‘Credit Cards’ page updated for January 2016 – what are the best deals this month?

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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.

What’s new?

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And the Marriott card, run by Creation, is still suspended to new applicants, five months after being withdrawn.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.

Credit cards

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.

American Express Platinum

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.

My full review of the Amex Platinum card is here – this also includes details of the additional refer a friend bonus. Amex’s own home page is here.

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!

My full review of Amex Gold is here. The Amex home page is here.

British Airways Premium Plus American Express

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.

Tesco Clubcard MasterCard

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.

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.

Hilton Visa

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.

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  1. Raffles, just to let you know I just got approved for the Hilton Visa and I already have a Barclaycard.

    • Thanks. I was told last week that the policy has changed AGAIN (I tweeted this and asked for examples) and you can now have 1 Barclaycard and 1 partner card. The Barclays website still says you can’t, however, so I am not writing about it until it does.

      • this is good news! maybe they realized they are loosing grounds vs MBNA?? in my case it is absolutely true! my one visa cards are the ones from the dual packages! 🙂

      • RIccati says:

        Looks like they got a scare from a wave of cancellations.

  2. I need to spend about £1000 on Amazon.
    Is Morrison’s still the best avenue for Amazon gift cards?

    • Tilly71 says:

      If your doing it for petrol coupons otherwise just buy evouchers directly.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      So I’ve never tried it and wondering if anyone else has but currys/Argos etc sell Amazon gift cards. Would they let you buy them with branded gift cards purchased at Tesco (150 clubcard for £50)

      • Tilly71 says:

        Yes, you need to register your visa card as a payment method in your amazon account then purchase an amazon evoucher to your own email address.
        Word of caution, I read that amazon sometimes carry out tests with newly registered cards so try splitting your evoucher purchases into small amounts like 2 × £25 if wanting £50 or £10 versions if using a £25 visa card. The £1.00 test can take up to two weeks to be refunded.

        • Yes, but there is a ‘top up your account’ transaction under gift cards which is slightly quicker.
          I have just added two £50 gift cards with no problems, but that means nothing!

  3. I have another barclaycard so can’t apply for a hilton Visa. If my wife applies for one, anyone know if we could book the free night in my name to use my HH diamond benefits?

    • Yes. The best way to do it will be asking your wife to call Hilton CS to book it under your name/account.

    • Hi Dave, I also have another Barclaycard but I was approved for Hilton Visa earlier this evening. Worth applying if you want the card too.

  4. update from my end – I closed my standard barclaycard last week, so that I could open the Hilton one….my new application was denied yesterday as they told me you cant open a new Barclaycard if you have held one in the last 6 months…mighty p~*^ed off as you can imagine….hoping raffle confirms soon that they have changed the rules officially….how a for-profit business can turn away new business from good credit customers in this way beggars belief….

  5. Shayele says:

    Just a general question. If I book tickets on an amex plat and cancel the card do I still get the travel insurance?

  6. Can I sign my wife and I both up for the Hilton card and link them both to the 1 honours account? Looking to earn 2 free nights for a weekend in Paris.

    • very unlikely, but just book two consecutive nights and ask to keep the room.
      I have done this and had a paid booking at the beginning i.e. 1 night paid, wife’s free night, my free night. I did have to book back in for each but a minor irritation.

    • No but you can book back to back free nights, one in each name, which you link at check in.

  7. Missed the boat on the IHG credit card bonus that ended last month. Do they bring out their bonus offers regularly? If so when in the year do they usually do that?

  8. There have been posts previously about being able to change amex cards as an “upgrade” rather than new application (eg BA blue to BA black, or Gold rewards to Platinum rewards). However all previous instuctions (from here and other sites) on how to do this don’t work. Is this no longer possible?

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