Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Card Offers’ updated for January 2015 – summary of the current top deals

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UPDATE – MAY 2024:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

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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.  I was expecting a burst of activity last week when the ‘return to work’ rush kicked in but, apart from IHG Rewards Club (which is a good deal) and Virgin Atlantic, not much is happening.

There are three offers worth noting:

IHG Rewards Club is offering a TRIPLED bonus on its two hotel cards.  The free card gets you 30,000 IHG Rewards Club points, the £99 card brings you 60,000 points.  This is an EXCELLENT deal if you are focussed on free hotel nights.  This offer runs until March.

The bonus on the free Virgin Atlantic White card is more than tripled from 3,000 miles to 10,000 miles.  The bonus on the paid Black card increases from 18,500 miles to 25,000 miles.  This offer will run until the end of March.

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 IHG, BA and Virgin offers 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.

IHG Rewards Club Visa and IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa

The bonus on these cards is tripled until 31st March as long as you apply via special links.  The free card gets you 30,000 points which is worth up to six hotel nights during a PointBreaks promotion – or 6,000 airline miles.  The £99 card is worth 60,000 points which should get around £300 of free hotel rooms – or 12,000 airline miles.  You can find our more in this article from last month.

The representative APR on the free card is 18.9% variable and 42.2% variable on the Premium card, including the fee and assuming a £1200 credit limit.

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 is 18.9% variable.

Virgin Flying Club White and Virgin Flying Club Black

Virgin has increased the bonus on its two credit card package.  The free White card now offers 10,000 miles (usually 3,000) whilst the Black card offers 25,000 (usually 18,500).  I wrote more about this deal in my article on Friday.

The representative APR on the free card is 17.9% variable and on the paid card 52.0% variable including the fee, based on a £1200 credit limit.

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% variable.

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? – May 2024 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.

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

HUGE 60,000 POINTS BONUS UNTIL 3rd JULY and 15 elite night credits each year Read our full review

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

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

18,000 bonus points 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 sign-up 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

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 Business Credit Card

1% cashback uncapped* on all your business spending (T&C apply) Read our full review

Comments (60)

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

  • Twobfair says:

    For reference, I’m having difficulty getting the IHG bonus points credited. Customer services (by phone and email) of both Barclaycard and IHG were next to useless, however, Barclaycard did respond through twitter and are looking into it.

    • Euflyer Tom says:

      Likewise. Barclaycard responded by referring me to IHG Rewards who (unsurprisingly) referred me back to Barclaycard.

      Latest advice is to wait 6 weeks and then badger Barclaycard. I find the messaging service on mybarclaycard.co.uk works reasonably well.

      • Alan says:

        Barclaycard CS are generally dreadful. I’d highly recommend contacting their social media team instead (on FB or Twitter) – they’re far more helpful. If still no luck then lodge a formal complaint. They take a while to resolve but you normally receive appropriate compensation for their dreadful CS in return.

        • Twobfair says:

          I agree. I tried the message option through the Barclaycard website and got told to try IHG. By contacting Barclaycard on twitter they called IHG on my behalf, told me to wait 6 weeks (after IHG initally refused to believe the 60k offer existed!) then and gave some comp. I understand why IHG should be sorting as it’s a referral from their site. Direct through Barclaycard only triggers 20k.

  • Joe says:

    I got the BA Amex Premier with the 18k bonus for £3000 spend which was later increased to 25k. When I called the Amex Member Rewards, they manually added the 7k difference when I had reached the required spending.

  • Jamie says:

    I recently cancelled (3 months ago I think) the Amex Gold card.
    How long do I have to wait until I can apply for it (or the Plat card) again and be eligible for the bonus points?

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    Should also note the 50,000 MR points currently available for supplemental cards with the AMEX Platinum.

    I am well on my way to 160,000 Avios via this route for a projected cost of £150.

    • Danksy says:

      How did you manage that many Avios for such a small fee?

      I’m guessing 3 months platinum membership (remember the supplementary cards can take 90 days to add the MR to your account!).

      30k signup
      50k bonus for additional cards

      Am I missing a trick with the rest?

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        From memory:

        Card One
        22k Gold welcome bonus
        15k Gold to Platinum upgrade
        50k Supplementals
        18k Referral of wife
        7-10k for spending

        Card Two
        50k Supplementals

        I doubt we will trigger the welcome bonus on Card Two but if we do that is another 35k + 7-10k for the spend.

        Both cards will be cancelled within a couple of months. AMEX platinum customer service is excellent. I am confident I wont have to wait 90days for the Supplementals to post.

        • mucky says:

          Do you need to activate the supplementary cards on the platinum or merely apply for them?

          • Alan says:

            I’m hoping just apply as I couldn’t see anything else mentioned in the T&Cs but would be interested to hear what others have done. Of course the points are due to post for a while (?March) so we may not know for some time.

          • Mr(s) Entitled says:

            Why not just downgrade to Gold while waiting the points to post? You obviously need an account that accepts MR points but I don’t see a need to maintain Platinum whilst waiting for AMEX to sort their admin.

      • Andrew says:

        I’ve been has selling Amex about the points for adding the 5 supp card holders on…. told quite clearly that it will take 90 days…. so you will definitely have to pay for at least 3/12 of the £450

      • Andrew says:

        I’ve been hasselling Amex about the points for adding the 5 supp card holders on…. told quite clearly that it will take 90 days…. so you will definitely have to pay for at least 3/12 of the £450

        • Alan says:

          Any mention from your discussions with them as to whether the card needed to be activated +/- have any spend on them?

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          I still see no reason to hold Platinum while waiting if one doesn’t want to. Maintaining Platinum is not a requirement of the T&Cs but you obviously do need an MR account to accept the points into. Drop to gold to lower the cost.

          The 90 day is admin not a holding period. Upon acceptance of your supplementals the contact is fulfilled.

          I am still working through my spend post successful supplemental application. Upon completion of spend, if points have not posted, I will then follow my own advice above.

  • Jumble Tales says:

    Same here twobfair.
    No sign of the IHG bonus points on mine either. However when I had the Hilton card a couple of years ago I think the bonus points took 6-8 weeks to post (when they had a sign up bonus.

  • George says:

    I called bcard yesterday to ask and they came up with the 6-8 weeks timeframe for both the points and the status.

    Sigh

  • Boi says:

    Which card will people recommend for non Amex spend: free Virgin or Hhonors or ihg?

    • Danksy says:

      Depends what you’re trying to achieve and how much you spend p.a

      Hilton, free night quickly, gold status after £10k

      Which is completely opposite to IHG platinum status immediately, free night @£10k

      Virgin white card is a cheap way to get vigin miles

      • Boi says:

        Thanks for reply. I Have both Virgin white and Hhonors. Last year I was gutted as I spent about 8k on the Hhonors so just missed out. Now I am wondering if I should get the ihg

  • DC says:

    Hi there, which of these cards are best for overseas spending? Thanks!

    • Rob says:

      Lloyds Avios Rewards (£24 fee) as no 3 per cent FX fee and you earn Avios! Or, to avoid annual fee but earn no rewards, Post Office or Halifax Clarity.

      If spending employers money, Amex Gold and IHG a Premium offer double points on FX spend which is effectively 2 per cent of spend back.

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