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‘Credit Cards Update’ updated for February – summary of best deals

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 February.

The big event during January was the launch of the temporary sign-up bonus on the Virgin Flying Club credit cards.  At 10,000 miles for the free card and 25,000 miles for the £140 fee paid card, these are the highest bonuses that I have ever seen. 

I ran through the Flying Club bonuses in this post.  Remember, if you need more Virgin miles, that Tesco Clubcard is also offering a 30% bonus on transfers to Flying Club at the moment.

The other changes during January were:

MBNA removed the 1,500 mile sign-up bonus on the Miles & More credit card!  1,500 miles was hardly anything to get excited about, but the decision to remove it entirely still seems a little odd.

The 20,000 point sign-up bonus on the Starwood American Express card ended.  This is now back at 10,000 points which converts to 10,000 airline miles.

Finally, remember that we are now into the final few weeks of being able to claim a FREE Cathay Pacific Gold card when you apply for American Express Platinum.  This gives almost all of the benefits of British Airways Silver status, including BA lounge access.

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 here. The Amex home page is here.

2.  Virgin Atlantic Flying Club American Express and Visa

It is rare that you see an offer on the Virgin cards – the last one was 18 months ago.  This is the best offer ever seen on these cards – 25,000 Virgin miles with the £140 ‘Black’ card and 10,000 Virgin miles with the free ‘White’ card.

Note that you CANNOT cancel the £140 paid card and receive a refund of your annual fee.

You can find full details on the Virgin credit cards bonus in this post.

Virgin White

3.  American Express Platinum

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

There is a lower bonus of 30,000 points if you apply directly.  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!

The key benefit of this card – the Cathay Pacific Gold card, which gets you the same benefits as a BA Silver card, including BA lounge access, is going away on March 31st.  You need to have received your Platinum card by that date.

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

4.  Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa

You receive a free night in any Hilton Group property for spending £750 on this card. That could be worth £250 if spent wisely at a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria branded property. My full review of the card is here. The home page is here.

This remains my favourite promotion for someone new to this hobby.  The card is free, you only need to spend a modest amount to trigger the bonus, and you can enjoy a free night in a luxury hotel afterwards (if you pick a decent one!).  It will whet your appetite for what miles and points can bring you.

5.  British Airways American Express

The sign-up bonus on this free card is increased from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios until May.

Full details are in my review here.  The Amex home page for the card is here.

BA Amex cropped

6.  British Airways Premium Plus American Express

The sign-up bonus on this card is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios until May.

Full details are in my review here.  The Amex home page for the card is here.

BA Premium Plus Amex

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

Comments (44)

  • Mark says:

    I’m mulling over the 15,000 MR upgrade offer from Gold to Platinum in order to get Cathay status before it is pulled.

    I’ve had the Gold over a year so am paying the annual fee and am about half way through my current membership year. I’m assuming that will be recognised in some way. Does anyone know if they charge the fee difference pro rata up front for the remainder of the current year or if the renewal date is reset?

    • John says:

      I expect you will be refunded half the gold fee and then charged £450

      • Rob says:


        • Andy says:

          Yes my wife did this, She had just paid the £125 Gold fee renewal. When she upgraded later that month to Platinum she got the £125 fee credited back and then the next statement the £450 Platinum fee was applied

  • Mucky says:

    I took out the platinum for the CP Gold Card (thank you for the reminder!), but can the platinum easily be downgraded to the gold whilst i work out what to do with my MR points or will i need to apply for the gold and then cancel the platinum?

    • Rob says:

      You can ring to downgrade if you want more time to decide about the points. Gold fee may kick in immediately though (£125/yr) – I think you don’t get the first year free.

      • Jfduncan says:

        I downgraded my Platinum on Monday night by calling Amex. The Gold Fee does kick in immediately – so i downgraded to Green (£60 annual fee) which i will cancel as soon as the next conversion bonus kicks in…

        • Rob says:

          There is an annual fee (£36?) for Membership Rewards access if you are Green and this is presumably not refundable, so Gold may have been the better deal.

          • Olly says:

            The Green card at £60 includes Membership Rewards with no additional fee to pay.

            I’ve downgraded from Platinum to Gold and now to Green while I wait for a transfer bonus (sat on about 120k MR points) although I’m not convinced one will ever arrive!

          • Rob says:

            That is absolutely NOT what the MR rules say. Fee for Green is £24 plus VAT per year.

          • Olly says:

            Agreed but I’ve had the Green card since October and Membership Rewards is definitely included – I clarified this before downgrading.

            Apparently there is another version of the card with a lower annual fee that attracts that charge – the ‘Green’ card you can get now is actually called ‘The American Express Card’ and is a different product. Very confusing!

          • M says:

            Wow. The green card in fact comes with a £60 fee/year.

  • Petash says:

    Hello Raffles,

    Am new to o/seas points use particularly in US. Use Advantage plus here in Australia and it is GREAT, for AUD$280 you get one free night at a 4 or 5 star hotel eg Sofitel Wentworth, dining 2 for 1 all year round and available at most Accor hotels in Asia Pacific!! Unfortunately not recognized in USA. I am traveling to San Fran in June and and seeking a program to join that will help the budget and give us a good holiday. 7 nights planned. Tips ??

    • Rob says:

      Did the Omni last time I was in SFO which had just opened. If you could push some nights to Carlson soon their 38,000 bonus points promo is generous and would be handy in SFO. A Carlson Gold match would also let you book their ‘4 for 2’ rates to cover part of your stay cheaply.

  • Malibu Stacey says:

    Amex Platinum Card holders applying for Gold status need to have RECEIVED their Marco Polo membership cards by 1 March. They need to APPLY to Cathay Pacific by 15 February. Too late if you don’t have an AP in hand already.

    • Polly says:

      Thought this had been changed to end of March? It’s been updated, I think there were a couple of mentions regarding this on a different post.

    • Rob says:

      No, they’ve changed it. It is now 30th March. Amex (for once) is even printing this on your statements this month.

  • Jimmyjimmy says:

    When you cancel a fee card that gives pro rata return of the fee, ie SPG. Do they send you a cheque for the amount?

    • M says:

      Yes, a cheque or this can be credited to a different card if you have one.

  • Empers says:

    Slightly off topic, I have a question about manufactured spend. I noticed on my Amex Platinum when I received a refund from SVP Gift cards (failed Amex House of Fraser venture), the refund did not deduct my original spend amount for MR points. Therefore I got to my £2k target much quicker than I should have. My question is this; has anyone found a way of using refunds on purchases in a consistent way to manufacture spend?

    I imagine there are many retailers out there offering high value items for sale although it is not in stock. Therefore one could buy an item , have the transaction registered and points target added and then promptly cancel the order for a full refund. I am not sure this is a scenario covered with the cards terms and conditions?

    Anyone know a suitable retailer or product this could be tested on?

    • Rob says:

      Normally a refund should trigger a deduction. What you actually want is a retailer who will refund to a different card. Costco used to, may still, be happy to do cash refunds for card transactions.