As anyone who collects miles and points knows, one of the most lucrative ways to collect them is not by flying or staying in hotels. Sounds crazy, but your best bet to accumulate a stash is to take out credit cards. There are many blogs and sites which discuss this in great detail – my favourite of which is Headforpoints because it includes a detailed analysis of a range of cards, so head over there for details (after you’ve finished reading this, of course!)
I thought it would be interesting to share which cards I have as an infrequent, non-business flyer as an illustration of how a modest selection can pay dividends.
British Airways Premium Plus American Express
This is a card that I have had for a few years and is definitely my favourite. I get 1.5 Avios for every £1 I spend, which doubles when spending on British Airways. If I spend £10,000 in a year I will have generated at least 15,000 Avios and get a 2 for 1 voucher which allows me to get two flights for the Avios of one. The card costs £150 a year. This is my primary card which I always use first if I can until I have reached the voucher threshold, then I will use one from the list below.
IHG Black Barclaycard
This is my default card when places do not accept AmEx. It gives me 2 points per £1 on normal spend, doubled for IHG hotel spend or foreign spend. If I spend £10,000 in a year I will have generated at least 20,000 points and get a Free Night Certificate valid at any IHG property worldwide, which is worth more than the £99 annual fee.
This was my preferred card for spending abroad as it attracts no fee so gives a virtually perfect conversion rate. I used this in Australia a few years ago and worked out that it had saved me about £75 compared to using one of my other cards.
This may see the end to my Halifax Clarity card, although I am yet to use it abroad. It is basically a front for another credit card. Spend $100 using the Supercard and a no-fee charge is put onto your account. This is then automatically debited from your chosen credit card. In this way, a charge of £65ish would be applied to my chosen card which I would earn points on and not pay a foreign exchange fee. I am yet to see it in action, but will report back when I do
I mentioned earlier that I don’t churn these cards – apply, get the bonus, cancel and reapply later on to get another bonus. It is good for your credit rating to have some cards for a long time – an average age of 32 months or more on your credit cards seems to be a positive thing on Experian.
Another good card to have is the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card. Fee-free for the first year, it comes with 20,000 Membership Reward points which can be converted 1:1 into Avios as well as 2 free lounge passes. It earns 1 MR point per £1 spent.
For both of the AmEx cards, you can get an increased bonus if you are referred for the card: email me at misterairmiles [at] gmail [dot] com for a referral.
The key thing to remember with cards is to make sure that you can afford the repayments; a points card is only good if you are not paying interest on your purchases. When you do use them, use them for everything! Even if it is a £1.95 coffee, put it on the card, as it will get you a couple of Avios and count towards the spend for the 2for1 voucher or Free Night Certificate