The best airline and airmiles credit cards

The best airline and airmiles credit cards

Generous new cards from Virgin mean even low to moderate spenders can rack up a decent number of airmiles. So, how do they compare to the existing cards on the market?

lovemoney staff

Motoring and Travel

lovemoney staff
Updated on 4 April 2018

You can now earn up to 15,000 airmiles by spending as little as £1, as Virgin Atlantic launches two new rewards credit cards.

The Reward and Reward+ cards allow Virgin Flying Club members to collect points and offer introductory bonuses of 5,000 and 15,000 respectively for making a single purchase in the first 90 days.  

Airmiles or airline rewards credit cards have always been a good way to earn free flights (although you still have to pay the relevant taxes).

However, the majority charge hefty annual fees and require huge spending in order to make them worthwhile. 

As such, they're often discredited as playthings for the wealthy.

That's why the Reward card in particular has caught our eye, as it allows you to earn 5,000 miles with your first purchase (of any amount) and you can then accrue additional miles at a decent rate with no annual fee to worry about.

In recent years, providers have killed off a load of airmiles cards, partly due to the introduction of the interchange fee cap, so Virgin’s cards are a welcome addition to the market.

Let's look at Virgin’s two offers in more detail and see how they compare to other top cards currently available.

But before we do, always remember the golden rule of all reward cards: pay off your debt in full each month or the costly interest payments will soon rack up and leave you worse off.

Compare all rewards credit cards

Virgin Atlantic Reward Credit Card

Instead of Avios, Virgin offers Flying Club miles and on this card,  you can earn 0.75 miles for every £1 spent.

As this is a Mastercard it is more likely to be accepted at stores than American Express frequent flyer cards.

As mentioned earlier, low spenders will particularly benefit from the bonus offer of 5,000 points for making a single purchase in the first 90 days. Unlike some cards, there is no minimum spend to earn the bonus.

If you spend more than £20,000 you’ll be entitled to pick from a range of rewards including a free companion ticket or upgrade. Silver and Gold tier Flying Club members can choose additional rewards.

Direct bookings of Virgin Atlantic flights and holidays earn double points.

The representative APR on this card is 22.9%.

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card

If you’re a Virgin Flying Club member and looking to earn more points this Mastercard offers double that of Virgin’s fee-free Reward card, at 1.5 per £1 spent.

The Reward+ introductory bonus is three times bigger; 15,000 points for making a single purchase in the first 90 days. The spending threshold for earning extra rewards is also lower at £10,000 a year.

The Reward+ card also gives access to free Boingo Wi-Fi spots worldwide.

These benefits come at the cost of a £160 annual fee, pushing the representative APR to 63.9% (the purchase rate is 22.9%).

British Airways American Express

The British Airways American Express card allows you to collect one Avios for almost every £1 you spend. 

As a bonus offer, you get 5,000 bonus Avios if you spend £1,000 within the first three months of getting the card. 

Each year you are able to spend £20,000 you'll also bag a companion voucher, which will be valid for 12 months.

Note that you'll still have to pay the taxes and fees for each ticket.

The representative APR on this card is 22.9%.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

You can earn far more Avios with the British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card, which pays 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent.

That's 50% more than the fee-free British Airways American Express. You'll also be able to rack up three Avios for every £1 spent with British Airways or BA Holidays.

However, it comes with a hefty £195 annual fee, so you'll need to ensure you earn enough rewards to effectively cover that charge.

As an introductory offer, you get 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend £3,000 in your first three months with the card.

You also can get a complimentary companion ticket if you spend £10,000 or more each year, which is valid for 24 months.

The purchase rate on this card is 22.9%, but the representative APR is a whopping 76% with the fee taken into account.

Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards Credit Card

The Lloyds Avios Rewards Credit Card helps you earn Avios points using two cards; an American Express and a MasterCard linked to the same account.

You can earn 1.25 points for every £1 spent on the Amex and 1.25 points for every £5 spent on the MasterCard. New customers get double Avios in their first six months with the account.

The account also gives you fee-free transactions abroad and a flight upgrade voucher if you spend more than £7,000 in one year.

The card attracts a £24 annual fee, giving it a representative APR of 23.7%. Sadly, you can't apply for this card online anymore. You'll have to call or pop down to your local Lloyds branch to get your hands on one.

Flybe Credit Card

The Flybe Credit Card offers the Spend&Fly loyalty programme. Unlike other airmiles credit cards there’s no points system, instead, you’ll get free flights based solely on the amount you spend.

You can get a free return flight when you spend £250 within the first six months (although as with above cards you'll have to pay taxes and charges).

Here’s what you can get based on how much you spend thereafter:

Credit card spend





Free Just Fly or Get More UK bonus return flight



Free All In UK Bonus Return Flight



Free Just Fly or Get More European Bonus Return Flight



Free All In European Bonus Return Flight

When you reach certain spending thresholds, you qualify for a different class of free flight. Just Fly and Get More are the basic tiers of ticket, while All In offers more additional benefits.

Other perks of the card include Avis car rental and hotels and commission-free travel money.

The representative APR with the Flybe card is 18.9%.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

You can earn 1 point per £1 spent and use those points on flights, hotels and purchases with the Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card.

If you spend more than £2,000 in the first three months on your Gold Card you can earn 20,000 American Express Rewards Points.

American Express points can be converted to both BA Avios and Virgin Atlantic Flyer Club points at a 1:1 ratio, as well as a number of other airlines. 

American Express points can also be spent on retail purchases, such as Amazon, rather than just flights.

This card includes two passes to airport lounges across the UK and limited travel insurance.

The card’s £140 fee is waived for the first year; as it is a charge card it has no interest rate.

Compare all rewards credit cards



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