Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – NOVEMBER 2020:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 Card Offers’ menu above.  Thank you.

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?

Is HSBC Premier launching a 25% conversion bonus to Avios?

We may be about to see a new transfer bonus between HSBC Premier credit cards and British Airways Executive Club.

A HFP reader, ZW, found this PDF on the HSBC website – click here.

It shows a 25% bonus on transfers made between 1st December and 31st December.  No readers reported seeing this on the HSBC website so far, however, so hold your horses until we are sure it is live.

HSBC Premier credit card transfer to Avios

American Express launched a new co-brand cashback card with health and life insurer Vitality

This was definitely the surprise of the month, since I had assumed that the EU interchange fee caps made new American Express co-brand cards unprofitable.  Amex is in discussions about how they should be regulated – given that Amex does not have ‘interchange’ due to its vertical integration – but there is no breakthrough so far.

And yet …. here we are.  Amex and Vitality have launched a new co-brand card.  The package is the same as the existing American Express cashback card BUT you will receive extra cashback on top from Vitality.  If you are a Vitality member then this card is very attractive.

You can find out more about the American Express Vitality credit card in our article here.

American Express Vitality credit card

Curve Card to add a 1.5% fee to HMRC payments from 24th January

The big news last month, at least for HFP readers, was the decision by Curve Card to add a 1.5% fee for HMRC payments from 24th January.

(It has not been a good month for Curve, with this announcement being bungled and some very critical press comment appearing.)

Curve Card still has value if you make very large HMRC payments, however.  There will be no fees to Curve Metal cardholders, and the £150 annual fee is a small price to pay if you use your entire £50,000 Curve Card annual limit – which is what most people get – to make HMRC payments.  You can recharge this to a miles and points Visa or Mastercard, generating for example 75,000 free Virgin Flying Club miles via the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard.

You can read more about the Curve Card changes here.

Curve Card HMRC fees

Amex Business Platinum dropped its temporary 60,000 points refer-a-friend sign-up bonus

This was the most generous credit card sign-up bonus of the year – and, to be fair, it still is given that the standard bonus is 45,000 Membership Rewards points if you are referred.   You were paying a £595 annual fee, however, albeit with a pro-rata refund.

It is substantially easier to qualify for the sign-up bonus on the Platinum Business card than the personal Platinum card.  To get the bonus Membership Rewards points on signing up, you only need to have gone SIX MONTHS without any American Express card which earns Membership Rewards points.  The personal Platinum card now requires you to wait 24 months.

Full details of the card are in our Amex Business Platinum review here, although the bonus is now back at 45,000 points for a referral.

American Express Business Platinum 60,000 points

Free Avios if you live in Ireland

If you live in Ireland, you can earn 250 free Avios by linking any Visa card to your SuperValu Real Rewards account.

You will also earn double Avios on all future SuperValu shopping.  Full details are in this article.

SuperValu Visa card bonus

Capital On Tap Avios-earning SME cards switched to Visa – and secretly improved!

The Capital Club and On Tap Club cards, from Capital on Tap, aimed at small businesses and sole traders, are the first non-Amex payment for small businesses which let you earn Avios.  Whilst you may not have heard of Capital On Tap, it already has 50,000 customers for its existing ‘no rewards’ payment card.

The switch to a Visa credit card format has now happened.  All new applicants are receiving a Visa card.  Existing cardholders will receive one over the next few weeks.

There are two bits of Capital On Tap news I haven’t covered yet but will expand on in a few days:

The cards definitely work with Curve Card.  This means that you can link your Capital On Tap Visa card to Curve Card (read about Curve Card here) and use it to pay HMRC.  HMRC payments are free until 24th January for existing Curve Card holders.

Capital On Tap is combining its two card variants into one, with the best benefits of both.  The fee will be £99 and the cards will earn 1 Avios per £1.  This change has already happened but the company has not updated its website yet.  As soon as this happens, we will do a full article.

Capital on Tap has a special higher sign-up bonus for HFP readers which you can read about here.  I would delay your application until the new website is live however.  At the moment it advertises two Avios cards but you will receive the new hydrid which is better than both of the current offerings.

Earn Avios with Capital on Tap

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

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.

The Lufthansa payment card is giving away 1 million Miles & More miles

To promote the Lufthansa Miles & More payment cards (which I rate highly – you get 10,000 miles as a sign-up bonus until 31st December and 1.25 miles per £1 spent, see my review here), Affiniture is giving away 1 million Miles & More miles.

To be more precise, it is giving away 14 prizes of 75,000 Miles & More miles, which I’d value at £750+.  Lufthansa’s fabled First Class could be within your grasp ….. at least one-way!

Everyone who applies for the Miles & More payment cards before 31st December will be entered into the competition.  However, to comply with UK law, you can also enter without applying for the card.

Visit this page of the cards website and enter.  You must be an existing Miles & More member and you must be a UK resident.  The competition closes on 31st December.  Good luck.

Win 75000 Miles and More miles

Finally, whilst not directly related to miles and points, Head for Points is running an exclusive sign-up offer with Revolut.  Sign up via our link here and you do not have to pay the £4.99 delivery fee for the plastic card.  Read our full article first.

If you have your own small business, we also reviewed Revolut for Businessclick here for details.  You can sign up here.

Revolut Business card

Further reading ….

During November, we updated our full series of UK credit and charge card reviews.  Click the links below to read each review:

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 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.  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.

American Express Platinum

American Express Platinum

The sign-up bonus on this card is 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points.  You need to spend £4,000 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 £575 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 a good deal for a beginner. You pay no fee for the first year and earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points (see here for what 10,000 MR points can get you – 10,000 Avios points for a start!).  You need to spend £3,000 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.

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 45.1% 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 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 and On Tap Club Visa 

These cards are ONLY for small businesses.  We discuss the eligibility criteria in our Capital On Tap review here.  There are two cards – one has a sign-up bonus worth 5,000 Avios and you earn 0.5 Avios per £1 spent, whilst the other (with a higher fee) has a sign-up bonus worth 20,000 Avios and you earn 1 Avios per £1 spent.  HFP readers get a higher sign-up bonus of 250 or 500 Avios respectively if you use promo code ‘headforpoints’ when applying.

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.

You should also take a look at the new British Airways American Express Accelerating Business card (apply here, review here).

There is also the Capital On Tap cards which we mentioned above, with their exclusive HFP bonus.

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.

Comments (68)

  • Steve Woodward says:

    Did a 100 point transfer on the 1st December. 50 + 12 landed today in my BEAC account 🙂

  • The Original David says:

    Has anyone got any tips on cancelling the M&M card? I now have Frequent Traveller status so my M&M miles are protected for a couple of years anyway, and I don’t want to pay the annual fee. To maximise my use of the cards though, can I just ring up the day before my card anniversary and cancel there and then? Or will the balance need to be paid off before I cancel, so should I stop using it for the month before?

    • Rob says:

      We don’t know, card is too new. I would stop using it 2 weeks before, make an online banking payment to clear the balance (I have the sort code etc if needed) then call to cancel when your balance is clear. Can then be closed immediately.

      • Tical says:

        That would be very useful Rob, as it will allow to use up to the credit limit and then repay a few times a month

  • Bupps says:

    Can also confirm the HSBC transfer bonus is live. Received the 25% additional Avios on a transfer that just posted.

  • Jonathan says:

    OT – I moved 150k MR points to Emirates skyrewards In the hope of bagging a redemption. We’ve just had a new addition and you cannot get business redemptions with a lap infant. The silly points expiry rules mean they will expire before the new one turns 2. Anyone know how I could make this booking please or workaround? TIA

  • Titus Adduxas says:

    Can anyone confirm that the Amex Gold and the BAPP cards are effectively different and don’t prevent sign up bonuses. I’m currently on my 2 year break with my BAPP card, having just missed out on the 6 months when they changed the rules, but I do have a Gold one which I’ll be cancelling once my years bonus has landed.

  • guesswho2000 says:

    Re Curve, “Two sources provided information to Business Insider which suggested only 72,000 of Curve’s 500,000 customers have used their card once a month or more.”…the other 428,000 have hit their limit and Curve won’t let them spend any more for 12 months. Mine’s been in a drawer for six months because they won’t let me spend more then 50k.

    • Qwertyknowsbest says:

      I don’t have any great problem getting Curve to increase my limits (in two steps over 4 months) to an annual £500k.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Nice work…I did ask, but they wouldn’t do it for whatever reason. Never mind, pretty sure some of the transactions start dropping off the rolling 365 days sometime this month, so maybe I’ll dust it off and +1 to their active users again (especially since they’re giving everyone £5 this month for making any transaction it seems – OH and I have both received an email to that effect at least).

        • The Original David says:

          What makes you think 428k have hit their limit? I’d have thought people maxing their limits would be a tiny minority (and probably all of them are HfP readers) – much more likely that a few hundred thousand signed up for the free £5 and haven’t bothered using the card since.

          • Mr. AC says:

            Another source is Curve aggressively giving Black for referring 5 people. I did it and only 1 person actually started using Curve consistently.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          If all you did was spend £50k at HMRC then what did you expect? Need to make it worth their while aswell

        • Lady London says:

          Well, what else was Curve going to do with the 60m they raised?

    • fivebobbill says:

      This Curve spending cap debate is something I’ve read in here over and over again, posters keep asking what the maximum amount you can have your cap increased to, so I had a bit of a rummage around the app yesterday and came up with a surprising statement (to me anyway).
      I personally have a £50k cap, which I dance around for most of the year, but have never asked for an increase. Then I found this (I assume it’s on everyone’s app):
      When logged into the app click on the “Card” logo bottom left,
      then “Curve Card Limits”,
      then “See Details”.
      When you scroll down to the bottom of your Limits page there is an obvious “Upgrade Your Limits” link in a blue bar – It’s safe to click on this, it simply takes you to a list of topics.
      Almost there…

      Now click on “Your Curve Spending Limits”.
      The second paragraph below the “But it doesn’t end there” heading reads:

      “Based on your account activity and identity verification documentation you have provided us with, your 365 day rolling spend limits can be increased up to £1,400,000!

      • fivebobbill says:

        Sorry if all that is common knowledge, I was simply astonished!

      • aDifferentSimon says:

        I have the same, I wonder if it is just standard text.
        I’ve never dared ask for an increase due to my spending habits!

        • Anna says:

          Not in my app, even though I’ve updated it just now! Though Revolut is working very well while my Curve limits re-establish.

      • Rui N. says:

        As far as we’ve heard here on HfP, no one has got more than £100k limit though. They can claim they give up to £1.4 million, but if they don’t give it to anyone, that’s no use. (I would be happy with £100k though)

      • Joe says:

        Mine won’t increase from 10K despite a decent income (around 80K). Going to render it unusable very soon.

        • LewisB says:

          It’s got nothing to do with your income, it’s how you use it. Regularly put all your all non-amex spend (not just HMRC) through Curve and you’ll have no problem getting your limit increased.

          • Anna says:

            + 1 – my limit increased to £50k very early on without me even realising. I top up my Ovo account regularly with Curve which seems to make them happy (though not Ovo who keep asking me to increase my DD despite having a 4-figure credit balance!)

  • koroleon says:

    Any changes to the Amex referral program? Seeing as restrictions were introduced in the USA.

  • aDifferentSimon says:

    OT- Did anyone read the terms of the barclays premier 25k avios sign up bonus / know when and how the avios can be claimed? I signed up but didn’t save the details and now the webpage is no more…

    • Benilyn says:

      Would like to know as well.

    • tom H says:

      Following a successful account switch you will receive an email by 20 December 2019 containing an electronic voucher code which you can use to redeem the applicable Avios.

    • Miguel says:

      Should be getting an email by the 20th as per the other comments.

      One other thing to watch out for is the triple Blue Rewards, my account was created still in October, so I enabled Blue Rewards then and got the £4 debited from my account at the beginning of November. No problem I thought, since my current account switch happened early in November, which should make the triple rewards kick in and I managed to move over and get two direct debits withdrawn from the newly created Barclays account still in November. However, I only got credited with £7 today, relating to the past month. According to Barclays Premier support, you are first credited the £7 (for 3.5 DD*2) and then the £14 related to the triple rewards should be credited at around the middle of the month… Something to take into consideration and phone them up if the bonus amount for the triple rewards fails to show up!