Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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UPDATE – JANUARY 2021:  This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.

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 the last four weeks?

American Express Platinum began to offer 20,000 point retention bonuses

As we covered yesterday, American Express has begun to offer 20,000 points as a retention bonus to holders of The Platinum Card who ring up to cancel.  This only started in the last 4-5 days.

It isn’t being offered to everyone, but this may be because some agents (all of whom are working from home at the moment) do not know that it has been added to the system as an option.  Calling outside UK 9-5 office hours also appears to be a problem because your call will be diverted overseas and the agent is unlikely to know about it.  The latter reason may be why I was rejected.  One reader who was rejected by a US agent asked to be transferred to a UK agent and was immediately offered the points.

Our article on American Express retention bonuses for Platinum cardholders is here.  If you read the comments, some holders of Amex Gold have also had success.

American Express Platinum card UK retention offers

Holders of The Platinum Card got two other good offers

American Express has launched two ‘open to all’ offers for holders of The Platinum Card which – unlike the 20,000 points offer above – do not require you to ring up their call centre and beg!

The first offer is double points on all American Express Platinum spending until 20th July – see here.

This immediately makes the card the most generous miles and points card in the UK.  You would be earning 2 Avios per £1, 2 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1, 3 Marriott Bonvoy points per £1, 4 Hilton Honors points per £1 etc depending on how you converted them.

The second offer is being able to redeem Membership Rewards points for 0.9p of statement credit – see here.  This is VERY attractive and something you should consider.  Again, it runs until 20th July.

Think about it.  During the year there are always opportunities to buy Avios for around 1.0p to 1.1p.  In the current 75% ‘buy Avios’ bonus promotion (click here) you can buy Avios for as little as 0.92p for the next few days.  If you are squeezed for money at the moment, there is no shame in redeeming your Membership Rewards points for 0.9p cash and potentially buying Avios later (at a similar rate, when a sale is on) when your personal situation is clearer.

20,000 Membership Rewards points with Amex Gold

American Express Gold is still running a special sign-up bonus

Until 29th June 2020, the sign-up bonus on Amex Gold is doubled to 20,000 points.   You need to spend £3,000 in six months 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’.

We wrote this article on the 20,000 points bonus on Amex Gold and all of the benefits of getting the card.

You can apply for American Express Preferred Rewards Gold here.

PS.  The picture above is of the new METAL Amex Gold card which is slowly rolling out across Europe.  It is NOT available in the UK yet, so if you apply now you will get the old-style version.  There is no date yet for a UK launch that I am aware of.

American Express doubles the time frame to earn a sign-up bonus

American Express has extended the time needed to trigger the sign-up bonus on new cards from three months to six months.

This is backdated and includes anyone whose card was approved from 30th January 2020.

Here is full list of personal cards which are included:

The Platinum Card: 30,000 Membership Rewards points (=30,000 Avios) when you spend £4,000 in six months

Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card: 20,000 bonus Membership Rewards points (=20,000 Avios) when you spend £3,000 in six months (the bonus on this card is doubled to 20,000 points until 29th June)

British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card: 25,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 in six months

British Airways American Express Credit Card: 5,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 in six months

Nectar Credit Card: 20,000 Nectar points (= £100) when you spend £2,000 in six months 

Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card: 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (= 6,666 Avios) when you spend £3,000 in six months

The American Express Rewards Credit Card: 5,000 Membership Rewards points (=5,000 Avios) when you spend £2,000 in six months

Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card: 5% cashback on your purchases for six months (up to £100) 

Platinum Cashback Credit Card: 5% cashback on your purchases for six months (up to £125) 

Here are the small business cards included:

The Gold Business Card: 20,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 in six months

The Platinum Business Card: 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £6,000 in six months

British Airways American Express Accelerating Business Card: 2,200 On Business Points when you spend £3,000 in six months

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.

You can learn more in this article on the Amex six month bonus period.

My detailed article on ‘which American Express sign-up bonuses can I still get?‘ is here.

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.

Curve Card added a 1.5% fee for paying credit card bills and Government

Curve Card is an interesting way of paying for bills or puchases with a credit card WHEN THE RETAILER ONLY ACCEPTS DEBIT CARDS.  This article explains how Curve Card worksit is free and you are paid £5 for trying it out via our referral code which is in that article.

In a new change, Curve has now categorised two types of payments which will incur a 1.5% fee.  These are known as ‘Curve Fronted’ transactions.

The following payments are now charged at 1.5%:

    • HMRC (this change was made a few months ago)
    • National Savings & Investments, including Premium Bonds
    • DVLA Vehicle Tax
    • Student Loan Payments
    • Paying credit card bills, loans or mortgages, where your Curve Card recharges to a credit card
    • Purchasing financial services or products from banks, Credit Unions, Deposit Takers
    • Purchasing foreign or non-fiat currency such as cryptocurrency, travelers cheques or money orders
    • Purchasing store value cards such as prepaid cards

This article explains how ‘Curve Fronted’ works.

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 offerThis offer ends on Monday – our article says it has already ended but I was just covering myself.  You are actually OK for another 24 hours, as you will see on the landing page here.

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

Revolut Business card

Further reading ….

We ran the following credit card articles during the last month:

UPDATED: Amex Platinum offering 20,000 points retention bonuses – but not to me!

Amex Gold now has a 20,000 point bonus and you have six months to earn it – should you apply?

Amex gives you SIX months to hit your qualifying bonus spend – is now a good time to apply?

How does the British Airways American Express companion voucher work?

Why you should get a FREE Curve Card to maximise your miles and points from credit cards

Curve Card adds 1.5% fee to credit card repayments and NS&I / Premium Bond purchases – no more ‘free’ points

American Express Platinum card giving DOUBLE points on all spending until 20th July!

American Express will pay you 0.9p CASH for your Membership Rewards points!

Who is C F Frost?

Having trouble with a refund? Here’s how to dispute a charge with Amex under Section 75.

Hilton sells $1 billion of Hilton Honors points to American Express to raise funds

Got the free BA Amex card? Learn how to reduce your £20k 2-4-1 target to £10k and why you should drop it entirely

Expecting a flight refund to your American Express card? Here’s how it impacts your next BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher or spend bonus.

Using American Express to pay your gas and electricity utility bills with Bulb

What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for May?

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 six months 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 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 six months 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!

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.

Virgin Atlantic Reward and Reward+ Mastercard

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.

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 Business Rewards Visa 

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.

BA Amex Business Accelerating Business 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.

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.

Comments (22)

  • Wally1976 says:

    Ok, I’m struggling to rack up any decent number of points these days. Amex sign up bonuses now too hard, Curve card has basically gone in the bin, Monese have asked for proof of funds etc. Trying to think of other avenues…is Revolut worth bothering with? Or would it be quite easy to get a business Amex (I don’t really have a business as such but do have a rental property)?

    • Rhys says:

      Take a look at the requirements for the business Platinum card here:

      The business has a current UK Bank or Building Society account
      You/The business have/has no County Court Judgements for non-payment of debt
      You are aged 18 or over
      You have a permanent UK home address

      • Wally1976 says:

        Thanks Rhys, I’ll take a look. Haven’t currently got a business banking account but guess I could get one if worthwhile.

        • Rob says:

          I have heard of readers getting Amex Business cards who haven’t even started trading yet. They are very flexible because they still get 2.5% interchange fees on these cards.

          • RussellH says:

            How, as a fully integrated card business, do Amex earn Interchange fees.
            I cannot imagine that they can charge terminal hirers or merchant acquirers who operate online that much, given that fees for terminals etc are a monthly flat fee. And larger businesses will not work through an acquirer anyway.

          • Riccatti says:

            Card Issuing bank has a right to set their own fees (within regulation, etc).

            This is the element of which the Merchant or his/her Acquirer has no control — until transaction is processed they can’t see what type of card handled to them (debit or business debit, personal Amex or business AMEX or corporate AMEX).

          • Riccatti says:

            For American Express card, they are their own Issuing Bank.

      • PJJ says:

        @Rhys and @Rob
        The link shows 60,000 MR points for being referred by a friend
        Is that still current ?

    • Gary_Dexter says:

      What’s the issue with Monese asking for proof of funds?

      • mark2 says:

        Nothing if you can show where the money you put through Monese is no more and preferably a lot less than your income.

        • Ashish says:

          And this is through paypoints only or we can use curve without a fee?

          Or can we use apple or Google?

          • mark2 says:

            There is a limit to how much you can add from a debit card. Also a limit vis PayPoint all depending on plan (so fee) chosen.

      • memesweeper says:

        It’s the start of a process that can see you account closed. You will loose access to funds in the account for an indefinite period.

  • Wally1976 says:

    If a PERSONAL Amex Gold credit card holder refers someone for the Platinum BUSINESS card am I right in thinking the referrer currently gets 9000 MR points and the referee gets 60000 MR points (as long as they spend £6000 within 6 months)? Thanks.

    • The Streets says:

      That deal ended. The person making the application gets 45,000 for being referred

  • Freddy says:

    Is curve fronted fully up and running on all the items listed in the article?

  • mastdoc says:

    in the current scenario, which is the best non amex card to use. Probably it is not worth paying the £160 for Virgin premier card?

  • Adam says:

    Which would you advise for someone to open for first time amex? Cant make up my mind after reading different options!