Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Cards Update’ updated for March – summary of the current top deals

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

After a break in February – because there was nothing new to write about – it is time for the return of our monthly round up of what is coming and what is going in the world of UK airline and hotel credit card sign-up deals.  Our directory of all 25 UK travel credit cards can be found by clicking the ‘Credit Cards Update’ tab at the top of the site or – for email, Flipboard or mobile readers – by clicking here.

What’s new?

Not much, to be honest.  Apart from IHG Rewards Club (which is a good deal) and Virgin Atlantic, not much is happening.  The only new offer is from Emirates and that is a repeat of one they ran twice last year.

These are the three offers worth noting:

IHG Rewards Club (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, InterContinental etc) 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 – you even get Gold or Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club thrown in. This offer runs until March 31st so you only have two weeks left to apply.

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 – again, you only have two weeks left.

The higher sign-up bonuses on the two Emirates credit cards are back.  This offer runs until early April.  The bonus on the free card is doubled to 10,000 miles whilst the bonus on the paid cards is doubled to 20,000 miles.  MBNA is happy for you to apply for both cards.

I expand on all of these offers below.

What are the best deals at the moment?

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus. The IHG, Emirates 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 December.

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.

Emirates Skywards and Emirates Skywards Elite

The sign-up bonus on this free card is increased from 5,000 Avios to 10,000 Skywards miles until 12th April. The paid card has its bonus doubled to 20,000 miles albeit with a £150 non-refundable fee.

My review of the free Emirates credit card is here.  My review of the Emirates Skywards Elite credit card is hereMy original article on this promotion is here.

The representative APR is 17.9% variable on the free card and 54.9% variable on the Elite card, including the £150 fee and assuming a notional £1200 credit limit.

Emirates Elite cards

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.

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.  One benefit of earning American Express points is that you only need to transfer them to an airline or hotel scheme when you are ready to redeem – there is no risk of being caught out by devaluations!

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.

Hilton Visa

Virgin Flying Club White and Virgin Flying Club Black

Virgin has increased the bonus on its two credit card packages. 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 here.

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.

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.

(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.)

Comments (45)

  • mark2 says:

    I have only just clicked that Virgin points can be transferred to IHG, so have applied for Virgin White for me and wife to go with the points from IHG card (which does not require spend). Also can do Tesco > Virgin > IHG.
    Five nights very easily.

  • Kiran says:

    I’m assuming that we have killed the SPG Amex promos. Shame as I could do with another 24k points to get 5 nights in Hong Kong next year.

  • Matt says:

    I went to apply the other day, got as far as the end and it said please wait for you decision. Anyway, it stayed like that for ages and it never went through.

    I’ve come to apply today and now it says only 10,000 points on offer? I thought we had till 31st… 🙁

    • Jason says:

      I applied the other day and it said due to technical problems we can’t give you an answer straight away and will contact you within 5 working days.
      I think I apllied Wednesday and haven’t heard anything!!!!

  • Bill says:

    Last week my wife received, activated and spent a nominal amount on the ihg premium card. when can she expect the 60,000 points to lands at

  • mark t says:

    An unexpected treat I had from my BA Prem Amex yesterday was access to the Amex Lounge at SYD. It’s not listed as a valid CC, but they were more than happy to accept (not sure if the same would apply to BA Basic Amex / Lloyds Amex). Better than nothing if you’re travelling economy, actually i was pretty impressed considering it’s free(ish).