Airport lounge access for £50 per year via Diners Club, the card that time forgot
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Reader Neil recently reminded me of the existence of Diners Club, the charge card that time forgot.
Most of you will probably have never ever seen a Diners Club card. In London, you are more likely to find a shop accepting China UnionPay cards than Diners Club.
Diners Club was the first real ‘travel and entertainment’ focussed charge card, well before American Express chose to focus on this market. Well before credit cards were first available, the charge cards issued by Diners Club and Amex were the only way to pay for items on plastic.
In recent years ownership has passed from Citi to Discover Financial Services, although the UK operation is a franchise, independently owned by Affiniture Cards since 2012.
Diners Club in the UK does still operate a loyalty scheme, with some decent partners. However, the earnings rate is very poor.
You earn 1 point for every £5 spent on your card. These transfer to:
- American Airlines (400 points / £2,000 spend = 1,000 miles)
- Hilton HHonors (380 points / £1,900 spend = 2,000 HH points)
- Marriott Rewards (380 points / £1,900 spend = 1,500 Marriott points)
- IHG Rewards Club (280 points / £1,400 spend = 1,500 IHG points)
- Starwood Preferred Guest (380 points / £1,900 spend = 750 SPG points)
Oddly, the website also lists Swiss Travel Club as a partner, which has not existed for a long time!
These exchange are roughly 50% as good as you would get from holding an Amex card or a dedicated credit card from one of these programmes. I would say that the AA, IHG and Starwood options are the best of the bunch, with the Hilton transfer rate looking particularly poor following the devaluation of the programme this year.
However, there is one benefit of membership which looks interesting.
You get access to 400 airport lounges, in what looks like a cut-down version of the Priority Pass programme. These include the No 1 Traveller lounges at both Gatwick terminals. You receive free entry as the cardholder, with a charge for guests.
If you travel solo, this may work out as a cheap way of getting lounge access. For comparison, if you paid to join Priority Pass (which has a bigger network globally but not in the UK) you would pay £259 for unlimited lounge access (or £159 for 10 free visits and then £15 per visit).
A Diners Club personal card has a fee of just £50 per year. This could be a cheap way of getting airport lounge access for yourself. You would pay £15 per guest, but if you travelled with a guest a lot then they could get their own card as well. (It is not clear is Diners Club supplementary cardholders get lounge access for free.) Some of the other Diners Club franchises around Europe have started to add an annual ‘minimum spend’ to the card to retain the lounge access perk, but for now it is available without restriction in the UK and Ireland.
As with Priority Pass, the lack of a lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 is a problem. All the other terminals are covered, though, as are most UK regional airports. For this reason – and only this reason – Diner Club may be worth a look.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – March 2023 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.
SPECIAL OFFER: Successfully apply for either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards by 2nd April 2023 and you will be entered into a free draw to win ONE MILLION AVIOS! Full details are on the application forms here (free) and here (paid). This competition is exclusive to Head for Points readers. T&C apply.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express 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 Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
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.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 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 & 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
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:
Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.
American Express Business Platinum
Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) 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
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.
Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card
1% cashback (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review