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:
What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for August?
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 74.7% 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 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, MeliaRewards 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 10,000 Membership Rewards points (see here for what 10,000 MR points can get you – 10,000 Avios points for a start!). You need to spend £3,000 in six months to trigger the bonus.
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 56.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. Interest rate on purchases 22.2% 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 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.