Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What are the best credit card deals for March 2018? – plus a news round-up

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UPDATE – JUNE 2022:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 Cards’ menu above.  Thank you.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on the two Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

It is time for our regular round up of what is coming and what is going in the world of UK airline and hotel credit card sign-up deals.

To be honest, there is more ‘going’ than ‘coming’ at the moment …..

Our directory of the 14 main 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.

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

What is new?

The market took a couple more blows during the last month:

The Hilton Honors Platinum Visa was closed to new applicants.  This was my key recommendation to newcomers to miles and points, since the sign-up bonus (a free night at any Hilton Group property for spending £750 on the card) was ludicrously good.  You could get a successful redemption under your belt quickly and see the real value that is out there.  My article on the closure is here.  Hilton is working on a new card, with a totally revised benefits package, but I doubt we will see it before 2019.

The Lloyds Avios Rewards cards were closed to new ONLINE applicants.  For a limited period, you CAN still apply by telephone or in-branch – although I should warn you that one in-branch applicant was forced to sit through two Lloyds Bank videos before they agreed to process the form!  As I explain in this article these cards are particularly good for foreign spend (0% fee and you earn Avios) and for solo travellers who value the upgrade voucher higher than the BA Amex 2-4-1.

If you are interested in the Lloyds Avios Rewards card you should move quickly.  It is very unlikely that in-person and phone applications will continue indefinitely when online applications have been stopped.

We have covered two major bits of credit card news in the last month:

‘Challenger bank’  Tandem launched its first real product – a Mastercard offering 0.5% cashback and with NO foreign exchange fees.  The Tandem press office got grumpy when we suggested in our article here that they couldn’t make any money on this, but I doubt they can.  That’s not your problem though!

The Curve Card added a new rewards scheme, paying you 1% cashback for your first three months at three retailers of your choice (from a selection).  Curve Card is a debit card that recharges all your purchases to a Visa or Mastercard credit card.  This has huge potential for earning points when paying HMRC, council tax etc.  Curve is free and, even better, they will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use a referral code.  Full details, and a referral code, are in this article.

What else is going on?

There is still no public word on the new Virgin Atlantic credit card.  Virgin Money will be the issuer and the 2017 Virgin Money accounts confirm a H1 2018 launch date.

HSBC Premier is giving away a free hotel night if you move your current account over to them before 25th March.  This would allow you to take out the HSBC Premier World Elite credit card which is the most generous Avios Mastercard or Visa product.  Details are in this HfP article.

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

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge 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.

Until 18th July 2022 there is an astonishing special offer on these cards. You get 50,000 Avios on the Avios Plus Mastercard and 10,000 Avios on the free Avios Mastercard. You can apply here. We strongly recommend getting the Avios Plus card whilst this offer is running.

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

50,000 Avios for signing up (A CRAZY SPECIAL OFFER!) and an upgrade voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (SPECIAL OFFER) 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is increased from 20,000 Membership Rewards points to 30,000 Membership Rewards points until 19th July 2022. This card is free for the first year.

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 – 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

30,000 points 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 (109)

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

  • nigel whitehouse says:

    I cant get my Curve card to work when paying HMRC PAYE, has anyone else had any success ?

    • Mr dee says:

      Doesn’t seem to work for new accounts now msybe they require some months activity first or it’s been blocked

      • Mr Dee says:

        Be interested to hear anyone that has used it successfully recently

        • Andrew says:

          Managed to make 3 x PAYE payments with HMRC on my Curve card too. If you think you can just use it to pay your large tax bills without a constant track record of regular spending, then think again.

        • Stevie G says:

          I had my Curve for about two week and put thru various small transactions. I then got £800 through to HMRC with no issues last week.

        • Joseph Heenan says:

          I made an £800 payment on the 11th March fine. I’ve had a curve card for at least a year I think and switched to the debit version within the last few weeks.

    • Rob says:

      Paid £1700 PAYE yesterday on mine, no problem.

      • Axel says:

        Wow Anika must be getting very well paid if that was the monthly PAYE.

      • Leo says:

        With respect Rob new card holders or those who havent used the curve card much in the past will not have a response similar to yours but more akin to the OPs. I’m trying to “build up” my curve payment history but will have used up much of the current meagre annual spend limit by the time I try to pay my next VAT and mid year tax. I agree with Andrew’s comment above.

        • Rob says:

          Also worth noting that the behaviour of the underlying card is a big issue. Creation hates Curve transactions and blocks them frequently. MBNA is a lot more laid back.

    • Bronwyn says:

      I tried to pay £8000 corporation tax on my Curve card in smaller increments and not one payment went through 🙁 Eventually just did a bank transfer as I thought the deadline was today rather than the 15th April. So many miles SMH

    • Michael Jennings says:

      I’ve had a Curve card for about three weeks, and I used to to pay £50 to HMRC earlier this week. That was just a test – I have a much bigger payment in July – and I just wanted to see if it would work. It went through fine though.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        This was for income from self-employment, though – not PAYE. I should have read the original question.

        • Leo says:

          Makes no difference. Last tax payment in January biggest single amount I got to go through was £200. You also have daily and monthly limits which may cause problems. I’m hoping the limits will all increase in time.

    • Mr Dee says:

      Seems like if you have a new card then your going to need some other spend before making the big transactions based on this feedback then.

  • KP says:


  • John W says:

    O/T slightly . Now our council tax bills are arriving, can you pay with BAPP . I heard comments regarding pay point . I am set up for DD currently, but was thinking of getting the points instead…….. Any help appreciated. Can you pay with Amex ??!

    • John W says:

      I am aware the council don’t accept Amex

      • Genghis says:

        Councils seem to differ on approach. I can pay mine at a Co Op using Paypoint and Amex. For ours anyway, if you cancel the DD they send you a revised bill with a Paypoint barcode on it.

    • roberto says:

      Paypal linked to amex?

      • Roger says:

        My council only takes PayZone and most of the shops are too small/savvy to accept Amex.
        Tried 5 or 6 last year and then gave up.

      • Mr Dee says:

        paypal yes

    • Kipto says:

      You can pay council tax via pay point. Look for the yellow paypoint sign outside certain shops. The co-op does paypoint and takes Amex. Just ring your council and say you want to pay your account by cash each month/over a few months/one off and they will send you a card which retailers will swipe when you pay with your Amex card.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        My council says I should use the barcode from the bill.

        I haven’t had a chance yet but I’m not convinced… the only barcode is under my postal address and when scanned by a QR code app it decodes to my postcode and some code which doesn’t match with my council tax account number…

      • mark2 says:

        This varies between councils.
        Ours, Stratford-upon-Avon, does but many don’t.

        • Dan says:

          There are current accounts e.g. NatWest that give 2% back on “bills”. Good option if your local authority doesn’t take Amex.

  • marknewstart says:

    O/T morning all, flying into ATL from MAN then connecting on to an internet flight what advice On the time needed for a family with children to go though lminigration control
    Collect bags and re-book in (not flown into ATL before)

    • Jon says:

      Conversely, last year I flew virgin to ATL and connected to a delta flight and it took all of 15 minutes for the three of us.

    • KevMc says:

      I connected through ATL a week before Xmas on way to DAL a few years ago and it was the closest I have ever come to missing a flight.

      The connection was about 1 hour 20 mins, and we only just made it to the connection as they were closing the doors, following a sprint through the airport. Never again! I’d definitely recommend giving yourself at least 2 hours if you are going there at a potentially peak time.

  • marknewstart says:

    Thanks for the info Paul

  • John says:

    The 25,000 miles bonus for BAPP, does it apply to people how upgrade from BA Amex (Blue) and had no BAPP before?

    • Rob says:

      No. Some people get an unexplained 6k bonus if they uograde but not guaranteed. You would need to cancel BA and reapply in 6 months.

      • John says:

        OK thank you. Shame though.

      • Andi F says:

        I managed to hit the 5000 Avios bonus on the Blue card, upgrade to the BAPP and then trigger the 25000 bonus after that. This was completely by luck than strategy and certainly is the exception and not the rule. It does seem that there is a lack of clarity or any sort of pattern regarding the Amex sign-up bonuses when upgrading. Maybe just a software glitch?

      • W says:

        I didn’t get the 6k.

        • David2910 says:

          I asked a query about potential upgrade bonus of ARCC to Plat (or PRGC) on here about a month ago. Someone responded they were in process of doing that-whoever you were… any progress?

      • SS says:

        Any idea how long the potential 6k would take to come through (if they do)


        • Ian says:

          My wife upgraded and got the 6k mystery bonus after the 1st transaction went through on the BAPP card. She upgraded so we could trigger the 241 companion voucher ar £10k spend, which we did the following week. Happy days.

  • Stuart says:

    Used my Tesco Card via my Curve card last night to pay for my wedding as they only accept debit cards. Initially they saw the Mastercard logo and was like sorry, but as soon as I pointed out the debit but they took it no bother!

  • Arran says:

    Not sure if this has been flagged yet but you can actually use CURVE debit to pay off your AMEX card balance thus gaining DOUBLE rewards – potentially even triple- on your AMEX spend (Amex rewards + Curve 1% + whatever you get for the underlying card your CURVE is recharged to) besides for the obvious benefit of gaining the extra month to pay by transferring to another credit card!!

    • Amit says:

      Does Curve charge tor this as long as it is within your daily limit?

    • Mikeact says:

      Some things are just better left unsaid.

      • xcalx says:

        Exactly. There has been more talk here re Amex & Curve card than ever there was with 3V & Sainsburys.

        • mark2 says:

          or Amex and 3V which I only discovered the last few weeks that 3V were sold.

        • Michael Jennings says:

          I can’t understand how Curve is making money. When it was arbitraging between the different merchant fees between business and personal Mastercards, sure. It doesn’t see to make any sense when they are issuing Mastercard debit cards, though. I can’t imagine it will last long.

          • Rob says:

            Santander is backing it now. In reality you put money in 20 such ideas and hope one works.

    • Nigel Williams says:

      What is the Curve 1% reward? I dont remember reading about that in the article.

      • Frenske says:

        It is probably referring to the Curve Earn Rewards, but that is not right. You don’t get 1% for using Curve to pay for AmEx credit cards.

    • Lady London says:

      Do other people think this will last

    • Patrick says:

      Please don’t advertise it on open forums.

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

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