There is a lot of writing about Credit Cards in the USA with megapoints. However, over on this side of the pond, things are… a little more muted. This is Kevin’s guide to Airline Credit Cards for the UK Market
I’ll attempt to keep this up-to-date, but the market is shifting as one of the major issuer of Credit Cards is up for sale at the moment.
This is also the first in a 3-part series (as this takes serious time to write!). This is part 1. Parts 2 and 3 are to follow in the next two weeks covering Charge Cards/MultiIssuer Card, and Hotel Credit Cards.
Please note, this information does not constitute financial advice and you should always do your own research on top to ensure it’s right for your specific circumstances, and may impact on your credit score. So don’t blame me if you overspend on a card and they come hounding after you.
Those who are considering applying should bear in mind you’ll need to be resident in the UK to get one, and probably have reasonable banking references. So don’t moan at me if you’re in the USA wanting to apply for a BMI Credit Card. Because the answer will be no ;).
If you’ve got comments, fill them in down below, and I’ll try and answer them!
Cards that offer good value for money
The British Airways Credit Cards issued by American Express UK are near the top of the pile with their two cards for BA/Avios point users
British Airways American Express Credit Card at 19.9%APR, offers 1 mile/£, with a signup bonus of 3,000 bonus BA Miles when you spend £500 in the first three months of Card membership. Spend over £20,000 a year, and you’ll get a companion voucher (241 Voucher) when redeeming BA Miles.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card at 50.1%APR (adjusted for a fee of £150 a year) offfers 1.5 mile/£ (double miles on on BA flights and BA holidays), 18,000 bonus BA Miles when you spend £3000 in the first three months of Card membership. Spend over £10,000 a year – and you’ll get your 241 voucher.
If you’re a heavy hitter flying BA a lot, then the Premium Plus card is a no brainier. Whilst the fee of £150 a year is tough, you’ll be getting more miles per £, and the 241 voucher is a lot easier to get hold of. For best value with the 241 voucher, you really need to target the premium cabins (Club World and First) for seats. If you’re burning a 241 in World Traveller (and to an extent, World Traveller Plus)… you do need to think quite carefully about the value proposition…
BMI are up next. Whilst the airline is in a state, the credit card issuer also is. So if you want this card, check – they may have pulled it.
The BMI Credit Card from MBNA (American Express Co-Branded), offers 1.5 mile/£ (Double on BMI Bookings), and a massive 20,000 miles if you spend £250 within the first 90 days. Note none of these miles count to re-qualification of your Diamond Club Status. The APR is a bit lower at 16.9% too.
However, if you’re spending a lot, and redeeming a fair bit too, you might want to look at the BMI Plus Credit Card. It offers 2 miles/£ (Double on BMI bookings), 24000 Miles on signup after a £250 spend, 2 free lounge passes (Big Whoop), and most intrestingly of all, 4000 STATUS MILES which count towards your BMI Silver/BMI Gold renewal. Considering it’s tough to flying 4000 miles for £85 a year, that’s worth thinking about. The card has a higher APR of 35.1% which can be accounted for as part of the fee of the card – the aformentioned £85.
A bit but here, but MBNA have been.. fiddling with card issuing, and in some cases are issuing an accompanying Visa Card to go with the BMI Amex Card which earns 1.5 points per £2. See http://economyclassandbeyond.boardingarea.com/2011/10/11/bmi-amex-credit-card-holder-check-now-product-has-changed/
Cards that could be worth a second glance
These cards are not what I’d describe as ones to go out and apply tomorrow. If they fit your circumstances, they might be good for you. A big important note is that they are all offered from the same company – MBNA. As MBNA is in the process of being sold in the UK, these could turn out… ugly in the future. So be careful!
Also, if they’re fiddling like they are with the BMI Card, you can bet they’re fiddling with the other cards. Keep a close eye on your T&C’s when you sign up!
Semi-New is the American Airlines AAdvantage Credit Card. This used to be offered by Citi (who sold their UK Card portfolio), and is now operated by MBNA. At 17.9%, it’s a reasonable rate, and for that you’ll get 10,000 AAdvantage bonus miles when you make a card purchase within 90 days of the account opening, and earn 1.5 AAdvantage® miles for every £1 you spend on card purchases.
If you fly American from the UK this could be a useful extra source of points. Top them up the regular bonus sales, and there’s a good chance of going places far.
For those of you who fly Virgin Atlantic, There’s the Virgin White Credit Card, at 17.9%APR. Signup bonus of 3,000 bonus Flying Club miles when you spend on your card within the first 90 days, with a 1 mile for every £1 spent on card purchases. 2 miles for every £1 spent direct with selected Virgin partner.
Meanwhile for those of you who have some money to burn may consider the Virgin Black Credit Card.It has a higher rate of 18.9%, with a £140 fee. For that, your signup bonus increases to 6000 miles and you get 2 miles for every £1 spent on card purchases. 4 miles for every £1 spent direct with selected partner
Not hot, but better than nothing.
As we head closer to the embarrassing levels, we find Lufthansa who has got a Miles & More Credit Card. Whilst the APR is lower (16.9%), the signup bonus is a derisory 1,500 award miles when you make a card purchase within the first 90 days. The mileage earning isn’t too hot either at 2 award miles for every £1 you spend during the first 6 months and 1.5 award miles per £1 spent thereafter. However (and this is a BIG however), if you’re not a Senator or HON, by having this credit card, your Miles and More Miles will not expire.
Finally in last place (SURPRISE) is the United Airlines offering. This offers a 16.9APR, with no signup bonus, and a derisory 1 Mile per £. Unless you collect Mileage Plus points exclusively, I wouldn’t bother with this card. So when you moan that Chase isn’t offering a megadeal again, think about us over here who get a 1 mile per pound eh?
Cards that are so poor it’s not even worth hitting the apply now button
Seriously, I wouldn’t bother with these. I’ve just included them to show how poor value they are.
FlyBe offers a MasterCard Credit Card with 2 free lounge passes.. and a free return flight after any purchase. Whilst this sounds good, taxes and fees apply. In other words, you’ll be saving a Fiver on seats if you’re lucky. Hardly worth getting out of bed for. Seriously, save you time and your Credit Record. At 18.9%APR, this is expensiveish.
Ryanair offers a Mastercard Credit Card, with up to Five Round Trips a year free + taxes and fees (Spend £100, get one flight, Spend £3000 in the first 6 months, get another 2 free flights, Spend another £3000 in the second 6 months, get two more free flights). Of course, this being Ryanair, you’ll be paying for practically every else. With a 19.9%APR too, this is pretty much top of the pile without paying a fee for the card. Although knowing Ryanair….
This is part of a 3 week series, published on Saturday the 15th October, 22nd October and 29th October.
Next week: Bonus Credit Cards/Charge Cards – Anything worth sniping there?
Week after: Hotel Credit Card – Is it worth the effort applying?