After a January break, 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 January?
The Marriott Bonvoy Amex was announced, to replace the Starwood Amex
On 26th February, the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card will be replaced by the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card.
There isn’t much good news surrounding this, unfortunately. The most positive thing is that the card will now come with 15 elite nights credit per year. This puts you a lot nearer Platinum Elite (35 nights vs 50 nights usually) which is the sweet spot in terms of getting lounge access, guaranteed late check-out and free breakfast.
The bad news is that the earning rate drops by 33%, from 3 Bonvoy points per £1 to just 2 points. The annual fee remains unchanged at £75.
The sign-up bonus is also whacked, falling from 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points to just 20,000. Importantly, the qualifying spend to trigger the bonus jumps sharply, from £1,000 to £3,000.
If you’ve never had this card and qualify for the bonus, you should apply before 26th February to lock in the 30,000 points bonus and the £1,000 qualifying spend.
Existing cardholders will receive their first batch of 15 elite night credits during April, I believe, and then every January thereafter.
Full details of the changes can be found in our ‘the SPG Amex becomes the Marriott Amex’ articles here and here. You can apply for the card here.
This article looks at your options if you are planning to ditch your SPG Amex.
Tesco launched its new Clubcard Plus credit card
Clubcard Plus is Tesco’s new Amazon Prime (but nowhere near as interesting) subscription service. For a £7.99 monthly fee, you receive a 10% discount on two (and only two) in-store (and in-store only, not delivered) shopping trips.
Another benefit is the ability to apply for the Clubcard Plus credit card. This is identical to Tesco’s standard credit card except that you don’t pay any foreign exchange fees. The earning rate of 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent (so 0.3 Avios per £1) is the same as the standard card.
My full review of the Tesco Clubcard Plus credit card is here, but in summary this is certainly not compelling enough to pay £7.99 for Clubcard Plus if the ‘10% off two shops’ benefit doesn’t work for you.
Virgin Atlantic launched a 25,000 mile bonus on its Reward+ card
Until the end of February, you can get an excellent deal on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card.
The standard sign-up bonus of 15,000 miles is increased to 25,000 miles as long as you spend £3,000 within three months. There is an annual fee of £160.
With an amazingly good earning rate of 1.5 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1, as well as a (restrictive) 2-4-1 voucher for spending £10,000, it is very lucrative.
Note that there is NO special offer on the free Virgin Atlantic credit card, which remains at 5,000 miles for signing up.
EXCLUSIVE Head for Points 15,000 Avios bonus on the Capital On Tap SME Visa card
It is very rare that we get an EXCLUSIVE credit card sign-up offer for our readers, so are very pleased to be offering a great deal on the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa card.
If you apply by 5th February, you will receive £150 or 15,000 Avios – your choice – when you spend £5,000 within 3 months. Given that the annual fee is only £99, this is a no-brainer if you have a qualifying business.
As well as a big bonus, you will receive 1p cashback or 1 Avios per £1 spent going forward. This is an unbeatable Avios rate for a Visa or Mastercard.
You ONLY receive the higher 15,000 Avios bonus if you use promo code headforpoints when you apply. The application page is here.
I strongly recommend you read our main article on the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa first, however.
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.
Curve Card is now charging for HMRC payments – unless you go Metal
24th January was your last chance to pay HMRC for free using your Curve Card. There is now a 1.5% fee which, frankly, I can’t justify.
You WILL receive the underlying loyalty points from the Visa or Mastercard you link to Curve Card, but these are very rarely worth 1.5%. I would only suggest it on the Virgin Atlantic Reward Plus card which earns 1.5 miles per £1, so you are effectively ‘paying’ 1p per mile.
If you upgrade to Curve Metal for £14.95 per month (£150 per year), you can continue to pay HMRC for free. If you have chunky tax bills this can still be an excellent deal. If you pay £50,000 to the Revenue per year, for example, you would earn 75,000 Virgin Flying Club miles by linking it to a Curve Card and paying with that. The £150 annual fee for Curve Metal is nominal in this case.
My full article explaining how Curve Card works is here. The base card is free – in fact, Curve will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my promo card which is in that article.
Tandem Money launched its new cashback credit card – with a £72 annual fee
The Tandem Money cashback credit card was our long-term pick for a good Visa or Mastercard to use abroad. Not only did it have no FX fees but you received 0.5% cashback on all of your spending.
This was clearly not sustainable. Tandem withdrew the card to new applicants last year and has now announced its replacement – with a £6 per month fee. Very few people will get value at this level.
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.
Further reading ….
We ran the following credit card articles during January:
- What are the top UK credit card sign-up deals by £ value?
- How to earn miles on your January tax bill via debit card (Tesco), Amex (Billhop), Curve, Miles & More or Revolut
- New BA Amex offer – get 3,000 bonus Avios for £300 of British Airways spend
- What is the best replacement for your Starwood American Express card?
- American Express is cutting your sign-up bonus on the Starwood / Bonvoy card
- BAD NEWS: Amex cuts the earning rate on the SPG card as it rebrands as the Marriott Bonvoy American Express
- Why the only thing better than transferable points is INSTANTLY transferable points
- The Tandem cashback and no FX fees card will now cost you £72!
- What are the best credit card bonuses for your LONG TERM spending?
- How a couple can earn 185,000 Avios from Amex sign-up bonuses – if you’ve not had an Amex recently
- Still got the Amex Gold charge card? Swap to the Amex Gold credit card and save
- What American Express bonuses can you get, based on the cards you have?
You may also want to read our ‘Top 10’ series:
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. 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 £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.
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!
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 45.1% 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 25,000 mile sign-up bonus until 28th February) 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.
The Capital On Card is an EXCELLENT Avios earner for small businesses. We discuss the eligibility criteria in our Capital On Tap review here. You get a sign-up bonus of £100 cashback or 10,000 Avios after spending £5,000 in 90 days and you earn 1 Avios per £1 spent. Until 5th February, HFP readers get a higher sign-up bonus of £150 cashback of 15,000 Avios if you use promo code ‘headforpoints’ when applying. Click here for details.
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.