UPDATE – AUGUST 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 February?
IHG Rewards Club doubled the sign-up bonus on its free credit card
For the first time in a long time (ever?) IHG Rewards Club is running an enhanced bonus on the FREE IHG Rewards Club Mastercard.
Until 31st March, you will receive 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points for signing up and spending £500 within three months. The usual bonus is just 10,000 points.
20,000 IHG Rewards Club points converts into 4,000 Avios or other airline miles, or you can put them towards a free hotel room. 20,000 points should get you a room worth £80-£100.
This means that BOTH cards – the free one and the £99 Premium version – now have the same sign-up bonus. Nothing has changed on the Premium card.
Slightly oddly, I still think that the £99 Premium card is better, even though the bonus is currently the same as the free card. This article explains why I think the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard is the best deal. After all, we gave it an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award in the Head for Points 2019 Travel & Loyalty Awards.
The Marriott Bonvoy Amex was launched, to replace the Starwood Amex
On 26th February, the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card was 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 now comes 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 was 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.
Full details of the changes can be found in our Marriott Bonvoy Amex introductory article here. We have also written a full review of the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card here. You can apply for the card here.
This article looks at your options if you are planning to ditch your Marriott Bonvoy Amex.
Avios and Barclays agree a long-term partnership
Last Autumn, Barclays Premier tried to do an ‘under the radar’ trial with Avios, offering 25,000 Avios to a small group of people if they opened a bank account. The secret trial got ruined when we decided to tell everyone about it. The good news is that Barclays got to understand how popular this incentive could be!
You can learn more about the 2019 Avios / Barclays Premier offer here.
Unsuprisingly, following the strong response last year, Avios and Barclays have signed a long-term agreement to promote Barclays Premier.
You should note the deal is NOT yet live again and won’t be for a while. However, when it returns, there will be a generous Avios sign-up bonus for opening a Barclays Premier current account.
You will also be able to earn Avios on “other banking products as well as receive additional loyalty benefits and experience”. It isn’t clear if this will include debit or credit card spend.
There is nothing to do at the moment, although if you were thinking of moving your banking to HSBC Premier or another premium provider then you may want to hold off for a few months. An Avios incentive from Barclays Premier will be along soon.
Virgin Atlantic ended the 25,000 mile bonus on its Reward+ card
The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card dropped back to 15,000 miles from 25,000 miles at the end of February.
Note that there was NO special offer on the free Virgin Atlantic credit card, which remained at 5,000 miles for signing up. The March offer is therefore the standard 5,000 miles or 15,000 miles depending on which card you choose.
Accor may be launching a UK Visa credit card
Accor Live Limitless, the loyalty scheme for Novotel, Mercure, ibis etc, has announced a major deal with Visa to launch credit cards worldwide.
Instead of doing deals on a country by country level, Accor has done a GLOBAL credit card deal with Visa. Credit cards will be issued by “Visa partner financial institutions and banks in key markets across Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Asia Pacific”.
This is unlikely to be hugely lucrative because Accor Live Limitless is a 100% revenue based loyalty scheme. 1 Accor point = 2 Eurocents off a hotel room. There is no ‘reward chart’ and therefore no gamification element. You can’t be clever and save your points for a day when hotel prices are high. You get 2 Eurocents per point, 365 days of the year.
This means that an Accor Visa card will, effectively, be a cashback credit card. It’s just that the cash has to spent with Accor! Given that most cashback credit cards in the UK are paying 0.2p or 0.25p per £1 spent, we can’t expect much.
Let’s see if Accor can surprise us. I imagine it will take at least 18 months to launch anything.
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 of the American Express International Currency Cards in this article.
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 on how to save the £4.99 fee when you join Revolut via our special HfP reader offer.
Further reading ….
We ran the following credit card articles during February:
You may also want to read our ‘Top 10’ series:
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending: