Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Card Offers’ updated for December 2014 – summary of the current top deals

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UPDATE – JUNE 2022:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on the two Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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.

What’s new?

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.

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

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.

British Airways American Express

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.

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 Amex Platinum 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 11th February. Full details are in my review of the BA Premium Plus Amex here. The Amex home page for the card is here.

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!). If you are new to this hobby, I would make this your first American Express card.

My full review of Amex Gold is here. The Amex home page 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 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.

Lufthansa Miles & More American Express & Visa

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.

United Airlines MileagePlus American Express & Visa

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.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – June 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge 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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) and an upgrade voucher for spending £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 Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus 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:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company 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 (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (22)

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

  • Stuart says:

    Can you transfer United miles into any other program?

    • JQ says:

      You used to be able to but I think it is no longer possible
      Your best option would be to use them for North American flights at 10000 or 12500 miles each and minimal airport fees.
      However, you need some activity in your account every 18 months or it will expire.
      I struggled to get my balance to exactly 12500 but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to use them in time, so I might just get the card for this.

  • Stu says:

    Any idea how long the free Hilton night takes to come through after hitting the £750 spend? Does it come in the form of an email or does it appear once logged in to hhonors?

    • Stuart says:

      Mine came through pretty quick and I got email notification. The voucher doesn’t come by email but sits on your account. You have to call hilton and make the booking

      • Stu says:

        Thanks Stuart. The points haven’t posted yet from this month’s Visa statement so I’ll keep a look out for that – presume it’ll get triggered then.

        • Matt says:

          Unless it has changed since they migrated the Hilton card, Barclaycard run a manual process to detect eligibility once a quarter so you could be waiting any time between 0 and 3 months.

        • Stuart says:

          If you are in a hurry to book, once the points post you could always call HH.

  • ck says:

    The USA version of the platinum card offers $200 airline credit per calendar year, which helps offset the annual fee. Does the UK card have this feature too?

    • RIccati says:

      200USD? You wish. It begins to occur to me why the bonuses are on the lower side, compared to the USA (and AMEX being the most generous issuer!). The numbers of Plat and paying Gold cardholders are simply on the smaller side to support profit margins expected by the global parent company.

      Operations, I would imagine that servicing each additional account adds a very small marginal cost, mostly variable compared to fixed costs of operations.

      • Rob says:

        Remember that 70% of ALL credit cards in Europe are held in the UK. Compared to other countries this is nirvana. It is the 2nd best country in the world, after the US, for sign-up deals.

      • JQ says:

        Well, the US has 5x the population of the UK, for one thing.

        Deals in China are also not bad but likely inaccessible to 99.9% of HFP readers…

      • Nick says:

        The difference is more likely due to the difference in the interchange earned by issuers in the UK and the US. Credit card issuers in the US earn a significantly higher percentage of the transaction than they do in the UK. The amount earned by issuers on VISA and mastercard transactions will reduce to 0.3% on a lot of transactions from 1 Jan, and on all transactions over the next year or so. In the US, the rates are significantly higher. For example, I think Canadian rates are being reduced to something like 1.5% – so Canadian card issues will make 5 times as much as a UK card issuers (on transactions). Therefore they have more to play with when offering points per $ of spending.

    • RIccati says:

      US Plat cardholders don’t have foreign currency fee. Image how would that impact savings (3% on all spending abroad) and speed of MR points accumulation.

  • Ross Parker says:

    Do you know if you need to continue to spend on the Lufthansa card to ensure that it does its job of keeping Miles & More active?

    • flood says:

      Yes, you need to spend on it every month. I believe the “protection” of your balance only applies after a 3 month probation, and then you need at least £1 every month on the cc to keep the balance safe.

      • Ross Parker says:

        Thank you Flood. Having dug further, I have found a site that confirms this (one transaction per month that is not refunded, after 3 months the benefit works). I guess the trick is now to find a monthly recurring fee that I can route through this card and set up a Direct Debit. Maybe LoveFilm or Spotify would do it.

        • Rob says:

          £1 charity donation works if you can find one that takes regular payments – and you get the gift aid as well if a 40% taxpayer.

        • TimS says:

          Graze box. 1 a month at £3.89 a time would do the trick and at leadt you’d get something edible to show for it.

  • Jonny says:

    No SPG 20k bonus for quite some time… hope this pops up in the new year…

    • Nick says:

      I imagine it is increasingly unlikely if people keep taking out the card, rinsing the bonus and cancelling.

  • Jean says:

    I had a query associated with the ‘expiry date’ of the Amex welcome offers.
    Does expiry date mean (i) that you have to achieve the spend target by the stated date (for example 11 Feb 2015), or (ii) does it mean that you have to apply and be approved for the necessary card by the stated date (and then have to achieve the spend target).
    Have read the Amex terms and conditions but they didn’t offer any clarity.

  • Pierre says:

    Does anyone happen to know if it is possible to earn 2 companion vouchers a year on the BA Amex cards? Spend £10k on the Premium card and earn a voucher, then downgrade to the basic BA card spend another £10k and earn a 2nd voucher?

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

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