Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

‘What credit cards can I get if I already have certain other cards?’ – your questions answered

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A reader asked in the comments yesterday if I could write an easy-to-understand guide to how your current credit card portfolio may impact what other cards you can get.  I thought I would put something together to answer some of the points the reader raised and some of the other questions I get asked on a daily basis.

Please note that there are always exceptions to the rules below, often caused by dodgy IT.  You can always find someone who has a personal Amex Gold card and managed to get the bonus on the Business Gold charge card.  I can show you 3-4 people who did not, however.  If you breach the guidelines below then you can’t complain if you don’t get the bonus you expect.

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

The questions below represent a bit of a ‘mind dump’ and are not in any particular order.

“Can I get a specific American Express card if I already have the same card as a supplementary on my partner’s account?”

Yes, this is absolutely not a problem.  As far as Amex is concerned, your supplementary card belongs to your partner, not to you.  It doesn’t treat you as an existing cardholder.

“Can I have both British Airways American Express cards at the same time?”

No.  If you apply for the other card, your first card will be automatically closed and all your transactions carried over.  Your card year remains the same.

“Can I have both MBNA Virgin Atlantic or both Emirates credit cards at the same time?”

Yes.  MBNA treats these as separate products.  You will get the sign-up bonus on both cards too.

“Can I have both IHG Rewards Club credit cards at the same time?”

I don’t know the answer to this.  My best guess is that you can’t – although the comments below suggest I may be wrong.

“Can I apply for an Amex Platinum if I already have an Amex Gold, and get the sign-up bonus?”

You can get the card, but you won’t get a sign-up bonus.

“Do I get a pro-rata refund of the annual fee if I cancel an Amex-issued American Express card?”

Yes.  This is in writing in the terms and conditions.

“Do I get a pro-rata refund of the annual fee if I cancel an MBNA, Lloyds or Creation credit card, Amex or non-Amex, with an annual fee?”


“Can I apply for a Business Amex Platinum / Gold if I already have a Personal Amex Platinum / Gold (or vice versa) and get a sign-up bonus?”

Yes, you can apply.  No, you can’t get a sign-up bonus.  This is because the driver of whether you get the bonus is whether you already have a Membership Rewards account, which you do.

“When can I re-apply for the same American Express card after cancelling it?”

You need to wait 6 months after cancelling an Amex card before you can apply for another card in the same “family” and get the sign-up bonus.  Amex Gold and Platinum constitute one ‘family’ because both give Membership Rewards points.  The two British Airways cards are one ‘family’ as both give Avios.  The Starwood Amex and Nectar Amex are not part of any family.

“Can I apply for, and get a bonus on, a card from a different Amex ‘family’ if I already hold another Amex-issued Amex card?”

Yes.  If you have a BA Amex you can get a Gold / Platinum, or Starwood, or Nectar card and qualify for the bonus.  If you have a Gold / Platinum, you can get a BA, Starwood or Nectar card and qualify for the bonus.

“But the American Express rules say ‘you cannot receive the bonus for a Gold card if you have held a Membership Rewards card in the last 6 months’, and I have a British Airways card”

I get an email a week on this point.  When Amex mentions “Membership Rewards” they are talking about the proprietary “Membership Rewards” points scheme that it operates for Gold and Platinum charge card holders.  They are NOT talking about generic ‘membership rewards’ issued by the BA, Starwood or Nectar cards.

“Can I get the British Airways Amex if I have the Lloyds Avios credit cards?”

Absolutely.  Amex doesn’t really care about what non-Amex issued cards you own.  This also works vice versa.

“Can I apply for the Hilton credit card – issued by Barclaycard – if I already have another card from Barclays?”

There are some rumours that the Hilton card is being dropped by Barclaycard, but these are not confirmed yet.  Barclaycard is known for changing its rules on a regular basis about how your existing cards impact and it is not possible to say with certainty whether you will be accepted if you have another Barclaycard card.

“Can I re-apply for the Lloyds Avios cards and get the refer-a-friend bonus if I have had the cards before?

No.  Lloyds won’t even give you the refer-a-friend bonus if you bank with Lloyds, Halifax or Bank of Scotland, or if you have ever had any other Lloyds credit card.

“Can I re-apply for an MBNA card and get a bonus if I have had and cancelled the same card before?”

Yes, for the Virgin Atlantic cards (the wording changed recently).  No, for their other cards – but check the specific wording for each.  That said, I have had the bonus on the Miles & More cards three times now, but this is over a period of 10 years with a multi-year gap each time.

“Can I apply for, and get the bonus on, another MBNA card if I already have a different MBNA card?  eg I have the Virgin card and want the Emirates one too.”

Yes, not a problem.

“How many American Express cards can I hold?”

There is no published rule.  There is a widely repeated mantra that Amex is happy for you to have two charge cards and two credit cards at the same time, but you will not find this on paper.  Your own personal credit situation – ie the number of cards you have, the total credit limit across them, your annual income etc – is more of a deciding factor.  Lloyds or MBNA Amex cards do not count towards these totals.

Find out more

Here are links to all of our Head for Points credit card reviews if you want to find out more about any of the cards above:

American Airlines, American Express Preferred Rewards Gold, American Express Platinum, British Airways American Express (BA Amex), British Airways Premium Plus American Express (BAPP Amex), Emirates, Emirates Elite, Etihad, Flybe, Hilton Honors, HSBC Premier, HSBC Premier World EliteIHG Rewards Club, IHG Rewards Club Premium, Lloyds Avios Rewards, Lloyds Choice Rewards, Lufthansa Miles & More, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG Amex), Tesco, Tesco PremiumUnited Airlines, Virgin Atlantic White, Virgin Atlantic Black

There are also reviews of the Nectar Amex card, Amex Gold Business and Amex Platinum Business.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 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, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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:

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

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

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

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (81)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Graham Walsh says:

    O/T Booked the HI in Reading West a few weeks ago (3rd IHG brand as part of accelerate) and my amenity points were added at 2030. I didn’t check in until 2345. He then asked did I want the points. How odd.

  • Rike says:

    I tried to apply for the biz Platinum card last week and it got declined in a few days?I’m wondring If it was because I already have 4 Amex cards, which include 2 charge cards and 2 credit cards.
    Can anyone enlighten me here?
    If it does relate to it, should I close one charge card in future to get the biz one?
    Does anyone know how the MR points from biz Amex will work If someone alreays has a Platinum/gold card?will those points be combined and still get into the personal MR accounts?Thx

  • Stephen Coulter says:

    You can have both Creation-issued IHG cards at once (I do). However, you cannot manage both through the same online account, I had to register a new username with my wife’s email address to manage the second card. No issues getting the sign up bonuses on both.

  • jason says:

    OT..full refund £99 on Barclaycard IHG card, already triggered free night. Both Creation cards arrived today, takes about a week to get cards

  • JohnT says:

    For the Virgin White – just phoned to cancel (as OH just got one herself) ready for a possible future reapply, however they offered 5k miles for 1k spend (across both Amx and Visa) in 90days if I kept it – which seemed a good enough offer for now!

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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