UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.
Emirates Skywards and Emirates Skywards Elite American Express & Visa
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.
Etihad Guest American Express & Visa
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.
American Express Platinum
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.
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!
Lufthansa Miles & More American Express & Visa
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.
American Airlines American Express & Visa
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.
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.
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? – September 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
The following offers will end soon:
- 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
- 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
- 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
- 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
- 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
- 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)
Here are the top current deals:
British Airways American Express
10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
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
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard
The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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.
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard 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: