Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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

Very little.  That’s why this article is tucked away in the third news slot today instead of leading the home page as it usually does!

The major news in September was with Curve Card.  This card (which is free – in fact they will pay you £5 for getting one) announced two changes:

Foreign exchange transactions are now free (subject to monthly caps) if made midweek

Your underlying Visa or Mastercard holder can now see when you use the card in an ATM and could charge you a cash advance fee if it wished – although only Tesco Bank is doing so at the moment

You can now use Curve Card to turn ANY Visa or Mastercard into a 0% FX fees card, and you still receive miles and points from that card.  Simply pay with Curve, which will recharge the transaction in £ as a purchase to any linked Visa or Mastercard.  You can find out more here.

Here are five things which did NOT happen in September:

Not happening #1:  No 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.

Not happening #2:  Re-opening the Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard to new applicants

We now know what is happening to the existing Lloyds Avios Rewards Amex and Mastercard double packs:

  • the Amex part is going (it will be Mastercard-only)
  • the upgrade voucher is going
  • the 0% FX fees benefit is going
  • the Avios earning rate is improving

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.

Will this card be re-opened to new customers or will it will remain exclusively for legacy cardholders?  We don’t know.

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

Not happening #3:  The new Hilton Honors credit card

Hilton is running a few surveys with members as it tries to put together a package for a new UK credit card.  There is no time frame for the launch.

Not happening #4:  A relaunch of any of the other MBNA credit cards

I had a few chats with industry consultants at the Loyalty Summit conference last month, and there doesn’t seem to be progress on Lufthansa, Etihad, Emirates, United or American relaunching UK credit cards.

There is a real market gap here.  After all, the 0.3% interchange fee cap has not stopped aggressive new credit card launches in Europe.  There is no-one – literally no-one – interested in stepping into the gap in the UK.

I spoke with someone who was consulting for one of the ex-MBNA airlines and he could not find anyone willing to take them on.  I also spoke with someone from a major loyalty programme who had failed to get anyone new to respond to a recent ‘request for proposals’.

With so many fintech companies currently fighting over what may prove to be unfertile ground – with Revolut, Monzo, Starling etc all desperate to provide current accounts for people in their 20s with modest incomes – it is hard to understand why no-one is keen to come into this space.

If you were an ex-MBNA airline cardholder and 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

Not happening #5:  Tesco Bank rolling over its sign-up bonus

The offer of 1,000 Tesco Clubcard points (2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin Flying Club miles) for taking out a free Tesco Clubcard Mastercard ended in mid September.  It has not been rolled over and, knowing Tesco Bank, is not likely to appear again for another year.

Nectar American Express


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

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 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.

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:

American Express Business Gold card

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

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.

Comments (229)

  • Axel says:

    Curve with underlying IHG Creation – thoughts please

    Being limited to £200 business transactions online, trying £500 declined. Still within 50k mastercard limit

    • RakishDriver says:

      Got the same issue with creation, and today, cash withdrawal got declined. Had to switch to the VA card to get it to work…plus the use of a nice curve feature to get the original affect.

    • Rob says:

      Does your card have a £200 or £500 cash withdrawal limit (your statement should tell you)?

      • RakishDriver says:

        Cash limit is 2k on the underlying card, only tried to withdraw £100

        • Rob says:

          Hmm. Creation has always been FAR more painful than MBNA to use with Curve, which is why my Curve is currently linked to my MBNA Horizon. Switching to a non-Creation card may bring better results. That said, the move to the new coding was meant to make rejection less common.

        • Genghis says:

          My Creation card seems to be £2k overall but £2/300 per transaction for cash type activities.

    • johnny_c-l says:

      +1

      Tried £3.5k business transaction today (not the usual one which has been commented on recently) and it declined, but £2.5k went through OK (which is well in excess of my cash limit).

    • Graham Walsh says:

      I paid for my Duabi Hilton hotel last night using Curve linked to my IHG Black no issues. £850 odd. It went Pending first, then a few hours later it was done.

  • Jason Hindle says:

    Just bagged the 20000 points for my IHG Premium card. Potentially no issue spending over 10000 (mostly abroad) in a year, but the exchange rate they apply Is a little high. I’ll be using Revolut for my personal expenses (and acquiring a few dollars to hedge against Brexagedon). Also, using a Creation product is like dealing with a credit card company from the early naughties. They have a web page and people who answer the phone.

    • Genghis says:

      IHG card only good for fx if someone else is paying the bill

      • Jason Hind!e says:

        Agreed. The exchange rate I provided (with a printout from the Creation My Account page) raised an eyebrow or two from the people who check and approve my expenses.

  • Go says:

    Amex Platinum – Is there a special link to get the 5000 bonus for adding a supplementary card holder

    • BJ says:

      No, just click option to add an additional cardholder within your account. If you get them they usually post immediately after applying for the supp. They are not guaranteed but many have got them lately.

  • Go says:

    Another couple of platinum questions. 1. If you apply for a second platinum supplementary card costing £170, does it also qualify for the priority pass card? 2. Can you cancel and change the first supplementary card holder without restriction and will the new card holder get the priority pass each time?

  • Tom1 says:

    O/t did anyone else get an email from Avis today with a free gift? Only the code to redeem the free gift is missing?
    (Gift is either coffee, usb charger or magazine)

  • Jak says:

    OT: I have a baggage question, if anyone can possibly help? Will QR check bags all the way thru to the final destination for this trip:

    Arrive GTW on QR. Connecting flight is a BA from LHR. I want to be a no-show for the LHR connection, so am hoping that bags only get checked to GTW. Or shall I just tell them at the QR checkin but don’t want to bring attention to the fact that I’m missing the connection.

    • Shoestring says:

      You *MUST* collect the bags @ GTW – suits your purpose

      People plan to use this, bit naughty

  • Roger1* says:

    HOT NEWS – NEW M&M CREDIT CARDS!

    Ding! E-mail just arrived offering pack of M&M Diners Card and MC. I’m asssuming Rob and others have received the same memo. Briefly:
    – New package of M&M Diners Card (yes, Diners!) and MC.
    – issued by UK end of Swiss Corner Bank, issuer of several Swiss loyalty credit cards
    – £79 fee p.a.
    – 10,000 M&M miles bonus if applying before year end, apparently no purchase requirement
    – 1.25 M&M miles per £
    – ‘discounted’ DC lounge access
    – etc

    Seems to be a good opening package, 2nd year onwards will depend on how many miles are earned @ 1.25 per £.

  • Victor says:

    Does anyone know if ‘cross border’ AMEX referrals work? eg: I have an AMEX Gold in UK and refer someone for an AMEX Gold in Spain? Thx