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

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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.

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?

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.


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.

HSBC Premier credit card Avios sign-up bonus

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.

SPG American Express

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?

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

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 Virgin Atlantic cards are a special deal whilst the BA, 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

The bonus on this free card is 5,000 Avios.  My full review of the BA Amex credit card is here.  You can apply here.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

The bonus on the annual fee BA Amex is an impressive 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 – Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Hilton Honors Gold, Melia Rewards 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 28th February) earns 0.75 miles per £1 whilst the annual fee Reward+ card (with a whopping 25,000 mile sign-up bonus until 28th February) earns 1.5 miles per £1.  The bonus triggers with your first purchase.

My review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward credit card is here.  My review of the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card is here.

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 here.

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.

Review of the impressive new Air France lounge at Terminal 2E (L gates) at Paris Charles de Gaulle
A review of Air France short-haul Business Class from London to Paris

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  1. 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!

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

    • 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?

        • 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.

        • 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.

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

        • 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.

          • 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.

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

  3. 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.

  4. Any rumors/news on a new Hilton card Rob ?

  5. 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?

  6. 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 ?

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

  7. 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?

    • 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • HSBC Premier World Elite if you’re eligible.

    • Rob Walker says:

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

  8. 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)?


    • Shoestring says:

      sure, slam dunk

    • Yep (plus the 18k MR of course!)

      • 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…

      • 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

        • 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.

  9. Slightly OT but AMEX related: Is there any way to pay a British Gas bill using an AMEX?

  10. OT.
    How long does hotel status last once you cancel Plat?

  11. William says:

    OT: How long after a card approval does the referral bonus get posted for Amex? I called and the card has been approved, but referral bonus points haven’t posted yet

    • A few working days, I find it usually appears as soon as my friend / family member receives the card. Never had any issues with this.

    • Jill (Kinkell) says:

      We’re having a bit of a ‘do’with getting bonus points for us and my son getting his 18k referral points. Amex say we didn’t use the link…..we definitely did….why else would I Be applying for a card?! I’m not so bothered about the 2k bonus for Gold, but I am really cheesed off that we have to fight tooth and nail for for my son to get his points.

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