Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Cards Update’, updated for July 2013

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

It has been a relatively quiet month, although a number of excellent promotions are still running. You shouldn’t underestimate how good some of the current deals are – you really should be thinking of taking advantage of as many of the current sign-up deals as you realistically can.

The big ‘new news’ in June was the launch of the Emirates credit cards by MBNA. The sign-up bonus is not great, but I expect some better promotions to be launched in the current months.

Last call for the Starwood 20,000 point bonus!

The biggest deal that will be going away (on 29th July to be precise) is 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. My full review of this card is hereThe Amex home page for the card is here.

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.

You can also freely transfer SPG points between two people living at the same address. This means that your partner could get the card, transfer her SPG points to you and then you could send them off to your airline account.

Last call for the current British Airways American Express bonuses!

It is also worth noting that the current offers on the British Airways American Express cards end on 31st July. The free card (click for review) currently offers 9,000 Avios for signing up – this will presumably fall back to 3,000 Avios in August. The Premium Plus card currently offers 25,000 Avios for signing up – this should fall back to 18,000 points in August.

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

What are the best loyalty credit cards currently available?

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!)  My full review of the card is hereThe Amex home page is here.

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 and my review of the card is hereThe Amex home page is 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.

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. My full review of the card is hereAmex’s own home page is 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. My full review of the card is hereThe home page is here.

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 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 (30)

  • Paul says:

    Unfortunately I’d already applied so will have to wait and hope, was just wondering if there was anything I could do in the meantime ie screenshots in case the bonus ends up going through at 18k, don’t know if they accept screenshots as evidence as it’s difficult to prove it was taken when I applied. Have just tried your suggestion and the application page is showing 25k again, so maybe it was just a blip.

    • Rob says:

      Amex does not usually run different offers via different links, apart from refer a friend. You shouldn’t have much trouble convincing them the offer was 25k on 5th July and it is a mistake.

  • Clive J says:

    That’s great Raffles, thank you, I have e-mailed a referral request. This has also made me think that I need to check for other old cards and make sure they are cancelled.

  • Paul says:

    That’s great, thanks.

  • Andy says:

    Applied successfully for this card and referred my wife who also got the card – so there has been a lot of Amex spending in our household recently, especially as we did the same trick with the SPG cards – my wife is clearly very tolerant of this kind of thing.

    Anyway, as soon as I hit the £2k spend, my bonus points were added on the Gold card. My wife hit the £2k limit about a week ago and the bonus points haven’t come on. I contacted the Amex customer services and they claim they will be added in September – which seems a very long wait.

    Any thoughts/experiences on this? Was hoping to cancel the card before September and reclaim some of the fees…!

    • Rob says:

      Gut feeling is that some applications are not process correctly by Amex and they do a manual check-back on them after 3-4 months to check the bonuses were applied. Can’t think of any other reason why a hard core of probably 25% seem to struggle to get their bonus posted automatically.