UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 usually run a post at the beginning of the month focussing on the top credit card deals currently available. With new offers appearing every couple of days in early November, I felt it best to hold off for a couple of weeks this time.
The market has now settled down so we can get a good look at the current situation.
There were three long-term developments over the last month which are worth noting if you missed my original articles.
The good news is that the IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa is now available again. Whilst there is a £99 fee, you will receive top-tier Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club, valid at Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza, Indigo and InterContinental hotels. There is also a 20,000 point bonus for signing up.
The bad news is that the Flybe card has been sharply devalued. With Flybe scrapping its frequent flyer scheme and issuing Avios points instead, it has been forced to invent a special scheme – Spend & Fly – just for its credit card customers. As you can no longer top up your points by flying on Flybe this now looks even more unattractive than it did.
Lloyds has launched a refer-a-friend bonus on its Lloyds Avios Rewards card. My article includes a list of HFP readers who can refer you.
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, Emirates, American, United, Lufthansa, Etihad and Virgin cards are special deals whilst Amex Gold, Amex Platinum and Hilton cards are consistently strong offers.
These deals are listed in no particular order and their position on the list is not a sign of how good or bad the offer is.
The sign-up bonus on this free card is increased from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios until 11th February. Full details are in my review of the British Airways Amex card here. The Amex home page for the card is here.
Representative APR 15.9% variable.
This is the highest earning Visa or MasterCard you can get if you want to earn Avios points, at 1 per £1 spent. HSBC has tough application criteria as you can read in my review.
Until November 30th, you will receive 2,500 HSBC points – equivalent to 12,500 Avios, Asia Miles, Krisflyer or Etihad Guest miles – for taking out the card.
There is no annual fee. The representative APR is 11.9% variable. You can apply here.
Emirates Skywards (click on the box at the top of the link page to see the special offer)
The sign-up bonus on the free Emirates credit card is currently increased from 5,000 to 12,000 Skywards miles. Full details are in my review here. Representative APR 17.9% variable.
If you are happy to pay a fee, the bonus on the Emirates Elite card has also been improved, from 10,000 to 25,000 Skywards miles. If you are an existing Skywards collector – because you need a lot of Emirates miles for a decent reward, more than you can get from a credit card alone – then this is something to consider seriously.
My full review of the Elite card is here. Representative APR 55.1% variable including the annual fee, based on a £1200 credit limit. Both offers run until November 30th.
The sign-up bonus on the American Airlines cards (a double pack of an American Express and a Visa) has been increased from 5,000 miles to 15,000 miles until November 28th.
You need to spend £1,500 within 90 days to receive the bonus. My full review of the American Airlines card is here. You can apply here.
There is no annual fee. The representative APR is 17.9%.
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.
The sign-up bonus on this card is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios until 11th February. Full details are in my review of the BA Premium Plus Amex here. The Amex home page for the card is here.
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!). If you are new to this hobby, I would make this your first American Express card.
This is a very aggressive offer. Etihad is currently offering 20,000 miles (the usual offer is 5,000 miles) if you take out its free credit card before November 30th.
The spending target may seem tough at £4,000 but you do have a whole six months to achieve it. Spending on both the American Express and Visa cards counts as you receive a double pack.
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 UK Hilton credit 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. The representative APR 18.9% variable.
These cards are free and come with the additional benefit of stopping your existing Miles & More miles from expiring.
The terrible standard bonus of 1,500 miles is increased to 11,500 miles until December 22nd. You need to spend a modest £2,000 within 90 days.
You can find out more in my review of the Miles & More cards. The representative APR is 16.9%. The application form is here.
Finally, United is currently offering 15,000 MileagePlus miles if you take out its cards. The usual sign-up bonus is nothing!
The cards are free and the offer runs until 30th November. You need to spend £1,800 within 90 days. My review of the United MileagePlus credit cards is here. The representative APR is 18.9%.
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.)