, not the mastercard part.
      You would only use the mastercard abroad, where they don’t take Amex.

  4. Similar strategy to Frankie (7:17 am) for collection: although as a “trade-off” for my hobby, Mrs Gummidge prefers to receive John Lewis vouchers for Mastercard spend.
    All readers’ circumstances will be different; we have one 2-4-1 to burn in the next 5 weeks(with another in the pot) so will be downgrading a BAPP to preserve number the 2.
    Santander Zero( although I’d take the halifax now) for foreign spend; got 1.42euros per pound last week with some “residue” brought back for later in the year-no interest paid.
    Not sure about the benefits of the Supercard-I thought the jury was out until Travelex fully show their hand?

  5. After collecting lots of BA+Virgin miles and then being unable to redeem them for flights where (and when) we wanted to go, we’ve shifted to collecting IHG points as the earn rate on the Premium card is pretty good and generally they’re easy to redeem too. You also seem to get the foreign spend bonus on some transactions that are in pounds but processed abroad – it’s hard to tell exactly as Barclaycard provide a very poor breakdown of your points earning, but BA flights seem to always generate 4 points per £.

  6. barnaby100 says:

    We pretty much put very penny of spend on a card- down to the £2.50 coffee. Day to day we tend to use BA Premium Amex or Virgin Black (has visa as as well as Amex). I also have a business Amex platinum. Sometimes use John Lewis in Waitrose as if you do they keep sending you various vouchers (not the points gift vouchers but other) I havent worked it out but it must generate 500k points/miles a year. Our student children are also additional cardholders etc. We use 2 x amex 2 for 1 a year- 1st class long haul.

    You can pay the £9k Uni fees on Amex at no cost which was a revelation! Our council tax, water, car insurance and house insurance are paid annually on cards (small fee for water). Always consider my tax bill but probably not worth the fees. EDF would be another big one- did 3v once but the time wasnt worth the money/miles.

    We did used to churn a lot and OH will probably take out a new platinum amex this year if there is a good offer. However with such large lines of credit we probably need to close some (we have a fair few more) to open any. Will be closing the 2 virgin white taken out last year to get an offer.

    • ‘You can pay the £9k Uni fees on Amex at no cost which was a revelation!’

      “And for me now” !

  7. andystock says:

    The Emirates card is useful if you like football! Amex Gold and Hilton Honnors card for non amex retailers. Raffles is always finding some Hilton Honnors proms for bonus points!

  8. We have just had our 2nd child so have a 1 week old and a 2 1/2 yr old so unlikely to do any traveling this year apart from already paid all inclusive trip to Turkey in September.

    So thinking this is a time to accumulate miles and that 2 for 1 is not appropriate? What’s the redemption time after earning?

    I fly a lot with BA for business however would like to take the kids to Disney FL in the coming years so thinking Virgin is the better bet for that trip..

    Is it better to accumulate MR points for flexibility?

    • MR points transfer at 1 to 1 for Virgin, unless there is a conversion bonus. I believe you get more than 1 Virgin point per pound with their Amex card, so you might want to try that, if you’re sure that you’ll be using Virgin.

      • You do, 2 per £1 on the Black card which is very generous, albeit with a stiff fee so you need to be a big spender. Amex does offer flexibility in case Virgin devalues though.

    • Kurshee says:

      2 years for the BAPP

      I wanted to downgrade mine to standard BA Amex and was told the expiry of my voucher will reduce to 1 year (the policy for the standard BA Amex). So I kept the BAPP.

      Been told I would lose the voucher if I cancelled the BAPP – not sure what others do.

      • It is definitely not downgraded to a 1-year voucher – many, many people now do this to avoid paying the fee for the full year and I’ve never heard of a voucher in reality being reduced.

        • Really? That’s what Amex told me this week when I called to downgrade. Maybe I’ll try again this week and downgrade.

          What about cancellation of the card? Does that cancel the voucher as it claims on their T&Cs?

          • Amex agents don’t know how their own systems works. All they do is read from the official script they are given (not surprisingly). This usually bears no relation to how things work in practice.

            However, when it comes to cancellation I don’t know. Very few people have ever cancelled a BA Amex with an unused voucher in their account so we don’t have guinea pig evidence to work from. I usually advise people to downgrade to the free card rather than cancel entirely just to be sure.

            • goglobalnz says:

              Guinea pig here – my wife cancelled her BAPP in January after having earned the voucher and its still there. I was worried it’d disappear, and intend to use it as soon as possible (before they notice perhaps)

            • Thanks, good to know. She’s a brave woman!

          • Honestly, you must have been talking to a newbie in amex. They def do not downgrade your 241. It stays in your BAEC account until you are ready to book. Best thing to do is book your 241 flight paying fees etc with ANY amex. Then once you know you won’t need to make any further changes on the booking, you can downgrade to the free card, but do it online so no questions asked. We did that for my OH recently, and for myself last year. And travel with whatever current amex we have. Can you post that t and c part you mentioned please?

          • Worzel, polly, raffles

            Thanks for your advice. Will downgrade online

      • Kurshee (11:52) if you downgrade to the basic card, then it’s a 20k spend for a 2-4-1 which is valid for just 1 year-which it seems the agent may have been alluding to. If you’ve got your voucher already it will have an expiry date and all you’ll need is any BA card(it seems) to redeem.
        I had this from Amex this week regarding a downgrade:

        I appreciate your wish to transfer your British Airways Premium Plus Credit Card to our fee free British Airways Credit Card.

        You will be glad to know that we can easily process this request for you. In order to process it, I request you to kindly contact us on 0845 604 2532 (available 24/7). As soon as you call, one of my colleagues will immediately transfer your Card to our fee free British Airways Credit Card.

        Our British Airways Credit Card comes with the following benefits:

        – You earn a Companion Voucher if you spend £20,000 in a Card membership year on your Card. The Companion Voucher will be valid for 12 months from the date of issue.

        – You earn 1 Avios per £1 spent on your Card.

        In reference to your Companion Voucher query, I confirm that in order to successfully redeem a British Airways Companion Voucher, an active British Airways American Express Credit Card is required.

  9. As a family of four we cannot use the 241 voucher as do not spend enough to earn two! We are churning the Amex gold between myself and my husband to get the sign up bonus. Have the Halifax clarity for spend abroad and any non Amex spend. Will think about changing this to get another mastercard or visa when the new travelex card comes out.

  10. I guess this thread will be of interest to new points collectors both now and in the future so I shall add a few comments regarding our experiences and strategy. As Raffles alludes, this will vary depending on personal circumstances and preferences.

    We are a middle-aged professional couple, no kids. We fly 3-4 times a year, purely for leisure. I collected Avios for years at a very slow rate through occassional Sainsbury’s and then Tesco shops added to our BA flight Avios easrnings. We had a few Euro flights and two return business fares to Thailand and then Hong Kong courtesy of these. However, we have ony been collecting Avios and Virgin Flying Club miles seriosly for 14 months now.

    Is it worth it? You bet! We have upgraded our holiday flights from Economy to ANA Business for Tokyo (via Virgin) and to BA First to Las Vegas this year. We also have enough miles in the pot to do this again for next year. We do not use Avios for our European trips, they are more valuable to us for long-haul upgrades (and we often drive over to the Continent anyway).

    We have bought very little we would not have bought usually in our quest to amass airmiles. We do purchase almost everything, even a £1.50 convenience store purchase, on a credit card. So like the Queen, we rarely use cash these days! Every little helps. We buy more items online now, so get more package deliveries. We use Paypal a lot as they accept Amex, even if the supplier does not if you pay them directly. We swapped our supermarket supplier from Waitrose to Tesco (this was the biggest sacrifice for us we thought, but tbh, we have not noticed any real difference, the shopping is delivered weekly and we can top-up for Waitrose specific items as required). We also buy wine in bulk now, rather than weekly, via Tesco Wines. MyTesco Clubcard account is so old we get 800 Avios/ £2.50, so it makes sense.

    Our credit card strategy? Well it pays to listen to Raffles clearly. We have, as he suggests, adopted the AMEX BAPP for long term use with the Tesco card for Mastercard spend, although we still have a Virgin Black in use as it remains in date, but we will stop this when the year ends.We change Amex PRG every 6 months between us to get bonuses, avoid fees and have supplementary cards. We use this for all supermarket and Tesco petrol purchases. We will be opening a second BAPP this year so we have one each and a second 241.

    In the short-term we have turfed an Amex Platinum, Virgin Black, two Virgn White cards (we have kept one open) and two Barclaycard IHGs.

    Things we have found less useful for points collection: 3V cards via Tesco. The hassle and time just does not make this viable for us, we are too busy+. Tesco Shopper surveys- rarely offer points, just entries into prized draws.

    So that’s us, after just a year of collecting. Bottom line- read Raffles posts every day and pick carefully the points-earning opportunities that suit you.

    • I will add that al this has NOT affected my credit scoring in any way.

      • Well it has mine. Just got declined for a Nationwide mortgage, checked with Experian and my score was 900 (max Is 999) all great except the negatives which were four credit card applications in six months and four credit cards received in the last six months) so the rumors are true, if you are looking for a mortgage don’t apply for any credit cards six months before. The good news is that after speaking with nationwide personally, they reversed the online decision, but still, be aware.

        • Experian provides Nationwide with the credit RECORDS but it’s up to Nationwide to make their own scoring system. The analysis you see on Experian could be totally irrevelant.

        • I would suggest 4 credit card application in 6 months would stand out. Although there is a lot of us churning cards on here, for the masses that just never happens, so not a surprise that their automated system would flag it.

          Also bear in mind the amount of credit being made available to you. Barclaycard (for example) tends to give out a ridiculously high credit limit even for new customers, in which case i always phone to have it reduced.

          But as you say, after a manual review your mortgage was approved – which I’m sure we are all glad to hear!

          As Kai states there isn’t an official credit card scoring system in the UK, the Experian score which they try and sell everyone is their own gimmick (my opinion). Different lenders assess risk is different ways.

        • I guess it is a risk for some. I have also, in the last few months, taken out a new mortgage. We spent much of the “interview” discussing airmiles collecting! It was approved. But churning cards will of course be risky for some and not for others. How you figure out if it will be I have no idea.

    • I’m sure this has been asked a million times, but just to be absolutely sure. . .

      I started with the BAPP last August and received my 241 voucher in January. I booked flights to CapeTown for this coming October (open Jaws – CPT out, JNB back). I then downgraded the BAPP to the free BA Amex.

      Question: Can I actually cancel the BA AMex already without affecting my Cape Town booking?

      If so then I can churn the BAPP, reapply in November and get the welcome bonus all over again.

      • This depends how you paid for the taxes and surcharges for the flight.
        I cancelled my BA Premium Plus about 2 months ago, but I have used my 241 voucher for a trip to the US in the summer. I paid the taxes , etc using my Lloyd’s avios card as you are supposed to bring the card you used as proof of purchase. So if you booked paid for the excess with another card you should have no problem.

    • I was already collecting Avios before I came across this site and had worked out, thanks to a friend who has a lot of Avios, how to get premium cabins for an extremely good price thanks to amex 241’s etc.
      However I was buying half the Avios, I needed, from BA approx £1600 per year, to facilitate one trip for a family of 4 in F using 2 x 241’s. As raffles would say that’s a poor return per Avios, it is when you know what you are doing!!!
      Since coming across this site( about 16 months ago), and getting more point savvy, we now earn enough for 2 trips a year( 8 flights ) don’t spend £1600 buying points and have more options with other airlines thanks to Raffles. I do spend a lot of time buying gift cards etc but I have spare time and I quite enjoy getting a good deal. :-)

    • The_Real_A says:

      In my experience its total available credit VS your income that is more important to the lender. I would be very suprised if Nationwide told you the exact reason for their decision, but if they did cite card applications then thats very interesting…

  11. I agree with Raffles. A BAPP plus a tesco card is pretty much all you need for everyday collecting. I also pay my mobile phone bills on amex. As they say every little helps!

  12. Incidental Tourist says:

    Actually, you are the second person I know with this type of strategy. There are probably many couples who do this, it is well within the rules of the game. Knowing that you can amass 300k+ avios after having two clubworld tickets booked, without doing much actual travel makes me understand why BA might want to devalue the Avios programme.

    They did it the wrong way in my mind. Or perhaps they should introduce even more stringent rules so it is really a programme for frequent flyers rather than for frequent churners.

    I would support the following:

    Blue: only 1 clubworld redemption every two years
    Bronze: 1 clubworld redemption a year
    Silver: 2 clubworld redemption a year
    Gold: unlimited

    This would recognise actual travellers and increase the pool of award availability. Neither would blue members complain since it is perfectly reasonable, and they would have more availability when they were entitled to book. The only complainers would be the churners currently taking 2 clubworld holidays a year without flying any other way.

    Declaration: I am a frequent flyer, 920 tier points in the first 2 months of my baec year – all personal spend.

    • Incidental Tourist says:

      Further to my previous comment. I think that this schedule would be better:

      Blue: only 1 clubworld redemption every two years
      Bronze: 1 clubworld redemption a year
      Silver: 2 clubworld/first redemption a year
      Gold: unlimited

      That is, First redemptions are only available to Silver and Gold (and above) members. That would really make gaining Silver meaningful.

  13. How are people maintain MR points whilst churning Amex cards? Transferring out or another option?

    • Transferring out, there is no way to keep them when you close the account.

    • You can take out the amex gold credit card, combine the Mr accounts into 1,
      Then cancel the platinum or gold charge card and it keeps the mr points account active,
      They haven’t yet cancelled my gold credit card..

      • This works for some. Some people are made to cancel the Gold Credit when they ring to cancel Gold Charge, seems the luck of the draw. Of course, keeping Gold Credit means you don’t start the 6-month clock before you can reapply for Gold or Plat charge.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I started off the same, I had the AMEX Gold and Hilton HHonors but I have since ended up with the AMEX Plat Euro card, NBAD Elite from UAE, Hilton HHonors issued by DKB and SPG AMEX.

    I do sometimes wonder whether I should ditch the Hilton as I no longer stay in Hilton properties, the only reason I keep the SPG is for airline transfers, I’m not 100% sure what my end goal is, most likely flights on Emirates and stays in Jumeirah which I’m achieving quite well!

  15. Blackberryaddict says:

    We’ve got a Tesco and two BAPPs as well, but now the kids have flown the nest I think we’re going to have a bit of a surplus of 241 vouchers, so I’ll need to cancel one (or downgrade?). I also have a Gold still – kept it after the initial bonus, and most years get around 3 MR per pound – don’t forget the 7.5k bonus for renewing.

    I used to churn credit cards (more for interest free periods than points), but I can’t really be bothered any more (and have no outstanding balances any more either). I do get a fair number of Avios from flying (both personal and business), so I am not too fussed about spending loads of time filling in questionnaires or faffing around with 3V cards. I do pick up the occasional promotion, and 6 bottles of wine through Tesco’s with a load of Avios are always welcome.

    However, the recent changes to BAEC have made me rethink a little. I’ve now got a Star Gold card through matching via Turkish Airlines, so not so slavishly stuck with oneworld.

    I’ve also still got an AA Visa/Amex combo. It’s free, and it keeps my AA miles live.

    • barnaby100 says:

      Now the children have flown the nest is the best time! All those lovely child free luxury hotels combined with BA 1st redemptions. We manage to use both of our vouchers each year.

  16. Hi, I have just taken out my first card for the points (Amex Gold) so have found this thread fascinating. Some things that I am nut sure about however are 1) is there a maximum amount of cards you should apply for/have to not affect your credit rating. 2) people have spoken about churning the Amex does this mean you can get the sign up bonus and fee free year again?

    Thanks to anyone that can give some guidance on these.

    • 1) I suspect that wil vary based on personal circumstances
      2) Yes you can but you need to wait a full 6 months before re-applying or else you will not get the bonus points, though may still agree to issue the card. This applies to any Amex that offers MR points, Platinum, Gold or Green. It does not apply tp Amex credit cards that reward with Avios or SPG points. Generally Amex are allow you to hold up to two charge cards and two credit cards at any one time.

    • Yes, you can get the bonus on any Amex card again as long as you wait 6 months after originally cancelling.

      Your credit rating is based on lots of things. Card companies won’t give you more cards if they don’t think your credit is OK so it is circular. The key is to cancel cards you no longer use and make sure you don’t have excessive credit limits – if you have a £10k limit and never spend more than £2k then take it down to £4k. This makes it more likely another issuer will give you a card.

      Do NOT take it down to £2,100 if you spend £2,000 as this looks bad – it looks like are really pushing your limit and are desperate for more credit.

  17. Bit off topic, but has anyone else who applied for a supplementary AMEX card for the bonus MR offer yet received their points? I’m still waiting… not sure whether I actually need to use the supp. card or not.

    • Had mine post couple of weeks ago, took around 8 weeks, used one and no the others, s no need to “activate”

      • I can second the 8 weeks thing – pretty much spot on. I had put £1 through each for the sake of expediency, but have no idea whether it helped or not.

    • Most got them within 6 weeks, with cards which were not activated and so not spent on. I know of at least one person who is fighting Amex because they say the cards were not spent on – although everyone else got it OK. I would wait 6 weeks and then chase, but don’t chase without putting a £1 through each card.

    • Activated the supplementary and didn’t get the points for weeks. The 10k was credited to my account the evening the first charge was made on the card.

    • I applied for 3 in December, the points all credited mid-Feb. One more in Jan, the points credited a few days ago. So it can be a wait.

    • Thanks for the replies, guys. I didn’t receive the supp. card until the end of January, so sounds like I’ve maybe just got a bit more waiting to do.

      Received the Tesco clubcard credit card last month, with some sort of 1000pt signup bonus which I have now received. Raffles – do you know if it’s worth me asking you for a referral too, or are these bonus deals unlikely to ‘stack’?

  18. Amex Plat for my primary spending + Tesco for anything else. I’m a solo traveller and atm struggle to spend Avios faster than I build them up (I’ll only do one club/first redemption a year), so I’ve been finding it hard to justify the fee for a card with a better earning rate (plus Amex drop me spending bonuses every so often).

  19. A few posts above about churning and credit ratings. I was recently declined for the IHG at the same time my spouse was declined for the Hilton (both Barclaycard.)
    In the previous 6 months I got Amex Gold Charge, companion Gold Credit, and BA Amex (I cancelled the former two in the month before applying for IHG.) My spouse got Amex Gold Charge, BA Amex in the same period. We’re both supplementary card-holders on the aforementioned, have one or two other long-term cards, always pay off balances in full, have no other non-mortgage debt, and total credit is reasonable for our income. Do you think we’ve just applied for too many in too short a time for Barclaycard’s liking? I’m happy to wait 6 months and try again, but unfortunately that will coincide with when I’d like my spouse to refer me for my next Amex Gold.

    • My impression previously was that for Hilton/IHG you could have almost too *good* a credit rating sometimes – I think they go through phases of not accepting applications from people who have consistently paid off their cards. I’ve managed to successfully apply for both of those cards a couple of times but have had refusals too and there’s been no clear pattern when looking at the other cards I’ve had open at the time.

      • Can you remember if you waited a full six months after a rejection before reapplying? Is it worth risking it after, say, 3 months?

        • I thought I’d left it a full six but believe it was actually four between my Hilton cards one time!

      • I have paid off all my cards in full for many years now and my credit rating when I checked with Experian was 999/1000. We have paid off the mortgage.
        We have both taken out IHG and Hilton cards very recently as well as Lloyds Reward, Tesco, Virgin and several Amex. I have been honest about our low income. I wonder with every application whether this will be the one that is refused.
        It does not seem to follow a set pattern, perhaps deliberately.

  20. We are a child-less married professional couple in our 30’s living in the North West of England. Our bulk of miles comes from my business travel which (until last week) always had to be lowest priced economy seat available on a sensible route. Thankfully this is going up to Prem Eco but I am yet to work out how this will affect my strategy. We have no difficulty putting £20K through a credit card to hit sign up bonuses or 241 tickets.

    If using our own money we would usually target our travel to anywhere that was “on sale” via one of the major airlines, and fly in discounted economy. My wife is a nervous flyer and hates the take-off/landing part (she is ok once cruising the motorways of the skies), so our flights have to involve as few connections as possible. We both work full time, typically putting in long hours most weeks with only 4 weeks holiday allowance per year, so taking a day stopover on route in order to get lower taxes on an Avios partner is not attractive either.

    Based on the above I feel the upcoming Avios devaluation has hit us hard and I am unlikely to continue with the scheme, probably moving my mileage to AA. At least when I redeem with AA I pay substantially lower fees than BA making an economy redemption worth while compared to a paid ticket which we all know is a very poor use of Avios.

    This combined with the difficulty of finding Avios availability when and where we want to go is pushing me towards directing our spend to hotel loyalty cards. Availability is generally much better and there is zero additional outlay. This allows us to find a cheap flight to where we want to go but stay for free when we get there, in some top class accommodation. I would rather be comfortable for 7 full days and nights than two 8hr flights.

    To this end, I have just received the IHG Visa card during the triple bonus sign up period. I use IHG a lot for my business travel so this should help the points stack up nicely. This card will be primarily for my business expenses. I will downgrade my BAPP, which used to be my business expenses card, before the next years fee is due so that I keep our current 241 voucher we currently have in my account.

    We use our Tesco card for almost all our personal spending but we don’t convert the vouchers to Avios verbatim. We wait until we have a need of the Tesco vouchers or they’re about to expire and use them for a 3x or 4x redemption via one of their reward partners. Avios would be an option if we needed a top up or it was the best use of the expiring points.

    We also have a Amex Gold and plan to churn these for the sign up bonus alternating between mine and my wifes name. We always take supplementary cards for the other partner.

    I am sure we are not making the most efficient use of the cards we carry but points collecting is a happy by-product of our spending, rather than a hobby. We don’t take pleasure in staying on top of all the deals or worming our money through various loop holes to maximise the return, we are lucky enough to have enough disposable income that our free time is worth more to us than scanning web sites for deals. HFP is brilliant for how easy it delivers the big deals directly to my inbox so I don’t have to go hunting. Thanks Raffles!

    (Sorry for the long post but thought the demographic info might be helpful to Raffles)

  21. Scottnothing says:

    My current strategy is as follows:

    – Everyday domestic non-supermarket spend until 2-4-1 is triggered: BAPP
    – Everyday domestic non-supermarket spend once 2-4-1 is triggered or if Amex is not accepted: Hilton VISA (up to £10,000 spent, which grants Hilton Gold status for the rest of that year and the following)
    – Everyday domestic non-supermarket spend once 2-4-1 is triggered and Hilton Gold status achieved: HSBC Premier Mastercard
    – British Airways spending: BAPP
    – Overseas spending: Gold Amex
    – Supermarket spending: Gold Amex

    I have churned the Gold Amex twice by upgrading it to Platinum in the 11th month of issue, and then cancelled the Platinum within 3 months of the upgrade, after the upgrade points bonus has cleared and my Accor and SPG status has been lifted.

    I started with the Tesco Mastercard but just recently closed it – the HSBC Premier Mastercard now takes up that space in my wallet.

  22. Here’s mine:

    BAPP every day spend up to £10k for us as a couple. Have used for CW/F 241’s successfully, two years, just about to earn 3rd one so have applied for Amex Gold.

    Lloyds Avios:. We recognise with these that we might not have many miles to use these upgrades as best a possible, but for the lower annual fee even if you use it on a CE return it’s worth it. Use this for overseas now too except cash overseas where I use Halifax clarity.

    Alternate between AA MBNA (1 AA for £2 spend) and Lloyds Avios for non Amex. I’ll probably drop the AA MBNA card once Lloyds update my Avios card to be contactless (they won’t let me jump the queue)…

  23. I’m having another look at my rarely-used Hilton Visa card. As Raffles points out, points earning is generally poor but HHonors Gold status for £10,000 card expenditure could extend my current (non-CC) Gold.

    The Hilton Visa website shows:
    You can also look forward to…
    Earning 3 HHonors Bonus Points for every £1 you spend at participating hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio of brands (in addition to the Base Points you already earn)

    Earning 2 HHonors Bonus Points for every £1 you spend everywhere else

    This implies 5 points/£ at Hiltons but is it true? What’s the experience of HfP-ers? And is there no foreign spend bonus?


    • No foreign bonus.

      I think ‘on top of base points’ means ‘on top of the base earnings for your hotel stay’, so you get 3 points per £1.

      Remember that the Hilton £10k is BY CALENDAR YEAR not by card year. Doesn’t matter much given that we are only in March but worth remembering.

      I put £10k of tax onto my Hilton Visa in January. Rationale is that £140 of fee is offset by £66 of points so I have paid £74 for Gold which will run to March 2016 or possibly March 2017 (if the latter, I will cancel the credit card). This is easily covered by free breakfasts and upgrades.

      • Thanks, Rob, and for your explanation of benefit from tax payment. That’s cleared up my dilemma. £74 would be worth it for me and I’d be looking for status to 3/17 (and beyond, who knows?).

        Council Tax bill just arrived and Mrs Roger’s SA Tax bill due in July should help.

      • Scottnothing says:

        The other aspect I haven’t been able to clarify is whether you can be upgraded to Gold for hitting the £10,000 per calendar year spend threshold in more than one year. The marketing literature and the terms and conditions are somewhat inconsistent.

        Marketing literature states:
        Receive HHonors Gold Elite status when you spend £10,000 in any calendar year.

        Terms and conditions state:
        If in any calendar year of card membership your total eligible purchases reach £10,000, you will be upgraded to Hilton HHonors™ Gold status for the calendar year in which such status was earned through the end of the next calendar year. Thereafter, standard requirements must be met to maintain Gold status.

        The words “[t]hereafter, standard requirements must be met to maintain Gold status add the confusion. Admittedly I haven’t bothered calling Barclays to get to the bottom of this. My strategy is to hit the spend targeted, get upgraded and then ask if this is a one-off or ongoing benefit. If it is the latter (which is my starting assumption), I will definitely close the card.

        If others have had experience with this, please share!

        • I get a feeling that this is badly written and they meant to add “If you don’t spend another £10k next year, standard requirements etc”. Hopefully.