What are the best credit card sign-up deals for December? – plus a news round-up inc Flybe final closure

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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 and charge 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 November?

Flybe announced the final closure date for its cards

Last Friday, holders of the Flybe credit card received an email from issuer Creation saying that the cards will close for good on 11th March 2019.

You will have until 20th September to spend your remaining Spend&Fly points.  Depending on how customers used their account, they are being offered a card with either 0.5% cashback or a ‘no rewards’ card as a replacement.

The Flybe credit card was closed to new applicants a few weeks ago.  I’m not sure why it lasted so long – Flybe switched its core loyalty scheme to Avios a few years ago, so keeping open a credit card which earned a different loyalty currency, Spend&Fly, made little sense.

I don’t think Flybe has any plans to replace the card at present, although obviously that could change if the airline does change ownership as a result of the current informal auction process.

Flybe credit card

The Tesco Premium credit card restructured – and got better

The Tesco Premium credit card has announced a big shake-up of its benefits.  With Tesco Direct and Tesco Wine now closed, it seems that the old benefits package threshold – which required £5000 of Tesco spending annually to maximise your returns – was seen as too high.

Tesco Premium is reducing its annual fee from £150 to £36, but dropping the travel insurance benefits.  You will now only need to spend £2500 per year in Tesco to earn the annual bonus, which is reduced to 2500 Clubcard points (equivalent to 6000 Avios).

It isn’t yet clear if the card will be reopened to new applicants.  If it is, it won’t be until at least February when the new benefits package kicks in.

You can learn more about the changes on the Tesco Bank website here and in our article here.

Curve relaunched with American Express functionality

Curve Card has now launched its Beta programme with American Express.  This is only open to selected Curve members.

It is a slightly fiddly system which we outline in this article here.  It will be an exciting prospect when the bugs are ironed out and it is open to all, allowing you to recharge Visa and Mastercard debit and credit transactions onto a linked Amex card.

You can find out more about Curve Card hereThe card is free and they will pay you £5 for taking it out if you use my referral link.  You can apply here.

Curve Card accepts American Express

There is still no word on the relaunch of the Marriott Mastercard

Creation is meant to be running this, as they ran the old version which was closed to new cardholders two years ago.  It was due to launch in August but nothing has happened.

Don’t ask me about any replacement Hilton Honors UK credit card either ……

Virgin Atlantic launches sharply increased credit card bonuses – which end on Friday

Full details are below, but don’t forget that you only have six days to apply for the new Virgin Atlantic credit cards with the higher sign-up bonus.  Full details are on their website here.

The free card earns you 10,000 miles (usually 5,000 miles) whilst the paid card comes with 25,000 miles (usually 15,000 miles)

Virgin Atlantic credit card higher bonus

American Express relaunched Shop Small for 2018

Until 16th December, you can earn £5 cashback each time you spend £10 at a participating ‘Shop Small’ retailer.  You need to opt-in via the Offers tab on your Amex statement page.

Ignore the Amex map of participating outlets.  In reality, most independent shops and restaurants which take Amex will trigger the deal – it worked for us at restaurants twice in the last week.  Full details are in our article here.

What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for December?

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 offer is a special deal, the Virgin Atlantic cards are new this year 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.

British Airways American Express

For an unspecified period, the bonus on this free card increased from 3,000 Avios to 5,000 Avios.  My full review of the card is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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.

Amex Plat

American Express Platinum

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 / 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.

My full review of the Amex Platinum card is here. Amex’s own home page is here.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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!

My full review of Amex Gold is here. The Amex home page to apply is here.

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.

Amex Gold

IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard

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.

Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ Mastercard

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 10,000 miles sign-up bonus until Friday 14th December) earns 0.75 miles per £1 whilst the annual fee Reward+ card (with a 25,000 mile sign-up bonus until Friday 14th December) earns 1.5 miles per £1.

You need to spend £1,000 to get the full bonus on the free card and £1,500 to get the full bonus on the paid card.  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 hereRemember that the special bonuses end on Friday!

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.

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  1. LMAO 🙂

    “Don’t ask me about any replacement Hilton Honors UK credit card either”

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      In fairness, even though that was in the article I’m still tempted. It’s the only card I want long term.

    • RussellH says:

      For two weeks now I have been trying to get an answer out of Barclaycard as to when I get upgraded to Hilton Gold, having spent £10 000.00+ during the course of 2018.
      Initially they said I had not spent as much as that, I responded with figures and asked them to point out my mistake. No reply, beyond that “it was being referred to the appropriate dept. for an answer”.
      When I prompted them I got an answer to a totally different question, and when I pointed this out they gave me the same irrelevant answer.

      Yesterday I asked the question again, this time quoting my spend figures, and asking for a reply by 1700 tomorrow (Monday). My query “is being referred to the appropriate dept. for an answer”.

      Is it that difficult for their systems to see if I have spent the required amounT/

      A week ago I tried phoning them instead – the young man who answered had no idea what I was talking about.
      I would be grateful for any tips!

      • Turn it into a complaint and you’ll get £25

        • RussellH says:

          That is what I shall be doing in 45 mins iof they do not respond by my deadline, 1700 today. No reply yet,

        • RussellH says:

          I have now registered a formal complaint. I am not hopeful of getting £25 though!

          A couple of years ago they were paying me rather more than that on a fairly frequent basis, including the time when they failed to pay double IHG points on the local taxes charged by the IC in Porto (ie pre Creation running the IHG card, but after the operation of Barclays IHG card was merged into Barclaycard).

          It would be nice just to get my question answered!!

        • RussellH says:

          I got an answer to the complaint this morning. Just £15 compo and a message that I shall become ‘eligible’ for Gold when the a/c bills in ten days time.

          I have pointed out that that does not tally with the statement on their website, which specifically mentions the word ‘spend’, and that still no date for my Gold membership has been given!

    • Barclays increased my HH credit limit today, unprompted and I don’t spend anywhere near it (in fact main use is for Curve cash wd, and until amex started working, tax), doubt they would do this if the card is closing soon??

      • Could be an automated process? Hope it’s not going anytime soon although miss the churn possibilities with this card – just spent my last voucher a few weeks ago in Nashville for a room that was going for $600/night!

        • What churn possibilities are there with this card, Alan? Are you talking about the free night?
          I thought it was a once in a lifetime offer.

        • In theory it was – I had it 6 times over the years though 🙂

        • Mr(s) Entitled says:

          Nashville is a fun town. Good use of a voucher and your time.

  2. avidsaver says:

    I currently hold the free IHG Rewards Club Mastercard. Will Creation allow you to apply for/upgrade to the Rewards + card and receive the 20,000 points bonus? If so, do you just apply online for the Rewards + card and they will automatically cancel the free card or do you need to ring them to sort it? Many thanks.

    • My wife and I have each applied for the black card while holding the white; got the sign up bonus and then cancelled the white.

      • Yes, two different products so you would need to cancel the white card yourself once you have received your black card and sign up bonus.

      • avidsaver says:

        Many thanks Mark2 very helpful to know.

    • Creation treat the Rewards Club and Rewards Club Premium CCs separately so if you hold one and apply for the other then you will hold two (assuming you are accepted). Many on here have held 2 concurrently (myself included). You will get whatever bonus is on offer for the second card i.e. holding one card does not stop you getting a bonus on the new application.
      Call Creation if you subsequently wish to cancel your first account.
      You will need separate logins for each card account if you want to use the online service.

    • You can keep both cards, but remember that you get more points per £ on black and a free night if you spend £10,000 so best to cancel white.

    • I got both, and both sign up bonuses. Had high credit limit with original white, and low with black. Reduced white credit limit by £10K hoping to add £5K to black, but computer said no, separate accounts so probably not linked. Use the black a fair bit, no intention of using white, but kept as I may cancel black once year up and voucher received, occasional use of white would then keep IHG points alive so not one to cancel unless you’re concerned about credit status.
      If I remember correctly with the black you wait the year to receive the voucher, then cancel without using the card to get the second year fee refunded.

  3. O/t Lloyds
    I’m a little confused whether or not the upgrade vouchers have come to an end.

    I have earned the voucher this year, and didn’t get any of the ‘error’ vouchers a few months ago.

    From what I know I haven’t had any communication to say that the upgrade vouchers are no-more, and my year starts again in February. I did receive some new t&cs but that didn’t mention rewards changing.

    Is it possible that I can still earn another voucher if I spend £7k after February?

    • As things stand if you haven’t heard from Lloyds nothing has changed. I didn’t get a freebie error voucher either, but I did recently get the normal £7K spent one, and i’m still getting no FX fee non sterling spend.

    • You should get another voucher as long as your card remains open and they have to give 2 months(?) notice. Also you’ll have the £24 fee charged in Feb

      • ok, so wait for the £24 charge, and if that happens, spend quickly to hit £7k? thanks, will try that.

        • Mikeact says:

          I’m up to another one….that’s three that need to be now sorted. And definitely no FX fees applied, why would there be ?

  4. Slightly OT – I have a clubcard credit card which I no longer want. Is it possible to cancel the card and still keep the clubcard account? How would I go about doing this ?

    • They can merge it with a normal Clubcard account if you have one? Or you used to be able to create one online ….

    • It still works as a clubcard even when the credit card part is gone. It is a different number but should be linked to your normal account.

  5. Been putting off applying for the free Virgin card for ages and finally did it this morning. Would have preferred it in hubby’s name but he didn’t get the bonus offer. With very low income from savings only in my name and hubby’s pension I managed to get accepted straight away with a £2700 credit limit. Works for us so very happy! 😀

    • How many credit cards do you hold at present Liz?
      I was under the impression that they were funny about too much credit and declined lots of people?

      • The credit card pendulum has swung my way at the moment in our house. I have BAPP £1500 limit, Plat, SPG £1300 limit, IHG £9500 (the card I keep long term), MBNA Horizon £3700 (don’t use this one but kept it anyway). Will be cancelling Plat after Small Shop and SPG not long in to the new year. We no longer have a mortgage but have decent income from pension and savings. Didn’t expect to get accepted. Never had so many cards. Will keep this one long term. We do churn the BAPP, Plat and SPG between each other. Hubby has SPG, Hilton, Tesco, Lloyd’s. Gee that’s a lot when you list them but we don’t use them all. His SPG will be cancelled after SS and other 3 not currently in use.

      • Michael Jennings says:

        FlywithPoints: I have quite a few credit cards and quite a bit already – although without much charged to them – and the Virgin Money eligibility checker tells me I am not eligible – so I haven’t bothered applying, even though I have been bombarded with ads trying to get me to for the last nine months or so, due to having previously had an MBNA Virgin card.

    • Concerto says:

      Was that an online application with instant approval? Wonder if it will work from a non U.K. IP address.

      • Yes – did it from the link from the bonus email.

      • I applied today and it says needs to be approved – so not instant for me.
        Just hope I don’t end up missing the bonus if it takes a while to approve, or reject/appeal.

  6. OT
    If I cancel my wife’s supplementary on my Platinum Amex card, will I be able to get a supplementary card for my nephew without charge. I shall not give him the card, but it will extend his Hilton Gold status.

  7. @Rob VA card, “There is no spending target to hit to receive the sign-up bonus” this might create confusion if not broken out into sign up and spend bonus

  8. Yes hubby’s SPG not generating emails but my new SPG Card is. Credits from spend on 4/12 have credited though – so far so good.

  9. Went to 2 local butchers yesterday who were very understanding as I split £80 bills between 8 Amex, 4 mine and 4 OH. One of them triggered alerts on all 8 cards the other didn’t, to be fair the second batch haven’t appeared as pending transactions yet.

    • Jonathan says:

      Careful, someone reported their account being closed by AmEx the other day for multiple £10 transactions using lead & supplementary cards in same store @ same time. Think they can interpret as “gaming”.

      • OK, thanks.

      • ISTR there was more to it than that. Using both cards seems entirely reasonable to me, having done it on a number of cards (with two supplementaries in some cases) for sevral years.

      • Heard of the same for gaming the esso offers.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        It’s not really gaming. They have given you the offer and you have used it as per the T&C’s.

        Tbh I’ve not really used small shop seems more hassle than it’s worth this year based on where I spend and what I normally eat/drink.

  10. Anyone know what is the likely timescale for the Curve Amex beta program before rolling out to everyone?
    Are we talking 12 months or 12 weeks?

  11. James M says:

    Rob – I recall seeing (but can’t remember where..) a hint that there would be a half decent (BA?) business credit card, any further news on this?

  12. Couple of questions – anyone know when the Hilton Card will finally be withdrawn? I know it was closed for new applications but will it be actually closed?

    As I still have it will spending on it keep my points active? I have cancelled a booking for this week so now will not be staying again until the month after my points expire, can I spend on the card to reset the clock?

    • Not sure if anyone knows for sure – could be ages.

      Yes, credit card spend definitely resets Hilton Honors expiry.

    • Almost certainly, but actually it benefits Hilton to keep it open until a replacement launches rather than risk you getting hooked on another card.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      There’s plenty of other ways to keep HH points alive! However I also hope they keep the Barclaycard Hilton around for a while yet, I’m still earning a fair chunk of points on it each month.

      Wonder if Hilton are reducing their card footprint, or moving over to Amex, as their offerings worldwide are being cut down now. The Macquarie Bank Hilton Honors card was killed off a few months back in Aus, and there’s now only a few left on their website.

  13. Let’s hope I get the credits on my SPG. After seeing that report of cards being closed I have split bills/purchases over less cards. Do you get the £5 credits even without the emails? Offer is definitely saved to card.

  14. FlyingBobFlying says:

    I gave up my Amex Gold Charge Card two months ago. Is there any way to apply before the full six months between cards for the Platinum and reap the 30,000 points?

    • No, unless your partner signs up and you get a supplementary card on their account (partners gets the points though!).

  15. “Ignore the Amex map of participating outlets. In reality, most independent shops and restaurants which take Amex will trigger the deal – it worked for us at restaurants twice in the last week. ”

    Indeed, I just paid £15k over the phone for a new kitchen and bifold doors. Unexpectedly I got an email alert thanking me for shopping small.

    Down the road from us there is a bespoke car dealers with a 2018 Lamborghini Huracan Perfomante 640 in stock for £240k. They are also on shop small…..

    Just need to get 120k amex supplementary cards and I’ll have a bargain on my hands.

    Give Genghis a run for his money…!

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