Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – OCTOBER 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

The market is slowly coming to terms with the interchange fee caps and is moving forward.  The key news in May was the notification of the official closing dates for the Etihad Guest, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic credit cards.

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.

Etihad Guest credit cards closed

What is new in the last month?

The Etihad Guest and American Airlines cards are closing on 27th July

MBNA has finally announced the closing date for these cards.

You will be swapped onto their Horizon Visa card.  This is a surprisingly impressive card to use when travelling as I explained in this article.

If you are looking for alternatives to the American Airlines credit card, read this article.  For alternatives to the Etihad Guest credit card, read this article.

There is still no word on when the United, Emirates and Lufthansa credit cards will close but it will happen.

American Airlines credit card closed

Meanwhile, the Virgin Atlantic cards close on 6th July

The MBNA Virgin Atlantic cards will switch earlier.  Charges must post to your statement by 6th July if you want to earn Flying Club miles.  From the 7th, your card will be operating as a Horizon Visa.

This article will help you decide which of the two new Virgin Money issued Virgin Atlantic cards is best for you.  The website for the two new cards is here.

Remember that:

You CAN apply for the new 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 on 7th July.

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

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%.

New Virgin Atlantic credit cards

You can still get 2,400 Avios with the FREE Tesco credit card

Of the (few) temporary special offers currently running, don’t forget 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.

Finally, remember that the Marriott Rewards Mastercard is returning in August.  We don’t know the terms yet but Creation will be the issuer.


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

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our October 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 end soon:

  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

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 – 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

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee 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

Comments (105)

  • Geoggy says:

    Isn’t the current best route to Amex Plat via Gold for 20k then the upgrade for another 20k?

    • Genghis says:

      If you already have Gold charge, sure

      But does this work Gold credit ->Plat charge?

    • Mike says:

      Have we asked AMEX whether this route is still open as the new Gold is a credit card

      • Rob says:

        Massively unlikely for legal reasons.

      • Rachael says:

        I messaged Amex last week and said I would be applying for a gold card in July as less than 6 months since I last cancelled my last one I would get the current offer. At this point asked if I wanted to upgrade to platinum would I get points to upgrade he yes yes, I think it was 20K .

    • MDA says:

      Spend requirement is £1k by 2/3 months IIRC and the upgrade offer is open too all right?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        The upgrade offer is meant to be targetted so if you haven’t been targetted there is the risk you won’t receive the 20k.

      • Rob says:

        No. There are recent reports on here of people not getting the bonus and Amex telling them to go away after calling.

        Anyway, moot point soon as no-one will have a Gold charge soon to upgrade from!

        • Graeme says:

          Ah, what an idiot, that didn’t occur to me!

          I got the other half to refer me for Gold from her Plat last week, with the aim of upgrading me to Plat before our main holiday in September (which takes in a lot of airports). I know I’ll still be able to get the Plat separately, but missing out on the bonus will be really annoying.

        • roberto says:

          The terms and conditions of the upgrade from gold to plat from the link DO NOT express that its a targeted offer , the web page outlining the upgrade is available to all and searchable on Google ( ie its been made available to be freely indexed by search engine spiders ). There is a little a notation on the bit on the page offering 20k MR to whomever upgrade from their site and it says :-

          ” The 20,000 Membership Rewards bonus points will be awarded onto your Account once you have been approved and you have spent and charged £1,000 within the first three months of Card membership. This introductory offer is subject to change and can be withdrawn at any time. Please note that it can take up to 60 days for bonus points to be awarded to your Account.”

          The link is :- https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-charge/upgrade/ and I fail to see that Amex can say that you will not be getting the bonus if you adhere to the the rules.

        • New Card says:

          I agree with roberto FWIW – nothing in the Terms that I can see in relation to either the Plat upgrade offer or the Gold/Plat companion card offers that says they are targetted, and you can stumble across the offer pages on Google. That’s not to say Amex will give them without a fight… but it doesn’t seem very fair for them to deny the points.

        • thehornets says:

          Upgraded my charge card a couple of weeks ago… all bonus points correctly posted.

        • Dan says:

          Is that right Rob? I thought existing Gold Charge Card holders were going to be allowed to keep hold rather than convert to the credit card version?

          • Rob says:

            Sorry, I worded that badly. What I meant was – given the propensity amongst HFP readers to churn Gold – there won’t be many people left holding the charge version in a few months. Your existing card isn’t going anyway if you don’t choose to cancel it.

        • Darren says:

          Thanks Roberto, just clicked over the grand so it will be interesting to see my MR balance over the next week or so.

  • Alan says:

    Just remortgaging and the best deal I found was with hsbc. This now makes me eligible for their premier world elite credit card. It seems a no brainier with the sign up deal (80,000 points in year 1 if you spend £12k) also the lounge access would be good for when I’m not flying oneworld, as BA silver is the only airline status I hold. Any downsides I’m missing?

    • Genghis says:

      It’s 80k HSBC points = 40k avios for your £195 in year 1 (and fight for your points and cancellation of card rights so don’t have to pay year 2 – or have T&Cs now changed? I can’t remember) I’ve recently remortgaged to HSBC. They’ve some competitive rates.

      • Alan says:

        Keen to know if people have had the points credited on spending 12k or only on the anniversary- the anniversary suggests you’d instantly trigger year 2 payment. Even at 1 avios per £1 spent it’s not bad I guess, especially for not a non Amex.

        • New Card says:

          I still don’t think that is clear about having to wait a year – it says points will be awarded within 60 days from the point of qualification, and does not state that waiting a full year is a precondition to qualification!

          Some of us have got the points earlier but have had to fight hard for them…

      • Polly says:

        It’s still a fight. The force you to pay the fee to get your points. Called anniversary points as they want you to sign up. They may award you,the points on earning, most don’t get them. Their Csa still don’t know their own t and c. You must deal with a manager, not your RM. My RM knew absolutely nothing. However, after literally days on the phone, a resolution was found. Impossible to deal with. l was quoting amex cs, as being so customer friendly, and just couldn’t believe the hassle hsbc put me through.
        The real glitch l found out was that in order to convert to the free card, you had to hold the points for 1 year! That meant your conversion date had to be day 1 of the 2nd year, which meant the fee was charged. It’s a real cat and mouse game they are playing. NOT customer friendly, and certainly not used to smart amex players like our lot on here are.

        • James M says:

          I’ve accepted that I’ll pay the 2nd year fee.

          I’ll get more than 1p / point from the bonuses which effectively makes the card fee free, and I’ll happily take the extra Avios earned along the way.

    • Rob says:

      Decent card, the £20 Uber credit for a £500 airline spend should trigger on every Club World redemption you book 🙂 and per person.

      • New Card says:

        Having never booked travel on this card yet, I’m curious – how do you actually get the £20 Uber credit? And does it come through immediately at the time of purchase or after some time?

  • David says:

    Slightly OT, I have the Hilton spend £250, save £50 offer. In the past it’s worked on cumulative spend on advance bookings. I’ve been waiting a few days now and no credit yet – has anyone managed to make it work in this way this time and if so, how long did it take the credit to show?

    (The urgency is that I’m waiting to cancel the Platinum!)

    Thanks in advance!

    • Alan says:

      Worth contacting Amex chat to see if they can push it through. Didn’t see anything different in the T&Cs this time round although happened to do it in one charge myself.

      • David says:

        The offer triggered last night, now just waiting for the cash to come through!

    • Crafty says:

      Yes, but not for advance bookings in the US, which are billed differently.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        It’s only on European properties.

        Check the list of eligible hotels on the offer page.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Is churning the best Platinum strategy now? 5 referrals a year see you earn 20k more than the max 2 sign ups.

      I guess there is the fee if the insurances etc aren’t used

      • Genghis says:

        I think it still is for me (based on how many cards I want to apply for and done in the right way).

    • Gavin says:

      Mine worked on a UK advance reservation, although met the target in one booking. Got the ‘thanks for using the offer’ email a couple of days after booking, credit appeared on statement about 3 days after that.

  • MDA says:

    What partners can you transfer Amex MR points under a family members account?

    • Peter K says:

      You can send them to Hilton and SPG into that pesons own account and then combine points from there.

    • Genghis says:

      Alternatively, some transfer partners have poor controls on matching up acct particulars…

    • pauldb says:

      I’ve managed it with SQ before; and obviously a BA HHA achieves the same.

      If you can pre-pair your accounts then the actual transfer should be fine.

  • Joe says:

    OT Does anyone know when the Hilton summer sale starts?

  • Rebecca says:

    O/T I’ve been trying to combine Avios over the weekend and apparently there is an issue. Anyone got any further information on this? I’ve tried contacting them and they said its broken and they don’t know when its going to be fixed. I want to book a redemption via Iberia and my avios live in my BA account. Theres no availability showing in BA.
    I realise its unlikely anyone knew anymore than this but thought I’d ask (or use the opportunity for a little frustrated rant!)

  • RichH says:

    I’m about to cancel my Amex Platinum within the first month of ownership. Does anyone know what additional card services persist beyond cancellation? Can I still use Priority Pass etc. after I’ve left Amex?

    • Rob says:

      The hotel cards remain. Priority Pass is cancelled instantly.

  • DerekH says:

    Robs comments about 1000 Tesco points equating to 2400 Avios made me check my latest Tesco Clubcard statement which arrived last week. For some reason I’m getting 3.2 Avios per Clubcard points. I presume it’s because I’ve had my card for years. I don’t want to ask Tesco why as they might try to reduce the amount earned. Does anybody else have this amount of Avios per Tesco point?

    • New Card says:

      You are right – certain legacy customers maintain their historic Avios conversion rate. They shouldn’t take it away from you but, as you say, there’s not much to be gained by bringing it up with them!

      • DerekH says:

        Thank you for that. My wife has reminded me that when we owned an hotel and were spending heaps of money on the card, Tesco did give us some sort of “Platinum” status she thinks. But we sold the hotel over 15 years ago and the memory begins to fade………. However, I shall just thank my lucky stars that I have the legacy conversion.

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