HFP ‘Credit Cards’ page updated for April – 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 increased bonus on two Virgin Atlantic cards ends tomorrow.  More details on those below.

British Airways has brought back an improved sign-up bonus on the two British Airways American Express cards, just a month after the last offer ended.

There is a slight tweak this time.  The Premium Plus card is back to 25,000 Avios for signing up.  The free BA Amex, however, is only up to 5,000 Avios from the usual 3,000 Avios – this is usually increased to 9,000 Avios.

I would guess that Amex is trying to encourage more people to take the Premium Plus card by widening the gap in the sign-up bonus.  Frankly, you shouldn’t get the free BA Amex if you are planning to earn the 2-4-1 Avios flight voucher – this article explains why.

That’s about it …. except that there is a targetted bonus for holders of the old Barclaycard IHG Rewards Club credit cards if they apply for the new Creation-run version.  We don’t yet know if the offers works for non-targetted people who use the relevant link – once I have some evidence I will let you know.  The offer runs until June so there is no rush.

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 and British Airways offers are 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.

British Airways American Express

For an unspecified period, the bonus on this free card increased from 3,000 Avios to 5,000 Avios.  My full review of the card is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

For an unspecified period, the bonus is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios.  Note that the annual fee recently increased from £150 to £195.  I wrote a full review of the British Airways Premium Plus card here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

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 (which you can instantly match to Marriott 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.

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Comments

  1. Does the travel insurance on the Amex Platinum card cover you for all your holidays or just the ones booked via or paid on the card.

    • James67 says:

      I believe the medical elements are covered irrespective of where you book but other elements require you to book via amex travel. Others will correct me if I’m wrong.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Don’t even need to book via AMEX travel just need to have been paid for using an AMEX issued AMEX (BAPP SPG etc)

      • Almost, you need to pay using ab Amex-issued Amex, you don’t have to use Amex Travel. Car hire and medical covered regardless.

  2. Does the car hire insurance on the Amex Platinium cover only the cardholder or does the insurance work as long as paid with the card?

  3. Does anyone know how long it takes to receive the bonus anniversary MR points? My start date was 3rd march but on 28th march bill charged the £140 annual fee but still no points. I’ve called Amex where it’s ranged from should be 7 days aftercard renewal to 3 months. Terms says upto 60 days from renewal so basucally I’ve got another month before they could appear. Just wondered how long other peoples normally take. Thanks

  4. Hi,

    Is there a link for the IHG Creation targeted bonus sign-up for IHG Barclaycard holders?

    • Jonathan says:

      Mine was in the IHG app under messages but once you’ve read it, it automatically deletes after a week or so… currently arguing with Creation because I had a Barclaycard IHG, was targeted but so far only received 20,000 instead of 40,000 and having called creation twice the average wait time for an advisor was 15 mins both times so not having the best experience thus far.

      • Genghis says:

        @Liz reported that 20k of the IHG black bonus will be applied sometime in the first three months (I’ve only received 10k of IHG white)

        • I was told over the phone I was definitely eligible for the 40k offer and the additional 20k pts will post later. I also emailed them and they have confirmed in writing 8 wks after application days – sorry previously said 90 days but couldn’t remember exact timescale.

      • Thanks Jon,

        Yes I had the same message but it’s now disappeared.

        Could you paste a link here?

        Ta

    • Genghis says:

      I was targeted but have never held the IHG Barclaycard

  5. Stuart says:

    Can anyone explain how you can use a Amex PRG referral to get the SPG CC? I’ve tried it a couple of times and all I get offered is the PRG, Platnium or the Green card

  6. O/T Anyone know a good way of maximising points for car hire in Boston, MA over Easter? I see I have a 15% rebate with Amex Plat Credit Card. Any other tips?

  7. Michele Mas says:

    I have a question on the Virign Black Credit Card. Does anyone know if you hit the spending total in the first month and then cancel the card if you get the sign up points and bonus but avoid payinf the £195 charge? Thanks Michele

    • Jonathan says:

      Virgin card is £140, BA Amex is £195… Amex you get a pro rate refund. Virgin you don’t as it’s billed as the first transaction on the statement. With both cards, wait for the points to post before cancelling.

    • You can’t avoid the charge with MBNA.

    • Genghis says:

      And remember Virgin black is a sunk £140 cost so you might as well keep the card for the year (unless of course you want to churn but then that’ll cost you another £140 and IMO not worth it – when you can just churn the White).

  8. I have just got the Lloyd Rewards cards and am not impressed so far. One pin number arrived and said to be used with both cards, not so. The Amex one requires another PIN that you have to phone up and ask for. That took over a week to arrive.
    First 2 online transactions declined. Called to find out why, security measure to make sure it was me using the card. Not able to use contactless on either card yet.
    Called to ask whats up, security measure, just the luck of the draw they say.

    • Weird – I know Lloyds can be a bit trigger-happy on the anti-fraud front but not had that many issues with them! Did you make sure your first transaction was a chip & pin one? That should enable contactless and hopefully make them less likely to block internet transactions.

      • The Original Nick. says:

        Very weird. I’ve not had any problems with mine. I’ve also got the upgrade voucher sitting in my account which is a bonus.

        • Jimmy changa says:

          Ive had no issues with my lloyds reward card and i only had one pin number for both cards, the only place that doesnt seem to like contactless is wh smiths.

          Re the upgrade voucher ive got mine despite it only being april and haveing spent less than £4k this year tis very odd.

          I assumed it was a year from the day you got the card however i had an online chat with lloyds and they said it was actually from first of jan to thirty first of dec.

          So now im not sure if i should leave any big spending till next year to try and get another one or carry on regardless

          The

          • No, the person you spoke to was totally misinformed and you were right! It is every 12 months from the date of card opening. Their own T&Cs are poorly worded but, now being into my 3rd year of holding the card and having just triggered the £7k spend shortly before my 12 month anniversary each time I am sure you are correct! 😀 The majority of their agents do seem to get it right but there are still some with bad info.

          • I am still fighting to get 4 mths worth of points. Previous calls all given different and wrong information – in Jan we were told 12 wks to resolve – now been told it will be a further 12 weeks because we didn’t make an “official” complaint and the 12 weeks are from the official complaint date rather than when we raised the original problem back in Dec! Unbelievable! Now had the £24 card fee refunded and hoping for much more compensation when it finally gets resolved. They still don’t know what the problem is and why some work ok and others don’t!

          • That’s appalling treatment, Liz. Unless they come up with something decent I’d put a formal Ombudsman complaint in!

  9. Dave T says:

    Does anyone know if you are you still eligible for the Amex Plat bonus (35k referred) if you have or have had a Amex gold in the last 6 months?

  10. What’s the current view on applying for the Hilton Visa if you hold another barclaycard? I know there’s anecdotal evidence that the card may be pulled shortly – is it worth pulling the plug on a shelved barclaycard platinum to apply?

    • Mr Dee says:

      A friend who applied multiple times got declined whilst holding another barclaycard, then once it was cancelled applied again and got accepted for the Hilton card, as the barclaycard platinum offers little benefit I would cancel it if you can.

  11. OT anyone know any sensible miles options to Sochi, thanks in advance

  12. Cameron says:

    Amex Gold – the two free annual Priority Pass entries that come with it – does anyone know if they’re still valid after you’ve cancelled the card? I’m guessing not (once the Amex is cancelled I can see the Priority Pass membership would have to go with it) but does anyone know?

    • Yeah it will be cancelled. Also it’s Lounge Club not priority pass… slightly different network (but also lots of overlap)

    • Cancelled immediately, because it no longer has a valid card to pay for additional guests behind it.

  13. A quick one,
    If I already have Small Business Gold card,
    and I apply for personal Gold card.
    Will I get 20.000 bonus?
    Cheers.

  14. Suraj Verma says:

    Credit card application

  15. Does a supplementary card’s spend count towards the first £2/3k necessary to trigger the bonus?

  16. On the Hilton Visa – does the 6 month expiry on the free night start from when you get the card or when you hit the spend/receive the voucher? Currently planning a trip to Hong Kong in late October/early November and looking to take advantage of the offer.

  17. 1967stuart says:

    I have recently seen lots of comments on upgrading from Amex Gold to Platinum to get a the sign up bonus on the Platinum which I never realised ?

    Can someone kindly help to explain how that works (I only hold the amex gold card which reaches its first year anniversary in May and I have spent over £15k on it – normally I would wait until the bonus points on the gold card post and then cancel it)

    Thanks

    • Send a message through the “contact us” link of the help section of the Amex website – essentially asking if they can offer you an incentive of MR points to upgrade your Gold card to Platinum.
      They didn’t offer me anything (only held card a few months) but offered my wife 15k (held card for a year and spent the £15k) so clearly depends on your spend. Should ask now, but may as well wait until the anniversary date before actually upgrading, to pocket the additional 10k points

    • Genghis says:

      @Jim posted an upgrade link the other day. https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-charge/upgrade/
      20k MRs when spend £1k in three months.
      I’d probably wait until your 10k Gold MRs have posted and then upgrade.

      • Jonathan says:

        Is there any guess or indication how long this offer will last? We’ve got some spending coming up and it would nice to be able to get them aligned. I mentioned elsewhere a desire to pocket the hotel status upgrades for some upcoming leisure travel, then probably cancel the card outright after hitting the £1k spend.

    • Miguel says:

      Send the Amex team an email using the “Contact us” link. You’ll be able to get the 20k bonus points by applying for a new Platinum card (instead of upgrading) while holding on to your existing Gold card until you hit your anniversary on it and qualify for the 10k bonus points. And then you can decide what to do with both cards. At least that’s what I was offered – and it was honoured as soon as I emailed them back informing them that I’d been approved for the Platinum card, no need to spend £1k in the first three months.

  18. mickey says:

    does anyone know whether the expiry date of the Hhonors free night voucher is the date I need to use it by (make a booking) or is it also the date I need to make a stay by?

  19. Does anyone hold the IHG White and Black cards? Looking to get the Black IHG Creation, already have the white free one. Do Creation have the 6 month rule so that I would have to cancel the card and wait. Couldn’t see anything in the T&Cs.

    • Yes, I’ve got both – no issue having both of them (it’s more like MBNA where they treat them as two separate products)

      • Graham Walsh says:

        Great. Thanks for confirming. Shall be applying for it then.

        • Cool. As others have mentioned they seem to be only posting half the increased sign-up bonus. I’ve messaged them to clarify timescale for the remainder, from what Liz said it was up to 90 days.

          • Graham Walsh says:

            Applied no issues. Took a screen shot the URL offer code. And of the landing page. Lets see.

          • Excellent :)

          • Genghis says:

            I received a confirmation email from IHG and was also told within the offer period (so 90 days).

          • Glad they’re being consistent, Genghis – thought it worth me just having my own confirmation too in case any problems down the line :)

            Mildly related (as charged to my IHG Black!) 3% Curve Rewards working nicely at M&S – got some food for dinner on the way out of work and instantly credited :)

  20. Geoff Byford says:

    If you transfer Virgin points to IHG does it count towards your Spire Elite Status. I have the Creation IHG Black Card.