UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 June was the surprise closure of the Tesco Premium credit card and notification of the official closing dates for the United, Emirates and Lufthansa Miles & More 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.
What is new in the last month?
The Tesco Premium credit card was closed
This was a bit of a surprise, especially as the current sign-up bonus – the first for some time – was meant to run until 11th July. It is relevant to HFP because Clubcard points convert into Avios and Virgin Flying Club miles.
The card may be a victim of the closure of Tesco Direct on 9th July. If you spent over £5000 per year with Tesco on this card, including petrol, you received an end-of-year bonus of another 5,000 Clubcard points (12,000 Avios). A lot of people were using spending via Tesco Direct to hit this target.
I have no idea if the card will return in a new guise. It is apparently remaining open for existing cardholders.
The United, Emirates and Lufthansa cards are closing in July (as are the Etihad and American cards)
MBNA has finally announced the closing date for the last three remaining airline cards. All will be gone by the end of July.
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:
Some Lufthansa news is coming ….
I had a call with the Miles & More team in Germany 11 days ago. They told me that cardholders would be contacted ‘within 14 days’ (so it should be this week) with news about mileage expiry.
Remember that Miles & More miles expire three years after they are earned UNLESS you have a Miles & More credit card, or have status in the programme. It would obviously be unfair if all UK credit card holders had a huge chunk of older miles expire on 30th September which – under the rules – is what would happen.
I also got a cryptic hint from the Miles & More team that Lufthansa has not necessarily given up on the UK market. It is, after all, successfully running other cards across Europe despite the interchange fee cap. Oddly I think the problem is more about the lack of card issuers wanted to enter this space than the airlines themselves:
American Express is a non-starter due to limited acceptance now that interchange fees are capped on Amex co-brand cards
MBNA / Lloyds is obviously a non-starter
Barclaycard appears to be exiting the reward space, having totally closed its IHG cards and having recently closed the Hilton card to new applicants. Word on the street is that they claim their profitability requirements are not achievable if they are also funding rewards.
Creation is an option but, despite running the IHG and Marriott cards, they have not entered the airline space in a big way – you can’t count the useless Flybe credit card
New Day is the big question mark. They issue a lot of rewards cards, including the new Amazon credit card, but have never operated in the airline space. Would they choose to jump in now?
Other banks, such as HSBC, do not issue cards for third parties
A reminder that the Virgin Atlantic cards close on 6th July
The MBNA Virgin Atlantic cards will switch earlier than the other ex-MBNA cards. 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.
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%.
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% variable. My 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.
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? – January 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
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
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
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:
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
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
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending 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
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.