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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UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2023:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 Cards’ menu above.  Thank you.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

Keep up to date with the latest UK credit card bonuses by signing up for our free daily or weekly newsletters.

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? – September 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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 Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 (70)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • 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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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