Hilton

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

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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.

Bits: the future of Marriott Rewards and SPG revealed tonight, €11 BA fares, 787 engine issues get worse
Scandic Friends review - How to save you money when you travel to Scandinavia
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Comments

  1. On the BA prem plus amex card is the free refundable pro rata also?

  2. Memesweeper says:

    > This is my preferred Visa / Mastercard because of the strong overall package

    Why? Surely the paid Virgin Atlantic Card has a better long term payback than IHG at any spend level? I’m keeping my IHG until i’ve collected my free night, but after that my non-Amex spend is likely to go to Virgin.

    • Malibu Stacey says:

      +1

    • Genghis says:

      I have no real desire to fly in W (really) so Virgin

      Reward+numbers for me work out at £150+£150-£160=£140 benefit on £10k spend (new sign up, 1p val, no VS status).

      The IHG black, however, I would use the free night so for me numbers work out at £80+£80+£200 (what I would and have paid for decent hotels) – £99 = £261 (new sign up, 0.4p val and 20k qualifying points).

      Different strokes for different folks though.

    • As Virgin is long haul only, the miles needed for a long haul redemption are unlikely to be earnable just from card spend, especially now HMRC is closed (except for Curve routing).

      In truth, VS miles are worth nothing until you get at least 50k (or whatever a PE redemption to the US costs) whilst Avios have value from as few as 4k (one way to Europe).

      • Memesweeper says:

        I already have just under 200k in Virgin miles, and a large family to keep happy, so the more the merrier. Oh, and our top planned destination is Cuba which isn’t possible on Avios. Not considered that some folks will struggle to find a redemption opportunity with Virgin.

        IHG hotel points are a PITA to redeem with three kids in tow. The free night voucher might make life easier when coupled with the points. But IHG standard rewards are for one room per night only, which means a substantial outlay for another room with cash.

        Assuming some sort of reasonable opportunity to redeem with either I’d prefer Virgin for the long term. The points per pound spent seem more valuable to me.

      • 30,000 for return LHR-JFK in economy on Delta is not a bad deal as the fees are only £161.
        Its 20,000 and £266 on Virgin though.

      • Guesswho2000 says:

        Not quite nothing, 10k plus can be transferred to Hilton or IHG, of course!

        • You can get a £50 Virgin Group voucher for 12,500 too, but I don’t recommend that for great value either! With the Hilton Visa now closed Virgin is a route to Hilton points but not a great one. You’d be getting just over 1 HH per £1 spent which is about 0.35p of value. At least transfers to IHG count for status – but so does spending on the IHG credit cards.

  3. “Do note, however, my comment above about the new Amex Rewards Credit Card which may be a better choice for many people.” – where?

  4. Hi all – re: Platinum benefits, I’ve got the Platinum charge card; I’m tempted to book an FHR hotel stay in early autumn but planning on cancelling my plat in late May (and just having the BAPP) – will that cause me any problems?

    • Andrew S says:

      I think you just need to pay with an Amex card at the hotel. I plan on using my SPG card when I stay in Venice at an SPG hotel via FHR later this year

  5. JamesB says:

    Has anybody had the 20k bonus points for the amex gold-platinum upgrade refused of had difficulty with it posting? I hit the spend target last Tuesday but still no bonus.

    • No sorry. Mine posted really quickly. Have you contacted their customer services?

    • Mine also arrived in a couple of days but if you speak to them on chat they give you various posting times ranging from 30 days to 10 weeks!

    • Added they day after hitting it.

    • JamesB says:

      Thanks all, I called them and it seems I missed a refund that leaves me with about £47 still to spend 🙂

  6. David S says:

    I have the free IHG card currently. Can I apply for the IHG premium card and still get the bonus or do I have to cancel my basic card, wait 6 months like AMEX churning?

  7. MattyS says:

    Does making a referral for a BA blue card count for referral bonus from my Amex Plat, or is it classed as a ‘basic’ card so no bonus ? Friend asked for a referral on Saturday and was accepted straight away, but nothing added to my MR so far.

    • +1 – I have referred 2 x gold and 1 x blue in the past month. The referral points for the golds arrived in a couple of days, but so far nothing for the blue. Unless BA are slower at posting than MR?

      • Yep – referred my mother for Blue from my Plat and got 18000 MR points. posted 4 days after referral made.

  8. What are thoughts on the amex platinum travel insurance. I don’t currently have the card but when I did, amex ascribed significant value to the travel insurance but it seems to me that it is overvalued. Cancellation, curtailment and belongings all require the trip to have been purchased on the card. This is not always possible and if the trip is booked in advance of having the card impossible. That leaves only the medical benefit but as you would need other insurance anyway that is irrelevant.

    For £450 I would have thought the travel insurance would be more open. Then bizarrely, they undervalue the lounge pass.

    • Purchased on ANY personal UK Amex card, inc a BA Amex.

      I don’t really value the three things you mentioned. We generally self insure – we do not have contents insurance for eg – and using Avios tickets makes cancellation / curtailment mute. As long as medical bills are covered (since obviously they could hit six figures) I am ok. I don’t give a monkeys about getting £200 if my plane is delayed by 12 hours.

      • Henry Nicholson says:

        Thanks. Sadly I don’t have enough avios for that and I live in Scotland so oneworld is not usually my best option. I wasn’t really meaning delay compensation as I wouldn’t insure for that anyway. I got caught a few years ago having to cancel a trip due to my dad’s death. The cancellation was covered but had I already been away and was self insuring at having to fly two people back from the US that is something I would want to be covered no matter how remote.

      • ‘moot’

    • the_real_a says:

      I travel extensively and rely on the AMEX travel insurance. I have made a number of claims, including an emergency whilst in Borneo, all paid in full without quibble. AXA`s emergency line is excellent (to the extent of sending grim injury photo`s to confirm the advice given in Borneo was correct).

      Also, i have claimed on the travel inconvenience section after a 4 hour delay at Heathrow. You can spend £100 on anything… so i enjoyed a very good lunch at Fortnum and Mason.

      There is also car hire excess wavier insurance included, which means i can often pick up hire cars for less than £10 a day – sometimes even less than this in the states.

      Then there is also the priority pass which is worth £200 on its own. With this I’m very happy to fly Y for regional flights.

      All in all £450 is a lot of money, but i still can justify the value (although any further increases and it would be difficult)

  9. JamesS says:

    Question regarding the Platinum Amex and Radisson Gold status.
    For room upgrades, do you need the status at time of booking or only at time of check-in.. or both?

  10. Alex W says:

    OT. My last Amex application (plat Companion) was deferred and then rejected. I didn’t appeal because it was only the companion card with 5k up for grabs so didn’t bother. I think if I do appeal the next one I’ve got a decent chance of being successful based on good credit history, family income etc (for context we’ve recently moved house with big mortgage and I currently hold Plat and BA Blue).

    Question is, if decision is deferred and then appealed and successful, does it maintain the link to whoever referred you automatically? Or would you have to manually chase up referral points with Amex customer services?

  11. Are there any reward cards that have no international exchange fees?

    • Lloyds Avios cards. You’ll need to be quick and applications via phone or branch only now.

  12. My friend has the basic BA Amex and has spent £15k but won’t reach the £20k level for the companion voucher this year, he wasn’t aware of the premium plus.
    I suggested he change to the PP but can I refer him so we both get a bonus avios deal and more importantly will he automatically get the Companion Voucher as he’s already spent over the £10k this year?
    Thanks

  13. Rob, is there still any help you could provide with rejected Virgin application for no clear reason?
    CHeers!

  14. Reading through the CC update a lot of new cards seem to be Amex supplied. I have £15k worth of Wedding invoices due at the end of May, however none of the suppliers accept Amex, otherwise I’d re-apply for Plat/Gold/SPG for bonuses. What would be the next best combo for maximising Avios/miles/free night certificates etc?
    Thanks

    • MattyS says:

      Will they take Paypal to link an Amex to ?

    • roberto says:

      Is Palpay an option with any of the suppliers? – You can link you amex to that of course and/or you could Billhop the remainer and take the 2.95% hit
      Or
      Get two lloyds Cards in store ( gotta hurry) . Spend £7000 on each for 2 x upgrade vouchers + avios

      • I’ll take a look into the Lloyds cards. Haven’t asked about Paypal payment, but I thought it came with some hefty fee’s for Amex Paypal payments?

        • Genghis says:

          Fees for the supplier, not for you.

        • MattyS says:

          Can’t think of any places where I use Paypal that charge any extra (very handily, I can pay council tax via it !). Pretty sure I have ever been charged by Amex or Paypal to pay off a Paypal transaction.

        • MattyS says:

          sorry – … never been charged by Amex….

  15. Brilliant, thanks for the comments, very helpful.

  16. Mycity says:

    Is the MBNA Virgin Black card continuing? I’ve just received post from them saying change of terms from the 25th May, T&C don’t mention miles etc but do say there’s a £140 annual fee. If the card is being scrapped seems odd they’ve sent out a change note from the 25th May.

    • That change presumably applies to all MBNA cards. Trust me, you’ll be waving goodbye to the card very shortly.

    • New Data Privacy regulations (GDPR) causing MBNA to update product T&Cs as well as updating their privacy notice (as others just have to do).
      Unrelated to the future demise of the MBNA VA cards!

  17. 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

    • 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. 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)

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