UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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, Apple News or mobile readers – by clicking here.
Rather worryingly, not much.
I have been running this feature for a couple of years now. I don’t think I have ever seen it so barren.
Apart from the current offer on the British Airways American Express cards, which runs until 10th February, there is nothing going on.
No special offer on any of the MBNA credit cards.
No special offer on any of the Barclaycard credit cards.
No special offer on any of the Lloyds or TSB credit cards.
And the Marriott card, run by Creation, is still suspended to new applicants, five months after being withdrawn.
You can’t help thinking that this is all connected to the new European Union rules which have sharply reduced the fees that Visa and MasterCard, as well as Amex cards issued by third parties, can charge to retailers.
Is this just a temporary hiatus? We need to wait and see.
In the meantime, here is a summary of what I consider to be the best deals available at the moment.
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 BA and Tesco 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 sign-up bonus on this card is 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points.
Your points can be transferred into various airline and hotel programmes. You could get 30,000 Avios, 30,000 Virgin miles, 60,000 Hilton points, 90,000 Carlson points, 2,000 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!
The sign-up bonus on the fee-paying British Airways card is currently 25,000 Avios until 10th February 2016 compared to the usual offer of 19,000 Avios. The bonus on the free card has been tripled from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios. Read my review of British Airways Premium Plus here and my review of the free British Airways Amex here to decide which is best for you.
This card is less useful than it was following the halving of the earning rate in December. However, it remains the most generous non-Amex card unless you meet the strict criteria for HSBC Premier.
Some comparison sites are currently offering a 1,000 point bonus with this card as I wrote here. My full review of the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard credit card can be found here. The representative APR is 18.9% 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.