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UPDATE – AUGUST 2022:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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And the Marriott card, run by Creation, is still suspended to new applicants, five months after being withdrawn.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.

  • Relaxo says:

    Are these a new offereing from AMEX? I couldnt find them listed on their website. Could having this card be an alternative to not transferring MR out since I wont be renewing my Gold charge card ?

    • mark2 says:

      I have just cancelled my Gold charge card and the credit card still seems to be there.
      I had previously removed the MR points from both of them.
      Asking to have MR points transferred from charge to credit MAY draw attention and cause the credit card to be cancelled too.

  • olireaction says:

    Does anyone know and any non-amex small business cards that offer rewards?

  • Saif says:

    Is anyone else having trouble filling in this application form? It won’t let me confirm the changes so I can’t go any further than the main application page. I’ve tried Chrome, Firefox and IE 🙁

  • Guesswho2000 says:

    Seems impossible to apply for, the application form keeps asking me to confirm changes, but there’s nowhere to do so?! The button at the bottom just stays greyed out.

  • Rob says:

    There was talk of this not working if not targetted which is why I pulled it from our promos page.

    • Guesswho2000 says:

      That seems to be the issue with the BA supplementary card offer too – neither myself, nor my OH, who both added supplementary cards for the other, received the bonus 500 Avios – OH had 500 added as a goodwill on querying it, I’m still waiting on a response, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be automatic.

  • Jumble Tales says:

    Is the Amex Gold credit card available only to Gold chargecard holders or also to holders of other Amex credit cards?

    • Johnnycl says:

      My understanding is that you have to have the corresponding charge card first.

  • Johnnycl says:

    It will be a shame if the offer does not work but I’m sure Amex wolud honour it as there’s nothing in the T&Cs that suggest any restrictions.

    The form wouldn’t work for me on Chrome but was OK on IE on my laptop.

  • Tilly71 says:

    Help needed, I need to hit 1k spend on new amex plat ASAP. Are Amex sterling travellers cheques still the cheapest and easiest way of hitting 1k spend in days, I don’t fancy buying 1k worth of Tesco GC’s just hit spend target and like the idea of paying straight back into a bank account,
    Thanks in advance for any advise.

    • Lawro says:

      Hi Tilly, personally I find it is easiest.
      Considering other popular methods will often incur more than 1.5% you will lose on the TC’s it’s a pretty quick and easy method of getting it back to your bank account.
      And esp if you don’t want to go down the gift cards route….
      Unless of course you can bring forward a genuine 1k bit of spend.

      • Tilly71 says:

        With a brand new amex plat, will I get any problems purchasing say £900 worth as have read some stories of not being agreed by amex, it’s definetly a purchase if I go through that ba travellers cheque site – travel money now. Com delivered to home and paid into a lloyds?

        • Guesswho2000 says:

          I bought £700 worth on a 1 month old Gold, paid them into NatWest with no issues. They cleared in the same cycle as a normal cheque. This was in December, paid in on Xmas eve. They counted as a purchase, I got MR points, and they counted towards the minimum spend.

          I was glad of this, as the targeted 20k SPG offer, being too good to refuse, all of a sudden meant I had a fair bit of minimum spend to hit all at once, with PRG, SPG and the Etihad cards all at once!

        • Rob says:

          Definitely a purchase, yes.

          Amex can be a bit funny about ‘pseudo cash’ transactions on new cards though. You need to try and see.

      • Tom H says:

        Do all banks accept the sterling travelers chequers ok? Was going to use Lloyds, but have Hsbc and Santander current accounts as well

        • Guesswho2000 says:

          HSBC definitely don’t, that was widely advertised (they stopped last year/year before I think). NatWest do, so I assume RBS will too. Haven’t tried anywhere else. I didn’t bother checking first, I figured somewhere would accept them eventually!

          • Gavin says:

            So that means First Direct don’t too probably. Closes off another option for me.

        • RIccati says:

          There was a note that HSBC stopped accepting Travellers Cheques. Check with your bank and specific branch if they are happy to do it.

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

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