Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘Credit Cards’ page updated for September 2015 – summary of the 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UPDATE – JUNE 2022:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

After a short break, 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’ tab at the top of the site or – for email, Flipboard or mobile readers – by clicking here.

What’s new?

Tesco Bank was the first to change its rewards structure in the face of EU moves to cut the fees charged by card firms to retailers.  The earning rate on the Clubcard MasterCard will halve to 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent on December 1st.  I wrote about possible alternative cards in this article.

The Marriott Rewards MasterCard has also disappeared.  Marriott has removed it from its website and you can no longer apply.  As an existing cardholder, I haven’t heard anything about changes to the card.

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

On the sign-up bonus front:

The bonus on the free British Airways American Express card rose from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios.  This offer will run until at least February.

The bonus on the £150 British Airways Premium Plus American Express rose from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios

Virgin Atlantic has brought back their highest ever sign-up bonuses – 10,000 miles on the free card and 32,000 miles on the £140 Black card

The special bonus on the free Lufthansa Miles & More card (10,000 miles instead of the usual 1,500 miles) is still running.  It expires on 30th September.

American Express Platinum is running a targetted 40,000 Membership Rewards points deal for customers of travel agent Mr & Mrs Smith

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 Lufthansa, Amex Platinum, Virgin and BA offers are special deals whilst the Amex Gold 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 and British Airways Premium Plus American Express

The bonus on these cards is increased until mid February 2016.  The free card gets you 9,000 Avios points. The £150 Premium Plus card is worth 25,000 Avios points.  My review of the free card is here and my review of the Premium Plus card is here – these discuss the pros and cons of each card.

Remember that you can only hold one of the BA Amex cards at once.

The representative APR on the free card is 22.9% variable and 60.7% variable on the Premium card, including the fee and assuming a £1200 credit limit.

Lufthansa Miles & More American Express & Visa

Until 30th September, the sign-up bonus on this FREE card is increased from 1,500 to 10,000 Miles & More miles.  You must spend £1,000 within 90 days to trigger the bonus.

You need to have an existing pile of M&M miles to make the most of this bonus as they are best used for long-haul redemptions.  The best reason to have this card is that it stops your Miles & More miles from expiring (Lufthansa has a very aggressive expiry policy of three years from the date of earning, irrespective of other activity.)

My review of the card is here.  The representative APR is 16.9% variable.

American Express Platinum

As part of a special promotion with travel agent Mr & Mrs Smith, the bonus on the American Express Platinum card is increased to 40,000 Membership Rewards points, worth 40,000 Avios amongst other things.

This offer runs until September 16th and is ONLY available via a special link.

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.

Virgin Flying Club American Express & Visa

Until 27th October, Virgin has brought back its highest ever sign-up bonus on its credit cards.  The free White card is increased from 3,000 miles to 10,000 miles.  The Black card, with a £140 fee, has increased from 18,500 miles to 32,000 miles.  You need to spend £1,000 and £3,000 respectively within 90 days to trigger the full bonus.

My article on this bonus is here.  My reviews of the cards are here (White) and here (Black).

Representative APR 17.9% variable on White and 52.0% variable including fee on Black 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.

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 (44)

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

  • Gary says:

    I have been hearing about an AMEX to Avios devaluation looming. Is this just for the US and UK cards aren’t affected? Not sure whether to transfer or not if they will be changing the transfer rate

  • the_real_a says:

    Good info 😉

  • Mac says:

    I have the IHG Premium Visa and the recent triple sign up bonus has helped me to get Spire and the 25000 miles which come with it. In terms of doing the 10K spend to get a free night, is there any way to see progress. I have logged on and can’t find anything.

    • BLT says:

      Not that I have found. You need to keep a tally of spend from your statements.

  • Which credit card for UK residents? - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] site regularly yourself but if you don't Raffles' updated his site regarding card only yesterday.…-travel-deals/ Well worth a read and has saved me a small fortune in recent […]

  • Lesley Palmer says:

    This may be a really simple point but I am new to this. I have a BA Platinium Card and my husband has a free secondary card. Can I refer him and he get this own card and then I get the bonus points for referral and he gets the extra points if he spends enough money? We are up to quite a few points but need another 50k for a business flight to Australia and I’m getting impatient.

  • Lesley Palmer says:

    Thanks – off to fill the form in.

  • ND says:

    Just got AMEX Plat on referral from my wife and noticed the Accor – Platinum benefit is suddenly no longer offered anyone else noticed?? …any news of this being replaced by another program soon?

    • Alan says:

      There’s a big discussion about this on FT and on another post on here. Raffles was checking Amex management but consensus seemed to be it had gone for the business Plat, was to be continued for personal Plat, however due to some technical issues at the Accor end just now it was on hold temporarily (the Accor website has certainly been pretty flakey recently, which might be related)

      • Rob says:

        But it was never offered to Business Plat, at least was never on the site (unlike SPG, Carlson)

        • Alan says:

          Although on FT it sounded like someone said they’d received it for business plat? Wouldn’t be surprised if Amex got confused and gave it by mistake!!

        • ND says:

          what do you think has happened to this benefit Rob …has AMEX pulled it?

  • cheekychappie says:

    Amex Preferred Rewards Gold Card – just noticed a £45 fee for supplementary card, year 2 – is this new?

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

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