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.
Let’s be honest …. if you’re sitting around at home with nothing to do, there are worse ways to pass the day than getting your credit card portfolio in order!
We have also included a round-up of all of the loyalty credit card news from the last month.
Our directory of the 15 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 March and early April?
Disaster! IHG Rewards Club closed its Premium Mastercard
We loved this card. After all, we gave it an ‘Editor’s Choice’ award in the Head for Points 2019 Travel & Loyalty Awards.
For a £99 annual fee, you were getting 2 points per £1 (which counted towards status), a free night at any IHG hotel for spending £10,000 and Platinum Elite status in IHG Rewards Club. It was a great package easily worth the £99 fee.
What was a little odd is that, in the previous weeks, IHG had been offering a special bonus of 20,000 points on the free IHG Rewards Club Mastercard, pictured below. The free card IS still available.
Why did it do this? Was there a notice period on pulling the Premium card, and IHG wanted to put people off applying in the meantime by boosting the free card? Was it just a coincidence?
I will do an article soon on my thoughts on the best Visa or Mastercard rewards card now that IHG Rewards Club Premium has been pulled.
For clarity, the Premium card will continue to operate for people who already have it.
American Express Gold launched a special sign-up bonus
Now THIS came as a surprise, as American Express is not known for adjusting its sign-up bonuses temporarily.
Until 29th June 2020, the sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is doubled to 20,000 points. You need to spend £3,000 in 90 days to receive it.
You can apply for the card here.
20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points would convert into:
- 20,000 Avios
- 20,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
- 40,000 Hilton Honors points
- 60,000 Radisson Rewards points
- 30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- 1,666 Club Eurostar points
…… amongst other things.
If you have never held a personal American Express card before, you will definitely get the bonus.
You WILL receive the 20,000 bonus points if you have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months. Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count. You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job, even if you receive Membership Rewards points from it.
You WILL receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, the card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.
If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply. You still receive the other card benefits, including the two free airport lounge passes and ‘no fee in the first year’.
American Express Gold starts issuing METAL cards in Europe
As you can see from the image above, the roll-out of METAL American Express Gold cards has started in Europe.
Sweden was the first country to get it last week, with the rest of Scandinavia following very shortly. There is no date yet for a UK launch.
This HFP article on the metal American Express Gold card explains what the card benefits are in Sweden, which may be what we see here. It is likely we see an increased fee to pay for it unfortunately.
American Express in the US extends the time frame for sign-up bonuses
This is for anyone whose card was approved from 1st December 2019 until 31st May 2020.
For clarity, this has NOT yet been replicated in the UK.
There is also no sign of any leeway being given on the time needed to spend £10,000 on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher.
We continue to push Amex on this when we can and will let you know if there is any relaxation. I can imagine that a lot of people will look to cancel their £195 BA Premium Plus card if they cannot see any possibility of triggering the 2-4-1 voucher.
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.
Your BAPP Amex 2-4-1 voucher will run for 30 months if triggered by 30th June
British Airways has extended all outstanding American Express 2-4-1 companion vouchers by six months.
Importantly, all new vouchers issued before 30th June 2020 will also be extended by six months.
This means that you may prefer to trigger your voucher sooner rather than later. A voucher triggered on 20th June 2020 will expire on 20th December 2022. A voucher triggered on 20th July 2020 will expire five months earlier, on 20th July 2022.
I wrote this article about the extension to the 2-4-1 Avios voucher on the British Airways American Express card.
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 the last month:
What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for April?
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 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 £3,000 in 90 days to trigger the bonus.
20,000 American Express Membership Rewards points is a special offer. It is only available until 29th June 2020.
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.
The two 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 miles 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.
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.
HFP readers get a higher sign-up bonus on the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa if you use promo code ‘headforpoints’ when applying – click here for details of our exclusive Capital On Tap sign-up Avios bonus.
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, BA Amex Business review here).
There is also the Capital On Tap cards which we mentioned above, with the exclusive Capital On Tap ‘extra Avios’ 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.