Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Amazingly, the old bmi credit cards just got better!

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If you hold one of the old BMI credit cards, you probably had a text message recently telling you that MBNA was writing to you with details of enhanced benefits on the cards.

You probably thought that this would relate to the improved mileage earnings on the bmi cards, which I wrote about here.

But you would be wrong!

Whilst the letters have not yet arrived, the details have been posted on the Diamond Club website here.

First, the cards have a funky new look:

Diamond Club cards

Secondly, the site confirms the increased mileage earning I wrote about before.  Amazingly, the MasterCard with the £60 annual fee now earns 2.5 Avios per £1, a frankly astounding rate for a non-Amex card.  The fee-paying Amex cards will also carry this rate.

Thirdly, it is confirmed that you will earn double Avios – so 5 Avios points per £1 on some cards! – when you buy BA flights using the card.

Fourth, though, is the real surprise:

You will receive a 10% discount on all British Airways flights paid for with some of the MBNA credit cards!

Now, this discount is only off the base fair, excluding taxes, so the net discount will be a long way short of 10%.  It is still serious money when booking long-haul premium tickets, though.

You can use the discount as many times as you like.    The only rules are that all flights must start in the UK and the cardholder must be one of the passengers.

So, oddly, if you have one of the old BMI credit cards it is now far superior to the British Airways Amex.

There is little sense continuing to use your BA Amex once you are past the £10,000 threshold for the 2-4-1 voucher, and if you have the 2.5 Avios per £1 MasterCard then you will be laughing very heartily this morning.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (February 2023)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous 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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

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

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (61)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Andrew says:

    The only other advantage of continuing to book BA flights on the BA Amex is to be covered by the Platinum Card travel insurance.

  • Miles Mania says:

    I’ve go the free MBNA/BMI Amex/Visa cards today, getting 2/1 points with the new rate.

    Does anyone know if it is possible to upgrade to the Plus card/£60, to get the 2.5/1.25 rate?

    And, more of a long shot, have any existing customers managed to get get them to give them the Mastercard, which now gives 2.5 points per £?

    • Rob says:

      No upgrades allowed. I believe it is under consideration, though – although there is no chance at all of new applications being taken.

  • Volker says:

    When did they stop issuing the BMI MasterCard? Does anybody remember?

    • Rob says:

      Only Amex is allowed to issue BA-branded cards. As soon as the last BMI flight had landed, BA must have decided that they were risking a lawsuit from Amex if they carried on issuing them. Its no coincidence that the cards were pulled the same week that the last BMI flight landed.

  • Trevor says:

    A lot of people seem to want to upgrade, but has anyone realistically thought this through?

    Firstly, an upgrade isn’t currently possible, and even if it was, you’d pay for a card that earns slightly more points, yet isn’t practically worthwhile, and here’s why:

    Currently, you pay nothing for a card that earns you 2 points / £1 spend – nice on a card which you use if you aren’t currently churning anything else. If you upgrade, you earn an extra 0.5 points / £1 spend, but it’s gonna cost you £60/yr for the privilege. Now, this is where it gets real…

    To earn back your £60 fee in points to make it worthwhile, you’d need 6,000 Avios if you value them at as much as 1p/point. To earn an extra 6,000 at 0.5 Avios extra / £1 spent, you need to spend £12,000 p.a. (for most people on the Amex) – and that’s just to break even!

    Now, if you are actually playing this game for any gain, you’re unlikely to spend £12,000 p.a. on a card that will give you no further bonus and just break even on your fee – you’ll be trying to spend that money on various other cards to meet bonus targets that will net you far more points than a break-even and a big fat zero gain!

    So, those wanting to upgrade, you can’t and it’s not realistically worth it, so get over it. Those who don’t have the cards, too bad. But you’d be better off churning other cards earning, say, 10,000 bonus Avios per £3,000 spend (excluding normal point earning on the spend) rather than 6,000 Avios for the same spend on one of these free cards.

    The only other upgrade consideration is the 10% BA discount offered on the paid cards, but since that’s discount on base fare only, which these days is not the lion’s share of the total price, it’s not worth too much, especially if you are redeeming points (after all, isn’t that why you are trying to earn them?) in which case any price paid is taxes and you’ll save another big fat zero.

    It looks prettier, it works better, and it’s handy as an inbetweener, but it’s not really worth crying about if you don’t have one and certainly not worth upgrading, even if you could.

    • Sir Stamford says:

      I have held a MBNA BMI AMEX plus card (with a £85 annual fee) since 2010 and will benefit from the increased earn rate (2.5 Avios) and 10% discount. The discussion that follows is therefore hypothetical given that I personally don’t need to upgrade and there is, in any event, no option to upgrade for other people.

      However, I am responding because I do not agree with your analysis comparing the benefits of the free and paid cards.

      With an annual fee of £85, the cardholder would need to spend £17,000 per annum in order to justify the additional 0.5 Avios per £1 spend. This is admittedly a tall order for some people.

      The real benefit however is the 10% discount. If I were to book a Premium Economy return ticket to NYC on selected dates in June 2013, the total cost of the ticket is £912, made up of £487 fare and £425 taxes. A 10% discount on the fare is £48.70.

      The discount from a booking of two tickets from this example (£97.40) is more than enough to cover the annual fee of the AMEX plus card. And of course, you gain extra 0.5 Avios per £1 of spend.

      I agree with you that there is no benefit when you redeem your Avios points but I suspect that most people will purchase tickets with hard cash more often than they redeem them. Have you also not considered travellers (including myself) who purchase tickets (and will benefit from the discount) and then Upgrade Using Avios (UUA)?

      Sir Stamford

      • Trevor says:

        Sir Stamford, I am glad you more or less agree that trying to earn extra points (which is what most people seem to want the upgrade for) seems a futile exercise given the spend necessary to break even with the fee, even more so in your case with the higher fees. That was the main point I was trying to analyse and make.

        In return, you have shown that the 10% discount can be worth something to those people paying cash for 2 or more longhaul tickets per year, though the benefit is marginal (£97.40 – £85) and I would guess few people would be paying for more given other airline/destination choices along with probable redemption options. Though even with the fee covered, trying to earn a few more points on these cards rather than meeting bonus minimums on other cards would still seem pointless.

        You do, however, raise a good point regarding UUA, which is indeed an option I had not considered, and would perhaps be the only really sensible benefit here. I figured my input would ruffle some feathers or induce some sensible feedback, and I appreciate yours.

        • Sir Stamford says:

          No problem, Trevor – glad you took the time to express your views which I am sure are always valued.

          Sir Stamford

  • Roger says:

    I have too many cards. (There, I’ve said it!). I phoned MBNA to reorganise my various limits so that I can use my Diamond Club MC as my main card for spend, once I’m within reach of my BA AmEx PP target.

    Miles and More has become virtually irrelevant for me since the recent LH and BA changes. Where I have the choice, I’ll end up with OneWorld airlines. That’s a direct result of bmi disappearing.

    The lady at MBNA persuaded me to keep my M+M AmEx and Visa (separate) accounts for the time being

  • Roger says:

    [sorry, submitted too soon. 🙁

    The lady at MBNA persuaded me to keep my M+M AmEx and Visa (separate) accounts and VS white AmEx (+unused Visa) for the time being. This has the extra benefit of extending the life of my M+M miles provided I make a transaction now and again. I hadn’t used my M+M Visa for at least a year. Ditto my VS AmEx.

    A question: does a series of reduced limits on different cards mainly to £1,000 imply a risk to potential future lenders, notwithstanding a higher Diamond Club MC increase? Thanks.

    • Rob says:

      I don’t think so. What is a clear risk is having lots of unused credit relative to income since another card company doesn’t want to be at risk if you decide to draw all your credit lines at once – reducing limits avoids this.

  • PGW says:

    My wife and I applied for and received the BMI free cards when the bonus was offered. Neither of us have used them much since. Just checked our online accounts. Both of our accounts now appear to have completely different numbers than before. More interestingly, my account is shown as a “plus” while my wife is the standard card. I called and was told that the cards are being sent out “as I speak”.

    It looks like there’s been some decision making on which card the member will be sent. Time will tell no doubt.

  • PGW says:

    Discounts are now live.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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