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.
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.
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
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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 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.