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.
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 Card Offers’ tab at the top of the site or – for email, Flipboard, Apple News or mobile readers – by clicking here. We have also introduced a separate directory for small business credit cards which is here.
What was new in August?
Holders of the free British Airways American Express can earn 1,000 bonus Avios by spending £2,000
American Express launched a deal offering one bonus Avios for every £2 spent on the free British Airways American Express card by 25th October.
Your bonus is capped at 1,000 Avios. You MUST register by opting in via the ‘Offers’ tab in the Amex app or on your online statement page.
For clarity, since we made a mistake in our original article, this offer is NOT valid for holders of the Premium Plus card.
You can find out all about the deal in this article.
Virgin Atlantic made SUBSTANTIAL improvements to its credit cards
Virgin Atlantic surprised us all by making substantial improvements to the vouchers that come with the two Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards.
As a reminder, you receive a voucher each year when you spend £20,000 on the free Reward card or £10,000 on the £160 Reward+ card.
Here is what is new:
You can use the voucher to get a 2-4-1 voucher. This is now valid on cash OR miles tickets. It is also valid in ALL classes for the first time. However, if you have no Virgin Flying Club status you need to pay 50% of the usual miles for the 2nd ticket if it is in Upper Class.
You can also use the voucher to upgrade a return flight (or upgrade one way for two people). This is now valid in ALL classes so Premium to Upper is acceptable.
You can also use the voucher to visit a Virgin Clubhouse lounge. This is now valid if you are flying with Delta, Air France or KLM as well as Virgin Atlantic.
In summary, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are now a lot more attractive.
American Express cut the time to earn the sign-up bonus on new cards to three months
During lockdown, American Express became more lenient in letting you earn the sign-up bonus on its credit cards.
The time frame to spend £500 to £4,000 – it varies by card – was extended to six months.
During August, this offer was withdrawn. If you apply for an American Express card now, you will only have the usual three months to earn the sign-up bonus. Here is our full article on Amex sign-up bonus deadlines.
American Express is letting Business cardholders sell their Membership Rewards points for 0.9p
American Express is, until 18th November, letting Business Gold and Business Platinum cardholders sell their Membership Rewards points for 0.9p each.
This is a very generous deal, and better than the majority of miles and points redemption options.
You ‘sell’ your points by using them to part-pay for items on your card statement. The usual rate is a poor £4.50 per 1,000 points redeemed, but it is currently doubled to an excellent £9 per 1,000 points redeemed.
Our full article on redeeming American Express Business Membership Rewards points for 0.9p is here.
Amex is also letting Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders sell their points
A similar offer was launched for Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders, valid until 1st October.
The rate is not as impressive. You only receive £6.75 per 1,000 points.
This is NOT a no-brainer and you should think carefully because you can get better value for your points. It isn’t a terrible deal, however, and if your job is currently looking uncertain you may prefer the certainty of cash.
Details of the Amex Gold Membership Rewards redemption offer are here. The deal runs to 1st October.
Buy 1,000 Membership Rewards points for £6 with Santander Cycles
Here’s one of the odd little deals we cover now and again.
Santander Cycles is running an offer on targeted American Express Membership Rewards cards. You will receive 1,000 bonus points when you make three transactions.
The smallest purchase is £2, so you can get 1,000 points for £6.
You do NOT need to live in London to do this. You can use the Santander Cycles app to buy a £2 day pass for the system, even if you never pick up a bike. I proved this works.
American Express ‘Shop Small’ continues
American Express is currently running a new ‘Shop Small’ initiative to support independent shops and give you up to £50 cashback on purchases.
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 have a good ‘bonus Avios’ offer available for another three days.
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. You could also buy gift cards at Waitrose for use in Waitrose or John Lewis.
American Express Platinum improves its travel insurance
American Express Platinum made some changes to its travel insurance during August.
The cover previously had strong rules on pre-existing conditions and sports exclusions, although they were not rigorously applied in my experience.
The company has now published a long list of pre-existing conditions and sports – including menopause, constipation, rounders and badminton! – which will no longer disqualify you from insurance cover.
Full details are in this article on American Express Platinum travel insurance terms.
Amex still has a 30,000 point bonus on the Dollar / Euro versions of the Platnium 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 August:
What are the best travel credit card sign-up deals for September?
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.
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 small company, you may also want to check out these:
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 small business 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.