Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2020:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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?

Still not much!

MBNA continues to hold back on special offers, presumably until it can work out how it will operate under the new EU interchange fee rules.  Now that the Virgin Flying Club offer is over, they have no cards on promotion.

The news that MBNA is back up for sale – and that Lloyds is an eager potential buyer – is not good news for our hobby.

The IHG Rewards Club credit cards and the Marriott Rewards credit cards both remain suspended for new applications.  I was expecting to have some news from IHG by now but it has gone very quiet.

The only special deal running at the moment is the increased bonus on the two British Airways credit cards which runs until 15th June.

The big announcement in May was the launch of the HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard.  See below for more on that.

Tesco also sent out a ‘teaser’ email for a new £150 annual fee credit card.  The benefits revealed so far are laughably poor so we need to hope there is something being held back for the launch.

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 BA and Tesco offers are special deals whilst the Amex and Hilton cards are consistently strong offers.  The HSBC offer is new and worth mentioning.

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.

British Airways American Express

Until 15th June, the bonus on this free card increased from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios.  My full review of the card is hereRepresentative APR 22.9% variable.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

Until 15th June, the bonus is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios.  Note that the annual fee recently increased from £150 to £195.  I wrote a full review of the card here.  Representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

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, 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.

HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard

This card is brand new.  The annual fee is £195 but you will receive 40,000 Avios points (or Etihad, Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific miles) for spending £12,000 within a year.  There is also an attractive earnings rate of 1 mile per £1 spent. Representative APR 59.3% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

The ‘added benefits’ also look interesting – these include airport lounge access via Lounge Key.  I haven’t done a formal review of the card yet but my launch article is here.  You must be a HSBC Premier customer to apply which comes with tough financial criteria.

Tesco Clubcard MasterCard

This card is less useful than it was following the halving of the earning rate last 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.

Note that Barclays is now only allowing you to earn the free night once, even if you reapply for the card in the future.  Use your voucher wisely!  Remember too that it is only valid for six months.

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 (30)

  • s879 says:

    Is the free night with the HH credit card (when you spend £750) bookable for room with 2 children (7 and 10)? I am struggling to find a room in Dubai with two adults and two children to redeem it on as when I input two children, it gives higher level rooms and suites and I am not sure if they will give those for free. Same for 5th night free when you book 4 standard. Can someone please help me with this? How can one book a standard room if the standard room doesn’t accommodate children? Also any recommendations in Dubai as to which one would be good for 6 nights?

    • Rob says:

      You need to find a hotel where standard rooms will take 4. Dubai may have odd safety rooms as we have had massive suites which came with an occupancy of 2.

      In London, about 10% of Hiltons can take 4 inc Park Lane and Canary Wharf.

      Plan B is agree a cash upgrade in advance for a bigger room.

  • Leon says:

    MBNA (Virgin White) appear to have stopped taking debit card payments against your balance – changes afoot?

  • Sellers says:

    Hi, may seem a silly question but I’m quite new to all this…
    On the Amex Platinum you say you get a pro rata refund when you cancel. Does this mean you could spend your £2k in the first 2 months to receive the bonus and then cancel, get 10months refund on the annual fee and still keep the 30k points?

    • Genghis says:

      Yes. Or even better:
      1) Get referred for the Amex Platinum by Raffles and you’ll earn 35k points when spend £2k within 3 months
      Then if possible:
      2) You refer your partner / a friend for the Amex Platinum and you’ll earn 18k points
      3) They can then earn 35 points when spend £2k within 3 months.

      Assuming you only spend 1,000 a month and if you refer your partner, then 88k (= £880 assuming 1p valuation) points costs you £150.

      My wife and I tend to turn the £2k spend around on the cards within a couple of weeks so hardly costs us anything.