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

It is 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, and will hopefully be a useful starting point for new readers.

What’s changed this month?

Not much – but the good news is that none of the decent deals have gone away.

Virgin Flying Club is still offering the increased bonus on its two Virgin Atlantic cards.  You will get 10,000 miles on the free card and 25,000 miles on the £140 Black card.  Virgin is even happy for you to apply for both cards!  More details on this below.  The offer runs until 28th June.

British Airways is still running an improved sign-up bonus on its two British Airways American Express cards.  No closing date has been given for this deal.

There is a slight tweak this time.  The Premium Plus card is back to 25,000 Avios for signing up.  The free BA Amex, however, is only up to 5,000 Avios from the usual 3,000 Avios – this is usually increased to 9,000 Avios.

I would guess that Amex is trying to encourage more people to take the Premium Plus card by widening the gap in the sign-up bonus.  Frankly, you shouldn’t get the free BA Amex if you are planning to earn the 2-4-1 Avios flight voucher – this article explains why.

The two Emirates deals continue.  Details are below.  These are both good deals in terms of the number of bonus miles you receive, but unless you are already collecting Emirates miles, or have a lot of Amex Membership Rewards points you could transfer, you are unlikely to get enough purely via card spend for a good redemption.

best travel 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 Virgin, Emirates, and British Airways offers are special deals whilst the Amex 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.

British Airways American Express

For an unspecified period, the bonus on this free card increased from 3,000 Avios to 5,000 Avios.  My full review of the card is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

For an unspecified period, the bonus is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios.  Note that the annual fee increased last year 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.

Virgin Atlantic White Amex and Visa

Until 28th June, you will receive 10,000 miles with the free Virgin Atlantic White cards.  3,000 of these come after your first purchase within 90 days, the remainder after spending £1,000 within 90 days.  My full review of the Virgin White package is here.  The standard offer is just 3,000 miles.

You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

Virgin Atlantic Black Amex and Visa

The Black cards also have an improved bonus.  Until 28th June, you will receive 25,000 miles with the £140 Virgin Atlantic Black cards.  You receive 18,500 miles with your first purchase within 90 days and the remainder after spending £3,000 within 90 days.  My full review of the Virgin Black cards is here.  The standard offer is 18,500 miles.

You can apply here.  Representative APR 57.4% variable including fee based on a £1200 credit limit.

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 (which you can instantly match to Marriott 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.

Emirates Skywards Elite Amex and Visa

The premium version of the Emirates credit card is currently offering 25,000 Emirates Skywards miles as a sign-up bonus.  The deal runs until 30th June.  The usual offer is 15,000 Skywards miles.

The annual fee is £140 and this is non-refundable if you cancel.  You can get both this and the free card (see next entry) as MBNA treats them as separate products.  My review of all the card benefits is here.  At 2 miles per £1 on the American Express card, it is a very interesting card if you have very high levels of credit card spend.  Representative APR 60.5% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

Emirates Skywards Amex and Visa

The free version of the Emirates credit card is currently offering 12,000 Emirates Skywards miles as a sign-up bonus.  The deal runs until 30th June and is a major improvement on the usual 5,000 miles.  My full review of the card is here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

Whilst it has no sign-up bonus, the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard remains the best free Visa or MasterCard for earning Avios for 95% of people (the HSBC Premier cards are better but this has very strict criteria for signing up).  You receive 0.3 Avios per £1 if you convert your Clubcard vouchers into Avios.  There is also the potential to use the points for Virgin miles or a totally different Clubcard Boost deal.

0.3 Avios per £1 is still not great unless you assume that there will be occasional conversion bonuses – and the nasty ’rounding down per transaction to nearest £8′ rule means that you will get less than 0.3 Avios is reality.  They are a good bet if you want a long interest free or balance transfer period however.  There are various versions of the Tesco card but the best are:

Low rate card (representative APR 5.9% variable) or

28 months interest free period on all purchases (representative APR 18.9% variable) or

0% interest on balance transfers for 40 months (representative APR 18.9% variable)

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 miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

Bits: £1000 SWISS fare to Rio / Beijing / Bangkok, Good To Go discount, Norwegian family accounts
.... and here's the Aer Lingus peak and off peak Avios calendar for 2018
About Head for Points

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  1. Simon Barlow says:

    Booked a2-4-1 flying in November. If I cancel my bapp will I still be able to get the benefit?
    And if I apply again after 6 months will I get the sign up bonus?

    • Genghis says:

      Get what benefit? If you cancel BAPP your 241 flight booking remains safe. You’ll then be eligible for another BA Amex sign up bonus in six months’ time.

      • Simon Barlow says:

        Cheers Genghis, working on virgin miles now but will switch back to bapp next year. Looking to cancel the card and save £195, get the sign up bonus next year but still have them honour the 2-4-1 I booked for November. Looks like a win around! Thanks again. S

        • Genghis says:

          If you have a partner and they’ve not had BAPP in last 6 months, refer them and get them to spend £3k. 9k + 26k + 4.5k = 39.5k avios for £3k spend and a few quid in card fees. That’s what we did earlier this year as no need for another 241.

        • Geoff says:

          I asked about this before – my partner has a secondary card on my BAPP card but she is not getting any of my referral emails to take out her own card. She did have a Nectar Amex once but that was cancelled more than a year ago.

        • Genghis says:

          Can you not just copy and paste the referral link from your Amex portal and then give that to your partner to apply?

        • The Amex emails often fail to arrive – just copy and paste the URL from the referral page of the site when you are logged in.

        • Simon Barlow says:

          Thanks again Genghis

        • I’ve found this with the emails, but it does say the email won’t arrive if the recipient has ever opted out of Amex mailing which could explain it. Using the link is fine though.

        • Geoff says:

          Yes, thanks everybody, i was just being dull and not noticing the link option!

    • I’ve been told (several times now) by Am Ex that if I cancel my BAPP card I loose my 2-4-1, however if I downgrade to the standard card, i.e. still retain Am Ex, the voucher will be O/K. Don’t know if the fact that you’re already booked makes a difference.

      • Based on reports to date on here and FT they’re 99.99% wrong in that advice re losing the voucher…

        • No-one on here has ever reported losing a voucher. I even know people who have cancelled their Amex, kept the voucher, booked a 241, cancelled the 241 and got the voucher back.

          Amex and BA can change their rules at any point of course but this is just outright fibbing from Amex, in the same way that they tell you that you must have a BA Amex to pay the taxes when you use the 241, which is also untrue.

        • Agree – I seem to recall one mention on FT though so thought I’d put in a 0.01% caveat 😉

        • Genghis says:

          Any thoughts as to the reason Amex give for saying the voucher will be lost? Because taper T&Cs, the taxes must be paid with THE BAPP?

  2. Roger says:

    Amex Platinum – Priority Pass Airport Lounge
    Mrs. Roger is travelling with our two kids. She has PP card so can take one of our children.
    For other child, what is the best way to take a child (over free allowed age as per lounge T&C) for free?

    On a related note, can Mrs. Roger apply for her own Amex Platinum and select one of our child (10 Y old) as additional card holder and then can that child have own Priority Pass account?

    • Wally1976 says:

      I’m pretty sure under 18s are not allowed to hold supplementary cards. However, if Mrs Roger applied for her own Amex Plat she would be able to get up to four people in the lounge – two with the PP on her own Plat account and two with the PP as supplementary card holder on your Plat account I believe. Alternatively she could get an Amex Gold card and use one of the free Lounge Club passes (assuming the lounge in question is available in that scheme).

      • Polly says:

        Even then, the second card holder must be present to allow the guest in. She is travelling with the two kids on her own, it seems. She may have to pay the entry fee….

        • Wally1976 says:

          Ah, didn’t realise that. Sorry for giving incorrect information Roger.

        • Genghis says:

          @Roger. Ask Mrs Roger to do a therealharry1 and leave one of the kids outside with a Burger King while she heads inside and gets boozed up?

        • Simon Barlow says:

          Or leave then both outside!!

    • Polly says:

      Roger, we did that for our daughter recently, but she’s over 18. I think, Rob correct me if l am wrong, but you need to be over 18 even as a named card holder. It’s a stretch. Worth calling up to ask. But maybe just pay the entry fee instead if it’s a one off trip.

    • If the PP card is not in her name she may not be able to use it to gain access. I tried to use my Wife’s at Manchester without her being present without success. I’d cancelled my own Amex card a few weeks earlier and thought my PP card would still be working but it wasn’t so I tried to use hers and got knocked back.

      • RIcatti says:

        You risk getting a bill from AMEX (statement charge) if using the related PP after closing the card.

  3. Wally1976 says:

    OT – can anyone confirm if a current year ISA transfer into Virgin qualifies for the 8000 point bonus? Thanks

  4. Allan says:

    What’s the bonus you would get if upgrading from a gold charge card to the platinum one?

    • Genghis says:

      The 20k upgrade link is now dead. You have to now contact Amex (try tel and secure message) and ask them to make you an offer.

  5. Polly says:

    Rob or anyone, with my SPG card, l am short abround 3000k star points to get me to 20k Is it possible to transfer the 3k MRs from plat card to my star points ? Just so we can benefit from the bonus 5k star points when transferring to BAEC? Probably a no no, but thought it’s worth an ask….haven’t had SPG for a few years now….

    • Nick M says:

      MRs transfer to SPG at 2:1 so you’ll use 6000 Amex MR to get 8000 Avios

      • Polly says:

        Thanks nick, won’t be bothered doing that then….

        • Genghis says:

          If you want to convert your SPG points to avios because you need them then it’s worth doing. IMO, though, SPGs are too valuable to convert to avios.

        • Polly says:


  6. Nick M says:

    Sorry, I’m fairly sure this has been asked before… with the Virgin cards you get an upgrade from Economy to Premium Economy after spending £5/10k on the Amex – do you pay the fees/taxes for Eco or PE?

    • pointsarb says:

      You pay the taxes for PE I’m afraid. Still a great perk though!

    • In reality, what you are doing is booking a PE redemption for the miles of an Economy redemption – so it would be PE charges.

      • Nick M says:

        Thanks both… I guess it is best to treat it as a 15-25k miles bonus per £5k spend – on the assumption that I’m planning a PE redemption in 12-36 months time!

  7. Ricky Child says:


    Just wondering if the Qatar competition winner has been chosen, and when will it be announced to us readers?

    • It has been drawn, we are just waiting for Qatar Airways to confirm the paperwork for the winner. Seems they are a bit busy this week ….

      • Ricky Child says:

        Thanks, Yes, i imagine the paperwork is the least of their worries at the moment.

  8. Another Phil says:

    I signed up for Marriot but no sign of the 1000 Avios yet. Presumably there’s a delay but given that it seemed too easy a way to get 1000 Avios I’m wondering if I’m missing something!

    • Genghis says:

      Aren’t the points applied at month end?

      • Another Phil says:

        Good question! If it wasn’t so easy I’d just have assumed it would take a while.

  9. Is the BAPP card offer likely to come up again later in the year? First time planning to get as new to the miles/points collecting game.

    I’ve hit points spend on Amex Plat and ready to cancel. I’ve just got the Lloyds card so thinking best to hold off on the BAPP card until the double Avios points ends (near end of year)…that a good strategy? Or would it be better to get the BAPP now and get the bonus points in 3 months and then use the Lloyds?

    • Genghis says:

      Only you can decide on the best strategy depending on what you want to achieve.
      The BAPP offer comes around very often but I would apply for it asap to get the sign up bonus and then cancel (if you don’t need the 241 at the moment) so as to reset the clock on another sign up bonus in 6 months’ time. Depending on how much you spend, the avios earned from the sign up bonus will be much more than the double avios (capped at £2.5k per statement month on the Lloyds card).

      • Thanks Genghis. That answers it for me as with my work expenses that’ll go over that amount in a month. Much appreciated 🙂

    • Last year BAPP spent more time on 25k than the ‘usual’ 18k so I wouldn’t worry.

  10. Chris says:

    Random OT question: Some of the VISTA experiences offered to amex platinum members have caught my eye. It says that if purchased they must be paid for using the platinum card itself however. Does anyone know if they enforce that? I’ve already triggered my plat bonus and need to channel spend to some other cards. THanks.

    • If it is online booking I doubt it matters. If it is call centre booking they might enforce it but if you wanted to channel spend to another UK Amex then they might let you off.

  11. Just about to activate the 2 4 1 on the BAPP and we get an offer of 7000 bonus avios on a further £7000 spend…not targeted or anything! It’s also interesting that this is the spend required to trigger the Lloyds upgrade voucher.

    I won’t be taking up the offer – a £7000 spend would in this case generate 17,500 avios – whereas £7000 would buy around 450,000 avios if we felt so inclined!

    • MarkH says:

      I don’t think you can compare it like that as the £7k spent as part of the offer is money spent on other things that you presumably would buy anyway.

      It would be valid to compare vs the £7k spend needed for the Lloyds upgrade voucher though

      • Genghis says:

        And i certainly wouldn’t buy avios at that price!

      • The point is I would never spend £7000 on the card when I’ve already got the 2 4 1, just to get 7000 avios. You can buy 7000 avios for £127. I was using the example of buying to show how poor the offer is, not because I would buy them!

        • Genghis says:

          I disagree. It depends on how fast you would spend £7k.
          Spending £7k on the card would yield 10,500 avios and when add on the extra 7k avios, yields a total of 17,500 avios for £7k spend, valuing avios at 1p = £175. If you can spend that in say two months, that would be an additional (195/12)*2 in fees = £32.50 assuming you would not otherwise use the card and so get a net benefit of £142.50 or just over 2%. This is decent. For avios beaten by the Lloyds card in first 6 months at 2.5% (but only on up to £2.5k per statement month spend). But you also delay “resetting the clock” by two months.

        • Aliks says:

          But if you will be spending £7,000 in the next couple of months, you could trigger a welcome bonus on a different Amex card and get much more than 7,000 avios.

          If you and spouse are all maxed out on all other Amex cards then you are probably Avios rich anyway. . . .

        • Genghis says:

          Very true. Whether something is good depends on circumstances. We’re waiting to churn all 3 Amex currently but I wouldn’t describe myself as avios rich. At least not approaching Rob / TRH1 levels.

  12. Another Phil says:

    OT – I am booked to fly WT+ EDI-LHR-KUL in the not-too-distant future. This was booked before CE was available on domestic flights. After the changes my booking class showed as Y and I was automatically given CE access for domestic leg. The booking class is now T for all legs but I’m still in CE. Is this likely to be an error?

    • Another Phil says:

      Oops it’s J for the domestics.

      • Another Phil says:

        Which I still find bizarre given that the BA website says that’s a class for business flexible…

        • Another Phil says:

          Maybe I’m mis-remembering something…

        • You are missing something. J is ‘business flex’ when sold on its own, but as a connection on shorthaul to longhaul, it’s simply a way of forcing availability on the best timed connecting flight. Imagine if you had a restricted R class longhaul inbound and the first connection with R available was 22 hours later. Would you be happy? No and BA knows it. So they allow J where required but only when added to a longhaul business fare.

  13. Mycity says:

    If I cancel my BA Premium card after renewal , do you get back a portion on the £195 already paid like the Amex Gold and Platinum?

  14. Just to confirm, that’s my £100 BAPP credit now posted – for some reason it is dated 2 days ago, but only showed up in account today. Was 5 days from original transaction purely on dates, or 7 days in respect of when it was actually visible on my account.

  15. Mark LLL says:

    Would an experienced forum member please advise:

    Applied for Amex gold rewards charge card, Rob kindly supplied a referrers code.
    Used the code at sign-up and additional 2,000 MR bonus showed during application i.e. 22,000 MR (Achievable with spend conditions)

    However, on card activation only the standard 20,000 MR welcome offer is showing as available (if I spend GBP 2,000 in 90 days).
    Is this usual, or should I be seeing 22,000 instead of 20,000.
    I hope Rob got his referrer’s bonus, I’m thinking it was my HFP ‘subs’ for the year 🙂

    • This is usual. Amex’s IT is not good enough to update that message for referred people. You’ll get the 22k.

    • Totally normal 🙂

      • Mark LLL says:

        Thank you Rob and Alan, it is reassuring to know this is usual 🙂

        Leo, I’m sorry to hear you did not get the bonus.

        • Thanks for clarifying the situation for others! I just chalked it up to experience.

  16. Anyone know if the gold to play upgrade offer has come back yet?

  17. Chris says:

    Hi Rob,

    Slightly off topic. I have just received my free night certificate using the Hilton Honors card and they’re telling me i can’t use it at the Conrad NYC as it’s only for standard nights not suites. Did you ever have this issue or have you heard of this before?


    • That’s nonsense. You can only use it for a ‘standard room redemption’ and not a ‘premium room redemption’ – if all standard rate redemptions (90k) have gone and you are only seeing higher premium rooms then they are correct.

      If you can see a 90k redemption then it is bookable.

      The fact that the hotel is ‘all suite’ has nothing to do with it.