UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.
Better late than never, it’s 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.
As I discussed on Sunday, there is 40,000 points (=40,000 Avios) offer currently available on American Express Platinum if you know where to look. This offer EXPIRES ON WEDNESDAY so don’t hang about if you’re interested.
MBNA is making another aggressive push for new customers and continues to run good deals on its most popular cards.
The Emirates Skywards card (free) has the bonus increased from 5,000 to 12,000 miles. The £140 Emirates Skywards Elite card has the bonus increased from 10,000 miles to 15,000 miles. There is no Virgin or United promotion at the moment.
The most interesting MBNA deal is the Etihad Guest card. The bonus is increased from 5,000 miles to a whopping 25,000 miles – an exceptional deal for a free card. Whether you can put those miles to good use is a different question.
IHG has also launched a special offer on the two IHG Rewards Club cards. These deals are only available via the links here. The free IHG Rewards Club Visa has the bonus doubled to 20,000 points. The £99 IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa has the bonus doubled to 40,000 points.
The Marriott Rewards MasterCard is still ‘missing in action’. 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. This is not linked to the acquisition of Starwood by Marriott – whilst the SPG Amex will disappear, it won’t be for at least 18 months at a guess.
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 Amex Platinum, Etihad, Emirates, Lufthansa, American, United 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.
Until 30th November, the bonus on the free card is increased to 12,000 miles from 5,000 miles. You need to spend £1,000 within 90 days to receive the full amount. The bonus on the £140 Elite card is increased from 10,000 miles to 25,000 miles. A £2,000 spend within 90 days is required.
The representative APR on the free card is 17.9% variable and 54.9% variable on the Elite card, including the fee and assuming a £1200 credit limit.
The bonus on this free card is now exceptionally generous – 25,000 Etihad Guest miles. This is easily the most generous offer available on a free card this year.
It isn’t that straightforward, of course, because 25,000 miles are of little use if you cannot spend them effectively. I discussed your options in this article.
The representative APR on the free card is 18.9% variable.
The sign-up bonus on this card is 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. However, this is conditional on you applying via this special link – you will NOT find this deal on the American Express website – by Wednesday evening.
Your points can be transferred into various airline and hotel programmes. You could get 40,000 Avios, 40,000 Virgin miles, 80,000 Hilton points, 120,000 Carlson points, 2,666 Eurostar Frequent Traveller points etc etc.
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. Hilton Gold is due to be added as a benefit soon. 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!
Until 31st December, you will receive 10,000 Miles & More miles when you take out this free card and spend £1,000 within 90 days. Full details are in this article published today.
One key benefit of this card is that, as long as you use it once a month, it stops the clock ticking on the expiry of your Miles & More miles. The representative APR is 16.9% variable.
Until 8th January, you will receive 15,000 American Airlines miles – a big jump on the usual 5,000 – when you take out this free card and spend £1,500 within 90 days.
I will cover this in a full article tomorrow. The representative APR is 17.9% variable.
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.
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.