Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What are the best credit card sign-up deals for February 2019? – plus news round-up

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2023:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

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.

Even if you don’t read the rest of this article, please note that we hope to have exclusive details of a new Avios-earning credit card on HfP later this week.  Don’t get too excited, though, as only about 10% of our UK readers will be eligible.  Intrigued?

UK Rewards credit and charge cards

What was new in January?

You can get Virgin Atlantic’s relaunched higher bonus on its two credit cards

Until 28th February, you will receive enhanced sign-up bonuses on the two Virgin Atlantic credit cards.  You can get up to 25,000 miles.

You have two options:

The FREE Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard comes with a bonus of 10,000 miles.  The earning rate is an unbeatable, for a free card, 0.75 Flying Club miles per £1.   You will receive 5,000 Virgin Flying Club miles with your first purchase and a further 5,000 when you spend £1,000 within 90 days.  My full review is hereYou can apply here.

The ‘annual fee’ Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard comes with a bonus of 25,000 miles.  It is highest earning airline card on the market, giving you 1.5 Flying Club miles per £1.   You will receive 15,000 Virgin Flying Club miles with your first purchase and a further 10,000 when you spend £1,500 within 90 days.  My full review is hereYou can apply here.

This page of the Virgin Money website lets you compare both cards.

This is well worth a look, even if you do nothing more than pick up the free card for a quick 10,000 Virgin Flying Club miles hit.

https://www.headforpoints.com/hfp/virgin-atlantic-flying-club-rewards-plus-credit-card/

HSBC launched a sign-up bonus for its HSBC Premier Mastercard

HSBC is currently running a 10,000 point sign-up bonus for its free HSBC Premier credit card.

This is worth 5,000 Avios.  You could also credit it to Asia Miles, Singapore KrisFlyer or Etihad Guest.  The deal runs to 2nd March.

The snag is that you need to have a HSBC Premier current account to get the HSBC Premier credit card.  Full details of the tough eligibility criteria are in our article here.  The upside is that you have a free Mastercard earning 0.5 miles for every £1 you spend.

Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status now given with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card

Whilst American Express does not mention this on its application site, Marriott Bonvoy – the new name for Marriott Rewards – will now give you Silver Elite status if you take out the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card.

Silver Elite is not hugely valuable, if we’re honest, but better than nothing if you stay in Marriott properties on a regular basis.  More valuable is the 30,000 Marriott points that come with the SPG Amex which converts to 10,000 airline miles, including Avios, or will get you around £150 of free hotel rooms.

Marriott has confirmed that neither the SPG Amex or the (closed to new applicants) Marriott Rewards Mastercard will be rebranded in the short term, even though the new Marriott Bonvoy brand launches on 13th February.

Aer Lingus launched an Avios-earning credit card in Ireland

For our Irish readers, Aer Lingus is now offering a co-brand credit card in association with Bank of Ireland.

The reception has been muted, to be honest.  There is no sign-up bonus and the monthly fee is high.  You can find out more in this HfP article.

Bank of Ireland Avios credit card

American Express still has 30,000 point bonus on the DOLLAR / EURO versions of the Platinum card

For the first time in a while, Amex is running a sign-up bonus on its Dollar and Euro Platinum charge cards – 30,000 Membership Rewards points to be precise.

The good news is that you can get this bonus even if you already have a UK Platinum or Gold card.  The bad news is that this is a complicated product with poorer transfer rates to most airline schemes than the UK cards.  I wrote about the pros, cons and sweet spots in this article.

Online bank N26 launches a metal card with travel benefits

Whilst not strictly a credit card, we did a detailed article during January on the new online bank N26.  It is similar to Monzo, Starling, Revolut etc but also has a premium metal card with travel benefits.  You also get hot desking benefits at WeWork locations globally.

You can find out more in my N26 review hereThe N26 site is here.  Their basic account is free but the metal card has a £14.90 monthly fee.

N26 metal card

Finally, I also ran this article on “Which American Express sign-up bonuses can I get if I already have an American Express card?“.

You may also want to read our ‘Top 10’ series:

What are the top 10 reasons to get American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (Amex Gold)?

What are the top 10 reasons to get American Express Platinum (The Platinum Card)?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the American Express Rewards Credit Card?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the British Airways American Express (BA Amex)?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the HSBC Premier Mastercard?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the free IHG Rewards Club credit card?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the Lufthansa Miles & More Diners Club and Mastercard?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the Marriott Bonvoy American Express credit card?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard credit card?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card?

What are the top 10 reasons to get the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus Mastercard credit card?


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2023 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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 21st February 2023, the sign-up bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card is increased to 35,000 Avios from 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

35,000 Avios (ONLY to 21st February) and the famous annual 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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Capital On Tap has increased its sign-up bonus to points worth 30,000 Avios if you apply by 4th February. This is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to apply.

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

Get a 30,000 points bonus, worth 30,000 Avios, until 4th February 2023 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 (3% for 3 months if you apply by 31st March) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (85)

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

  • Liz says:

    I’ve been holding off cancelling my SPG Card as I was worried Amex may pull the plug on this card before my next churn, I did receive an email from SPG / Marriott last week though saying after the launch in Feb the SPG Card will continue so feel it may be safe to cancel now – although nothing in this game is ever certain!

    • Rob says:

      I am planning to cancel mine once my current balance transfers over, but not based on any inside info.

    • Tilly says:

      I cancelled mine on Friday. Hoping take it out again later in the year.

      • RakishDriver says:

        Did you, or anyone else here, get offered any incentives for not cancelling?

        • Binks says:

          I also cancelled mine recently having transferred my points over to my SPG account. Will look to churn again in 6 months if the card is still available.

        • Mark2 says:

          Recent reports are of only being offered one Marriott point rather than three which would be the equivalent of the form ‘double SPG’ points. Even the old offer seemed poor compared with wait six months and get 18,000 MR (plat) + 36,000 Marriott .

        • RakishDriver says:

          @Mark2 thanks
          I rang just now to cancel and was offered double SPG on spend for 3 months so I’d expect £1 – 6 Marriotts.
          I accepted, only because curve haven’t been paid by Amex after the recent drama between them, so just gonna keep the card and see how that pans out..still owed points for those wallet top ups.

        • Mr Dee says:

          where did you hear Curve didn’t get paid? Have people not been charged to their Amex?

        • Tilly says:

          I was asked if I would be willing to have convo on phone about incentives to not cancel (I cancelled on online chat). As I want to have the option of taking out he card again for the sign up bonus later this year I didn’t want to have that chat.

          • Alan says:

            I find online chat always say that but then have never been offered incentives except on SPG.

        • Steve-B says:

          Interesting many of us are swinging to another churn cycle. I’ve been hanging on to mine expecting it to be pulled anytime… but surely they must have now secured an incentive from Marriott. I don’t know how they can make it work at 3 Marriotts/£ otherwise.

  • Roger says:

    I cancelled mine, hoping Amex has a longinsh term contract for SPG card.

  • Dominic says:

    Just signed up to the SPG Amex – will bag about 60k points from the bonus and hotel points over next couple of months.

    Long-term need to decide on that vs the Gold Amex, though.

  • paulm says:

    Any rumors/news on a new Hilton card Rob ?

  • Chris says:

    Slightly OT but is there a way of converting Asia miles to Avios or what creative ways are there to use a balance of 11,000 Asia miles without flying on their planes?

  • Mark says:

    Rob, if I take out the IHG £99 card and become IHG platinum. Does this mean I only need the raise the points difference from platinum to spire to be upgraded to spire? Or as I’m currently gold would I still be expected to reach the difference between gold points and platinum and then spire points ?

    • Alan says:

      No, you’d need to start from scratch – it gets you Plat but not any spend or night credit towards Spire.

  • Nick says:

    One word answers please-
    Best points earning credit card for all my non Amex spend?

    Don’t mind paying a fee

    Is it this virgin + card?

    • David says:

      Virgin+ is high paying – but the crucial point is what value you can get out of Virgin miles.

      I have them, I collect them, I use them – but due to route network, limited partners, lack of euro-short haul proposition, online booking limitations for partners, they are a lot less usable (and less valuable) to me than other currencies.

      So I do discount the value of them.

      Someone who flies to the USA on the other hand would probably put a totally different value on them.

      Things that might change this: AF-KLM, to a lesser extent FlyBe. But the detail is not yet available.

      • David says:

        I realise that is not a oneword answer, but it really depends the value you put on the relevant currency.

    • LewisB says:

      I have no desire to fly with Virgin, but I’m tempted to get the Virgin card given the current deal (and lack of amex card) in the hope I merge these miles with my Flying Blue account. Does anyone have any information which would suggest this will NOT be possible? I appreciate it’s currently unclear.

      • David says:

        Very low chance of a transfer option with Flying Blue in my opinion.

        Many more redemption options coming, but we don’t know the rates yet.

    • Waddle says:

      HSBC Premier World Elite if you’re eligible.

    • Rob Walker says:

      IHG Black is probably the other one most people go for.

  • TripRep says:

    Another SPG question.

    Currently have AMEX Plat + BAPP.

    Can I still self refer from Amex Plat to get SPG 30k sign up bonus (=10k Avios)?

    TIA.

    • Shoestring says:

      sure, slam dunk

    • Alan says:

      Yep (plus the 18k MR of course!)

      • TripRep says:

        Nice knew you could in the past but was wanting to make sure it was still current with recent Marriott changes. Will time it after current spend target and before I close the Plat.

    • Dominic says:

      Damn, didn’t know you could self refer for a different card. Missed out on 9k Amex points…

      • Chas says:

        Can you self-refer between any different brand of Amex? I also had no idea…. I presume you just send the link to yourself do you?

        • Sprout7 says:

          I too would be grateful if someone could clarify this. Specifically, can you refer from a BAPP to Amex Plat? thanks

        • Waddle says:

          The referral link you generate will have a link for “other cards” click it to reveal more cards. As long as you apply for those cards from the link you’ll be referring to a card other than the one the link was generated from.

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

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