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

It is 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 22 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 main development last month did not involve a new bonus.  It was American Express losing the first round of its legal challenge to stop the British Airways American Express having its fees to retailers capped at 0.3%.  This would have long term repercussions on the benefits that Amex could afford to give cardholders.  My very long article discussing this is here if you’ve got a cup of coffee handy.

We lost another credit card last month.  Lloyds Bank pulled its Choice Rewards cards, which came as an Amex and MasterCard double-pack.  This card offered Avios points alongside various other reward options, but it was not ‘best in class’ by any means and won’t be missed.  I doubt many readers had one.

These are the most interesting special offers currently running:

In June, MBNA scrapped its existing American Airlines cards (free, a dual Amex / Visa package) and replaced them with something completely different, together with a bonus which ends soon.

The American Express card has gone.  You now have a package which looks like this:

  • £70 annual fee
  • 15,000 American Airlines miles for signing up by 22nd August (likely to drop to 5,000 miles)
  • an excellent 1.25 miles per £1 spent
  • Visa only

Full details, and my view on whether to apply, are in this article here.

MBNA American Airlines credit card

In other news:

British Airways is still running an improved sign-up bonus on its two British Airways American Express cards.  No closing date has been given for this deal.

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.

Tesco is offering a £50 Tesco gift card if you sign for the Tesco Premium Credit Card before the end of August.  My review of the card is here.  If you convert your Clubcard points from purchases into Avios it works out at 0.6 Avios per £1 which is very good for a Visa or MasterCard.  My full article on the deal is here.

Finally, the additional bonus points on the HSBC Premier credit cards end on 31st August.  The £195 World Elite MasterCard is currently at 90,000 points (45,000 Avios or other miles) although 20,000 Avios of this is only paid after a year and only if you have spent £12,000.  The free HSBC Premier card does not usually have a bonus but currently offers 10,000 points (5,000 Avios when converted).  The snag is that qualifying for HSBC Premier is very difficultsee my full article here.

best travel 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 American, Tesco and British Airways offers are special deals whilst the Amex 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 increased last year 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.

Tesco Premium MasterCard

Until 31st August, you will receive a £50 Tesco gift card for signing up.   Other benefits include full travel insurance for you and your immediate family and 5000 bonus Clubcard points when you spend £5,000 in Tesco, including fuel, during your card year.  You earn 0.25 Clubcard points per £1 spent which means 0.6 Avios or 0.625 Virgin Flying Club miles.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 56.5% variable, including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.

American Airlines AAdvantage Visa

This new card, launched in June, carries a £70 annual fee but earns a whopping 1.25 American Airlines miles per £1. There is a sign-up bonus of 15,000 miles, triggered when you spend £1,500 within 90 days.  This is a special offer which runs until 22nd August. Representative APR 38.4% variable including fee based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.

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. 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

Whilst it has no sign-up bonus, the no-fee 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:

Low rate card (representative APR 5.9% variable) or

30 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: enter our City Airport competition, £15 Addison Lee code, off to cricket at Old Trafford?
Bits: 1000 Avios from Marriott posting, British Airways to launch Nashville soon?
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Comments

  1. The disparity between our sign up bonus points and those in the US – for the same card – is depressing….

    • The yanks can’t churn cards though

      • Why ?

        Take out, cancel, re-apply.

        What is impossible about that ?

        • New Amex USA rules re sign-up bonuses. In reality they’d probably give them again after a few years, but definitely not after just 6/12.

  2. I didn’t know that. Thanks Bill. Interesting.

    • Although that only changed relatively recently. Their market is quite different – much more profitable and competitive for the card companies so amazing deals available. After the US the UK isn’t too bad though.

      • thanks Alan 🙂

        • dont look at Aus either Cate :-/

        • Haha yep some very nice sign-up bonuses there, although more annual fees and normally 18/12 rather than 6/12 to churn 🙁

        • Also most places in Australia charge about 2% or more for paying by Amex.

        • One workaround for hotels (that certainly used to work at least!) was to prepay – they only seemed to charge the fee if paying at checkout.

  3. Can one convert the American advantage points to Avios?

    • No but you can use AA miles to book one world (+ some more) award redemption.

  4. Does anyone know what is happening to those of us with mbna aadvantage double packs? Presumably the Amex will be cancelled at some point but I’ve yet to hear anything about a fee for the visa?

  5. OT
    Is there any benefit in upgrading from an Amex Gold to a Platinum (via the link mentioned before in the comments) vs. applying for the Platinium as a new card (and keep the Gold alongside it / or cancel it, doesn’t make a difference in that instance). With option 1 (upgrading) you’d get 20,000 MR points if you spend £1,000 within 3 months, but with option 2 (new card), and assuming you’re referred, you could get 35,000 MR points if you spent £2,000 within 3 months?
    Therefore, trying to understand the benefit of upgrading?

    • You wouldn’t get any points if you just applied for a new card as you already have a MR account – you would need to wait 6 months between closing the gold and applying for platinum to get the sign up offer.

  6. Sort of a moot point now, but I’m a reader with a Choice Rewards card. I’ve never understood why you were so down on it – it represents excellent value for me – a very low £12 annual fee (I have a Lloyds current account) with an earning rate of 1 Avios per £1 on Amex spend. Where Amex is not accepted I get a fifth of that, which is obviously not great, but means I get to have all of my spending on one card account, and I am at least still earning something on the MasterCard spend.

    But most importantly, if I decide I don’t need the Avios (and this is probably where we part ways in outlook), I can get gift vouchers at a rate of 1.5p per £1 spent. The vouchers can be for Debenhams, Argos, and several other places, but most importantly Amazon.co.uk. To me this makes them essentially as good as cash – and 1.5p per £1 is an exceptionally good rate.

    Thus, if I can find some use for Avios that would value them at more than 1.5p each, I go ahead and convert to Avios. Otherwise I take the vouchers for the money I would have spent anyway at Amazon.

    Obviously I also play around with Amex introductory offers, but when I don’t have one of those on the go, the Choice Rewards card is great. I haven’t had a letter yet to tell me it’s being withdrawn for existing customers but it’ll be a real shame when it is.

  7. Amex are having a hotel sale. “Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency, and 3 points for every £1 spent at American Express Online Travel”
    I think our dusty gold card just interesting again.

  8. Amex are having a hotel sale. “Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency, and 3 points for every £1 spent at American Express Online Travel”
    I think our dusty gold card just got interesting again.

  9. Lee-Anne Stewart says:

    Not see it mentioned anywhere but I got a letter last week from TSB to say that they were stopping their functionality/support of their Avios Amex on Apple pay. Quite a disappointing step although it has been temperamental at some retailers it is the card i use the most.

    • Lee-Anne Stewart says:

      Just remembered that my TSB Avios cards now no longer open to new entrants so I guess this may be connected………