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.
There was even £15 cashback recently on offer for getting the card via Quidco but that seems to have disappeared for now – although it is worth double-checking before you apply.
(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)