HFP ‘Credit Cards’ page updated for September – 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 22 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!

I was expecting to see a run of new promotions for the ‘back to school’ season ….. but nothing.

A few offers ended during August:

The bonus on the American Airlines card dropped back to 5,000 miles from 15,000 miles

The extra 5,000 Avios or other miles bonus on the HSBC Premier cards ended

The £50 Tesco gift card offer with the Tesco Premium card ended

….. but nothing has taken their place.

The refer-a-friend bonus on the Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card has also been dropped.

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.

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.   Only the British Airways offers are special deals whilst the IHG and 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.

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. 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.

IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard

This is my preferred Visa / MasterCard because of the strong overall package.  Whilst there is a £99 annual fee, this is offset in Year 1 by the 20,000 bonus IHG points you receive.  You get IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you hold the card.  You will also receive a voucher for a free night at any IHG Rewards Club property when you spend £10,000 per year.  Representative APR 41.5% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

The Tesco card is also an option

Whilst it has no sign-up bonus, the no-fee 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.  There are various versions of the Tesco card but the best are:

Low rate card (representative APR 5.9% variable) or

30 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: BA Holidays Avios bonus being cut, Flying Blue promo awards, 30% bonus buying Carlson points
15% off Uber and reminder of our exclusive Uber code
About Head for Points

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  1. Cuchlainn says:

    Big thumbs up for BAPP Amex and excellent customer service. Self-referred OH Monday 28th August ( 2nd time round for her ) at 10pm – accepted pending my approval as her supplementary – both our cards arrived on Thursday 31st August (we’re across water from UK in NI) and my 9000 referral Avios were credited to my current BAPP card on Fri 1st Sept – 1st class !!

    • surely that’s across the water from GB?

    • Oh so you left the UK without anyone noticing…?

      My mail between GB and NI does often arrive more quickly than something sent a few miles away in London.

  2. cmeyer002 says:

    I had taken out the Amex Rewards Gold card and quickly spent over £2k, but the 22k bonus points have not been credited. Do these credit after the 90 day period?

  3. Can I sign up for the BAPP if I currently have the regular BA Amex and receive the sign up bonus?

    • No.

      • I downgraded from Platinum Amex to Gold after getting the Platinum bonus. I then got the 20,000 Gold bonus as well, so you may get lucky as well.

    • When I upgraded my BA Amex to the BAPP, I got an upgrade bonus of 6,000 Avios if I recall. Obviously not as good as the sign up bonus but better than nothing…

      • Steve
        Interested in your bapp upgrade…were you charged the full fee and if you downgraded again did you get pro rata refund?

        • I got the 6k too, charged full fee at time of upgrade, but didn’t get charged again at membership year start – assuming will get charged on anniversary of upgrade.

        • That’s the answer some of us were looking for last week. Tnx for the update David.

  4. Andrew M says:

    Is it possible to self refer myself from Platinum to Platinum Business? I suspect it’s not but it would be nice to know one way or the other.

    • You won’t get a bonus, because you already have a Membership Rewards account. (On Plat Business, the MR account is still in the name of an individual, not the company, and as you already have an MR account you don’t get the bonus.)

      • Hi Rob, can you get an SPG card and the 10,000 bonus if you already have MR points from a Gold Amex or do I have to transfer them out first? Either way can you give your email for a referral. Many thanks.

      • Might be too late for this to be spotted (I notice that threads seem to go stale after about 24 hours), but:

        I have a business Gold Amex (downgraded from Plat a couple of years ago), and the MR points are separate from my personal PRGC account. Do you think this is an error? I’m wondering if I could get my personal MRs transferred to the business account when I churn the PRGC…

        • Yes, it’s an error. Not sure about moving them across … it is more likely they merge them (irrespective of what you ask the agent to do) and you are then flagged as still having an account when you try to reopen personal Gold.

        • Thanks Rob,

          Yes, I wondered if it might prevent me getting the sign-up bonus again, but if it’s not my choice to have a company card, why should they not allow me to open a new personal card with the bonus… (I guess I know the answer – and actually it IS my choice to have the business card – it’s my business!)

  5. Richard G says:

    Oops, I completely forgot about the referral aspect when applying for my BA Amex (got it last week).

    I’m new to all of this, and apparently not very good at it!

  6. Morning I’m a newbie getting to grips with it alll. Couple of questions please if anybody has the time 🙂 Have the Lloyds avios (before the sign up was pulled) and also just got to £2k on Amex preferred rewards & just referred my husband . I will now close my Amex gold (after getting my sign up bonus) and resign up in another 6 months . But should I apply for a different card yet , or just use my lloyds mastercard to mop up any spending where I can’t use Amex? Im presuming my next thing will be the BA Amex card with the 2-4-1 voucher but I don’t want to get this card until I will have a good enough stash of points that I will be able to use it for…..though I know the £10 k will take time to earn . In the meantime i don’t think I’m missing any other quick fixes ?

  7. NuneatonMark says:

    My wife got the BAPP Amex to get the bonus so I downgraded my BAPP to the regular BA Amex, should I now cancel my regular BA Amex so I can re-apply in 6 months to get the sign up bonus again? I have done that with the Amex Preferred Gold

  8. NuneatonMark says:

    My wife got the BAPP Amex to get the bonus so I downgraded my BAPP to the regular BA Amex, should I now cancel my regular BA Amex so I can re-apply in 6 months to get the sign up bonus again? I have done that with the Amex Preferred Gold. Many thanks for any help.

  9. O/T – I just cancelled my BA PP credit card as the 241 voucher is on my BA Exec account and we’d like to now focus on other credit cards with our spend. The Amex rep insisted that we would no longer be able to use the voucher if the account is cancelled and suggested taking the free card to keep the voucher valid. I had understood from previous comments here that the voucher does remain valid and the only thing is that you must use an American Express card to pay the taxes when you redeem the voucher.

    Having now looked at the T&Cs for the voucher, it states “The Member is responsible for paying any Taxes, Fees & Charges relating to their Companion Voucher booking. All Taxes, Fees & Charges must be paid for using the Member’s British Airways American Express Credit Card.”, which supports what the Amex representative stated.

    Could anyone tell me whether there has been a recent change to the rules which will mean that I have lost my voucher or whether the voucher can still be used without a BA Amex card in my own name?

    • No change in rules. They’ve always been like that. But as with many things in this game, what the rules say and what can be done are not always aligned.

    • If you are feeling a bit nervous about the voucher, there’s nothing to stop you switching to the free BA card and then cancelling once you have made the booking using the voucher.

  10. Slightly OT – anyone heard anything about the fate of the Lloyds Rewards card? Anyone know if they fixed their Avios depositing problem? I got a few thousand when I complained but haven’t had a single one since.

    • No not fixed.. keep complaining but also insist on good will cash gesture too to make up for your time and inconvenience. Totally useless l T dept…

  11. I often receive both. Worth a try.

  12. Does anybody have info about churning cards? I currently have black Virgin Atlantic and Gold AMEX, but thinking of cancelling them soon to avoid the annual fees. Ive got on quite well with both and wondering whether I’ll get the bonuses again if I leave it long enough?