UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.
American Airlines has tripled the sign-up bonus on its UK credit cards from 5,000 miles to 15,000 miles. This is the same offer which ran twice earlier this year.
Whilst a far cry from the amazing 35,000 miles they offered in early 2013 – which was probably the best sign-up deal ever seen in the UK for a free credit card – this is still a very good offer.
The representative APR is 17.9% variable.
The main benefits are discussed in my review of the card. Here are the key points:
The cards are issued by MBNA, so if you already have the bmi, Virgin, Lufthansa, Etihad, Emirates or United cards it may impact your ability to get them
However, MBNA has a history of allowing you, if rejected, to still get them if you agree to reduce the credit limit on your existing cards or to close one of them
The cards come as an American Express and Visa double-pack, earning 1.5 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.75 miles per £1 on the Visa. This is a very impressive earning rate for a free card.
The cards are free.
The bonus is triggered as follows:
5,000 miles for the first purchase
10,000 miles when you spend £1,500 within 90 days
There is NO restriction that the spend must be on the American Express card. All of the qualifying spend can be made on the Visa card if you want.
MBNA does not like ‘churning’. If you have previously had the AA cards, you are unlikely to receive the bonus again. If you apply now, you will not be able to receive another bonus in the future, at least for a few years. The small print says “This one-time bonus offer is valid only for first-time MBNA / AAdvantage credit card account holders. Previous and existing MBNA / AAdvantage credit card account holders are not eligible.” You will be fine to apply for other MBNA cards, however.
I had this article lined up and ready to publish yesterday – and then American released details of their major devaluation.
Whilst American will still be better value than Avios for many redemptions, unless you have a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, this is a moot point for most of us. Even with the bonus from the credit card, you will struggle to build up enough for a decent redemption as most of the obvious routes for earning more miles (Amex transfers, Tesco, Heathrow Rewards etc) are not available.
Even heavy economy flyers won’t be earning many miles under the new American Airlines programme. Additionally, from February, you will no longer be better off crediting British Airways economy flights to an American Airlines account. This arbitrage is being removed.
That said, there is definitely still value in the AA programme for people who undertake lots of premium class travel, especially on flexible fares. AA will be showering you with miles from next year, and the 15,000 from this credit card will be an extra fillip.
There is also something to consider here for heavy credit card spenders – 1.5 miles per £1 on the Amex is an excellent rate for a free credit card, as is 0.75 miles per £1 on the Visa.
That said, if you are spending six figures per year on credit cards then you might as well pay an annual fee and get a card with an even better earnings rate such as Virgin Flying Club Black (2 / £1 Amex, 1 / £1 Visa).
The offer closes on 8th January.
How to earn American Airlines miles from UK credit cards (September 2021)
American Airlines no longer has its own UK credit card.
There is, however, still a way to earn American Airlines miles from a UK credit card.
The route is via Marriott Bonvoy. Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty points convert to American Airlines miles at the rate of 3:1. You receive an additional 5,000 miles bonus if you convert 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at once.
The best way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is via the official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card. It comes with 20,000 points for signing up and 2 points for every £1 you spend.
At 2 Bonvoy points per £1, you are earning (at 3:1) 0.66 American Airlines miles per £1 spent on the card. This will increase to 0.83 AA miles per £1 if you convert Bonvoy points in chunks of 60,000 points.
You can apply here.