Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – AUGUST 2022:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 Cards’ menu above.  Thank you.

Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus. You can apply here.

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And the Marriott card, run by Creation, is still suspended to new applicants, five months after being withdrawn.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

UK Rewards credit and charge 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.

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? – August 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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:

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (81)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Boi says:

    Can one get bonuses on both business and Personal cards without 6 months gaps?

    • Rob says:

      No, because they use the same MR account for you and it requires a 6 month gap with no MR account at all.

      • Emily says:

        I’ve had a 7 month gap since I closed acc but in approx the 3rd month I received a refund into the account. Does that ‘reset’ the clock on the 6 months, or will I be ok to reapply?

        • Kinkell says:

          Should be OK. Same happened with me Aacount closed April, refund in July, but nice Amex CS lady confirmed acc was officially closed in April, so OK to churn

    • Aliks says:

      I’d better check I understand this correctly.

      My limited company has a Gold Business Amex and I added this card to my online Amex account. If I cancel this card do I have to wait 6 months before I can get a welcome bonus on a personal Gold or Platinum Amex card?

      Worried Blue Eyes

      • Rob says:

        Yes – you need to go 6 months without a Membership Rewards account.

        • Aliks says:

          I actually have two separate Amex accounts (different login IDs and passwords) as I didnt realise at first that you can add extra cards to the same account. Does this get me off the hook?

          • David says:

            I’m in a similar position, except I have a corporate Amex (with a separate login ID) which gives me MR points. Will that affect my access to the introductory offers on my personal account?

          • Rob says:

            Yes.

            The only way to get around it is to not declare your business card on your personal application (fair enough, it is your company card and not yours) and hope Amex sets up a new MR account for your personal card. If they do this, you get the bonus.

          • Kevin says:

            I actually have this situation – I have a corporate Amex and did declare it on my application for the BA Amex in Dec – and I still got the 9k Avios. I now have 2 online accounts because they couldn’t link the corp and personal card.

  • Andrew (U) says:

    Tesco card, when used as a Clubcard, seems to generate 1 pt / £ on fuel too…

  • Peter says:

    No news about the SPG targetted offer of 20k will be extended?

    • Rob says:

      No, spoke with Amex last week but no news.

      • Grimz says:

        Does the Hilton voucher holder for the free night need to be the one staying at the
        free night?

        • Rob says:

          Not necessarily, unless you book in a country where the first named person is legally obliged to check in. Book for 2 people on your account then ring Hilton and get the 2nd person (who arrives) listed as 2nd guest.

  • Mikeact says:

    Can I ask how many times you have manged to churn your Amex Platinum in 15 years ?

    • Rob says:

      Never, because if I do I will lose my free BAPP which is a grandfathered deal.

      • Jason says:

        if you didn’t have the grandfathered BA card would you churn the platinum card?
        Although I suspect that’s dependant on how much you need MR points 🙂

        • Alan says:

          The other downside to churning Amex charge cards is you lose your nice pluripotential MR points and get forced to lock them in with a transfer out – I like mixing my usage of them between different programmes.

        • Rob says:

          Probably not, as I actually use the benefits and not having them for 6 months would be tricky.

          • Enigma368 says:

            In theory if you have a partner, you can both churn the Platinum card and never have any benefits gaps. You also get to keep referring each other.

  • Mark says:

    I got 22,000 for gold application this week.

  • Liz says:

    Amex have brought forward the closing date of the BA offers from the 16th Feb to the 10th Feb. I need to refer my husband for the BAPP card after 6th Feb and I made a diary note to make sure I did it before 16th Feb to get the enhanced bonus. The article says 10th Feb as does the T&C’s. Just pointing out the change in case others were thinking of applying by the old deadline of the 16th.

    • Tilly71 says:

      Typical, I was just going to scrape in after collecting my annual bonus on gold rewards by the 16th, then take out the fee free ba card for 9k. Looks like I will have to rethink my strategy going forward.

  • Jason says:

    I asked my wife to stop using our tesco cc last month, due to the reduced rewards and had put a fair bit of spend prior to the reduction. Went to pay the bill yesterday and noticed I was way over my credit limit. Paid the bill and called tesco to explain what had happened. I also asked why the payments kept getting allowed, when I was over my credit limit,and he said it was due to the retailer not checking if there are enough funds on the card before requesting payment! Is that correct?
    Anyway he kindly said he would refund the overly it fee on my next statement and that it doesn’t affect my credit score!

    • John says:

      If you use your card at a merchant which has no phone line then transactions may not be authorised instantaneously. Even if it’s a debit card. This is why you need a credit check to open certain current accounts even if there is no overdraft. Some cards are only approved for online use and these don’t have raised (embossed) digits

      If your wife can’t keep track of a credit limit then she shouldn’t be using a credit card.

    • Kec says:

      They’re kind enough to refund any fees, but the fact you breached your credit limit (at the statement date) will be shared and reflected on a credit report

  • AndyR says:

    Do you know if this is a targeted offer?

    If you cancel the charge card does the credit card get cancelled too?

    • Kathy says:

      I cancelled the gold charge card and still have the gold credit card. Handy for me as I would have lost 450 points otherwise. Planning on getting my MR balance up to 1000 using the credit card, then transfer and close it so I can start the 6 month wait.

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