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UPDATE – MAY 2024:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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

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

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.

  • RT says:

    Out of interest… when you upgrade from Gold to Plat, when does the £450 fee drop in? I have had my first statement for the Plat card but they haven’t dropped in the £450 fee yet.

  • CC says:

    Having same problem as other with Barclaycard.

    Applied for IHG Premium, made first spend, now have first statement and no bonus points showing. Calls to CS are useless as they just try and fob you off to IHG rewards who tell you to wait 6-8 weeks for points to show on credit card and then 6 weeks fro them to transfer across!

    I’m a bit annoyed that they want tehir £99 upfront yet no bonus points, have tried complaining via mybarclaycard, we’ll see. Might try FB and Twitter.

    All a bit rubbish though compared to Amex.

  • Ann says:

    Ah-ha! I’ve finally found the comment box :-)) I was reading the review on BA Amex Premium and you say “The general American Express rule is that you can hold two charge cards and two credit cards at the same time.”
    My AMEX Gold Rewards is coming up to its first year, and now wondering what next… I’m likely to cancel this once I get my 7.5k anniversary bonus! Given the above, does that mean I can apply for another Gold card with the same address details and get 20k points again?! OR do I have to apply for a different charge card.. e.g. Platinum? There are so many choices, what card shall I go for next? o_O

    • TimS says:

      You could apply for either Gold or Platinum if you like but you won’t get the signup bonus for either if you apply within 6 months of cancelling your current Gold card.

    • Rob says:

      Must be a 6 month gap between Gold or Plat before you can get Gold or Plat so both your ideas are out. You CAN get a BA or SPG Amex immediately.

  • egar says:

    Hi, I am a supplementary card holder on my partner’s BA PP AMEX card. Planning to apply myself for the free BA AMEX for the 9000 bonus points, few questions: 1. I believe I can apply regardless of holding already the BA PP as a supplementary card holder, is this correct? 2. Could I add my partner who already holds the BA PP card as a supplementary card holder to this new card? 3. Would I get the bonus points as soon as I have reached the £1000 spending or only after 3 months? Thank you!

    • egar says:

      One final question- could my partner refer me to apply for the BA AMEX card, found this clause on the T&Cs. Does holding another BA card refer to being the main card holder or does a supplementary card holder also count and therefore he cannot refer me?: “f) All introductory offers are subject to change, can be withdrawn at any time and are not available if your friend currently holds or has held any other Avios enrolled American Express Cards in the past 6 months.”

    • Rob says:

      Yes, yes, when spend £1000

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

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