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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.