Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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

UK Rewards credit and charge 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.

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.

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   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.

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? – September 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will end soon:

  • 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 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 and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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.

American Express Business Gold

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

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard 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 and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (52)

  • Rachael says:

    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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

      • Stan says:

        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 .

  • Chaim says:

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

  • Tom says:

    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!

  • Clive says:

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

  • 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.

    • Charlie says:

      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.

  • Cate says:

    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.

  • Michael says:

    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?

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