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What are the best credit card sign-up deals for July 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UPDATE – OCTOBER 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 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.

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

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

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:

alternatives to the American Airlines credit card, read this article

alternatives to the Etihad Guest credit card, read this article

alternatives to the Miles & More credit card, read this article

alternatives to the Emirates Skywards credit card, read this article

alternatives to the United MileagePlus credit card, read this article

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

New Virgin Atlantic credit cards

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.

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%.

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.

Finally ….

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 (71)

  • Emma says:

    Does anybody know how i can access the 20,000 bonus for upgrading my gold to a platinum card please?

  • Kevin J Lee says:

    I really hope no airline goes for New Day as their issuer. They are much less helpful than Creation. I’ve got their Laura Ashley Card – there is no online banking, call centre process are long winded and cumbersome.

  • Rich says:

    My Virgin card has arrived. Quite shocked that Virgin seems to have no app to go with it, nor can I add it to Apple Pay.
    Definitely one for the bonus only and not for a regular spender.

  • luke says:

    How long does it take for the 10,000 SPG bonus points to arrive in my SPG account after reaching the £1,000 spend? I just ordered a card, and will do the £1,000 in the first day. I’m hoping to have the points arrive before August, so I’m lined up with enough points for a redemption once the new program is announced…

    • Rob says:

      You get the points showing in Amex within 48 hours of the purchase tracking BUT the transfer won’t happen until 6 days before the end of your statement period.

  • John F says:

    Today’s email from Lufthansa Miles and More, does this mean we might get access to a credit card in the future ?

    The latest news about your mileage protection feature in connection with your Miles & More Credit Card account

    Up until now, you’ve been able to earn award miles using your Miles & More Credit Card account. However, as you’ve already been informed, MBNA Limited (the credit card issuer) will no longer be participating in the Miles & More programme from 29 July 2018.

    What does this mean for your award miles?

    You remain a valuable member of the Miles & More programme with access to 36 airlines and more than 270 global non-air partnerships – giving you the chance to earn miles anytime and anywhere.
    You will no longer be able to earn award miles with your Miles & More Credit Card account issued by MBNA.
    Any award miles older than 36 months will start expiring as from 30 September 2018.1)

    Good news – extra mileage protection

    Despite this change, Miles & More will be happy to extend your mileage protection until 30 June 2019. After this date, however, your award miles will start to expire in accordance with the Miles & More Terms & Conditions.

    We are currently looking to establish a suitable new partnership in the UK. This should, of course, comply with the highest standards you would expect from a Miles & More Credit Card. We will keep you informed about any developments on and in our regular newsletter. Please visit here for more information about your credit card.
    Yours sincerely,
    Roland Adrian
    Roland Adrian
    Managing Director
    Miles & More GmbH

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