Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Cards Update’, updated for June 2013

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UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2020:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.  We produce a monthly directory of the top UK travel credit card offers – please click HERE or use the ‘Credit Card Offers’ menu above.  Thank you.

I have updated the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page at the top of the blog for June.

Sadly, the American Airlines 35,000 miles sign-up bonus finished on May 31st. However, we have had another good month in terms of new offers being launched.

The big news in May was the return of the 20,000 points sign-up bonus for the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex card. This is worth 25,000 Avios, 25,000 miles in 28 other airline schemes or some free hotel nights.

There are no restrictions on who can apply for the SPG Amex, apart from a £30,000 household income rule. It doesn’t matter what other American Express cards you hold.

Another promotion due to finish soon is the additional 10,000 Hilton HHonors points with the free Hilton Visa. This offer expires on 10th June.

I also covered the launch of Etihad’s first UK credit card. You will receive 5,000 bonus Etihad Guest miles for signing up. The card also includes bonus miles when flying First Class or Business Class on Etihad, as well as a fast track scheme to Silver status in Etihad Guest.

What are the best loyalty credit cards currently available?

Here is my advice on the best cards currently available if you are thinking of ‘churning’ the contents of your wallet:

1. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

This is currently an outstanding deal, which is showing no signs of going away. No fee for the first year and 20,000 Membership Rewards points  (see here for what 20,000 MR points can get you – 20,000 Avios points for a start!).

2. Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card

Until 29th July, the sign-up bonus on this card is doubled to 20,000 Starwood points when you spend £1,000. These are worth 25,000 Avios or miles in 29 other airline programmes, as well hotel nights.  You can learn more about this deal here.

3. Lloyds TSB Premier Duo and Duo Avios cards

This is good deal and is much improved on the previous promotion. The free (‘Duo’) cards give you 15,000 Avios points for signing-up. The £50 fee ‘Premier Duo’ cards give you 20,000 Avios. You need to spend £500 per month for the first three months on the American Express card to receive the bonus, which may require careful tracking of your spending. You can learn more about the Lloyds TSB Duo Avios promotion here.

4. American Express Platinum

The card now offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points, worth 30,000 Avios amongst other things.

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, Carlson Gold, Accor Platinum, Cathay Pacific Gold (= BA Silver) for the rest of the year even after you cancel!

You can learn more about this offer in this post here.

5. Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa

You receive a free night in any Hilton Group property for spending £750. That could be worth £250 if spent wisely at a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria branded property.

6. Priority Club Black Visa

If you are used to having Platinum status for your Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Indigo, InterContinental etc stays, you will probably have noticed by now that you are very unlikely to requalify in 2013. The incredibly harsh new regime – which means only base points and not bonuses count for status – will see 80%+ of Platinum cardholders drop away, I imagine.

The Priority Club Black Visa comes with Platinum status as a free (and not publicised) perk. There is an annual fee of £99 but if you do enough stays at Priority Club hotels then it is a decent deal.

Full details on all of these cards, including links to the application forms, are on the ‘Credit Cards Update’ page.

Comments (26)

  • thesaver79 says:

    I imagine there is still a limit of max 2 Amex credit cards per account holder?

    • Simon says:

      I had 2 AMEX issued American Express Credit Cards and the Gold card but was accepted for the SPG card last month.

      • Rob says:

        Yes, some people do seem to be able to get more than the ‘2 plus 2’ rule – which, of course, means it isn’t technically a ‘rule’ at all …

  • Flashware says:

    I’ve found the HH Plat Visa very difficult to get. I applied / was approved, just needed to send some ID in. Did that straight away, however still yet to receive my card. In the mean time, the 4 Hilton stays I had that I was planning to use against it to trigger the extra 10,000 HH points have now occured and I only have a few award stays in the pipeline, very annoying!

    • Flashware says:

      An update …. although I had a letter already saying it was approved and just asking to confirm ID, sent that in 2 weeks ago … then received a letter today saying denied due to not able to verify who I am. These guys are useless! Rang them up and spoke to them, they’ve diverted it to their paper applications team.

      • Flashware says:

        … and they’ve just called and said it was a system error and should not have received the letter …. and it’ll take another 2 weeks to sort. Barclayscard are useless!

        • momomo says:

          I went through a very similar process on signing up.

          And you still have all the fun of chasing statement points to look forward to! Good luck 🙂

          • Flashware says:

            Thanks! 😀 I’ve heard they were useless on the PC card, so no surprises really. Ah, the things we do for benefits.

  • PGW says:

    Does the referrer have to hold the exact Amex card to refer for that product or can any Amex cardholder do it and still collect the bonus?

    • Lakin says:

      You need to have a similar card.
      e.g. Gold can refer to Platinum, Gold or Green
      BA can refer to BA or BA Premium
      SPG can only refer to SPG
      Here is the link to do it which has more details:

    • Rob says:

      A Gold, Plat or Green can refer either a Gold, Plat or Green

      A BA or BA Premium Plus Amex can refer either a BA or BA Premium Plus

      SPG can only refer SPG

      You only refer across the same reward scheme, basically, so any Membership Rewards card can refer any other personal Membership Rewards card etc. Which is logical, as they pay you in points!

  • Simon says:

    I’m struggling with the £500 per month on my Lloyd’s card, by the time it arrived I only had 2 weeks before my first statement was due, I’ve made the spend by buying gift cards but Lloyd’s seem very slow at putting the transactions on my account, purchases made last Wednesday still aren’t showing.

    • Rob says:

      I agree, it is a pain. This is why I do not promote the card as much as I logically should, given the bonus. It is actually worse than you think, because someone got refused the bonus despite spending £500 per month because Lloyds was using a different set of dates – one it was impossible for the cardholder to know.

    • Brian says:

      I’ve noticed their tardiness too – I’m coming up to the end of my third month and expenditure I made on the 30th May has STILL not appeared today (4 days later) and apparently, today is my cut-off date. So it’s likely that I won’t get the bonus, which is annoying – and makes me think that they might be doing it deliberately!

      • Simon says:

        I have no idea what my dates are, I applied on the 12th, was accepted on the 14th, activated my card on the 24th and my statement starts on the 7th each month. I’ve spent over £500 in my first week but Lloyd’s are so slow with the transactions my account is showing that I’ve spent £6! I don’t know if it is the date you spend the money or the date the spend appears on your account that counts. After having the card for a week I really appreciate how good AMEX are.

        • Jamie says:

          Has anyone spoken to Lloyds about this ?

          I applied in the middle of May and my first statement arrived yesterday dates up to 24th May (aprox12-13 days later). My statement only had £350 but I have spent £650 within 3 weeks of my actual start date.

          The website says the one months spend is from your start date but I can see this being an issue where I spend the £500 for the next 2 months as well and don’t get the bonus.

          • Rob says:

            It is even worse than this. It appears it is actually from account opening date – a date you don’t know. It is a bit earlier than your statement date. Someone on Flyertalk managed £500 of spend per statement but was refused the bonus because Lloyds used a month which was a couple of days different from the statement month, and some end of month charges didn’t count.

            He even appealed this to the Ombudsman but was thrown out.

          • Brian says:

            I spoke to Lloyds about this in the first month, since I wanted to be sure. They told me that the start date was 5 March – which is the date of the email saying that I’d been accepted. The actual card didn’t arrive until at least 10 days later and my first statement date was 23 March. No, I don’t know how they arrive at these dates…
            I would definitely advise anybody applying for the card to phone up Lloyds as early as possible and find out when the start date for the bonus is – that way, you can organise your spending appropriately.

          • Simon says:

            I’ve phoned up twice now and haven’t been able to get an answer, the first person didn’t know what my dates were and the 2nd person said it was per calendar month! Turned out he was giving me details of a different offer. I thought it would be per statement month but looks like it isn’t, I’ll have to phone up again, as I didn’t apply until 12th hopefully I’ve got a couple of days to buy another gift card for the first month.

          • Mark B says:

            What happens when you’ve finally met what you think is your third month £500 spend, I know the bonus avios 18000 in my case is redeemed through a single telephone booking, but do Lloyds tell you when it’s ready to claim?

  • dan says:

    Fully refundable expedia hotel bookings for next year does the trick

  • PGW says:

    Thanks Raffles.

  • Boi says:

    I cancelled my Amex gold card last month. Will I get the bonus if I apply for the SPG card now or do I have to wait 6 months?

    • Rob says:

      You are fine to get SPG now, there are no restrictions on that

      • Michael says:

        In case you cancel the SPG AMEX card for a part refund – can you keeo the account to decide later how to use the SPG points and what to use them for. i.e. to change them to AVIOS months later?

        • Rob says:

          Yes of course. Once your points have been sent to Starwood Amex cannot touch them.