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 February?
The first Avios payment card for small businesses launched – with a special HFP sign-up offer
Until now, there has never been a payment for small businesses which let you earn Avios. This has now changed!
The Capital Club card, from Capital on Tap, is aimed at small businesses and sole traders. Whilst you may not have heard of Capital on Tap, it already has 50,000 customers for its existing ‘no rewards’ payment card. This is their first move into the rewards market.
This is what the card offers your business:
- 10,000 Capital on Tap points (converts to 5,000 Avios) for signing up and spending £5,000 within 3 months
- 1 Capital on Tap point for every £1 you spend (converts to 0.5 Avios)
- No foreign exchange fees when spending overseas
- No ATM fees if withdrawing cash on the card
- Up to 56 days interest free credit on purchases (minimum monthly repayment is the greater of 10% of balance or £250)
- Up to 15 free supplementary cards for your staff
The card has an annual fee of £99. This is obviously tax deductible as a business expense. The maximum credit limit on offer is £50,000.
There is an extra bonus for Head for Points readers! If you use promo code headforpoints when signing up, you will receive an additional 500 Capital on Tap points. This is worth an additional 250 Avios.
The site will still show 10,000 Capital on Tap points as your bonus but the extra 500 will be added separately. Your interest rate is based on your business profile and can be as low as 9.9% APR. The standard interest rate for marketing purposes is 39.4% APR.
The special offer on the Virgin Reward credit cards ended – but gained an app!
The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Reward and Virgin Reward+ credit cards dropped back to its standard level last Thursday. You will now only receive 5,000 miles (was 10,000) on the free card and 15,000 miles (was 25,000 miles) on the paid Reward+ card.
On the upside, the Apple and Android smartphone apps from Virgin Money finally launched. You can now manage your cards on the go.
Monese launched an exclusive partnership with Avios
Online-only bank Monese announced a partnership with Avios, which also has an equity stake in the business. We covered the Monese / Avios partnership here.
The benefits so far are restricted to viewing your Avios balance and recent transactions. There is a lot more to come, however, which will apparently include the ability to earn Avios with your debit card spending.
You download the Monese app here if you want to give it a try.
Bank of Ireland announced it is dropping its Real Rewards 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.
There was an alternative option, however. The free Bank of Ireland personal credit card let you earn SuperValu Real Rewards supermarket points, which converted at 1:1 into Avios. The rate wasn’t great to put it mildly – 1 Avios per €10 spent – but a lot of people found it better than paying €7.99 per month for the ‘official’ Aer Lingus / Bank of Ireland card.
Unfortunately this option is ending. From 1st April it will no longer be possible to earn SuperValue points from Bank of Ireland credit cards. Your only route for earning Avios is to pay up for the Aer Lingus 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.
Finally, I also ran this article on “What are the best travel credit cards for LONG-TERM spending?“.
What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for March?
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. 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 5,000 miles sign-up bonus) earns 0.75 miles per £1 whilst the annual fee Reward+ card (with a whopping 15,000 mile sign-up bonus) earns 1.5 miles per £1. The bonus triggers with your first purchase.
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.
This card is ONLY for small businesses. We discuss the eligibility criteria in our Capital on Tap review here. There is a sign-up bonus worth 5,000 Avios and you earn 0.5 Avios per £1 spent. HFP readers get a higher sign-up bonus of 5,250 Avios if you use promo code ‘headforpoints’ when applying.
Check out our ‘Top 10’ series
You may also want to read our ‘Top 10’ series:
Earning miles and points from 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.
There is only ONE Visa or Mastercard product which earns travel rewards – the Capital on Tap Capital Club Mastercard. We reviewed the Capital on Tap Capital Club card in detail here. There is a special higher sign-up bonus for Head for Points readers! Use promo code ‘headforpoints’ when applying and you will receive 5,250 bonus Avios instead of the usual 5,000. The on-going rate is 0.5 Avios per £1.
The Capital on Cap Capital Club card has no FX fees and no ATM fees. You can have up to 15 supplementary cards for your staff which can really help the Avios mount up!
(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.