Travel reward cards are thankfully no longer a domain of the elite! I’ve been meaning to do an update to my original Travel Rewards card article for a while now. This year the landscape of reward cards has changed significantly in the UK market.
Thankfully for the better! There has been a considerable upgrades to some existing cards as well as new entrants to the market..
Travel Reward Cards UK
Amex Gold Preferred Rewards Card
This is the ideal beginner Travel Reward Cards UK for those looking to collect airmiles ( they call it Membership Reward points or MR for short. Still free for your first year after which you could cancel if it’s not for you!) and without being constrained to a particular airline, as such a BA or Virgin. A recap of the features:
- Free for first year, then £140 annual fee
- 1 X MR points for everyday purchases, 2 X MR points for Airline spend and finally 3 X MR points on booking flights or hotels through American Express Travel portal
- 20,000 points welcome bonus on spending 3k in first 3 months. There is currently a limited time special offer so its 30,000 points instead!
- Lounge access via Priority Pass
- £5 Delivery credit up to twice a month
- You can convert your points to over 30 airlines around the world
The main change here has been the addition of the monthly £10 Deliveroo credit, which is a great benefit if you get Delivery takeout’s a couple of times a month
Second significant change to this card is now you get 4 Lounge passes a year, as opposed to 2 previously. Also the choice of lounges has changed from the previously limited Club Lounge selection to now the wider Priority Pass network.
The annual renewal bonus spend structure has also changed, which can work out better for most people. Instead of having to reach the 15k threshold to trigger the 10k bonus, the bonuses are now staggered on multiple target benchmarks.
So for people who end up only spending under 10k will now benefit from a renewal bonus still. For example if you only hit 5k spend, you will still earn 2500 bonus points on renewal now, as opposed to nothing prior to this.
As far as I’m concerned this card is a no-brainer for anyone from beginners to more savvy amongst us. I’ve had this card for 6 years now, and recently my annual fee was due but in the same month there was an Air France offer, where I got £200 rebate back from my ticket!
So that one offer alone paid for my annual membership.
If you want a referral for some extra points on top follow this link to apply
Amex Platinum Card
This is a card that I’ve had and then cancelled and now have again! It’s something I felt just wasn’t offering enough value for the annual fee for a while. But the value proposition of it now as been dramatically enhanced this year
Recap of Basics
- £575 annual fee
- 1 X MR points for everyday purchases, 2 X MR points for Amex Travel spend
- 30,000 points welcome bonus on spending 4k in first 3 months. There was a limited time in summer where it was 60,000 points bonus instead!
- Comprehensive travel insurance for you and family
- Hotel benefits (including elite/top status in various hotel chains)
- Unlimited Priority Pass lounge access as well as Amex Centurion Lounges where available.
The new additions to this are:
Global Dining Statement Credit
This benefit was introduced a few months ago and easily makes the annual fee more palatable. Once you enrol, you can dine at select global collection of over 1400 restaurants and get dining credits up to £150 of value within the UK and a further £150 abroad.
It’s cumulative spending so you do not have to spend £150 pounds in one meal! And sometimes even a bar tab seems to work within those selected restaurants!
Harvey Nichols Lifestyle Credit
There used to be occasional offers that rebated spend in Harvey Nichols before but AMEX have decided to make this a permanent benefit so you will get at least £100 back in credit for shopping there.
Just these 2 benefits and the travel insurance alone would recoup your annual fee. So I would say for more frequent travellers, this is certainly also great card to have.
Now last but not least, we have exciting additions to the market from Barclays which for the first time is offering real competition to the BA branded Amex Cards!
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
If you are looking for British Airways or OneWorld partner airline rewards, this is a new way to earn them without a BA branded Amex Card (which limits spend as some places still do not accept AMEX cards for various reasons)
The basic card is free and offers
- 5000 Avios points for spending £1000 within first 3 months of having the card
- 1 Avios per £ spent
- British Airways Cabin Upgrade voucher if you hit £20,000 spend each card year.
- 5 months of Apple TV+ and Apple music for free
For a free card is a great starter reward card too, and very much in alignment with British Airways Amex basic card offering too.
Virgin Atlantic Rewards & Rewards Plus
I have covered this card on my last iteration here which is broadly unchanged and still offers a fantastic product, depending on your needs!
Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard Elite
Now this is where it gets a lot more exciting! This is a premium card that would compete with British Airways Premium Plus Amex card
Summary of benefits
- 25000 Avios points for spending £3000 within first 3 months of having the card
- £20 per month fee (you can get a rebate on fee, will detail later!)
- 1.5 Avios per £ spent
- British Airways Cabin Upgrade voucher if you hit £10,000 spend in each the card year
- Lounge discounts via DragonPass membership
- 5 months of Apple TV+ and Apple music for free
But it gets even better, Barclays offers Premier banking along the lines of HSBC and new is currently having an incredible new offer of 100,000 Avios when you get this Avios plus credit card and also a Premier current account with Barclays Avios Rewards. Must apply by 30th November
Barclays Premier Account + Avios Rewards
While this is not technically a credit card, I am listed this year due to the offer in conjunction with the Barclays Avious Plus credit card for 100K Bonus Avios in addition to the 25k welcome bonus on the credit card.
The procedure for this is that you have to apply for both these products, or if you have one already apply for the other and hold them for 4 months minimum and you are then guaranteed the 100,000 Avios bonus. This is by far the most generous reward we’ve ever seen in the UK.
There are some some stricter requirements for getting a Premier Banking account with Barclays, to be eligible you have to
- Either earn a minimum £75000 annually and credit them to your Premier account (switch from your existing bank)
- Or you have to have over £100,000 invested with Barclays
Once you open the Premier Account, you then have to enrol for the Avios Rewards Scheme this
- Costs £12 per month (but then you hold the card above too you get a £5 rebate of that
- The cost above is completely offset by getting 1500 Avios every month
- And then the best bit of all, you get yet another BA upgrade voucher on your yearly anniversary (there is no minimum spend requirement here at all!)
The deadline for applying for both is 30th November 2022. You can find all further details and apply online on Barclays here.
What to Watch Out For
If you are unsure/undecided what might be best for you, one very important aspect to consider is how often you actually travel and spend abroad. This is key since most of these cards charge foreign transaction fees !
Now with the Barclays and Virgin Cards are Mastercards, which mean you can get around via using a wrapper card like Curve it is impossible to avoid this with Amex cards. Some people like myself have several cards for several purposes.
However that may not be a suitable option for everyone.
There you have it, the best Travel Reward Cards UK currently has. As you can see, if you are a British Airways/Oneworld flyer there is suddenly great ways to earn a huge amounts of Avios and upgrade vouchers to be flying in Premium cabins!
I have not covered the BA branded Amex Cards nor the Virgin Atlantic Mastercards for earning Virgin Points as they have largely stayed the same and what you choose largely depends on your circumstances.
I should add that BA Premium Plus now offers you an option to use your “Companion” voucher as a “50%” off voucher instead which is great news for solo travellers!