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.
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 was new in the last month?
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express restructured
In advance of the merger of Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards on 18th August, the SPG Amex made a few changes:
the earning rate moved from 1 SPG point per £1 to 3 ‘new scheme’ points per £1 – this is not a change in real terms
the free night voucher changed – instead of a free WEEKEND night at a Category 1-5 hotel, you will now receive a free night, valid every day, at any hotel which costs under 25,000 points. This makes the voucher more valuable although still a poor return for spending £25,000.
the refer-a-friend bonus dropped 40%, from 5,000 SPG points (15,000 ‘new scheme’ points) to 9,000 ‘new scheme’ points
The SPG Amex is always worth a look because you can get the sign-up bonus of 30,000 ‘new scheme’ points (worth 10,000 Avios or around £150 of free hotel nights) irrespective of what other Amex cards you have. As long as you haven’t had another SPG Amex in the previous six months, you’ll get the bonus.
Full details are on the Amex website here.
In other news, transfers of SPG points from the credit card and from Membership Rewards are now suspended until after the new merged loyalty scheme launches on the 18th.
The old TSB Avios cards restructured
If you still have the old TSB Avios credit cards, which are closed to new applicants, you should have received a letter about upcoming changes.
The Premier card is being closed entirely. The basic card is losing its companion American Express card and will just operate as a Mastercard going forward.
Hilton Honors sends out a survey on a new credit card
Hilton is currently working on a new UK credit card to replace the Barclaycard one which is now closed to new applicants.
They recently sent a survey to some Hilton Honors members to share their ideas. This HFP article explains what they are considering.
We are expecting the Marriott Mastercard to relaunch in August
I have no details AT ALL on this. However, if they simply reopen the old Marriott card – which I still have – to new applicants once again, this is what you will get:
- a Mastercard issued by Creation
- no annual fee
- 1 ‘new scheme’ point per £1 spent
- 10,000 ‘new scheme’ points, worth around £50, as a sign-up bonus
- 2,000 free ‘new scheme’ points annually on your card anniversary
- 10 elite night credits each year
Keep an eye on HFP for news on the launch.
All of the MBNA airline cards are finally dead
All of the MBNA airline cards are now finally dead. Even if you haven’t been sent the replacement Horizon Visa card yet, your existing card is now operating as Horizon with cashback benefits.
This is a surprisingly impressive card to use when travelling as I explained in this review of the Horizon Visa credit card.
If you are looking for:
The old Virgin Atlantic cards finally closed last month
The MBNA Virgin Atlantic cards switched earlier, on 6th July. From 7th July, your card has been 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.
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%.
What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for August?
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus. The British Airways and Tesco offers are special deals, the Virgin Atlantic cards are new whilst the IHG and Amex cards are consistently strong offers.
These deals are listed in no particular order and their position on the list is not a sign of how good or bad the offer is.
For an unspecified period, the bonus is increased from 18,000 Avios to 25,000 Avios. I wrote a full review of the British Airways Premium Plus card here. You can apply here. Representative APR 76.0% variable including the £195 annual fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
The sign-up bonus on this card is 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. You need to spend £2,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.
Your points can be transferred into various airline and hotel programmes. You could get 30,000 Avios, 30,000 Virgin miles, 60,000 Hilton Honors points, 90,000 Radisson Rewards points, 2,000 Club Eurostar points etc etc.
You receive a pro-rata refund on the £450 fee when you cancel the card and you will retain most of the benefits – Starwood Gold (which you can instantly match to Marriott Gold), Radisson Gold, Hilton Gold, Melia Gold and Shangri-La Jade – for the rest of the year even after you cancel. The Amex Platinum benefits package is extensive, though, and once you’ve got it you might find the numbers add up for you. I have had one for 15 years.
This is currently an outstanding deal which is showing no signs of going away. You pay no fee for the first year and earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points (see here for what 20,000 MR points can get you – 20,000 Avios points for a start!). You need to spend £2,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.
If you are new to this hobby, I would make this your first American Express card. One benefit of earning American Express points is that you only need to transfer them to an airline or hotel scheme when you are ready to redeem – there is no risk of being caught out by devaluations!
Representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. Interest rate on purchases 22.9% APR variable.
This is my preferred hotel Visa / Mastercard because of the strong overall package. Whilst there is a £99 annual fee, this is offset in Year 1 by the 20,000 bonus IHG points you receive. You get IHG Rewards Club Platinum status for as long as you hold the card. You will also receive a voucher for a free night at any IHG Rewards Club property when you spend £10,000 per year. Representative APR 41.5% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
The two new Virgin Flying Club credit cards are the most generous Mastercard or Visa cards for day to day spending. The free Reward card (with a 5,000 miles sign-up bonus) earns 0.75 miles per £1 whilst the annual fee Reward+ card (with a 15,000 mile sign-up bonus) earns 1.5 miles per £1.
There is no spending target to hit to receive the sign-up bonus. Reward: representative APR 22.9% variable. Reward+: representative APR 63.9% variable including £160 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit. Interest rate on purchases 22.9% variable. The application page is here.
There is a sign-up bonus on this card at the moment. Apply via this special link before mid September and you will receive 1,000 Tesco Clubcard points with your first purchase. These convert into 2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin Flying Club miles. This is a quick and easy return on a card with no annual fee. Representative APR 18.9% variable.
Bonus on small business cards
Head for Points focusses primarily on personal cards. However, if you are a sole trader or run a very small business, you may also want to check out the American Express Platinum Business Card (click here) and the American Express Gold Business Card (click here). There is currently a 20,000 points (= 20,000 Avios) bonus on the Gold Business card and a 40,000 points (40,000 Avios) bonus on the Platinum Business card.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
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.