Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Card Offers’ updated for September 2014 – summary of top deals

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UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2023:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 Cards’ menu above.  Thank you.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

Keep up to date with the latest UK credit card bonuses by signing up for our free daily or weekly newsletters.

I have updated the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ page at the top of the page 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

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

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.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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).

My full review of the card is here. The Amex home page is here.

 British Airways American Express

The sign-up bonus on this free card is increased from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios until 30th September. Full details are in my review here. The Amex home page for the card is here.

Representative APR 15.9% variable.

American Express Platinum

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.

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

 British Airways Premium Plus American Express

The sign-up bonus on this card is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios until 30th September. Full details are in my review here. The Amex home page for the card is here.

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.

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 Flying Club White and Black cards

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.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 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.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £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.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

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 a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) 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:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year 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 and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (58)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • zark says:

    BA Premium Plus Amex:
    The sign-up bonus on this card is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios until 21st May
    TYPO – its until 30th September
    (Sadly, I couldn’t sleep!)

  • elt 164 says:

    I have a new amex pref gold (thanks Raffles) but if using it on hotels abroad how much more would I pay than with my clarity?
    Are the extra points with the gold worth the investment?
    Not good at maths. Any help appreciated!

    • Rob says:

      3 per cent more. At 2 points per pound you are ‘paying’ 1.5p per Amex point which is not good. However, if it helps hit the £2k spend target then it may be worthwhile.

    • Brian says:

      In your first year, and possibly after that, you get a bonus point per pound for foreign spending AND a bonus point per pound for travel. I actually find that I get 2 bonus points per pound for most hotel chains, for some reason. So you’re actually getting 3 points back per pound. If you value a point at 1p, that covers your foreign spending fee. So you’re not ‘losing’ anything and, as Raffles points out, it will help to meet the spending target.

      • Tom says:

        or if you are using it abroad for and work is reimbursing you after (like me currently) then its a new brainer to always use it for 3x the points!

  • Alba says:

    Slightly OT, but does anyone know the best way of tracking when you closed an Amex CC? I had the Amex Gold at one point this year, however I am not certain when I cancelled it. I’m looking to get the bonus points so I need to make sure I’ve waited over 6 months.

    • David says:

      Check your statements?

    • Neil says:

      Sign up for Noddle. It’s a crdit reference agency like experian and equifax but it’s free. Shows all of your financial account details including dates for opening and closing.

    • Mark2 says:

      I wanted to know this. I just rang them in Brighton and they were very helpful.

  • Aliks says:

    I’m looking at the best way to pay for foreign hotels too.

    On the Amex Gold its 3 points per pound from Amex. I dont think the hotel points count as an advantage as you get these points however you pay.

    So if you have a 100Pound hotel bill you will pay 3 more Pounds on the Gold Card compared to the Post Office FX free card to get 300 Avios – which is a penny a point and not so good.
    I guess the only way to change this equation is to use the Lloyds Amex

  • Yorica says:

    My 1st year with the Amex preferred rewards gold comes to an end in Nov’14 and so I’m sizing up whether to ditch the card (after transferring my MR points) or to hold on and swallow the £125 fee. Unfortunately I’m very unlikely to make the £15k threshold on my first year spend and so won’t receive the 7500 bonus on my 1st anniversary – having spent £10k, I still have £5k to go.

    I understand from reading HFP that I can have 2 amex charge cards at the same time but I’ve also read that if I cancel one card I have to wait 6 months before applying for another.

    Having read that the free ba amex is not the best card to apply for, I’m still wary of paying a £150 fee for a new ba premium plus card.

    Can I have a preferred rewards card and premium plus at the same time?

    Can anyone advise me as to the best Amex strategy to maximize the current offers. Thanks

    • TimS says:

      Yes you can have PR Gold card & BA Prem Plus at the same time.

      If you have a partner, you could always refer them for the Gold before you cancel yours and add yourself as a supplimentary card holder.

      That way you get the 9,000 MR points for the referral, your partner gets the 22,000 MR points interoductory offer and they get the first year fee free while you cancel your original Gold card.

      Should you wish to, when that “new” first year comes to an end they could refer you for an Amex Gold (to get the 9,000 referal points) and you then get the intorductory offer again…

      • Yorica says:

        Thanks. However, my wife is a full time mum, but it’s a good strategy nonetheless.

        Would I still get the BA PP card sign on bonus even though I already have the PR gold card?

        • Rob says:

          Yes, 100% OK

        • TimS says:

          Amex go on household earnings though so it shouldn’t be a problem. My wife is PT and on a much lower salary than me but I had no issues applying on her behalf with me as a supp card holder.

          She doesn’t even use her card much and 95% of the spend is by me.

        • Mark2 says:

          My wife has not worked for 20 years and I am retired now but Amex still issued her a BAPP card with no problem.

          • jotaele says:

            Doesn’t AMEX ask for your last payment slip?

          • xcalx says:

            I dont think they check for much if you have a good credit rating. eg soon to be 84 year old mother in law applied last year for the Gold card with a supposed pension of £36000 was accepted without question.

          • Rob says:

            No-one asks for those!

  • Howard says:

    Off topic but Shell have been giving me x4 points for petrol. Also I had a service on my car and was very surprised to get x2 points.

    • Simon says:

      I too also get x4 points at Shell as long as I don’t use pay at the pump as then it is x2 or x3….can’t remember which!

  • Howard says:

    That’s on the Gold Amex card

  • RTS says:

    I was wondering – I already have my BA Companion voucher which expires in 2016. I haven’t used it yet and downgraded my BA Plat card to the freebie one.

    Can I cancel this card altogether now and still be able to use the companion voucher? Or must I hold a BA Amex in order to use it?


    • Rob says:

      When you book you must pay the tax on an Amex but any Amex will do.

      I have never got to the bottom of what happens a) if you cancel the card (I am pretty sure you retain the voucher) and b) what happens if you subsequently cancel a redemption (does the voucher come back to you if you no longer have a BA Amex?)

      • RTS says:

        Ah so I can cancel my ba card and use my gold charge card to pay for the redemption and still be ok?

        • Rob says:

          You can definitely use Gold to pay the tax.

          I am not 100% sure what happens to the voucher or what happens if you cancel and expect the voucher to come back to you.

    • Tim says:

      I called them and asked this question. They informed me I would lose my companion voucher if I cancelled my BA Amex

      • Rob says:

        But they would say that. They also say foreign currency via Amex incurs a fee and that you must pay your 241 taxes with a BA Amex ……!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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