The best U.K. miles and points credit cards of 2020
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Across the board, when it comes to earning points and miles, the easiest way to do so is through credit cards. For the right people, credit cards offer a way to increase your point balances quickly in order to get you on your way to travelling for (almost) free. There are some great cards out there, with exciting benefits available in the UK market, and here are my four personal favourites!
Before making your choice at which to apply for, I strongly recommend checking out the full reviews of each of the cards below. And it’s also key to fully understand American Express’ new welcome bonus restrictions, which may influence your Amex strategy. But without further ado…
The Best UK Credit Cards for Rewards and Airline Miles of 2020
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card: Best card for beginners
- British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card: Best card for earning the most valuable UK credit card benefit (the British Airways Companion Voucher)
- Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard Credit Card: Best card for when Amex is not accepted
- The Platinum Card from American Express: Best luxury credit card
1. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card
Welcome bonus: 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £3,000 in the first three months
Earning rate: 1 Membership Reward point per £1 spent on all purchases; 2 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency (though you’ll have to pay a 2.99% foreign transaction fee); 3 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent at American Express Travel
Other key benefits: Two annual lounge passes to make your airport experience more enjoyable. The visits must be made in the Lounge Club network, which boasts more than 700 lounges worldwide. Member lounges include the No1 Lounges at London Gatwick (LGW), and Plaza Premium lounges at Heathrow Airport (LHR), among others.
Representative example and annual fee: This card has a representative APR of 57.6% variable and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There is an annual fee of £140, which is waived for the first year.
Why it’s great: The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card is my top pick for the beginner to the miles and points game. A 10,000 Membership Rewards-point welcome bonus, no fee for the first year and great point-earning structure make this card a no brainer. Plus, you’re earning Membership Rewards points, which are a transferable currency, allowing you to shift your points to any of Amex’s 17 partners. For example, 10,000 MR points can be transferred to British Airways Avios for a return flight to many destinations in Europe.
2. British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card
Welcome bonus: 25,000 British Airways Avios after spending £3,000 in the first three months
Earning rate: 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on all purchases; 3 Avios per £1 spent directly with British Airways or BA Holidays
Other key benefits: 2-for-1 Companion Voucher earned after £10,000 in annual spend on the card. The Companion Voucher is the most valuable credit card benefit out there, allowing you to take a companion with you on the same flight and in the same cabin when you redeem Avios for a BA reward flight. Of course, taxes, fees and other carrier charges still apply to the companion. When earned with this card, the Voucher is valid for two years. (Stay tuned for a separate 2-for-1 Companion Voucher guide.)
Representative example and annual fee: This card has an APR of 76.0% variable and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There is an annual fee of £195.
Why it’s great: The 2-for-1 Companion Voucher is the most valuable benefit in the UK reward credit card market. And subject to various rules, it gives you a free ticket when you make a redemption using your Avios, effectively doubling the value of your pool of Avios if used correctly. Plus, the 25,000-Avios welcome bonus can get you an upgrade from World Traveller Plus to Club World or three return flights to many destinations in Europe.
- British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card Review
- Ultimate Guide to British Airways Avios
- Guide to the British Airways Amex Companion Voucher
3. Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard Credit Card
Sign-up bonus: 15,000 bonus miles after making your first card purchase within 90 days of account opening
Other key benefits: You’ll unlock a ‘Virgin Atlantic reward’ after spending £10,000 annually. Options vary, depending on the level of status you have with Flying Club. The value of the Virgin Atlantic reward is highest if you’re a Flying Club Gold member, where you can effectively get a companion voucher on any redemption flight in any cabin of service.
Representative example and annual fee: This card has a representative APR of 63.9% variable, and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200. There is an annual fee of £160.
Why it’s great: Because this is a Mastercard, you’ll have a back up in situations where Amex may not be accepted. With a fantastic sign up bonus and ongoing earning rate of 1.5 miles per £1 spent on everyday purchases and double that for purchases made directly with Virgin or Virgin Holidays, you’ll have an expedited way to getting an Upper Class redemption.
4. The Platinum Card from American Express
Welcome bonus: 30,000 Membership Rewards points after spending £4,000 in the first three months
Earning rate: 1 Membership Reward point per £1 spent on all purchases; 2 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent at American Express Travel
Other key benefits: The benefits are incredibly comprehensive and include: complimentary Priority Pass, Centurion Lounge access, access to Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts programme, purchase protection, worldwide annual travel insurance, concierge services, Addison Lee credits, elite status at a number of hotel chains including Hilton, Marriott and Radisson, elite status at Avis and Hertz for car hire and a supplementary cardholder for free gets all the benefits, too.
Representative example and annual fee: This card is a charge card, rather than a credit card, so it has no spending limit or APR, but you must pay off the balance in full each month. There is an annual fee of £575.
Why it’s great: The American Express Platinum Card is my top pick for those wanting to take their card benefits to the next level. The 30,000-point welcome bonus is great, but not enough for everyone to go for this card. Looking fully into the benefits, however, and for the right person, they have huge value, which may significantly outweigh the annual fee. The sexy metal card is a great feature, too.
- American Express Platinum Card Review
- 10 things to do when you get the Platinum Card from American Express U.K.
- Should I choose a rewards or cashback credit card?
- Where do I start if I am a beginner?
- How do I plan a credit card portfolio?
If you’re looking to earn your way to a redemption in the near future, credit cards are your best way of getting there. This trio of cards — highlighted by the fact that you’re earning three different and important point currencies — will cover the needs of most UK miles and points collectors, and have you well on your way to maximising your returns.