Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

Finally, after a few relatively dull months, we have had some exciting developments in the last couple of weeks!

Our directory of the 16 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.

Virgin Atlantic Reward free credit card

What is new?

“A lot” is the answer.  And it has been a long time since I could say that.

You can now get the two new Virgin Atlantic credit cards

The big news this month, of course, is the launch of the two new Virgin Atlantic credit cards.  As these are brand new, you should – if you haven’t read my recent articles – read these three pieces: one, two and three.  They will help you decide which card to get.

If you don’t have any existing Virgin Flying Club miles, I wrote this article to help you decide if the new credit cards were a good excuse to start collecting.

In summary:

You CAN apply for these cards – and get a sign-up bonus – if you already have the MBNA Virgin Atlantic credit cards

The free Reward card has a 5000 miles sign-up bonus, earns 0.75 miles per £1 and comes with a 241 or upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 per year

The £160 Reward+ card has a 15000 miles sign-up bonus, earns 1.5 miles per £1 and comes with a 241 or upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 per year

The cards are issued by Virgin Money so it is very unlikely that you will be conflicted due to having any other cards from the same bank

You can apply for the free Reward card here and the £160 Reward+ card here.   You can compare the cards side-by-side here.

Frankly, as long as your credit is excellent, picking up 5000 miles from the free Virgin Reward credit card seems a no-brainer especially as there is no minimum spend threshold.

Legal stuff: I need to tell you that the free Reward card has a representative APR of 22.9% variable.  The Reward+ card has a representative APR of 63.9% based on a notional £1200 credit limit and the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 22.9%.

Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus credit card

Tesco Bank has also launched a new promotion

Tesco Bank is also keen to get your attention at the moment.

The Tesco Premium credit card is offering 5,000 Tesco Clubcard points until 11th July.  This means that the bonus is worth 12,500 Virgin Flying Club miles or 12,000 Avios.

The snag is the £150 annual fee, which basically nets off the bonus.  This means that whether you get the card depends on how you value the other benefits, including free travel insurance and a strong (for Avios) earning rate which works out at 0.6 Avios per £1 spent.

You can apply here but read my full article on deal first.  Representative APR 56.5% variable, including the fee, assuming a £1200 credit limit.

And we may get some news on the Starwood Amex ….

As I mention in my other article today, we learn about the new combined Starwood Preferred Guest / Marriott Rewards / The Ritz-Carlton Rewards loyalty programme tonight.  This should give us some clues about the future of the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card – although I doubt we will get a clear answer.

Tesco Premium Mastercard

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 British Airways offers are special deals, the Virgin Atlantic cards are brand new 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.

Amex Plat

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 Club Eurostar 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.

Amex Gold

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.

Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ Mastercard

The two new Virgin Flying Club credit cards are the most generous Mastercard or Visa cards for day to day spending.  The free Reward card (with a 5,000 miles sign-up bonus) earns 0.75 miles per £1 whilst the annual fee Reward+ card (with a 15,000 mile sign-up bonus) earns 1.5 miles per £1.  There is no spending target to hit to receive the bonus.  Reward: representative APR 22.9% variable.  Reward+: representative APR 63.9% variable including £160 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit Interest rate on purchases 22.9% 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 (click here) and the American Express Gold Business Card (click here).  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.

Comments (71)

  • Olly says:

    I have both the old and new virgin Atlantic cards. I will be due a PE upgrade soon, does anyone know what kind of economy seat I will have to buy to get the upgrade? I’m wondering if I can use it on the new economy light seats as long as there is a PE Miles seats availability?

    • rams1981 says:

      None. All you need is PE seat availability to use the PE upgrade vouchers

    • TripRep says:

      You don’t buy a cash economy seat and upgrade.

      You just need redemption availability in PE and pay the miles for an economy reward + your upgrade voucher

      NB: there does not need to be reward availability in Economy either.

  • Nicholasp says:

    Does anyone know if you get the same hotel benefits for Amex Plat business as for the regular platinum? Hilton isn’t included in the upgrade request form only starwood and Accor.

  • Clare M says:

    Another note for small business users, I was contacted by Amex to offer me a currency card (Euro or USD) so no F-EX charges and still earns reward points! 90% of my business spend is overseas so a massive earning potential

  • Tom says:

    OT: Does anyone have an idea about when Lloyds Avios CC will be gone? (I hold one at the moment, and I will need a 0% fx)

  • Caleb Wong says:

    I know people will apply Amex Gold then upgrade to Platinum? What is the bonus on that upgrade step? Just think would I get the Gold first and upgrade or directly get Platinum to maximize my earning. Thanks!

  • Gael Wright says:

    Hi, could do with help with best card options. We are chasing Virgin Miles. Once upon a time it seemed a good idea, so now we are persevering. We have done the usual things to get points – ISA’s, wine deals, hotel bookings, surveys, Tesco’s and Waitrose, and, more continuously, we have dabbled with credit cards. I still have the MBNA white dual cards, my partner had this but cancelled and replaced with the Amex Gold. He has spent enough to get the qualifying bonus and plans to cancel before the annual fee kicks in. I was going to follow suit and take out the card but now unsure.
    We do short haul flights to Europe but happy enough to do them with Messer’s Ryan and Easyjet. We also fly to Oregon in the US to visit family but can cope with cattle class for this. Our main flight each year is to New Zealand – this is the one we would love to do business class, on miles. I am hoping the arrival of KLM/Air France will give more options for this with Virgin but not sure they will decrease the number of miles required? To date the more points we get, the more we seem to need! At the moment I have approx. 75,500 points and my partner has 87,600 (including his Amex Gold bonus and points which he hasn’t transferred yet). We are in NZ for 4 – 6 months each year so do not amass huge annual spends on UK cards – probably less than £10,000 between us. However, we are going on a very expensive cruise which will mean £18,000 on a cc next March. We will be able to pay with our choice of card and will have flexibility to split the total.
    We will take out the new Virgin cards, to get the sign up bonus and to get .75 points per £ where Amex is not accepted. At first reading my Scrooge instincts came to the fore and I discounted the fee card. But now I am wondering if that is the right decision. Would we be better paying for one, or, Shock, Horror, two cards and lowering our sights from one business class flight to a more achievable premium economy upgrade – maybe even two such flights? We have very few status points.
    All advice much appreciated

  • aceman says:

    what spend is the break even point on paying the £150 fee for the VS card, versus the free card?

  • Suhayl says:

    Great read. Any thoughts on the Amex Gold Credit card. I currently have the Amex Gold preferred rewards card and have been getting a number of marketing materials on the new companion Amex Gold Credit card.