Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2022:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

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?

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

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.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2022 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

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

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £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.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 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 unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus 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 sign-up bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

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

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

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 (229)

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

  • Algor says:

    With changes to Curve there is huge gap on the market for non-AMEX card for Miles or points with hotels (excluding Virgin and IHG).

    I wish something like old MBNA with 1.5 mile per £1 was back. The only options are AMEXs Avios or SPG, right now everyone will stay away from Marriott for a while.

    • Waribai says:

      I’ve got the Marriott card. I haven’t seen any extraneous curve charges on it as of yet. Have you?

      • Algor says:

        Marriott still is dealing with outcome of merger (ex points accounted from SPG AMEX or mess with redemtions in new scheme) and most of us are getting fed up. I will avoid Marriott until dust sttles down and they come with some good offer, highly expected to happen once loss of bussiness hits hard.

        Curve enabled otiopn for spending abroad with ccs which due to fx fees were “out of option” in the past.

        “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.”

        • Waribai says:

          Ok, not too worried about that at the moment. I thought that would be the scenario for the first year i.e. numerous hiccups. Hence we don’t have SPG ccs at the moment. The Marriott credit card is still working nicely though and is a good earner.
          As long as they don’t start to charge curve cash transaction fees. I got slapped with a nasty one from tesco when trying to pass a marriott creation monthly bill through there using curve. I would complain to customer service but doubt they care!

  • Nick says:

    Re the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard, can someone please advise if the £10K spend for the annual stay voucher is based on the calendar year, or the 12 months from the date of taking out the card? I assume it’s the latter, but would appreciate confirmation.Thanks!

    • Genghis says:

      The latter

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The card has a very good spend tracker too so you know exactly how much until you hit the target

      • Max says:

        Do you get the free night voucher as you hit target or only 12 month after getting the card?

        • Genghis says:

          Just after card anniversary.

        • KevMc says:

          It will be credited to your IHG account on the generation of your first statement after your anniversary (assuming you have met the spend requirement)

      • Benylin says:

        What’s the tactic to get the free night and avoid the 2nd year £99 charge?

        • Genghis says:

          There was a HFP article on this. Search the site.

        • KevMc says:

          At £99/year for a free night voucher which would be worth £250+, have you considered keeping it?

          I have just received mine for this year, and was going to use it at the IC in London for May Bank holiday weekend, where rooms are currently £400 (for a pre-paid rate!) …I have, however, decided to wait to see if I can use it for the same night in the new Kimpton property when it opens. I suspect, being a Bank Holiday, that it will be similarly priced. £99 well spent in my view.

  • BJ says:

    An impressive effort this month at making news out of no news 🙂 It’s still a better start to my day than the fake news that seems to dominate our national front pages.

  • Anna says:

    Does the 0% on FX on Curve include buying foreign currency? I’ve been using it linked to the Lloyds card for this so far but presume Lloyds will start charging for this when their changes are implemented.

    • Waribai says:

      Curve will charge you 0% but the rest is up to your credit card provider. I’ve been stung with a £150 bill this month from Tesco for curve spend on financial services

      • Alan says:

        Have you tried going Back in Time on all the transactions and asking Tesco to refund the fees? Would probably be worth a go.

    • Genghis says:

      Isn’t it 6 monthly payments and then they post?

      • BJ says:

        Yes, 6 months. Not expecting them until January.

      • Shoestring says:

        [If you cancel your Policy within the first 12 months, we reserve the right to deduct the Flying Club miles from your Flying Club account.]

        Current T&Cs – was that in the original T&Cs? Anybody get a screenshot?

        • Shoestring says:

          Oh! Answering my own question: there was no such clause in the original T&Cs & yes, I *DID* take a screenshot of it.

    • KevMc says:

      My 4th DD’s came out for both myself and my wife today, so 2 more payments to go…then I seem to recall it said it would take 60 days from then, so not expecting them until February

      • Scallder says:

        Yes T&Cs say within 60 days from 6th monthly payment. Dec 1st is my 6th (although this month was the first one actually taken), so have put a reminder in for 60 days from then!

    • Alan says:

      Six months of payments first.

  • Brighton Belle says:

    My wallet is getting slimmer by the month. With no new card applications I am worried my credit score will peak at unreasonably sensible levels.

  • Mike L says:

    Am I correct in saying if you cancel the Amex rewards gold charge card just before the anniversary date and take out the Amex gold credit card there is no annual fee for another year ?

    • Tilly71 says:

      How about EY lounge at LHR to close soon, surely no smoke without fire!

      • Rob says:

        EY is thinking of adding a 4th flight (non A380) so I’d consider that unlikely.

        • FlyUpTop says:

          Reported over in FT in its own thread , supposed to have come from a staff member of the lounge and its being taken over by No.1.
          Is that Paris new route? I received an insta msg today on.

    • Shoestring says:

      @ Mike L – sure, they are different cards and the membership is not seen by Amex as continuous.

      But don’t be afraid of keeping the Amex charge card long enough to bank the £15K spend bonus (10,000 MR points) – you’ll only end up paying about £17 or so fee, making very cheap points – fee is refunded pro rata)

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Plus if you can hit the spend target quickly why not upgrade to platinum first 20k points for £40 or so. At the same time if you can refer yourself for an SPG card or even just a platinum cash back card you can bank another 18K

        • Shoestring says:

          Yep with Plat you can make 5 referrals @ 18K a pop, so the £450 fee suddenly becomes perfectly accetable plus you get free lounge pass entry x2 + guest = 4

        • AndyF says:

          If you hit the 15k spend target and still have another 6 months until renewal. If you upgrade to the platinum, does the 10k renewal bonus points hit as soon as you upgrade (as long as you hit the spend threshold of course)?

          Or do you upgrade to get the platinum get the upgrade bonus points and then downgrade back to the gold and wait the year out? for the 10k points renewal bonus?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yep no annual fee as two different products. Wait 6 months to trigger the sign up bonus though

      • Rob says:

        …. only if you want to empty your MR account. If your bigger concern is keeping your points unconverted inside MR then what you propose makes sense. Anika did this recently.

        • BJ says:

          An even bigger concern is keeping ones OH on-board to maximise churn/referral strategies.

        • Moose says:

          If one were to start tomorrow with a clean slate, what would be recommended card strategy? I can squeeze about £2.5k spend per month on an AMEX. Don’t travel too much at the mo as kids are small, so not sure AMEX Plat or BA Plat advantages (Priority Pass, 241 voucher etc) make sense, just looking to build up points. Thx

          • Rob says:

            If you’re not doing much, I’d start with a free Amex Gold. Refer your wife at some point, then cancel yours, then wait 6 months to reapply, then cancel hers etc. You’ll never pay and you’ll rack up points quickly.

            Perhaps slot in the odd Starwood sign-up bonus or even BA PP Amex bonus (you can cancel for pro-rata fee refunds later) when you have enough unallocated spend.

        • Genghis says:

          @Moose Plat and BAPP can be useful for building up points quickly with sign up bonuses and referrals from Plat.

        • Moose says:

          Thanks Rob / Genghis. As the wife and I cancel & churn a Gold AMEX for example, in the 6 months down time before we reapply for our own cards do we each need to make ourselves a supplementary card so that we have 2 cards and can both be spending at the same time? Or will we only have 1 main card at a time?

      • Mark says:

        @Moose the 6 month limit is for the card in your name only, supp cards dont count. The wife and I have one active card at any time with a supp card on that account to help reach the target. Over the course of a year we have been churning 2 amex plats and an SPG card each with sign up bonuses and referrals for both. We don’t normally churn the BA card but keep a blue one open throughout the year to use between churning on other cards and when we hit the £10k spend for the 241 we upgrade, trigger the voucher and downgrade again.

  • Crafty says:

    I would highly recommend NOT using Curve for the purpose that this website promotes: “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.”

    I did so, following the instructions of this website, to settle several restaurant bills in Spain last week. Now on checking my Creation statement I have been charged, on each occasion, a supplementary £5.00 (!) identified as “Travelex”. So the purported “0% FX fees” appears to be a nonsense.

    I have queried the transactions with Creation and if no suitable response is forthcoming will make a complaint to Curve.

    I am very disappointed that HFP gave inaccurate advice and I have lost out from it.

    • Howard says:

      I think you will find that Rob gave a Curve warning about using the Curve card based on the new terms and conditions.

      My Curve card is linked to a Virgin Card and no issues in Spain or Gibraltar last week.

      • Genghis says:

        There was no warning about using Curve for purchases.

        • Rob says:

          If you’ve got a problem with a PURCHASE then take it up with Curve, because that should never be an issue. That’s the whole point of Curve after all.

          You may, as someone noted, have set the app wrongly and told Curve that Creation is a Euro card. That would account for it.

        • Lynx says:

          If I remember correctly, the 2.99% currency conversion charge is rolled into the same line as the base charge. Even if it’s shown separately, it seems highly unlikely that each bill would be exactly the correct amount to give a £5 charge (2.99% doesn’t tend to give you nice round numbers very often).
          Therefore, it seems this must be a cash handling fee (which is the greater of £5 or 3%). In that case, I can only think of 2 scenarios:
          1. The restaurant(s) or Curve have incorrectly coded the transaction as a cash advance. I can’t imagine Curve would be doing that, and it seems unlikely that the restaurant(s) would do so, but I guess it’s possible.
          2. The OP used Curve to withdraw cash to then pay the bill.

        • Crafty says:

          I will go to Curve then. As below, I have not been withdrawing cash nor have I set the underlying currency incorrectly.

          Given the recent feedback about their terrible customer service, I am not holding my breath!

    • Max says:

      So looks like avoid using Curve with Creation and Tesco cards!

      Seems like Rob needs to do a follow up article.

      There is someone from Curve that reads these replies – it would be nice given the amount of free publicity that they get that they would respond directly.

      Curve is looking very dodgy right now.

      • Crafty says:

        If Curve->Creation is not an option for HMRC, what’s next best? Does Tesco debit card to HMRC earn points?

        • Jonathan says:

          I paid my PAYE last week on an IHG card absolutely fine. Why do you say it’s not an option?

          • Rob says:

            People have been trying large sums, seeing it fail and then claiming it is ‘dead’. It isn’t. It just appears to be restricted to the daily cash advance limit on your underlying card.

      • Rob says:

        Creation is fine. I have done ATM withdrawals on my Marriott card and no fees are showing.

        • FlyingChris says:

          So with Curve & Creation paying HMRC (and the like) is limited to the cash advance limits (e.g. £300) but not the cash fees?

    • Chris says:

      Well first off Rob doesn’t run Curve so what he writes, as an outsider, is his understanding. He didn’t set out to mislead you and I wouldn’t have called what you have quoted ‘advice’ in any case.

      The Curve piece did rather whiff of advertorial, which is why I think there’s a spotlight on the information it contained especially if people are losing out financially as a result. But let’s not suggest that what Rob wrote was done in anything less then good faith because I think we all agree he’s a good guy and won’t have set out to mislead anyone.

      On another point it actually seems it’s Creation who are the common denominator in all this (ignoring Tesco which is rubbish anyway) – maybe just stop using Creation along with Curve?

      • Genghis says:

        I think Rob is a bit more than an outsider given he says how close he is to the CEO and has 1-2-1s with him.

        • Rob says:

          But you can the same about pretty much every UK based loyalty programme where I know the CEO and senior staff …

      • dishonest john says:

        I though creation was still working ok for withdrawing cash.

        It’s known that Tesco were the ones who were hot on shutting down this Curve with charges ages, although they seem to have relented a little they are the ones to avoid. The best deal was the fee IHG card as 2 points per pound and free night voucher, this is what everyone jumped on

    • KevMc says:

      Sounds like you may have/had the underlying card currency set to EUR instead of GBP?

    • the_real_a says:

      £5 fee on creation is for “Cash Withdrawals” – are you sure these charges do not relate to ATM`s? Even with the currency set incorrectly in the app, its seems implausible it could cause this charge.

    • Mans says:

      Well was it robs fault or yours?

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.