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

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 dealsOur updated directory of all 23 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.  This article is a summary of the recent changes.

What’s new?

The biggest news last month was the overnight closure of the two TSB Avios credit cards with no warning story here.  These cards will not be hugely missed because in truth neither of them did anything which another card on the market did not do better.  They also lacked a sign-up bonus.

The latest enhanced sign-up offer on the Virgin Atlantic cards ended on schedule and was not extended.

The current higher bonuses on the British Airways cards continue until February.  MBNA has extended the current offers on the Etihad and Lufthansa cards as I explain below.

Another decent bonus ending soon is the 2,500 Clubcard points (6,000 Avios) on the Tesco Premium credit card.  This is a complex deal which I discussed in more detail here.

You can also get 1,000 Clubcard points (2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin miles) via this link for the FREE Tesco Clubcard credit card.  This offer is not available via the Tesco Bank website.

Credit cards

What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals this month?

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, Lufthansa, Etihad and Tesco offers are special deals whilst the Amex 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.

Tesco Clubcard MasterCard

This card is free.  If you apply via this special link, you will receive 1,000 Clubcard points when you make your first purchase.  These convert into 2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin Flying Club miles.

Whilst this isn’t saying much, the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard is the highest paying Visa / MasterCard on the market if you want to earn Avios unless you meet the stringent requirements for HSBC Premier or are willing to pay the £150 fee for Tesco Premium.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  My review of the Tesco Clubcard credit card is here.  You can apply here.

Tesco Premium MasterCard

Until 5th January, this card comes with 2,500 Clubcard points when you make your first purchase.  These convert into 6,000 Avios or 6,250 Virgin Flying Club miles.  There is a £150 annual fee so the card only makes sense if its benefits package works for you.

Heavy Tesco spenders should find it worthwhile because you receive 5,000 bonus Clubcard points (12,000 Avios) for spending £5000 in Tesco or on Tesco fuel.  Apply before 31st December and you will also receive a £50 discount on your next British Airways Club Europe flight.

My review of the Tesco Premium MasterCard is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 56.5% variable, including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.

Tesco Premium credit card

British Airways American Express

Until 8th February, the bonus on this free card increased from 3,000 Avios to 9,000 Avios.  My full review of the card is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

Until 8th February, 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 British Airways Premium Plus card here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

Lufthansa Miles & More American Express and Visa

Until 15th December, the sign-up bonus on these free cards is increased from 1,500 to 10,000 Miles & More miles.  You also receive a 33% bonus on all miles earned in the first six months.  It is the first enhanced bonus on this card in 2016.  My full review is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

Miles More credit cards review

Etihad Guest American Express and Visa

Until 28th December, the sign-up bonus on these free cards is increased from 5,000 Etihad Guest miles to 15,000.  You also receive a £50 credit towards any hotel booking on Kaligo.com.   I reviewed the Etihad Guest American Express and Visa cards here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

American Express Platinum

The sign-up bonus on this card is 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points.  You need to spend £2,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.

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!).  You need to spend £2,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.

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 to apply is here.

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 for applications 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.

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.

My review of The Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel (part 2)
How HFP clogged up the UK Avis network this weekend ....
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. On 4th Dec Ian posted this link https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/arcc-rewards/ for an Amex Gold credit card. This looks like the one that used to be offered to Gold Charge Card holders sometimes. I cannot find any other pointer too it. Does anyone know if you have to be invited to apply? It comes with 10,000 MR points rather than the 3,000 that I remember when I had this card previously. Of course you can only have one card receiving MR, although I did get the 3,000 when holding a Gold Preferred Rewards which I see is being advertised on Channel 4 at present.

  2. Re: Tesco Mastercard.
    What might I do if the sign-up bonus didn’t track?

    • Never heard of the bonus not tracking before. Presumably a quick email to Tesco Bank would fix it. Remember that they can see where you clicked from to get to the application form and that only a handful of websites in the UK are allowed to offer this deal, of which HFP is one.

  3. Do you know the juiciest thing to happen with Credit cards in the past year was the Curve card when it came out, it was a real bonus using it for Amex for a short while.

    I must say the credit card market has really seen its most boring year ever for points collectors and churners, I used to enjoy a good churn and change of plastic in my wallet. I would really like to thank the Interchange “thinker upper” for a year that has been crap, cheers for that!

    • Still not too bad. I think after this Amex churn currently doing (Plat, BAPP, SPG), I’m going to lay low for a few months. The recent HfP article, “What is your credit card ‘end game’ strategy?” prompted me to review card portfolio.

      • I’m getting Amex ‘menu fatigue’ from doing similar! Doing the card churn used to be my biggest point earner, now it’s buying Lego! I do love lego, I must say my daughter is getting a bit suspicious at all this Danish stuff turning up at the door, it won’t wash for her birthday.

    • It will get worse as the current contracts expire and are renegotiated down.

      On the upside, benefits will improve. It is only a matter of time before BA or Virgin begin to offer status as a card benefit. It already happens in other countries eg airberlin does this in Germany.

      I can imagine BA offering 1 tier point per £50 charged to the Amex for example, which would mean Silver for £30,000.

  4. rachael bhella says:

    Does anyone know if the American Express Premium gives a refund pro-rata like the the Platinum card ?

    • You mean the British Airways Premium Plus Amex? Or the old BA Premium card? If either, yes. All directly issued Amex cards offer pro-rata refunds.

  5. OT but CC related.
    Did anyone else get a BA amex offer, spend X by end of Nov for bonus miles, and if so have you seen the miles credit?

    • Nick Haley says:

      No 🙁 most interesting BAPP offer I’ve seen recently is 5 extra Avios per £1 in Boots – SIGH!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Lots interest BAPP and AMEX offers recently

        £100 of £500 @ BA
        £50 off £250 @ Hilton Europe
        5 MR or Avios/£ at Boots
        £5 off £45 at Argos
        Small Shop £5 off £10
        £30 off £100 @ Harrods
        £2 off £6 @ Leon
        £5 back off £15 @ Starbucks
        £20 off £100 @ Harvey Nichols

        to name just a few 🙂

        • £10 of £50 at TK Maxx. Don’t make the mistake that I made of buying TK Maxx gift cards at their sister company Home Sense as they use a different merchant code. Worth a secure message to beg.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Can use that one twice per card 🙂

    • Yep. Flew 25th Nov and bonus miles credited 28th Nov. On saying that the hotel bonus haven’t materialized so going to chase.

    • Yes I got the offer (it was spend £10k by the end of November). Miles not posted yet for me but I think the T&Cs suggested it could be a few weeks.

      • Phoned Amex yesterday, told to give it a couple of weeks then phone again if necessary.

    • Yes I got the offer, sent them secure message on 30/11 and the 10K bonus posted next day

  6. I applied for the HH Visa – but no reply yet and no reference number emailed so can’t trace it
    no idea who to call in barclays and I know their answer will be apply again

    • Three months into my new Lloyds Avios card and zero credits to my Avios account. What’s the most expeditious way to resolve this?

      • Check they have registered your Avios account number

        They may have created a new Avios account for you. A Phone call should resolve it.

      • There is a problem with a small group of people who Lloyds is finding it impossible (that should really be in quotes, since it could be done manually) to credit with their points. This has been going on for a while. If you’re lucky this is NOT you and they have simply opened a new Avios account for you instead …. ring to ask where the points are being sent.

      • Personally I’d use Avios.com online chat as you can get other stuff done at the same time rather than be stuck hanging on the phone – they have most likely set up a 2nd account for you.

      • I went 3 months without them crediting. I eventually raised a complaint. After the initial complaint they gave me £25. After a further 2 months it still wasnt sorted and they gave me another £50. After about 6 months i got the points added manually. Two months later and the problem has started again!

      • Do they show on your card statement? My wife’s card does not give her Avios although it is an Avios card. This is one of the best features of the card. She has had £100 compensation so far and is about to complain again.

        • How does your wife phrase it to get compensation? I complained and still no Avios or free money 6 months on

  7. RussellH says:

    Thanks for the info on this Tesco Card offer.

    Card is on its way, it says, which means 1 000+ points for one visit to Tesco =>3 200 Avios (we still get 800 Avios for 250 Tesco points).

    Then, I guess, the card goes into the safe with a number of others

  8. Re Amex Platinum.

    I have used Amex Plat to give my BA avios a boost for the last two years and I’m looking to do this again soon but I saw a post recently on Ftalk inferring that the fee wouldn’t be refunded pro-rata, anyone been refused a refund?

    Also I only keep the card for the minimum period, which is usually a month, maybe two, but I’m worried that the application may be refused due to my cancellations previously.

    Any advice?

    • I’ll be cancelling later this week and do not envisage any problems. Current T&Cs, “Any periodic Cardmembership Fee and Supplementary Cardmembership Fee paid in advance in respect of the
      remaining part of the period in which your Account is closed will be reimbursed pro-rata taking into consideration the length of time until the end of the current period.”.
      Amex in the US no longer offer pro-rata refunds IIRC?

  9. Hi Rob,
    You may have posted this already but I spoke to Barclaycard about cancelling my card which wasn’t a Hilton HHons Visa card to try and get the Hilton HH card thinking I could only hold one card at a time and they advised me Barclaycard changed their terms 6-8 weeks ago so that you can hold 2 of their cards now.

    • The problem with Barclays is that they change the rules on this every couple of weeks, or at least don’t train their agents! Someone posted entirely the opposite last week IIRC.

      • Ignore them completely. I closed my Barclays card 2 weeks ago and just applied for the HH card(a week ago) even though closing a Barclays account stops you from doing so for 6 months got approved with a £12000 limit .

  10. Does anyone know when all the credit cards are up for renegotiation?
    When can we expect new terms?

  11. The Hilton Visa is fantastic.

    Hit the spend, voucher was emailed in 2 weeks, I am now staying in the Conrad New York next year for free!

  12. Can someone remind me……..If I have a Gold and cancel in anticipation of taking the Platinum is there a sixth moth wait?

  13. Guesswho2000 says:

    Re the Hilton card, I’m a Diamond at the moment, but this will expire in March – I’ve spent over £10k on the HH card this year, but not had anything confirming my upgrade to Gold (which I didn’t really expect), but my understanding is that I should have at least Gold until 2018 now?

    • FlyingChris says:

      Also in the same position. Diamond expiring in March 17 & cleared the 10k this year a couple of months ago, but no confirmation of Gold achieved. As far as I’m aware you are supposed to get an email (see one of Rob’s earlier posts on the subject). Personally not going to chase it until Jan 1st as if it indeed stuck in the system – getting processed in 2018 means status until March 2020.

    • The same for me, but logged in yesterday on the app and the tracker shows I’ll be gold next year (must be from £10k spend as I’ve not stayed there enough to earn it).

      • FlyingChris says:

        Just called Hilton and got put through to one of their less helpful call centres. Upshot is they haven’t been alerted via Barclaycard of the Gold spend (despite taking place in October) & would be Silver next year at this rate. Problem seems to be slow at Barclaycard end. Happy to not chase this one until Jan though. Why there isn’t a spend tracker online is just laziness/cheeping out on their part.

  14. Interesting Johnathon and with the extra 25% currently for converting to avios I make it 8325 points.

    • FlyingChris says:

      Payouts can’t be made to BA / Avios. Annoying. But still £66 off (leaving the net price of £84) – which is a lot more appealing for someone needing worldwide travel insurance as well. Wonder if those BA Club Europe vouchers will be able to be paired with any potential forthcoming Jan sales.

  15. If you have e.g. HHonors gold with an amex platinum, how does that work for further stays/nights i.e. how do you go from gold to diamond? Is it just the normal difference to top up, or do you have to start again?