UPDATE – JANUARY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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 May?
American Express Platinum offered £100 to all cardholders
If you need proof that reading HFP pays off in hard cash, this is it!
Last Thursday, Amex rolled out a £100 statement credit deal across Waitrose, Marks & Spencer, Deliveroo and Apple. Spend £100 and get £100 back. What’s not to like?! You don’t even need to spend the full £100 to get your rebate – you are repaid in chunks, transaction by transaction, as you go along.
For about 8 hours on Thursday, Amex was letting you register supplementary cards too. If you signed up as soon as our article appeared, you could have banked up to £600 if you had five supplementary cards in issue. Unfortunately Amex soon realised what they had done and stopped new registrations on supplementary cards. Apologies to our email readers, who missed out on this as Amex had already pulled it by the time the emailed version appeared.
For clarity, the £100 IS paying out on supplementary cards if you registered them in time. My wife spent £71 in Waitrose on 29th May and a £71 credit appeared on 31st May.
If you haven’t registered, you will find this offer on your PRIMARY Platinum card under the ‘Offers’ section.
Remember too that American Express is still offering 15,000 to 20,000 points as a retention bonus to holders of The Platinum Card who ring up to cancel.
It isn’t being offered to everyone, but your odds are very good as long as your call is answered by the Brighton call centre. This means calling during UK office hours. If it sounds as if the person who answers is working outside the UK, ask to be transferred to a UK-based agent.
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.
….. and up to £500 to Business Platinum cardholders
Holders of American Express Business Platinum have a similar selection of cashback offers. These are technically worth up to £500 although I doubt many people will claim the lot.
£150 to spend at Dell (£150 cashback on a purchase of £150+)
£200 to spend at Currys PC World, Carphone Warehouse, Google Store or O2 Business (10 x £20 cashback on purchases of £20+)
£150 to spend at FedEx (6 x £25 cashback on purchases of £25+)
Our full article on the American Express Business Platinum cashback deals is here. It includes links to a few Currys PC World items which cost around £20.
…. as well as a £250 discount on their renewal fee
If you have already renewed during 2020, the credit will appear very shortly if it hasn’t already.
If your renewal date is still to come, it will appear a few weeks after you are charged.
This offer does not benefit anyone who signed up for the card in 2020, as you won’t have a renewal date during this calendar year.
Don’t forget the two other offers open to Platinum cardholders
American Express has two other ‘open to all’ offers for holders of The Platinum Card which – unlike the 20,000 points retention offer – do not require you to ring up their call centre and beg!
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.
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 of around 1p to 1.1p when a sale is on) when your personal situation is clearer.
Virgin Atlantic dropped the sign-up bonus on its free credit card
Virgin Atlantic has removed the 5,000 miles sign-up bonus on its free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard credit card.
It’s not fully clear why, but if you read the latest Virgin Money financial statements it states that the business is currently prioritising its existing customers, many of whom are asking for payment holidays, ahead of chasing new business.
There is still a 15,000 miles sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard, which has a £160 annual fee.
The removal of the bonus from the free card makes the paid card more attractive. Before, you were looking at paying £160 for an additional 10,000 miles bonus. Now, your £160 gets you 15,000 more miles than the free card (as the free card no longer has a bonus) which – together with the excellent 1.5 miles per £1 earning rate – makes it a good package, at least for the first year.
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’.
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 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.
Further reading ….
We ran the following credit card articles during the last month:
What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for June?
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 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.
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!
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 (no 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.