UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.
It is time for our monthly round up of what is new, what is coming and what is going in the world of UK airline and hotel credit card sign-up deals.
Not much, to be honest. December is never a good month for promotions as it is too late for people to receive a card in order to do their Christmas shopping. Card issuers also like to save their best deals for the New Year when people make a resolution to finally sort out the contents of their wallet!
The special offers which were running in November for Etihad, HSBC Premier, Emirates and American Airlines have all ended.
There are only three offers worth noting:
The 11,500 miles sign-up bonus on the Lufthansa Miles & More card is still running. This does not end until 22nd December.
The special 15,000 miles sign-up bonus on the United MileagePlus card may have become permanent. The offer was meant to end in November but it remains on the United website and now shows no closing date. This would be a major turnaround if it was the case! United will have gone from having the worst sign-up bonus in the business (ie nothing at all for 90% of the year) to having the highest permanent bonus of any free credit card!
The higher sign-up bonuses on the British Airways American Express cards continue to run. This offer does not expire until February.
What are the best deals at the moment?
If you are looking to apply for a new card before the year-end, here are my top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus. The BA and Lufthansa 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.
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.
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. It looks like this offer may now be permanent. You should be aware, though, that whilst the headline number of bonus miles is very generous, you will struggle to do much with them unless you already have a MileagePlus balance or can credit some Star Alliance flights to it.
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.)