UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 screen for September.
There is a sense of deja vu in the market (again) with the current special offers being focussed on the British Airways and Virgin Atlantic cards. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold remains, in my view, the best all-round offer on the market.
Three cards are (still) unavailable:
The IHG Rewards Club / IHG Rewards Club Black cards were meant to relaunch in June – and have done for existing cardholders – but the cards are still not available to new cardholders. This is disappointing as the Black card offers instant Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club and has a decent sign-up bonus. They do not seem totally dead as Barclays just wrote to me saying that the Black card is getting a change of name ‘in a few months’.
The Ryanair credit card has disappeared from the website although, as it is still referenced, this may be just a temporary halt
What are the best deals at the moment?
If you are looking to apply for a new card today, here are my top recommendations based on the sign-up bonus. The BA and Virgin cards are special deals whilst Amex Gold, Amex Platinum and Hilton cards are consistently strong offers.
This is currently an outstanding deal which is showing no signs of going away. You pay no fee for the first year and earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points (see here for what 20,000 MR points can get you – 20,000 Avios points for a start!).
Representative APR 15.9% variable.
The card 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 – for the rest of the year even after you cancel. The Amex Platinum benefits package is extensive, though, and once you’ve got it you might find the numbers add up for you. I have had one for 15 years.
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.
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.
Representative APR 18.9% variable.
Virgin Atlantic has started to match promotional activity on the British Airways credit cards. Last week they increased the bonus on the free White cards to 10,000 miles and on the £140 fee Black cards to 25,000 miles.
You can find full details on the Virgin credit cards bonus and links to the application forms in this article from earlier in the week.
The representative APR on the White card is 17.9% variable. The representative APR on the Black card is 52.0% variable including the annual fee.
Bonus on small business cards
Head for Points focusses primarily on personal cards. However, if you are a sole trader or run a very small business, you may also want to check out the American Express Platinum Business Card and the American Express Gold Business Card. There is currently a 20,000 points (= 20,000 Avios) bonus on the Gold Business card and a 40,000 points (40,000 Avios) bonus on the Platinum Business card.
In my experience people still receive the sign-up bonus on the small business cards even if they already have a personal Gold or Platinum card. This is technically not what the rules say, however, and you should bear this in mind.
(Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.)