What are the best credit card bonuses for LONG TERM spending?

The majority of the credit card posts on Head for Points are focussed on exploiting sign-up bonuses.  Get a card, spend the minimum required to trigger the bonus, cancel the card, move on.  After a couple of years, you can re-apply for the first card you got and claim the bonus again – it is a virtuous circle!

However, if you are a high to medium spender then the few thousand pounds of card spend required each year to hit your sign-up bonus targets will not be a stretch.  You need to consider where to put the rest of your annual spend.

In an effort to cut down on card churn, many issuers are now offering incentives for spending £10,000+ per year on their cards.  The value of these perks is often underestimated – they are often worth far more than the points for your normal spend.

In order of value, lets take a look at what is out there.  This analysis ignores the value of any sign-up bonus or ‘first year free’ deal – I am looking for the best long-term solution.

The results summary is (based on spending just enough to trigger the relevant long-term bonus):

  • BA Amex Premium Plus – 10.1% back on first £10,000
  • BA Amex – 6.1% back on first £20,000
  • Lloyds Avios Rewards Amex & Visa – 4.9% (if all Amex spend) on first £7,000
  • Lloyds Avios Premier Rewards Amex & Visa – 3.7% (if all Amex spend) on first £12,000
  • Virgin Atlantic Black Amex & Visa – 3.1% back (if all Amex spend) on first £10,000
  • IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa – 2.5% back on first £10,000
  • Hilton HHonors Visa – 2.25% back on first £10,000
  • TSB Premier Amex & Visa – 1.6% back (if all Amex spend) on first £15,000
  • House of Fraser MasterCard – 1.0% back in House of Fraser vouchers on all spend

I will explain the basis of my calculations below.

Our base comparisonThe House of Fraser MasterCard

This is the card against which I am comparing the others.  If a loyalty card can’t beat the best (pseudo) cashback card, you should take the cashback and book your flights and hotels directly!  Whilst the House of Fraser card does not pay you directly in cash, you receive 1% of your spend back in House of Fraser vouchers.

The winner British Airways American Express Premium Plus card

This is not exactly a surprise.  Spend £10,000 on this card and you get a voucher which gives you 2 Avios redemptions (on BA planes, ex-UK only) for the miles of one.  On an average redemption (2 Club World tickets to San Francisco on a peak day, say), this saves you 150,000 Avios points!

Based on my 0.75p per Avios point valuation, the 2-4-1 voucher is ‘worth’ £1,100.  You also earn 15,000 Avios for spending £10,000 (worth £110 assuming 0.75p per Avios) with an annual fee of £150.  The net benefit for spending £10,000 = £1,060 (£1,100 + £110 – £150) or 10.1% of spend.

BA Amex - NEW

Runner-upBritish Airways American Express card

The standard, free, British Airways Amex gives you a 2-4-1 voucher when you spend £20,000, and a lower 1 mile per £1 on your spending.  Using the same maths as above, £20,000 of spend gets you £1,100 of 2-4-1 benefit plus 20,000 Avios for your £20,000 of spending, worth £150.  There is no fee.  The net benefit for spending £20,000 = £1,250 or 6.1% of spend.

However, if you plan to earn the 2-4-1, the British Airways Premium Plus Amex is more attractive.  The card has a higher earnings rate and the 2-4-1 voucher lasts for two years instead of one.

Honourable mention, airline category Lloyds Avios Rewards Avios American Express and MasterCard

This is a tricky one to value.  You earn 1.25 Avios per £1 on the American Express but only 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard, so your spending mix is key.  There is a £24 annual fee.

The Lloyds Avios Rewards card comes with an upgrade voucher when you spend £7,000.  This allows one person to upgrade a return Avios reward flight by one class.  I am assuming that the upgrade voucher is used to upgrade a World Traveller Plus ticket to New York to Club World on a peak day, saving 40,000 Avios.

You would earn 8,750 Avios, worth £65, for the £7,000 spend.

That means you will receive 40,000 Avios of value from the upgrade (£300 value) plus £65 of Avios for spending £7,000 on the American Express card.  Deduct the £24 annual fee and the benefits are worth £341 on £7,000 of spending, or 4.9%.

Honourable mention, airline category – Lloyds Avios Premier Rewards Avios American Express and MasterCard

The ‘other’ Lloyds card has a higher earnings rate of 1.5 Avios per £1 on the Amex and 0.3 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.  There is a £140 annual fee.

When you spend £12,000 across both cards, you receive a 2-4-1 voucher.  However, unlike the BA Amex voucher, this 2-4-1 voucher is only valid on economy redemptions and is NOT refundable if you cancel your flights after booking.  It is hard to value Avios when used for economy flights – they are almost worthless on long-haul flights due to the taxes, but Reward Flight Saver flights can be an excellent deal.  The voucher can also be used on Eurostar and some other Avios partner airlines, but again only in economy.

I will assume you achieve the spend entirely on the Amex, and use the 2-4-1 voucher for an economy flight to Marrakech.  You would save 20,000 Avios by using the voucher, worth £150.

The Lloyds Avios Premier Rewards card also comes with an upgrade voucher when you spend £5,000 (this is £2,000 lower than the target on the £24 Lloyds card).  This allows one person to upgrade a return Avios reward flight by one class.  I am assuming that the upgrade voucher is used to upgrade a World Traveller Plus ticket to New York to Club World on a peak day, saving another 40,000 Avios.

You would earn 18,000 Avios, worth £135, for the £12,000 spend required to trigger both the 2-4-1 and the upgrade voucher.

That means, using my sample destinations, you will receive the equivalent of 60,000 bonus Avios (£300 value – 40,000 from the upgrade voucher and 20,000 from the 2-4-1) plus 18,000 Avios for spending £12,000 on the American Express card.  That is a total of 78,000 Avios which I value at 0.75p.  Deduct the £140 annual fee and the benefits are worth £445 on £12,000 of spending, or 3.7%.

Honourable mention, hotel categoryIHG Rewards Club Premium Visa card

The premium version of the IHG Rewards Club card gives you a voucher when you spend £10,000 for a free night in ANY IHG Rewards Club property.  I am assuming you use this somewhere expensive, such as the InterContinental in London, Paris, Hong Kong, New York etc for a £250 room.  (I used my last one at the InterContinental New York Times Square.)

In addition, you would have earned 20,000 points from your £10,000 of spend which I value at £100.  The card fee is £99.  The net benefit for spending £10,000 = £250 or 2.5% of spend.

Honourable mention, hotel category – Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa

This one really depends on your hotel stay pattern. Spend £10,000 on the card in a calendar year and you are given Hilton Gold staus for a year. Hilton Gold gets you free breakfast and a guaranteed upgrade, but this is still achievable for free via occasional promotions.  And, fundamentally, if you stay enough at Hilton properties to get real value from this then you probably stay enough to earn a Gold card.

Assuming that you and your partner spent 5 nights a year at a Hilton then the breakfast benefit is worth £125+.  Add in £100 of value from the 20,000 Hilton points earned from your £10,000 spend to achieve Gold and the £0 card fee, and you’d have a net benefit of £225 or 2.25% of spend.  This is VERY dependent on your Hilton stay pattern, though.

Honourable mention, airline categoryVirgin Atlantic Black American Express and Visa cards

The Virgin Black card comes with two benefits which may or may not work for you.  The one I do not value is the ‘free companion ticket’ voucher for spending £7,500.  This voucher is ONLY valid when the other person buys a full (or almost full) fare flight for cash.  It is generally only beneficial to someone travelling on business on a refundable ticket who wants to take their partner along.  Very few people will have the flexibility or lifestyle to do this.

The other benefit does have value.  For spending £5,000 you receive a voucher for an upgrade to Premium Economy when you book an Economy redemption flight.  A 2nd voucher comes at £10,000, which you would need if not travelling alone.

On a route such as UK-Los Angeles, the miles saving (based on the cost of Premium Economy versus Economy) would be 22,500 miles per ticket.  Assuming you can find availability (and Premium Economy is a small cabin), the value you get for £10,000 of spend is 45,000 miles which I value at £300.

You would also earn 20,000 Virgin miles for your £10,000 spend if it was on the Black Amex, worth £150.  The card fee is £140, so the net gain is £310 or 3.1% of your spend.

Of value only to heavy spenders on non-Amex cards – TSB Premier Avios American Express and MasterCard

This offers an identical 2-4-1 voucher to the Lloyds card above, but is triggered at £15,000 rather than £12,000.  You earn 1.25 Avios per £1 on the Amex but only 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.

I am assuming that the 2-4-1 voucher saves you 20,000 Avios (same calculation as per the Lloyds card).  You would earn 18,750 Avios, worth £140, for the £15k spend on the Amex.  Netting off the card fee, the net benefit for spending £15,000 is £240 or 1.6% of spend. This is not great.

If all the spend went on the MasterCard, your return on £15,000 would be 3,750 Avios (worth £28) plus £150 for the voucher, so £178 of value less £50 fee.  This is a very poor 0.86% of spend – you are better off with the House of Fraser MasterCard.

I also considered the value of the long-term spend bonuses on these other cards, but dismissed them as poor value:

Starwood American Express – upgrade to SPG Gold status for spending £15,000 and free weekend night for spending £25,000.  SPG Gold has only modest benefits and is often available for free, eg as an Amex Platinum benefit.  The free weekend night is valid only at Category 1-4 hotels, which limits its use considerably, and the value of such a free night (generally sub £100) is a small reward for such substantial expenditure.  The card has a £75 fee.

Virgin Atlantic White American Express & MasterCard – free economy to PE upgrade for spending £10,000 and a companion ticket for spending £15,000.  The high spend level required does not reflect the modest value of the rewards.  The ‘Economy to Premium Economy’ upgrade voucher on a redemption IS good but the Black card has a stronger benefit of two upgrade vouchers for spending £10,000 (and one for spending £5,000).

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £15,000, paid when you next renew.  I would value the 10,000 points at £75 (assuming you transfer to airline miles and achieve 0.75p of value).  You also receive two additional Lounge Club vouchers with each renewal.  Given the £140 annual fee after the first year, your net return is low.

Emirates Skywards Elite American Express & Visafree companion ticket when you spend £10,000.  However, you need to buy a full-fare ticket to receive your companion ticket, and even then there must be reward availability on the flight.  Unless you regularly buy full-fare tickets you would not be able to benefit from this.

I am happy to hear arguments for and against my views here – many of these rewards are subjectively valued, dependant on your travel patterns.

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.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated ‘Credit Cards’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. This is an extremely complicated subject and these benefits need to be considered along with the signup bonuses. The individual’s spending on the cards and travel patterns are also key to getting the best result. I have gained enormously in the year or so since I discovered this site (I have no idea how). Many thanks to Rob and the other contributors.
    Something not mentioned is the frequent cashbacks available from Amex if you spend in the right place. I have no got 11 Amex cards so if it is somewhere which sells gift cards you can get quite a bit of money. The Lloyds Rewards cards also have a cashback scheme which is not as good as Amex but has given me and my wife the £24 fee back. Also no FX fees which could be worth £50 depending on your overseas spend. I have often trumpeted the benefits of the Lloyds cards but have just discovered that they do not come with Purchase Protection covering loss of a purchased item.

  2. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    I have just let one 241 expire and have another two expiring in the next 12mths. If you cant find anywhere you want to go at a time you want to go then there is no value. 4 seats, school holidays etc. I acknowledge it can be done, but it is not easy.

    What is easy is to fall into the trap of buying an item you didn’t want/need because it was 30% off. In reality you have not saved 30% but spent 70%.

    I am struggling to fine a good long term card now that Tesco Mastercard has been ‘enhanced’. Frankly, even that wasn’t great.

    I sense that cashback is the way to go.

    • cheekychappie says:
    • I’m having the same problem, been checking several times a day but can’t find 4 seats on any route I want in the summer holidays.
      You also need to take into account redemption costs. 4 seats to the Caribbean or West Coast cost 400,000 with Virgin, 300,000 with 2×241 or 450,000 with 1×241 with BA.

      • Can you not use one voucher for the trip and buy 2 tickets? And use the other voucher at a different time.

    • If you’ve already earned them, can’t you at least use them on a shorthaul CE RFS trip as a fallback. You’ll still be saving 25-40k miles beyond band 1 and benefiting from the low fees, or think of it as a free upgrade for 2 ET->CE. (Appreciate this is less appealing from the regions.)
      I’ve used quite a few vouchers shorthaul recently: I’m happy to earn the voucher in case I want to and can use them longhaul, but if I use it shorthaul that’s ok too. It’s a little easier for me to justify as I only pay £30/yr, but if I didn’t I would alternate cards with my wife so the fee “pays” for the bonuses and I’m only doing £7k of spending to earn the voucher.

    • The problem with the 241 is that as you say, there is a real risk of wasting it due to the terrible availability of premium long-haul redemptions. I spent my first one on an economy return to Frankfurt, as we weren’t going to use it anyway and we had to go to Germany (Frankfurt was the 4th choice airport but there was no availability anywhere else). However, when you do manage to get good value from it, it’s brilliant. I’ve also used them on return First to St Lucia, CW to Australia and Grand Cayman – all routes that I probably would have ended up paying for business on, so it saved me thousands. And recently, availability has been improving a little bit.

      The BIG difference is that I am always very flexible on dates and locations. If I was trying to get 4 seats together and fly in the school holidays, I imagine it would be nigh-on impossible. When we have children I might well give up on the points thing to be honest.

      • Is there a new airport near the Grand Canyon then ?

      • You would imagine correctly. :) I’m currently focused on Virgin because the availability is much better in the summer holidays. In the last few years I’ve managed 4 Upper class to Vegas, Barbados, Antigua and Washington DC in school holidays. When the kids leave home in a couple of years I’ll probably go with BA.

  3. Two questions, is there an east way to find out when your six months is up and you can claim the Amex bonus again? I think I’ll have to call them?

    Also what do they use to track you? I’ve moved house so will a new address be sufficient to make me a new customer?

    • cheekychappie says:

      Put Congratulations, your card application has been approved or Your American Express application into your email search

      • Wouldn’t that just tell you when you were took out the card, not the exact date the cancellation was.

        • cheekychappie says:

          Then just log into your old a/c, which you can still access. You can’t do anything with it but it gives you your last statement date when you closed it.

    • I’ve asked Amex to write to me with confirmation of the cancellation date before, and they’ve been happy to do it.

    • You also have to take account of the date when you cancel the card not perhaps being the date the account is closed, or the final statement date. It’s been commented before on HfP that its therefore safer to allow 7 months prior to applying again.

  4. cheekychappie says:

    My calculation on Gold would be
    22000 sign up
    10000 in month 13
    15000 MR points
    2 lounge passes £40
    Total £510 (most of us get 1p/ Avios)

    £510/£15000 = 3.4%

    It is, as Mark says, a very individual choice. I can’t possibly get any value from 241s at the moment (3 children & a house to maintain in Holidayville, Europe) means long haul just isn’t going to happen until we pack the youngest off to university in 2022. Club Europe is virtually pointless on a 2 hour journey if you have free lounge access.

    I appreciate the point about long term, but 13 months IS long term AFAIAC. The steady 2% on DC Amex is excellent back up :)

  5. Nice Roundup of the long term bonuses, regarding the Amex preferred rewards Gold card, I am approaching the end of the first year which was free. I have already spent the £15000 required to get the bonus, I understand I would only get the points once my card is renewed, would I be able to renew the card, get the bonus, transfer to my choice of partners and then cancel the card, I understand the fee will be refunded pro rata so assuming they charge for a month £140/12, would I be right in thinking the 10,000 points will cost me just under £12?

    • cheekychappie says:

      all correct

      supps now pay £45/ year so if you have one, factor in an extra £3.75, though no idea if this fee applies to existing supps (I’m sure they used to be free in Year 2, anybody confirm?)

    • Mine actually say my bonus MR points will be credited to my account 60 days after renewal, so if you are the same as me – it will be £24 off the pro-rata refund.

      • cheekychappie says:

        Not actually true, it says:
        10,000 Membership Rewards points will be awarded to your account when you spend £15,000 or more on purchases by your Card anniversary date. The bonus points will be credited to your account within 60 days of your Card renewal. Terms apply.

        And you get the points fairly promptly in month 13.

      • I thought the bonus was 7500 points on renewal for those with renewals coming up.
        I don’t want to keep the card, after the bonus posts, but a 25% bonus for a transfer will outweigh any current sign up bonus so will have to keep the card for a few monthsand hope for a bonus to a scheme I use :)
        The gold card has turned out to be my preferred card for spend over the last 10 months by a long way.

        • cheekychappie says:

          7500 if you are on the old Gold scheme, ie still on 2 Avios/ £ etc.

          New cards get 1 Avios/ £ & 10000 on anniversary if you hit the £15000 spend

    • Yes, points appear in a month.

  6. Using the HoF card as a benchmark is only valid if you actually shop at HoF, which I would never do – overpriced, so not worth it. Incidentally, though, AMEX has an offer for 10 pounds off 70 pounds!

    • It is not overpriced to the extent they charge more the same items, because they don’t in my view. Whether you think £50 for a bottle of EDT or face cream is overpriced is a different question.

      • That’s a question?!

      • The relevance of HoF cards and vouchers is limited. For those of us outside the SW1 and SW3 postcodes, they are next to meaningless.

        I recognise they are used on HfP as examples. There’s a number of cards offering 0.5% benefits on general spend and 1% on in-house spend. For me, the most suitable would probably be the John Lewis/Waitrose card on the basis that we would actually use the vouchers for things we need. Other cards are available.

        For the time being, I think I’ll be using my semi-dormant fee-free MBNA AmEx cash back card offering 1% statement credit and perhaps take out the JL card once the Tesco MC applies its reduced benefits. (NB: MBNA AmEx card not available to new applicants.)

        • No House of Fraser in SW3 :-) We are reliant on Peter Jones or the big Qatari-owned place up the road.

          They are in most big provincial cities these days, usually the most upmarket department store option in town. Even Huddersfield has one as I saw last weekend. The reason I use it as an example is that branded cosmetics make it an easy route for using the vouchers. Austin Reed used to do a 1% card but I always ignored it because that really was a tricky one when it came to using your vouchers.

          • Hehe you must spend a lot on branded cosmetics, Rob (and don’t make some pretend excuse about if being your wife!) 😀 Personally I find John Lewis a much more useful option, especially given their excellent warranty on electrical products.

  7. Due to Iberia being so much cheaper in both Avios and taxes, I think the BA 2-4-1 is pretty much dead – well for me at least. With the amount I save on taxes and avios I am much better heavy churning the £10k I would put on BAPP across a number of cards and collect all the bonus Avios. I mean on a 12 month cycle I can get 31,000 points on the Gold MR card (including intro) and 35,000 avios for the BAPP for £5k. That then leaves me free to collect in other schemes as and when they arise such as Etihad and Virgin.

  8. First thing that comes into calculation of the ‘top pick’ card

    If you spend £10,000 on BA Premier Amex abroad then you have to subtract £300 for the FX fees.

    A lot of people have increased spending when abroad, not at home. Hotel stays and bills, taxies, eating out, airline tickets with departure outside UK — these are usually larger items than daily shopping.

    • I’m not sure what point you’re making here. That would be true for any of the cards in this top list, and even if it was the only thing and someone spent their entire £10k in foreign currency (a pretty bizarre scenario) it would still leave it miles ahead of the alternatives.

  9. I think you’re probably undervaluing the Lloyd’s Avios Rewards compared to the BA cards, at least for some people:

    *You’re assuming the voucher gets used on a shorter trip (NY vs SF)
    *It’s worth more if you book off-peak J (as opposed to the 2for1which is worth more on a peak redemption)
    *You get the flexibility of booking for 1 person, or 1 way for 2 people if you need/wish to without wasting half the value
    *Spend on the MasterCard counts towards the vouchers, and the Avios earning is about to become better than the Tesco card (no issues around only multiples of £8 earning anything)
    *The cards also earn avios/vouchers on loading free foreign exchange transactions.

    • Agree with those points, Mark – although the BA cards clearly have value, the forex fees can make a big dent in that value (Amex are you listening?!!) and the Lloyds voucher is still a good deal.

      • cheekychappie says:

        You still get 2 Avios/ £ on foreign spend with Gold = 2%, so nearly cancels out the 3% fee, might be worth it for some people if spending targets need to be reached.

        • With Lloyds Rewards FX you get 1 Avios per £ and 0% FX.
          I use Lloyds abroad and Amex in UK (unless there are other considerations).
          The article is a useful roundup but surely none of us only uses one card?

        • Agree that helps – I’m using to the Plat where you only get 1% MR earning, despite the much higher fee – grr!

          • I’ve been using a gold card, that has been downgraded from a platinum card, for a couple of years now having maximised the signing on bonus by downgrading in the first month. I would have kept on doing that but then the gold rewards got cut substantially so I decided to keep my gold card until the anniversary and refer my OH for the platinum and cancel. The benefits that come with the platinum card aren’t much use to me as this site helps me maximise other loyalty schemes to achieve those benefits anyway and the gold card beat the platinum card on earning MR points hands down. If it was the other way round I probably would consider the platinum card but the difference over the year will be in excess of 100k MR points in the gold card’s favour over platinum, for a quarter of the fee :)

    • I have an article on the works which will look at how the Avios devaluation has improved the value of the Lloyds card …

      • Gin and Tonic Please says:

        Hi Rob. Do you know if you can use two Lloyds vouchers on one booking to upgrade both ways for two people? It looks like the avios.com site only allows you to use one voucher at a time, and then forces you to buy return tickets. I’m assuming I could phone up to book two one-way trips for two people (therefore taking advantage of reduced RFS taxes on the return), but I can’t see anything that confirms that on the site.

    • The_Real_A says:

      I booked for flying into Hong Kong ad out of Shanghai later in the the year in Club World.

      Should have been 150,000 avois + £502 Charges
      With the upgrade voucher 72,000 + £502 Charges

      I was pleased with this since the spend required was only £7500.

      Although the poster above complaining on availability was correct. As the voucher is only for BA metal it was very difficult to find anything that constitutes a 1-2 week break anywhere out east, without booking with a years notice.

    • petewally1976 says:

      Also interest free for a year (so you could just pay the minimum amount each month and keep the rest in savings) and double Avios for first six months although those benefits seem to have disappeared now. Finally, annual fee halved to £12 for Club Lloyds customers (which is an account worth having just for the interest and free magazine subscription/Gourmet Club/cinema tickets).

      • Gin and Tonic Please says:

        I didn’t think the Avios cards had the reduced annual fee offer for Club account holders. Isn’t that only the Choice Rewards card?

      • Just don’t do what I did and inadvertently push it over the credit limit. £8 over and despite correcting it the following day I ended up with £45 in fees and interest.

        Lloyds customer service were much better than I expected though – the day after I complained they refunded the whole amount plus £20 as one of the fees were incorrectly charged. They couldn’t restore the interest free status, though as I’d already paid it all off it didn’t really matter by that point.

  10. Raffles,

    I think this is an update of a previous article, it always surprises me that you don’t mention the Amex Platinium even thought from your articles it is a card you like and kept for many years. When do you use this one?

    • +1
      The Platinum is becoming poor value. 2 x Prority Pass might be good if you can use it but the insurance cutoff at 70 is dreadful. That Nationwide’s Flexplus insurance for £10 a month beats la-di-da Amex ultra uber premium brand is a puzzle.

      • Given that Raffles isn’t over 70 I doubt that ‘dreadful’ cut off is a major part of his decision to keep it or not 😉

        • It is, oddly, because I used to give my Mum a Gold supplementary card on my Platinum so she was covered by the insurance. As she is in her 70’s she is no longer covered.

    • This is an article on ongoing spend, and I’d be amazed if anybody puts much spend across a Platinum. The benefits for ongoing spend are poor, and not even as good as its junior card, the Gold card. Once you’ve earned the sign-up bonus, there really is very little point in spending on the platinum card (unless you want the insurance to cover certain aspects of your travel, in which case you have to buy them on that card). Mine sits in my drawer, but I’m cancelling it as soon as I’ve worked out where to transfer my MR points.

      People hold the plat card for the other benefits such as insurance; priority pass; hotel status; occasional free meat etc. For ongoing spend, it is hopeless.

      The signup bonus in year 1 makes it worth the fee, but it is horribly overpriced for most people in further years (I believe some people are on a grandfathered lower annual fee). It costs £450 to renew which is laughable for me. If it was £200 to renew, I wouldn’t bother. It’s therefore a decent churning card really, which is the opposite of a decent ongoing spend card.

      • Gin and Tonic Please says:

        Agreed – it’s not the right card for ongoing spend, but the benefits and offers make it worthwhile for me. Last year I got roughly £1k worth of value for the £450 fee, and this year I’m already at £1.5k after 6 months. All depends on your travel and shopping habits… YMMV

    • I never use it. It sits in my desk. I get my BA Amex PP for free (saving £150), I get travel insurance for my family (£200 or so at a guess) and can easily justify the remaining £100 of fee via statement credit deals, Priority Pass use, Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings etc.

      • Sorry if I’m being dense, Raffles, but how does the Amex Platinum get you the BAPP for free?

        • It was an old offer that they’ve kept for those that had it, sadly not available to new cardholders.

      • With grandfathered very low fee (why not – I am a grandfather after all and have held AmEx cards since 1970!), consistently renewed 2.5 MR per £1 spent, still good insurance cover, 2 Priority Passes, 1 Plat for spouse + 4 Golds for family, AmEx Platinum is still worth having.

        I use it as soon as I have spent £10K on the BA AmEx (ideally earning 3 Avios per £1 when spent on BA itself) and enough on VS AmEx to earn enough VFC Miles for redemption tickets in PE or UC to destinations where BA availability is always poor.

        • Wow, with that sort of setup it’s clearly a good deal – hand onto it while you can!!

          • cheekychappie says:

            I’d like to think I am still earning 2 Avios per £ on my DC Amex in 2060 :)

            Looking nice now Gold has downgraded rewards.

            Good while it lasts, I guess

            • Hehe quite – I’m still on the old bmi MC – devalued but still a good earning rate compared to other non-Amex cards.

  11. If Amex removed FX fees i would happily use it abroad all the time. however I refuse to collect points at that cost so i use my post office MasterCard instead!

    • You get Avios and no FX fees with Lloyds Reward Avios cards.

      • You have to pay £24 for the Lloyds card, though. If you are using primarily the Lloyds Mastercard rather than the Amex, (which might be your only option in Europe), it will take a really long time to earn £24 worth of Avios from your foreign spend.

        I personally don’t really place any value on the vouchers you earn for the Lloyds card. I’ve got one for the Amex because I spend a lot in the US and I can recover the £24 through the avios earned on the Amex card, but I’m cancelling it soon and going back to my Santander Zero.

        • I get at least the £24 in cash back because I use Lloyds as my main bank. It is also another Amex card for their cashback, but, as we keep saying, each person has to make their own decisions based on their own requirements, assumptions and restraints (I thought I was still at work then).

  12. I know the main drive behind the site is about collecting points which can then be used to enhance travel, but if this article is focusing on best credit card for spending, how would you view the AMEX Platinum cashback card? – Although you may be able to get additional value from getting >0.75p/per Avios, sometimes you will end up taking trips/upgrading because you have the points…and so cash may have added value?

    5% on up to £2500 in first 3 months (£125), 1.25% on remainder (eg £93.75 for spending £7500 more) = £218.75 / £193.75 after the £25 fee is taken into consideration.

    In subsequent years, 2.5% in 1 month if you’ve spent £10k the previous year… assuming £10k spend all in that month: £225 cashback after fee taken; if £10k spend all outside of that month: £100 cashback after the fee – so somewhere between 1-2.25% return.

    At the moment I don’t spend enough to max out all bonus opportunities, so it is more theoretical… but would be interesting to hear other peoples’ views!

    • This is my favourite card, even having weighed up all the above. I have had the free BA card and the gold Amex (twice each now) but neither beat the platinum cashback (old card, so 1.5% but no anniversary month and no fee). I’ll only keep the BA card long term when I can plan in a BA redemption.

    • cheekychappie says:

      You probably won’t do better than that if you want cash as Amex is not bound by the new regulations and can be more generous than MC/ Visa cards.

      Some of us do actually get rather better than 1 Avios = 1p in value, all my trips are necessary ie flights in the school holidays – there’s no frivolous use of points.

      Am I right in thinking AMEX plat cashback card does not entitle you to the various Amex promos, eg £10 off £70 at House of Fraser just posted today; £10 off £50 @ Argos, Amazon, Shell, BP etc and lots of others incl Shop Small? That feature alone is worth about £500 a year if you have a few cards.

      Finally, some of us have legacy Diamond Club Amex cards & standby sister card Visa, giving 2 & 1 Avios per £ respectively, which @ 2% beats the Plat cashback card.

      I thought about cashback cards (incl when you could get 3%) and decided I’d be much better off with Amex MR cards. But as you hint, that is certainly because I get full & real value from the Avios on flights.

    • They are looking better value as the value of many miles and points devalues – which is presumably a concern for BA and the like. I do always mention cashback cards, even though they have nothing to do with miles and points, just to remind readers that those credit card miles are NOT ‘free’.

  13. cheekychappie says:

    Raffles: slight O/T but it is still on banking. High time you ran an article on the Barclays current a/c route to 6 Lounge passes for £13.50. http://www.barclays.co.uk/TravelPlusPack/TravelPlusPack/P1242609324028

    You only need 1 month of the travel pack to get the passes, which in future will be Dragonpass.

    Q: Is Dragonpass any better than Airport Angel (which it replaces)? Haven’t got a clue but I believe DP has 800 lounges available whereas AA was 560. Doesn’t change much for me as they both open No1.

    Critical info is: the accounts are free, apply in branch only. You can pay 1 month of the Travel Pack Plus (£13.50) to get the lounge passes, then turn off your travel pack insurance for 11 months and start all over again. It’s actually pretty good value if you have a holiday planned (esp by car) because the insurance cover is certainly worth that. RAC breakdown cover included!

    • I used to use this. I think the product is slightly upgraded for Barclays Premium account holders, but the travel pack for normal customers is actually pretty decent: Worldwide travel insurance (including skiing); European RAC cover and 6 airport lounge passes is pretty decent, for the cost. I’d actually forgotten that I was still paying for this – I’ll cancel and rely on my Plat insurance instead.

      Are you sure that the passes remain valid once you turn off the travel pack? If so, I wonder if I can somehow transfer it to my brother.

      • cheekychappie says:

        Sure, they remain valid for 12 months. You’re not cancelling the travel pack, just putting it on hold.

        You could just let your brother have the passes as there’s no proof of ID needed at the lounge, I can’t speak for all lounges! but certainly not in No1. As long as he knows it’s only 6 visits free :)

    • Not a bad deal for 70 + folk
      “From 16 September 2015, Worldwide Travel Insurance will cover each account holder and partner under 80 years of age.”

  14. Great article. I have the BA Silver Amex. I now need a CC to load onto my Supercard. Is this the best IHG credit card sign up bonus or should I wait?

  15. Here’s a question – can you churn the virgin cards?

  16. 241 vouchers may be lovely and fantastic when there are 2 of you. They’re not really worth much for us young, free & single types.

    I’ve ditched a few cards of late for removing cashback. My main spend is currently on the Virgin black, but since I hit the initial spend on that, I’ll be checking the ongoing value of the points vs cashback on the various categories of Santander 123 card weighed against the £24 fee. If I’m going to pay fees, I want to make sure I get sufficient rewards to cover it. The Amex spend deals are a good thing, so may influence things, but they are dependent on what the offers are.

  17. What's the Point says:

    Is anyone into their second year with the Lloyds Avios card?
    How quickly does the upgrade voucher come through the second time after spending the £7,000?

  18. What's the Point says:

    Hang about……have they changed the T&Cs on when the anniversary starts!!!!

    I am sire I read somewhere that it started each calendar year????
    Taken from their website:

    Can I use my Avios Rewards credit card account to upgrade flights?
    Yes. With £7,000 of eligible spend in one year, you can upgrade either:

    two one-way flights for two people travelling at the same time and to the same destination, or
    one return journey booked on a British Airways main line service.
    British Airways codeshare flights are excluded. Flights from London City Airport are excluded. Upgrade from:

    Euro Traveller to Club Europe
    World Traveller to World Traveller Plus
    World Traveller Plus to Club World

    The year begins from the date your Avios Rewards credit card account is opened, and each subsequent year starts on that anniversary.

  19. What's the Point says:

    But then I found this text on the Avios.com website regarding the upgrade voucher….CONFUSED!

    Avios Upgrade Voucher

    You will earn one upgrade voucher if you spend a minimum of £7,000 on your Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards Credit Card in a calendar year. The £7,000 spend threshold excludes cash withdrawals, balance transfers, refunded purchases, interest, fees and other charges.

    • cheekychappie says:

      It used to be a simple 15,000 free Avios :)

      Ie free return European flight.

      Much better

    • I had it in my mind that it was by 31st Dec too, but then when I spoke to them to check how my spend was progressing against the target they said I had until the card anniversary. Annoying in a way, I don’t want to trigger the voucher too early but I’m now stuck unable to use the card until March next year, was hoping for a reset in December!

  20. Catherinexx says:

    Hi, I’ve just found this site this weekend – it’s amazing!
    I have a slightly OT question which I thought would be better here than at the bottom of one of the older articles.
    I am chasing about 40k Virgin miles and wondering which credit card you think would be best. Have I understood correctly that if I spend £450 on the Amex plat, then once I’ve spent £2000 on the card I can simply transfer the points out and cancel the card, and they will refund me 10months of fees? And I keep all the lounge/hotel status for the year?
    Can’t decide between that and the Virgin black.
    Please help out a newbie!

    • Hi. Welcome! Yes, that is correct. It is a cheaper option than the Virgin Black where your card fee is a sunk cost and not refundable.

      For ongoing spending, Virgin Black is a good deal at 2 miles per £1 on the Amex – but if you only want to focus on the 40,000 for now then Amex Plat is a better overall deal. You would also get lounge access via Priority Pass for the 2 months you hold the card.

  21. What is the general advice on churning the BA PP….. I have triggered my voucher this year, and referred the wife, and we are now well on the way with her’s… plan was to keep 1 long term… but do people keep churning this card without a problem??
    If so then I will cancel mine and wait another 6 months! (I’m sure the bonus that ends in Feb will be on again shortly afterwards!!)

  22. Another one to think about is the MBNA AA card. I’ve just kept spending on it now and again since the 25k bonus offer a couple of years back and the other day I flew from HNL-HND for $6 all in, using ‘non-bonus’ miles. Still in Tokyo. CW back on Friday using open jaw 2-4-1, with the outbound trip LHR-SFO. Great use of miles for around the world trip.

  23. Can anyone answer this question on the Lloyds upgrade voucher: we now travel as a 3 so it would be great to use an Amex 241 for 2, and then a Lloyds voucher for the 3rd person. However this would have to be a T-355 type booking, if we have any chance of 3 seats. For the Amex the book-the-return-later trick is well tested. But for the Lloyds I guess I need to book & upgrade a round trip with a dummy return then hopefully change the return date: can the booking be changed like that? Bonus points: can I change the return point in the same zone if required e.g. swapping KUL for SIN?

  24. Whilst I love the Amex Platinum card and continue to pay the renewal fee, I found out the hard way that some benefits are not all they seem. For example, the claimed ‘top-tier’ membership in Avis Preferred is what they refer to as ‘invitational’ (ie unearned !) and doesn’t come with all the trimmings like free rental vouchers. This has been confirmed as correct by Avis Exec Office. Be warned.

  25. As someone else says above, 241 is great if you are a couple. As a BA traveller who typically travels and redeems alone, the pickings are really very poor indeed (and I’ve voiced this to someone senior in Exec Club in the past, who just shrugged). Wonder what the winning cards would look like if 241 was calculated at the value it represents to people like me (i.e. a bit fat zero)

    • Just an idea: have you thought about finding some random person who wants to go to the same place and sharing the cost. Not easy obviously!

      • Whenever I say I’m off to Leftpondia, loads of people ask if they can come with me, but none of them actually want to pay to go there, or travel on the dates I pick. I’m happy for them to share the cost, but they don’t get to whine about the details!

    • You can do the maths very easily as I laid out all my assumptions!

  26. cheekychappie says:

    241s are worth diddly squat to me as well – as are hotel extras. It all depends on your personal circs. Once my wife & return to our previous globe trotting status when we get our freedom & money back, everything changes, so no problem with keeping my hand in so to speak :)

    We currently have to fund 40 to 50 (Xmas/ Easter/ May half term/ summer hols; we sometimes skip Autumn half term) European flights a year to/from our European destination, though – which explains my single-minded focus on Avios.

  27. I responded this morning to Brian’s comment on 21 September on the relevance of HoF cards and vouchers and see that the discussion has advanced considerably. I guess my comments will be overlooked. Mea culpa. The perils of trying to keep up using a tablet when away. :(

    In the meantime, add me to those despairing of the BAPP card, which I’ve had since its inception, often in parallel with the plat charge card. For the first time, I’ll be letting the 2-4-1 voucher earned 2 years ago lapse and the voucher earned last year is being redeemed for travel to somewhere I don’t really want to go (just hoping better availability will turn up). This causes me to seriously question how much longer I will use the card.

    I’ll look forward to Rob’s comments on the Lloyds card, though I guess availability is likely to be an issue. Also, I still have the LloydsTSB cards and understand it is difficult to step up. Luckily, keeping options open, I still have my DC MC.