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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.