Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – DECEMBER 2023:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can 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? – December 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: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can 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 – 30,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

Crazy 100,000 points (TO 9th JANUARY) and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points 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:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

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

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.

  • Carl says:

    Presumably this means SPG card is closing soon? Is it worth holding on to in case of some mega bonus like the one offered to existing Virgin cardholders to switch to the new card?

  • Alan says:

    Interestingly (perhaps an incorrect use of the word!), my IHG card shows up as a Marriott card on Curve, although it does state IHG underneath the card image.

    Yeah, definitely a poor use of the word “interestingly”.

    • Rob says:

      My Lufthansa, after being reissued due to a fraud alert, now shows as Emirates!

    • Graham Walsh says:

      Mine is the same for the IHG Black.

      • Genghis says:

        Surely it works off the BIN. You can change the image.

    • RussellH says:

      It probably sees it as ‘Marriott’ because a) Marriott pre-dates IHG at Creation and b) For my cards at least, the first 7 digits of the PAN are identical, and I believe most cards schemes are determined by the first 6 digits of the PAN.
      HMRC, though, asked for the first 8 digits, and on that basis charged more for an IHG card than for a Marriott card.
      Odd. Very odd.

      • Andrew25 says:

        You can change the image to show the IHG card.

        • John says:

          Oooh that’s the most exciting thing I’ve read on HFP this week. Just “fixed” all my card images on Curve!

    • Olly says:

      I got the same when I signed up to Curve this morning (couldn’t see anywhere to put the “Rob’s Christmas Fund” promo code though) I photo scanned my IHG card and got Marriott on the virtual card. I presumed Creation ran their CC.

  • Adrian says:

    Rob, does this mean the card will exist post merger in January or just until then?

    • Rob says:

      Long term it makes little economic sense to keep it as it is interchange fee capped. In the US Marriott has made noise about wanting to bring Amex into the fold but in reality it is only getting the rubbish cards (eg SME).

      In general, Amex wants to get people off its co-brand cards and onto (uncapped) Gold and Platinum. Clearly BA, Nectar, SPG etc do not want this. This will be the overriding theme of the next couple of years.

  • LonW says:

    Did anyone else get the targeted offer from virgin?

    • Rob says:

      All MBNA cardholders got a targetted offer, which vary. Best is 60k.

      • Axel says:

        I didnt get any offer

        • Graham Walsh says:

          Same here. No offer 🙁

        • Rob says:

          You are opted out of VA marketing then. Expensive mistake 🙂

        • Louie says:

          I got one in the post a few days ago, no idea why it didn’t come by email. So you might still get one. Offer was I think the least generous one – the standard 5,000 miles for the basic card, plus 2,000 bonus miles per month for the first three months for spending £500 per month. Hardly surprising given I hadn’t used the card for years.

          • Rob says:

            Go to the website, you’ll see you can toggle to the Plus card which will also have an offer attached to it. For some reason the letter and email don’t mention this.

        • Louie says:


          • Rob says:

            Do not expect this to work, because the bonus miles are being added manually and cross-referenced against a list of those invited. I can get you on the list if you currently have an MBNA card and were not invited due to your marketing preferences – drop me a note.

        • Third Passport says:

          hmmm, I’ve never opted out of VA marketing but never go the offer. Is it the “Partners” one I need to opt in too?

          • Rob says:

            Not sure – but opting in now won’t change anything unless they rerun the offer.

        • Graham Walsh says:

          Yep, realised I was opted out 🙁 Changed it last week. I’m in no rush for a Virgin card whilst I build up my Avios stash. Now that VS has pulled the Dubai route, need to find another use for my points there. Hopefully they will do another offer.

      • vlcnc says:

        What was the offer out of interest?

        • Rob says:

          I think my wife’s Plus one was 30k plus 10k per month for 3 months for spending £1k.

        • Alan says:

          Both mine (received by email) and my wife’s (received by post) were 15,000 + 6,000 per month for 3 months (£1000pm spend) for the paid for card or 5,000 + 2,000 per month for 3 months (£500pm spend) for the free card.

  • Grimz says:

    Is there no more info on when the Avios Lloyds card will stop? I’m undecided whether to keep spending towards the 7k for the upgrade voucher as it will be no use to me if I trigger it before mid November.

    • Rob says:

      It isn’t stopping – Lloyds accidentally posted the new earning rates recently – but the upgrade voucher seems to be off.

      • Grimz says:

        The voucher off now?

        • Rob says:

          ‘Off’ as in ‘leaving’, not ‘left’, the building. See my article on the leaked changes.

      • Grimz says:

        Is the voucher off now?

        • Rob says:

          No, ‘off’ as in ‘heading off at some point in the future when the new T&C’s come into force’.

    • lev441 says:

      Any intel when the Lloyds card will be changing?

      • Anna says:

        Dos this mean that when the new Ts and Cs come in it’s just tough if you have only spent £6999? Or will there be a bit of advance notice of the terms changing?

        If the voucher goes I’ll just move my non-Amex spending to the HH visa. I think withdrawing the voucher will lose Lloyds an awful lot of business.

        • Lev441 says:

          Assume there would be a notice period if changing the t’s and c’s to customers detriment..

  • Alex says:

    OT – has anyone received their Iberia points yet from the 90,000 promotion?

    • Dave says:

      Was just about to ask – nothing yet, which is annoying as I have my eye on a Four Seasons redemption this weekend.

      Hurry up Iberia!

  • Matthew says:

    Over the last year I’ve gotten the Amex Gold and (after my employer announced the withdrawal of our corporate card) the BA Amex Premium Plus and in the next few months I will have obtained my 2-4-1 voucher. Any advice on where to go from there as a main card (Just applied for Tesco card for the sign-up bonus) if Air Miles are the key concern and able to put through £1k month spend?

    • Mark2 says:

      If Gold Charge then upgrade to Platinum for 20,000 on £1,000 spend.

      • Emma says:

        Is this a targeted offer? I called Amex to upgrade my gold card to platinum but they said they couldn’t offer the bonus points for upgrading and such things are targeted?

  • X says:

    OT: When I close my SPG card, do I lose my SPG P+ and Marriot Silver statuses immediately? I am assuming I will do, just want to check.

    • Rob says:

      My best guess is it would run until the expiry date on the card.

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

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