Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

It’s time for 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’ve have popped this article into the ‘No 3 slot’ today because, frankly, there isn’t much to talk about – again.  The impact of the new EU interchange fee rules appears to have led to the whole industry sitting on their hands whilst they decide how to react.

There is only one special deal to be aware of:

The refer-a-friend bonus on the £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards card has been increased from 4,500 Avios to 5,500 Avios each, until the end of March

And that, I’m afraid, is it.  Once the Lloyds deal drops away, we may be left with no temporary special deals at all.  I should also mention that some financial comparison sites are still offering 1,000 Clubcard points on the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard.

Here is a summary of what I consider to be the best deals available at the moment.

Credit cards

What are the best travel credit card 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 Lloyds 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, Hilton Gold, Melia Gold and Shangri-La Jade – for the rest of the year even after you cancel. 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.

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 Visa

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.

Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express and MasterCard

I have become more keen on this card over the last year.  The Avios devaluation last April increased the value of the upgrade voucher.  With no other cards following its lead of dropping foreign transaction fees, it remains a good choice for spending abroad.  Representative APR 23.7% variable including the £24 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

More importantly, with most Visa and MasterCard cards looking unexciting these days (eg Tesco cutting its earning rate by 50%), the ability to use MasterCard spend on the Lloyds card to count towards your upgrade voucher is valuable.   My full review of the card is here.  Until 31st March, the refer-a-friend bonus is increased from 4,500 Avios to 5,500 Avios for both of you.

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.

Comments (27)

  • edd m says:

    I know Hilton Gold has returned to Amex Platinum, but is it a once-only one year status boost (as it was before), or an ongoing benefit?

    • James says:

      I’m 99% sure that you will get it for a year and after that you will have it as long as you have the Amex Plat.

    • Rob says:


      • Danny says:

        As permanent as it can be for now before they decide to change it…..

        • Oleg says:

          So if I apply for it and cancel after 1 month I get Gold “permanent” as in lifetime?

          • Genghis says:

            It is ‘permanent’ for as long as you have the card (i.e. not just a one time offer). When you get Hilton status, the card will be valid for a year so if you cancel that’s how long you will have Hilton status. If you keep the Plat, you will be able to renew your Hilton status when it expires. Hope that makes sense.

            Also worth saying that until April you get Accor Platinum with Amex Plat card and from there can do a status match to Hilton Diamond.

          • Oleg says:

            Perfect sense, thanks that’s what I thought but it’s 5 o’clock on a Friday and I should probably leave the office now…

    • RIccati says:

      You are paying the AMEX membership fee every year.

  • thesaver79 says:

    I have a small business and I would like to apply for one of the Amex business cards. The only issue is that I have very few expenses that I ran through my business and I can’t think of any legitimate ways to fabricate spend on the cards to hit the thresholds for the bonuses.

    • thesaver79 says:

      @Raffles, any ideas?

      • Rob says:

        You don’t need to use it for business expense, you can put anything through it. No-one cares.

        • thesaver79 says:

          Not even HMRC? What if they do an inspection of sort?

          • Rob says:

            The only issue would be if you tried to charge the £450 fee as a business expense. If half the spend was personal spend then, technically, you should only charge £225 as a business expense.

  • Hugh says:

    Just got a letter from Tescos, saying the annual 650 Avios “bonus” for the MasterCard has stopped – they blame the new EU legislation

    • Liz says:

      I didn’t get mine last year either. July 2014 is when I last got mine.

  • CapeCam says:

    Having cancelled my Amex Gold before the membership fee was due, How long would I need to wait before reapplying for the card and generating another avios bonus and free year. Anybody have any experience of this?

    • Rob says:

      6 months, in the rules

      • mark2 says:

        I still have my related Gold credit card although I cancelled the charge card. Will this stop me from getting a new Gold sign-up bonus in six month’s time as it will not be much use until ShopSmall etc. in December?

  • Jordan D says:

    Have had the Hilton card for c. 4-5years, pushing through £10k per annum, but with Gold now an Amex Plat benefit and having been status matched to Diamond, not sure there’s much value in holding it.

    Is there any – and if I do cancel it, how long into the future would I have to wait before reapplying?

  • GEORGE says:



    • TimS says:

      Yes, Mr X the Supp cardholder can apply for his own primary card even though he already holds a different supp card.

      Even better though would be for the original primary cardholder to refer Mr X for the Platinum, therefore getting Mr X a higher initial spend bonus & getting the referrer some referral points too.