For most of 2011, UK frequent fliers who track the US market could only sit back and stare as credit card sign-up bonuses went crazy. Ironically, the credit card that BA launched in conjunction with Chase was one of the most extravagant, with a whopping 100,000 Avios sign-up bonus if certain spend targets were hit. Suddenly 9,000 Avios for getting the UK BA Amex didn’t look quite so exciting after all.
The good news – no, let’s make that excellent news – is that UK credit card sign-ups are getting a lot more interesting. As of today, you are spoilt for choice between the SPG Amex, Amex Preferred Rewards Gold, Amex Platinum and the BA Premium Plus Amex. And that is before you look at the better hotel cards, such as the new Hilton card which comes with a free night at any Hilton Group property worldwide – worth £200+ if used widely.
For now, though, the BMI Diamond Club credit card, issued by MBNA, is one to focus on. Whilst BA now owns BMI and is rapidly converting it to BA, the BMI credit card still exists and still accepts new applicants. Similarly, BMI’s Diamond Club is still open to new members. And from July 3rd, you will be able to transfer miles from BMI to BAEC at 1:1.
The card is a combined Amex and Visa, and comes in two versions – a free one, with a 20,000 mile sign-up bonus, and an £85 paid version with a 24,000 mile bonus. The earnings rate is 1.5 or 2 miles per £1 on the Amex, and 0.75 or 1 mile per £1 on the Visa.
The issuer is MBNA, ie Bank of America. MBNA is generally very leniant about giving out cards, with none of the high income requirements that Amex wants. Even my old Mum got these cards, and she is a low-income pensioner.
There is no reason for not jumping on the free version of the card whilst you can – perhaps even persuading your partner and / or parents to get one too (you can create a Family Account via Diamond Club and transfer all the miles to yourself). You only need to spend £250 to trigger the bonus of 20,000 miles.
I do not recommend the £85 version, as the additional 4,000 bonus miles are not worth that, and it is unlikely that this card will be around in six months time anyway as BA fully integrates BMI.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2022 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
50,000 points bonus until 2nd October – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.