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

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UPDATE – AUGUST 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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

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? – 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 (229)

  • KevMc says:

    OT Etihad Guest are running a 20% bonus for transfers between some partners (Not Amex!) in October. T’s and C’s copied from the link in the email…interstingly HSBC show as a partner option for the bonus, but I can’t see them in the T’s and C’s list…

    Offer date: 01st October 2018 – 31st October 2018 (inclusive)

    The offer is valid for all Points to Miles conversions made between 1 October and 31 October 2018 both days inclusive.

    All participating points conversion partners: Accor Hotels, Al Hilal Bank, Club Carlson(Rezidor), Citibank UAE*only, Emirates Islamic Bank, Hilton Honors, Hyatt, IHG, Joyalukkas, NBAD Stars, National Commercial Bank, Shangri-La, Etisalat Smiles, Commercial Bank of Dubai, Boubyan Bank, ADCB TouchPoints, Marriott & UNB

    Non participation points conversion partners: AMEX MR (*All) , Citibank ROW , Global Miles and all Kaligo Exchange partners are excluded from this promotion.

  • Bob M says:

    Can anyone confirm if the bonus 20000 MR points for upgrading an Amex Gold charge card to Platinum (then spending £1000) is still active?

    I applied for the upgrade last week via a webpage which mentioned the bonus, but having conversed with a couple of Amex customer service people I’ve been told both that the bonus wasn’t available and that it might be????

    • Shoestring says:

      Can’t see why you’re talking to Amex people about it

    • Alan says:

      Did you receive an email offering you it? If not then nothing guaranteed and therefore just need to take it as a bonus if it arrives.

    • JAson Wiltshire says:

      I used it recently, wasn’t emailed and just found a link online, got the points quickly.

  • Gary says:

    OT Looks like primers air going to declare bankruptcy tomorrow!!

  • Thomas Howard says:

    Is the lack of interest in airline reward cards because those of us that use them aren’t very profitable? I imagine most of us have a fairly high monthly spend but clear our balances and never pay interest.

    • Rob says:

      On the face of it, they’re not BUT clearly the model is working elsewhere in Europe.

      I get VERY surprising answers when I ask what % of cardholders pay interest on any particular miles and points card. It is VERY high, at least compared to the answer I expect (ie nil). Foreign exchange income is good. There are often annual fees.

      The problem for start-ups is that you need a LOT of float. Remember that the BA Amex is doing over £1 BILLION per month in transactions. Curve raised $10m in its last funding round – that would fund 4 HOURS of BA Amex transactions.

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T for those new to Xmas Savers, a couple of things to bear in mind:
    1. you need to opt in via your online Clubcard a/c before you can top up in store
    2. cf [Maximum bonus voucher value is £12. Bonus vouchers are valid for 2 months from the date of issue. Bonus vouchers which are expired or lost will not be re-issued.] – that 2 months can catch you out

    • Genghis says:

      I don’t think Raffles wants such HUKD material polluting HfP?

      • Rob says:

        Indeed ….

        • Shoestring says:

          I make it 214,272 Virgin miles @0.336p/ point, 720 MR points on top. Nice try Genghis – but the deadline is fast approaching 16th October – those who want to give it a go, you’ve got 2 weeks. Tried & tested LY.

        • Jimbob says:

          I assume there is some loophole , so you exchange Xmas saver vouchers for Tesco Clubcard vouchers….

    • N says:

      I don’t think I get this, sorry. What more to this other than the £12 bonus is there to be gained here? Double dip on clubcard points? Once on voucher purchase and once on voucher spend?

    • Max says:

      Not really sure what this is – so I looked it up on Shopper Points, so not sure why Rob would not want it here, as his site has an article on it.

      Anyway that article says ‘‘Christmas savers top-up vouchers cannot be used on Clubcard partners or converted into Airmiles/BA miles‘.’

      So what is the point of this?

    • Rts says:

      A quick google search and you’ll find your answer…i better top up £360 before i go away on Sunday….

      • Liz says:

        I’ve spent ages googling and can’t find how this can be done!

        • S says:

          Haha that was a bit of a puzzle but the clues slowly came together and with some outside the box Google searching, I have the answer 😀

      • Mycity says:

        Hi, I’ve looked but am missing something, any vague hints please on the search?

        Thanks

  • Shoestring says:

    O/T Tesco Bank has been fined £16.4m for its debit card fiasco in 2016 – apparently some bright guy thought it was a good idea to issue the card numbers in sequence, just adding on 1 each time. Not exactly difficult to guess the number.

    • Chris L says:

      Just saw this too…not all that surprised. They’ve annoyed too many people I think, although I’m sure there’s merit in their proposed business model of single-aisle long haul flights – I’m sure it’s the future.

  • BJ says:

    Any of you guys have any idea when we can expect the 1000 FC autoconvert miles to hit Virgin accounts? I am dicing with danger here when there is obviously bigger fish to fry.

    My partner got triple points coupons from tesco today by snail mail instead of the usual MOC.

    • Shoestring says:

      They are always a bit hit & miss. I think we only got them twice despite trying a few times.

      Blimmin heck – triple points is completely useless to me, not got ours yet. Bye bye Amazon 13% discount.

      • BJ says:

        Don’t think I’ll risk waiting any longer then, will get things sorted tomorrow. I imagine MOC will stay around, I am sure they drive more business than triple points will.

    • Liz says:

      My mother in law got a triple points voucher today too. Went and did a big shop this aft on her card. I buy her vouchers and she buys rum! Win win!

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