UPDATE – OCTOBER 2020: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
(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. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.)