HFP ‘Credit Cards’ page updated for March – what are the best deals this month?

It’s time for our monthly round up of what is coming and what is going in the world of UK airline and hotel credit card sign-up deals.

Our updated directory of all 23 UK travel credit cards can be found by clicking the ‘Credit Cards’ tab at the top of the site or – for email, Flipboard, Apple News or mobile readers – by clicking here.  This article is a summary of the recent changes, and will hopefully be a useful starting point for new readers.

What’s changed this month?

The bonus on the two British Airways American Express cards dropped down to its usual level on 8th February.  The deal was not extended, despite the fact that ….

…. the two Virgin Atlantic cards have increased their bonuses.  This was an interesting tactical move, knowing that the BA offer was going to be reduced.  More details on those below.

That’s about it …. things have got very quiet.

One thing which I didn’t mention elsewhere is that HSBC has added new benefits to its HSBC Premier credit cards (only available to HSBC Premier current account holders):

£20 of free Uber credit whenever you spend £500+ on flights

10% off hotels at Expedia when you book via a special link

12 months of Expedia+ Gold membership (see our article on that here)

10% off hotels at Agoda when you book via a special link

The only one of these I value is the Uber one, although it purely depends on your personal spending pattern.  £500 would cover the taxes on a BA Club World Avios redemption!

Credit cards

What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals this month?

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus. The Virgin offer is a special deal whilst the Amex and Hilton cards are consistently strong offers.

These deals are listed in no particular order and their position on the list is not a sign of how good or bad the offer is.

Virgin Atlantic White Amex and Visa

Until 3rd April, you will receive 10,000 miles with the free Virgin Atlantic White cards.  3,000 of these come after your first purchase within 90 days, the remainder after spending £1,000 within 90 days.  My full review of the Virgin White package is here.  The standard offer is just 3,000 miles.

Virgin Atlantic Black Amex and Visa

The Black cards also have an improved bonus.  Until 3rd April, you will receive 25,000 miles with the £140 Virgin Atlantic Black cards.  You receive 18,500 miles with your first purchase within 90 days and the remainder after spending £3,000 within 90 days.  My full review of the Virgin Black cards is here.  The standard offer is 18,500 miles.

Amex Platinum

American Express Platinum

The sign-up bonus on this card is 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points.  You need to spend £2,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.

Your points can be transferred into various airline and hotel programmes.  You could get 30,000 Avios, 30,000 Virgin miles, 60,000 Hilton points, 90,000 Carlson points, 2,000 Eurostar Frequent Traveller points etc etc.

You receive a pro-rata refund on the £450 fee when you cancel the card and you will retain most of the benefits – Starwood Gold, Carlson Gold, Hilton Gold, Melia Gold and Shangri-La Jade – for the rest of the year even after you cancel. The Amex Platinum benefits package is extensive, though, and once you’ve got it you might find the numbers add up for you. I have had one for 15 years.

My full review of the Amex Platinum card is here – this also includes details of the additional refer a friend bonus. Amex’s own home page is here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

This is currently an outstanding deal which is showing no signs of going away. You pay no fee for the first year and earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points (see here for what 20,000 MR points can get you – 20,000 Avios points for a start!).  You need to spend £2,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.

If you are new to this hobby, I would make this your first American Express card.  One benefit of earning American Express points is that you only need to transfer them to an airline or hotel scheme when you are ready to redeem – there is no risk of being caught out by devaluations!

My full review of Amex Gold is here. The Amex home page to apply is here.

Amex Gold

Hilton Honors Platinum Visa

You receive a free night in any Hilton Group property for spending £750 on this card. That could be worth £250 if spent wisely at a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria branded property. My full review of the UK Hilton credit card is here. The home page for applications is here.

This remains my favourite promotion for someone new to this hobby. The card is free, you only need to spend a modest amount to trigger the bonus, and you can enjoy a free night in a luxury hotel afterwards (if you pick a decent one!). It will whet your appetite for what miles and points can bring you. The representative APR is 18.9% variable.

Note that Barclays is now – in theory, not always in practice – only allowing you to earn the free night once, even if you reapply for the card in the future.  Use your voucher wisely!  Remember too that it is only valid for six months.

Hilton Visa

Whilst it has no sign-up bonus, the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard remains the best free Visa or MasterCard for earning Avios for 95% of people (the HSBC Premier cards are better but this has very strict criteria for signing up).  You receive 0.3 Avios per £1 if you convert your Clubcard vouchers into Avios.  There is also the potential to use the points for Virgin miles or a totally different Clubcard Boost deal.

0.3 Avios per £1 is still not great unless you assume that there will be occasional conversion bonuses – and the nasty ’rounding down per transaction to nearest £8′ rule means that you will get less than 0.3 Avios is reality.  They are a good bet if you want a long interest free or balance transfer period however.  There are various versions of the Tesco card but the best are:

28 months interest free period on all purchases (representative APR 18.9% variable), or

0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months (representative APR 18.9% variable)

Bonus on small business cards

Head for Points focusses primarily on personal cards. However, if you are a sole trader or run a very small business, you may also want to check out the American Express Platinum Business Card and the American Express Gold Business Card. There is currently a 20,000 points (= 20,000 Avios) bonus on the Gold Business card and a 40,000 points (40,000 Avios) bonus on the Platinum Business card.

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

Bits: new BA Copenhagen lounge, Hilton Diamond Extension live, where we're going
Bits: last day for 2400 Avios with LEGO, Etihad / Kaligo deal, buy Flying Blue miles offer
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. rams1981 says:

    OT SPG 500 bonus points for registering to get benefits through their new partnership with Emirates. Targeted apparently. Anyone else get it?

  2. Barclaycard have just told me that the Hilton card has been stopped as of today. Any truth to that?

    • Genghis says:

      It looks like they’re still taking applications. You mean the IHG card?

    • I really hope you made a typo and mean IHG!

    • If that came from the horse’s mouth, then why would you question it?

      The visa commitments followed by the eu interchange regs were always going to kill the credit card benefits we have been enjoying. Even Amex will get pulled in, indirectly. Barclaycard is very profitable and it’s not like they were unaware that a slug of their income was about to disappear. People using credit cards to earn points but who paid their bill in full every month were a losing proposition for card issuers from 1 Jan 2015. People paying £99 for a credit card were unlikely to be the Ines who don’t pay the balance in full. If anything I am surprised it has taken this long for the half decent non- Amex cards to disappear

  3. Just received a letter today saying my IHG card with Barclays will close on the 20 Apr 17 and any spend after that will not earn points. They are moving me on to the Platinum card, which is no good good for me and I may opt for a quick churn on the Hilton Card.

    • Brighton Belle says:

      Nice trick. IHG took their annual membership of £99 fee in January with the promise to give me a free night at £10K spend. I’ve done £5K. Now their card provider takes away the means to do that. Presumably I have to get the Creation card to keep the spend target in sight.

      • Are you hoping that Creation give you credit for your spending with Barclaycard?
        That does sound rather unlikely.

  4. Bit of a silly question, but with Hilton card free night do you receive status recognition benefits?

    • Genghis says:

      No question is silly. But yes, you do. It’s like any reward night with Hilton. IHG could learn from Hilton here.

  5. BA AMEX QUESTION. This year my wife dropped from premier plus to the blue Amex card. Her anniversary for the card is in May. She is only £300 from spending £10000. If upgrading to the premier plus card, will it cost £195 or is it pro rata i.e two months worth of the fee around £30-£40. ? She will dowmgrade again once the companion voucher has been earned.

    • I believe it’s £195 at the time the preimum card is approved and then refunded prorata when she switches back to the free card later

    • Yes Kipto, def worth the upgrade fee pro rata… Worth having the 241 in the bag in case you can use a F ticket or J. We have done this a few times.

  6. “BA to offer less legroom than Ryanair on some planes”
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-39184179

    • the real harry1 says:

      lovely enhancement, it means my chances of getting airline diverticulitis improve by about 200%

      • Brighton Belle says:

        Stop worrying about front row or emergency exit seats and prebook a C or D nearer the loos 🙂

    • Nate1309 says:

      I just read this too. Unbelievable. Wasn’t the BA agenda to find a way to increase profit every day? Well here’s today’s!

      • While they hold a quasi monopoly on some routes, a lot of pax have little alternative and BA know this.

        So its a simple mantra..

        Reduce costs = Increase profit

        Works for the short term, but what about long term?

  7. Ezekial says:

    OT
    I’ve got the AMEX £50 back on a £250 spend. I’ve got £200 spent, but no stays to use the rest.
    Can I just find one and blow £50 in the bar? Or will that come up as different spend?

  8. I received a letter from Barclaycard today informing me that they are going to close my IHG premium Visa card in April 2017. This is totally a mess as I just got my card fee paid in Jan (not sure how this will be refunded) and I will not able to achieve the free night award as planned considering I already spent a reasonable amount over the last few months. This mean all of my efforts over the last few months have totally wasted.

    Have anyone in similar situation and what can we do about that?

    • Brighton Belle says:

      I had an online chat with IHG about this today. They said Barclays will refund the unused membership fee back to the card. My plan is to open the Creation version and continue spending on that until I have accumulated enough spend since my last membership renewal. So don’t close the old card until the refund hits.

      • Well but i got to pay £33 (pro rota) for 3 months and considering already spent £5k on the card and not equal to have a free night reward if we considering it worth for £250.

  9. Just come home from a day out with friends to find the same IHG letter that everyone else has had. I had this card in my name and used it to gain Spire Elite these past 2 years. Eligibility checker on the Creation site says I am not eligible for the card so the 20k qualifying points earned so far this year will go down the pan as I can no longer earn qualifying pts going forward after April. Had to take the card out in my hubby’s name but at least he has now been promoted from Club Member to Platinum Elite. Spoiled what was a great day!

    • Brighton Belle says:

      IHG just tweeted me “Sorry, any IHG® Rewards Club benefits linked to the credit card will also stop after 20 April 2017. My conclusion… So if you spent anything on the Barclays IHG towards a free night they are going to walk away from the deal: any YTD spend is valueless. We have been screwed over and IHG don’t care a toss.

      • My year with the Barclaycard IHG card was up next week so I already earned my free night – but the qualifying year in the IHG account runs from 1/1 so my 20k qualifying pts earned so far won’t count for anything as I won’t be able to add to them. Need to start from scratch on my hubby’s account so not likely to earn Spire by the end of the year for next year. Was well on the way for it this year on my account. And I don’t want to waste a load of Virgin miles just to get Spire. Another good thing bites the dust. I have Spire till the end of the year at least.

      • Brighton Belle says:

        IHG are really keen to help. They told me “. . . Blah Blah …your feedback for improvements. . . You may ring Barclaycard customer care 0800 151 0900 or 0333 200 9090 for other queries.” “This change has been communicated”.

        Not sure that giving 6 weeks notice of the promotion shutdown is really fair given the accumulated spend effort over the previous X months.

  10. OT – I am trying to buy internal/domestic flights in Indonesia for jakarta to Lombok with Batik Air/Lion Air, The price comes up as 2200000 IDR, which according to xe currency is about £135 pounds but when I tried paying with my MC, i got a fraud dept message stating the company was trying to charge me £176 pounds, not sure how the exchange could be so far out – any thoughts???
    I confirmed it with the Lloyds Avios Fraud Prevention team when I had to unblock the account and decline the transaction

    • Try setting the currency on the airline website to the one you’d prefer to pay in, is that closer?

  11. PLAT ? Anyone know how you get a bonus for adding a person onto your plat card? Is it worth phoning in to ease, or do you get an email invitation?

  12. seriously, when are we going to get the level of perks that Americans get with cards. Its enough to make me think of moving there!

    • When interchange fees go up to huge levels, forcing up the prices of goods in the shops!

      I am shocked Americans still put up with it. Why does Wal-Mart accept paying 0.3% to Visa in the UK but 1.75% in the US? We are talking literally hundreds of millions of $.

      • Although it is making hee-haw difference to prices here thanks to the payment intermediaries still charging retailers (apart from the large ones like Tesco, etc) a big percentage…

  13. Graham Walsh says:

    Looking for my next credit card. I’ve maxed out my Amex Gold this year to get the bonus points that will come at the anniversary in May. I’m still using my Virgin Black to max out the miles so I’ll use them for flights on next year’s holiday which I’m planning on Dubai. As Dubai hotels aren’t that cheap, what is the best hotel card to get so I can use hotel points to pay for the accommodation?

    Am I better off sticking with Amex so I can use in either Hilton, SPG or Club Carlson?

    Also any recommendation for hotels with a beach in Dubai? AI would be good too. I know I’m here now, but don’t get to see a beach when working!!