UPDATE – MAY 2021: This article is now out of date, but don’t worry.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.
BEFORE WE GO ON …. Do you have a small business? Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.
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 July?
American Express paid £750 million upfront to extend its British Airways contract
British Airways, desperate for cash, agreed an early renewal of its credit card contract with American Express. The deal involves American Express paying £750 million upfront, the majority of which is pre-payment for Avios to be issued to BA Amex and Membership Rewards cardholders.
On my maths, the prepayment covers 4-5 years-worth of Avios. According to the IAG half year results on Friday, the money will be paid this month.
You can find out all about the deal in our article on the £750m British Airways / American Express credit card deal here.
STILL RUNNING: American Express continues to offer six months to earn sign-up bonuses
It is not clear how long this offer will last. With lockdown restrictions easing, it is arguably now a good time to apply as your spending will pick up and you have until February to hit your sign-up bonus target.
Here is the 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: 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points (=10,000 Avios) when you spend £3,000 in six months
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.
John Lewis / Waitrose pulled the most rewarding cashback Visa or Mastercard
Over the last year or so, most retailer credit cards have either been pulled from the market or sharply reduced their rewards. The return you get from the Amazon, Sainsbury’s or Marks & Spencer cards is poor at between 0.1% to 0.25%.
John Lewis was the final store offering 0.5% back – in the form of John Lewis or Waitrose vouchers – on your Visa or Mastercard spending. This has now reached the end of the line.
From early September, the cashback rate is halving to 0.25%. It will increase slightly in Waitrose and John Lewis stores, from 1% to 1.25%, but virtually everyone will be earning less overall.
Virgin Atlantic offering a £40 fee rebate on its Reward+ Mastercard
Out of the blue, Virgin Atlantic announced that holders of its £160 per year Virgin Flying Club Reward+ Mastercard would receive a £40 rebate on their annual fee.
This is a welcome move and a generous one. I’m not sure if it will do much to improve the retention rate of cardholders, however. Virgin Money makes it virtually impossible to swap to the free card (it can be done but the effort required is crazy) and so many cardholders will simply walk away rather than pay another £160. If your spending is down sharply on what it was, it is difficult to justify the fee in terms of the extra miles you will earn.
American Express ‘Shop Small’ launched and continues until September
American Express has launched a new ‘Shop Small’ initiative to support independent shops and give you up to £50 cashback on purchases.
Starting on 22nd June and running until 13th September, you will receive £5 cashback on the first 10 transactions you make for £10 or more at participating ‘Shop Small’ businesses.
There are very few rules apart from the fact that you can only get one £5 cashback per shop per card. You can, of course, register multiple American Express cards if you have more than one.
As in 2019, cashback is capped at £50 per card. Supplementary cards are treated separately and have their own cap, so you could technically get more than £50 cashback.
The BA Amex offer at Tesco, Waitrose, M&S and Deliveroo continues
Holders of the British Airways Premium Plus American Express currently have a good ‘bonus Avios’ offer available.
To see if you have this, look at the ‘Offers’ tab on your online statement page. You need to click ‘Save to Card’ to register. This offer is only for Premium Plus cardholders.
Here is the deal:
You will receive 2 bonus Avios (so 3.5 Avios per £1 in total) on every £1 you spend at Tesco, Waitrose & Partners, Marks & Spencer, Deliveroo and Apple
Offer runs until 12th September
Offer is valid instore and online
One possibility is buying gift cards at Tesco for other retailers. This would be especially useful for Amazon, Uber or iTunes where you can add a gift card to your online account and it is used up automatically on future orders.
American Express launched new benefits for Business Gold cardholders
American Express has previously launched a range of ‘added value’ offers for Business Platinum cardholders. These were generous, including £150 cashback on a £150 Dell spend and 10 x £20 cashbacks on £20 Currys PC World spends, amongst others.
American Express Business Gold cardholders got their own package of deals in July. The following offers should now be showing on the ‘Offers’ section of your online card statement page:
Business Bundle worth up to £100: Spend £20 or more and get £20 back – ONLINE ONLY – with O2 Business, Google Store, Currys PC World and Carphone Warehouse. Valid up to five times until 31st December.
Dropbox: Receive up to 40% back on Dropbox online, valid once up to £50 statement credit. Valid until 28th November 2020.
Dell Technologies: Get 10% back, each time you spend with Dell Technologies, in statement credit up to £1,000. Valid until 1st September 2020.
This clearly isn’t as generous as the Business Platinum offer, but Business Gold has a 75% smaller annual fee!
American Express still has a 30,000 point bonus on the DOLLAR / EURO versions of the Platinum card
Finally, a reminder that Amex is currently running a rare 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 July:
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our May 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
If you have your own business, don’t miss our EXCLUSIVE offer on the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa card, worth 29,900 Avios. See below.
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.
Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.
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
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.