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

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UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 Card Offers’ menu above.  Thank you.

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.

‘Stuff’ is still going on after a relatively dull period.  The market is slowly coming to terms with the interchange fee caps and is moving forward.  Below you can read about:

  • A new bonus worth 2,400 Avios on the free Tesco Clubcard Mastercard
  • The upcoming closure of the MBNA Virgin Atlantic cards
  • The return of the Marriott Rewards Mastercard and
  • The overnight change of Amex Gold from a charge card to a credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward free credit card

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 in the last month?

Get 2,400 Avios with the FREE Tesco credit card

The newest new news is the 2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin Flying Club miles sign-up bonus on the FREE Tesco Clubcard Mastercard.

The bonus is actually 1,000 Tesco Clubcard points but that converts into Avios or Virgin miles at the rates above.

We rarely see a bonus on this card.  You don’t even need to hit a spend target – you get the bonus as soon as you make your first transaction.  The representative APR is 18.9% variableMy full article on the deal is here and you can apply here.

The Tesco Clubcard Mastercard is the most generous free Visa or Mastercard for earning Avios unless you have a £75k+ salary and qualify for HSBC Premier.

The Tesco Premium card is still offering 12,000 Avios

The Tesco Premium credit card is offering a sign-up bonus of 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.

There is no spend target.  You simply need to make one purchase in Tesco within the first two months.

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.

If you spend over £5000 per year with Tesco on this card, including petrol, you receive an end-of-year bonus of another 5,000 Clubcard points.  This does make it a decent proposition but clearly not many people spend that much.

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

The Marriott Mastercard is coming back

Marriott has announced that the free Creation-issued Marriott Rewards Mastercard will return in August.

If the package remains unchanged, this is an OK card.  You earn 1 Marriott Rewards point per £1 spent, which I value at 0.5p.

Existing cardholders, from before the card was withdrawn two years ago, get two good extra benefits.  You receive 2,000 Marriott Rewards point for free, every year, as a gift.  You also receive 10 nights credit towards elite status which gives you Marriott Rewards Silver automatically.  It isn’t clear if these benefits will remain.

Marriott Rewards Mastercard

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold became a credit card

With absolutely no notice at all, American Express turned its Preferred Rewards Gold charge card into a credit card overnight.

This has no impact on existing Gold charge card holders.  However, I would stress a couple of points:

If you have Gold charge, you are allowed to apply for Gold credit.  You won’t get a sign-up bonus but you would get another ‘free first year’ and another two Lounge Pass vouchers.  This is a tempting idea if you are currently paying for Amex Gold charge.

It will no longer be possible to get a bonus for upgrading from Gold to Platinum, as you cannot upgrade a credit card to a charge card – they are totally different products from a regulatory standpoint

My full article on the change is here.  Representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. Interest rate on purchases 22.9% APR variable.

Nectar American Express

MBNA is closing its Virgin Atlantic White and Black cards – apply for the new ones now

In April we saw the welcome 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.

Last week, MBNA wrote to all existing Virgin Atlantic credit card holders telling them that ‘changes were coming’.  The letter was purposely vague, but I am treating it as the official ’60 days notice of closure’ which means that you should expect the cards to be turned off at the end of June or thereabouts.

To summarise the key facts about the new Virgin Money-issued Virgin Atlantic cards:

You CAN apply for these cards – and get a sign-up bonus – if you already have the MBNA Virgin Atlantic credit cards.  You don’t need to wait for your MBNA cards to be closed.

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%.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will expire on 2nd November 2021:

  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 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 the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard 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 and no annual fee Read our full review

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