What are the best credit card sign-up deals for March? – plus news round-up and the first Avios SME card

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is 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.

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.

You can find full details on their website hereMy full article on the Capital Club card is here.  Don’t forget to add the headforpoints promo code for the additional 500 sign-up points.

Earn Avios with Capital on Tap

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.

Monese and Avios

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

Capital On Tap Capital Club Mastercard 

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:

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?

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.

Behind the scenes as BA launches its latest historic livery - British European Airways
British Airways new heritage aircraft livery launches today

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
Get points worth 15,000 Avios as a sign-up bonus!
15,000 Avios with Capital on Tap Mastercard
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Dave Barron says:

    Grateful if someone could verify my latest strategy? Am I maximising my points potential and are my assumptions correct?

    I’ve currently got the PRGC which is due is approaching the end of it’s first year. Is the Platinum upgrade still offered? Was thinking I’d upgrade for a couple of months for several reasons including a) bonus points and b) travelling to North America next month and would benefit from hire car insurance and also lounge passes. On my gold card I had a supplementary card for my wife and using Amex chat yesterday cancelled this so that I could add again following receipt of the platinum potentially scoring for more points? Finally once obtained I hope to do a couple of friends and family referrals plus potentially a self referral for the nectar card if that’s still possible?

    I also have the BAPP card and yesterday triggered the spent threshold which will imminently generate my 2nd 241 voucher. Once this posts to my account I plan to cancel the card and get my pro rata refund. My card is paid up until 8th June – is the refund calculated daily or based on complete months? Also I assume that my current card balance would need to be cleared before the card can be cancelled and refund claimed???

    Thanks in advance!

    • Genghis says:

      1) upgrade still possible if you’re Gold charge card
      2) due to IT error your wife may still receive a Plat supp. If you add a Gold (for yourself) though you should still receive the 5k
      3) self referrals ok
      4) refund done on daily basis
      5) any refund would just go against your card balance. Get the refund then clear the balance in full.

      • Dave Barron says:

        Brill – many thanks for reply!

      • Hi Genghis
        No upgrade to Platinum from Green MR Amex in your knowledge?

      • Is there a reason/benefit on 5) why you should get the refund then clear balance? I have always cleared the balance first and thought that was the only way Amex would agree to cancel card over the phone.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Benefit is no need to mess around trying to get your money back. Unless your bill is due I’d get the refund then clear any balance after.

        • Mark2 says:

          If necessary I make a purchase to ensure that I know that I owe more than the refund.
          Also make sure that points have gone across before cancelling.

      • Rui N. says:

        Wait, you can self-referal yourself on Amex to get a new card? No need to get my poor wife into the game?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Can’t companion if you don’t get the points or they take them away. Using your wife is far safer and in line with the programmes T&C’s

        • Wollhouse says:

          I had the freebie BA Amex and tried to self refer to upgrade to BA premium and didn’t get any referral Avios. Agent told me I wasn’t elegible for referral Avios for myself 🙁 If it’s true that I can’t self refer for bonus Avios, then by best extra points strategy is sign up points. As I’m single, I can’t take advantage of the supp cardholder strategy, so I guess the only way for me to get sign up points is to cancel my BA card as soon as I hit my 241 voucher, wait 6 months and reapply, and in the interim, earn Avios on the non BA Amex? Out of interest, was the agent correct re self referral upgrade Avios? Thanks

        • Wollhouse moving to BAPP from the free BA card is seen as an upgrade.Even if someone else had referred you they wouldn’t have got the points.

      • James says:

        Any idea if you upgrade from PRG Charge Card to Platinum for the sign up bonus, when you downgrade is it possible to revert to your now discountinued gold charge card or would you get new gold credit card?

  2. Craig says:

    Standing by for mixed comments!

    Churning, any issues with cancelling as soon as the sign up has transferred out?

  3. Alex W says:

    Wish I had got the dollar card now and transferred $5000 to Curve. Missed that boat now and couldn’t otherwise spend $5k.

  4. Grant says:

    Any recommendations for a second non-Amex card to sit alongside my IHG? Needs to play nicely with Curve / Revolut for ‘quasi cash’ transactions.

    Preference would be to have something which could convert to Avios, but also have IHG and Bonvoy balances which I’d be happy to add to. Not really interested in Virgin Flying Club miles unless they can be converted out to something else.


  5. TescoTease says:

    Capital On Tap. Do HMRC accept it and what fees are charged if they do. I’m hoping the answers is no fee as it’s a pre paid card.

    • One person has told me that it works. No other feedback yet.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Sorry for my ignorance but how can a pre paid card offer 56 day credit card terms? I am misunderstanding th term? Is it a credit card or not? Interested in this IF there is no fee to HMRC (and Curve stops being an option.)

        • It is the same as the Miles & More Mastercard. It is, technically, a pre-paid card but it isn’t loaded by you, it is loaded by Capital on Tap who send you a statement in exactly the same way that a normal credit card would.

          Imagine I give you a pre-paid Mastercard with a zero balance. You go Waitrose and spend £20. Waitrose rings me up to say that Squirrel is making a transaction for £20. I load up £20 onto your card. Your transaction is verified. At the end of the month I tell you how much you owe me and give you a few weeks to pay me back, or face interest.

          It looks like a credit card, it functions like a credit card but it isn’t – technically – a credit card. My Miles & More Mastercard works the same way and you don’t see the join.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          Thanks for that explanation. Makes it a lot clearer. Seems like a convenient piece of doublethink largely done to make HMRC payments fee free on a de facto credit card? As the largest single expense for many smaller businesses, getting 56 day terms on HMRC to aid cash flow and get points too suddenly makes the £99 fee very palatable.

      • Helen says:

        I’ve paid HMRC twice in the last week usually my new Capital on Tap card linked to Curve. It went through with no issues. Will do the same every month now for my business VAT.

        • Thanks, good to have a 2nd bit of confirmation on this.

        • Helen says:

          No worries. Had to do 2 separate transactions due to Curve limits. However 2 weeks ago Curve flatley refused to up my limits cos my main use was HMRC. But I asked again this week and explained I’d be more than happy to use it for day to day spend but I can’t cos my limit is maxed out, and they promptly upped it. Pays to be persistent I guess, Their logic is flawed though. Why bother with piddly limits when my cc let’s me spend it?? Anyway, now I got the max limits so it more than covers all my spend via HMRC plus enough day to day to keep them happy,

  6. Qwerty Bertie says:

    I’ve been considering future strategies involving the ICC, but what puts me off is having to find a hassle-free & zero-cost method to make payments to the card. Off the top of my head there is no such method…but I would love to be proved incorrect.

    • I rarely use it and pay it via my HSBC online banking – bad rate but quick and I am only spending a few hundred on it annually.

      • Is it possible to transfer MR points back from the ICC to a UK account?

        Wondering about transferring points out when I close an account, then transferring them back if I want to transfer them to Avios etc.

        I know there’s a limit of once per year to the ICC – how about in the other direction?

      • the_real_a says:

        The cheapest method is to open a HSBC USD account in the UK (Free) and then exchange your currency via revolut, and transfer the USD to the HSBC account. Then pay your AMEX in USD for £4 charge and no Fx loss.

    • I’ve found Caxton FX the only reasonable-cost option so far. Not zero but not bad. Tried Revolut, etc. but no luck as they didn’t pass across all the payment reference info properly.

  7. George K says:

    Bits: £50 back on £500 spend on Apple is back on my Amex Plat

  8. Slightly off topic, but does anyone still have the now discontinued Lloyds double pack of MC and Amex Avios cards?

    Do they still work? Do they still earn Avios?

    I’ve still got the cards but only really use them for spending abroad and not been away since they disappeared, but had no letter telling me they are defunct?

    • Yes, the still work. Avios are transferred to your BAEC account now that Avios.com accounts closed

    • Lots of us, all still working fine and not yet heard of anyone receiving a letter? I’m spending my next £7k as just entered new card year. Sadly their IT implementation is crap – full D/D still taken even after card payment made, SMS OTP to make purchase successfully used and then still blocked payment!

  9. Rob or anyone else, do you know if I open a platinum Amex in russia if the points from that card can be transferred to my Uk Amex account OR if they can be transferred to a airline partner along with the uk Amex points? What I’m wondering is do the airline partners allow you to transfer in from 2 Amex sources?

    • Most do, yes. Emirates is a weird outlier in that their IT, possibly for security reasons, blocks transfers from multiple accounts. This also impacts you if you churn.

      • Thanks Rob, and can I transfer my Amex points from Amex russia to Amex Uk accounts? Or is there no such thing and it’s just one big happy international Amex pool of points?

  10. Waddle says:

    OT: Amex MR points
    Can they be transferred to BAEC accounts that are not yours? My in-laws (both) need a small top-up of Avios for a future redemption. Is it possible?

    • No

    • Michael says:

      Might be hassle but couldn’t you pool all your avios into a household account and let them just take what they need?

      • Waddle says:

        We already are in a household account. The idea is to break it up and zero out there accounts. Oh well. Thanks for responses.

        • Shoestring says:

          You can use Iberia/ avios.com to manage the system. You say you are all already in a HHA. Whenever they need the top up (after which you will knock them out of the HHA), move all your own points except for the top up into Iberia. They get the reward flight, HHA Avios go down to zero, you get rid of the in-laws from the HHA.

          Then transfer your points from IB—>BAEC so all they’ve had is the top-up.

  11. Alex Horne says:

    Slightly o/t but credit card related I just received an email from TUI saying that they will stop accepting American Express as from the 20tj of March 2019.

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.