Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – AUGUST 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

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.

Marriott Mastercard UK

What was new in the last month?

Being August, there wasn’t a lot of travel credit cards news but there were a couple of stories of interest that we covered.

The dog that didn’t bark – the new Marriott Mastercard

The new Creation-issued Marriott Rewards Mastercard was due to launch in August.  Nothing has happened and my approaches to people I know at Marriott and Creation have got nowhere.

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, but don’t hold your breath.

Lloyds announced its plans for the Lloyds Avios, Lloyds Duo and Lloyds Choice cards

Lloyds Bank has finally announced what is going to happen to its legacy rewards cards.  Basically:

Holders of Lloyds Duo Avios cards or Lloyds Choice Rewards cards are being moved to Lloyds Avios Rewards

Holders of Lloyds Avios Rewards cards will see their package change substantially – the Amex part is going (it will be Mastercard-only), the upgrade voucher is going, the 0% FX fees benefit is going and the Avios earning rate is improving

This is going to be a very slow process.  Letters will be staggered between now and April 2019.  It isn’t clear if this is due to Lloyds looking to avoid a squeeze on their infrastructure or if they are hoping to tie it in with your annual renewal date.

The Avios earning rate on the new Mastercard will be:

0.4 Avios per £1 you spend in the UK

0.8 Avios per £1 you spend outside the UK (but with a 3% FX fee)

0.4 Avios per £1 transferred on a balance transfer (this is a new benefit – Lloyds Duo Avios cardholders used to get Avios on balance transfers but Lloyds Avios Rewards cardholders did not)

….. plus a 25% Avios bonus for Club Lloyds current account holders.

One thing I don’t know is whether this new Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard will be reopened to new cardholders or whether it will remain exclusively for legacy cardholders.

Lloyds Bank has set up a special website on the changes and you can find more details here.

MBNA’s Horizon cards finally arrived

Well, my Horizon card turned up – I don’t know about yours!  The timing was good and it was used heavily in Italy last month.  This is a surprisingly impressive card to use when travelling as I explained in this review of the Horizon Visa credit card.

Even if you haven’t been sent your replacement Horizon Visa card yet, your existing card is now operating as Horizon with cashback benefits.

All of the MBNA airline cards are now finally dead.  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

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 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. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

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

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

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

Nectar American Express

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

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 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

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

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 (130)

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    If I have earned an IHG free night, can I cancel the card and still keep the free night – or is it list if the card is stopped.

    Thinking of a new card in wife’s name and cancelling mine to avoid renewal fee.

    Can I later reapply and get. New bonus?

    • Genghis says:

      1) Yes – will be OK.
      2) No one has reported success of churning the card I don’t believe

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        Thanks Genghis,
        Looks like a cancel at 1st year end then and wait for wife to clock up 10k and her free night to make a decent two-night break.
        Then wonder what to go for next!

    • the_real_a says:

      Rob did an article on this. You need to cancel at the right time. Note you forfeit your final months points when you cancel.

  • totaltool says:

    Due to bad planning, struggling to reach £2k spend within three months on AMEX Gold. Can I just buy ASDA, Tesco, Sainsburys etc. Gift cards from the stores with AMEX to reach target and then use them over next few months?

    • Rob says:


    • GRIMZ says:

      Yes I do that a lot.

    • Peter K says:

      There’s a 2.95% fee but billhop is useful for hitting targets/paying bills of normal spend won’t be enough.

      • Polly says:

        And if you call them up saying you are planning a lot of spends they will,offer you a reduced fee to 2% maybe. So worth a phone call. We did this to reach a bonus spend, as it was a slow couple of months.

        • RussellH says:

          How many is ‘a lot’?

          I shall have some tradesmen to pay soonish, following a water leak in the house. A potential significant boost to Amex possibly, since a chunk of the cash will come back from insurance.

    • Alan says:

      Yes. Amazon is a useful one that we have used too.

      • Pangolin says:

        Do Amazon GCs count? I thought they were excluded.

        What about iTunes also?

        • Alan says:

          Amazon have certainly counted for us in the past

        • Genghis says:

          All purchases count.

        • the_real_a says:

          The US card operators get far more transaction data including line item level so AMEX in the US know if you use Colgate or kmart branded toothpaste. Apart from flights, AMEX UK only see the total amount, and not what is within the transactions.

  • MissGeekChic says:

    Which is the better card to use for overseas spending – Curve Debit or Horizon? Thanks.

    • Brighton Belle says:

      My Curve was cloned. Curve have taken a month to replace it… and it’s still not here. Three times they told me “it’s in the mail”. I used it for foreign spend and points on underlying cards but they have missed out on £’s of transactions due to their ineffective process.

      Moving to Horizon instead.

    • ADS says:

      just remember Horizon round down each transaction to the nearest £2 … so if you’re doing lots of small transactions overseas, you won’t be earning anything like 0.5%

      • Rob says:

        Is anyone so desperately concerned about losing a few 1p’s?!

        Whilst I admit younger people won’t do this, having two kids and preferring smart hotels means that literally 75% of our non-flight holiday spend goes on the hotel. In the Dolomites the other week, as dinner was included, it would have been 90%. In Dubai in October total resort spend will be nearer 95%. As long as I get a good return on that card transaction I can live with losing a penny a time on a few coffees.

    • ADS says:

      it depends on how you spend whilst you’re abroad.

      if you do lots of small purchases in supermarkets every day, and another few in cafes each day – then your return quickly deteriorates (just as it does using the awful Tesco credit card).

      i suspect that your hotel / resort based holidays have a very different spending profile to people who are out and about in cities all day long.

  • Alan says:

    Our Horizon cards arrived shortly before our trip to New York. My wife used it at JFK to attempt to buy 3 metro/Air-train cards. After she purchased the secondone it was blocked by MBNA and refused to work for teh rest of the holiday. Fortunately, I had Revolut and Clarity cards as back-up. Both of which worked flawlessly.

    Not sure I’ll bother keeping the Horizon cards

    • David says:

      But your example shows exactly why you should keep them – for back-ups! I have a Capital One Platinum, Lloyds Avios MC + Amex, Horizon and Barclaycard Plat Travel – all with 0% FX. The chance of all 5 of them getting blocked/lost/stolen on the same trip is hopefully fairly small… But if all else fails, I do also have Revolut and Curve.

      • Alan says:

        I have plenty of cards. The Revolut and Halifax cards (both my wife and I have seperate ones of these – so that’s 4 cards). In a real emergency I also have Virgin Atlantic, IHG, Nationwide and AMEX credit cards (my wife has all these except the IHG card where she just has a supplemental) plus debit cards from 9 different bank accounts. That gives us 20 different accounts to draw from without the Horizon ones. Including supplementals we have 26 cards to use (excluding Horizon).

        • Alan says:

          Forgot my Barclaycard! So that’s another account to use (with 2 cards)

        • Genghis says:

          That’s one big wallet!

        • Alan says:

          You aren’t kidding! It’s a bit of a palaver when I’m at a till trying to find the correct card

        • David says:

          Definitely plenty of cards, but still looks like you’re light on 0% FX options with rewards…

        • Alan says:

          That’s true David. My 0% options are currently Horizon, Revolut, Calrity (and Nationwide if used in EU).

          To be honest, the amount I spend overseas is usually fairly low and I’d rather have a card that works when I want it to than the potential 0.5% on one that doesn’t.

          Just looking to think my wallet out a bit and, given our first experience with Horizon, that seemed like an obvious one to cull

        • Alan says:

          Excuse the typos!

          Clarity and thin are the words I intended to use!

  • Alan says:

    On a side note (burt CC related), we are a few thousand Virgin miles short of a redemption. If my wife refers me to the free BA card from her gold card will she be eligible for the 9000 MR points referral reward, or would that only work for the BAPP?

    • Genghis says:

      It would work. Cross referrals allowed.

      • Alan says:

        Thanks. Wasn’t sure if the referred to card had to be a paid for one. Think I might do this to get the few remaining miles we need. Not really interested in the Avios themselves

        • Alan says:

          I already have one of those.

        • Alan says:

          …. but thanks for the suggestion. I’m not saying the Avios points are completely worthless, its just that I’m not actively chasing them at the moment.

  • GG says:

    Hi all,
    OT so all help appreciated! Does anyone know with Heathrow rewards if they match the rewards card against the boarding pass? Reason is my gf didn’t have a card before and wants me to buy some stuff for her when I fly this weekend. I’ve already triggered the bonus for my card and she was hoping that I could use her new card to get her bonus. Anyone know if this will work?


  • Sur says:

    I don’t think the virgin cards are taking new applicants at the moment, not sure when it will be reopen

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The Virgin Atlantic cards are still available. Just everything else that has been pulled.

    • Rob says:

      New card now available via Virgin Money, see the bottom of the article.

  • oonagh cacioppo says:

    If you have the (no charge for first year) Gold card, then cancel after initial period having gained bonus etc….can you then apply for a Platinum Business card WITHIN six months and receive the 40,000 bonus and benefits?

    • Peter K says:

      Technically no, as both are MR accounts, but some are lucky and do get it. If you’re not lucky then you’ve just reset your 6 months clock again for no benefit, so it’s a bit dicey.

    • Rob says:


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