Free Avios or Flying Club miles via the 3V Virtual Visa Card and Tesco – our findings!

Love Clubcard, don’t collect Avios?  You should be reading our sister site, Shopper Points (www.shopperpoints.co.uk), which covers the latest Clubcard and Nectar offers without any distracting frequent flyer talk!  Why not check it out now?

Yesterday, in this post, I explained how Tesco is now including Visa branded gift cards in its ‘150 bonus Clubcard points for spending £50 on gift cards’ promotion.

At the time, I had only been able to test it using the physical Visa gift cards – ie the ones that look like this:

Gift Card

and which carry a £2.95 fee for the £25 version and the £3.95 fee for the £50 version.  I had successfully bought £50-worth for £53.95 and received the 150 bonus Clubcard points.  I had also successfully used the card as a Visa Debit to pay £50 off my tax bill.

I mentioned that Visa Virtual Cards are also now available in Tesco.  Late on Monday I managed to find some in the Tesco Metro in Covent Garden.  They look like this:

3V card

I have only seen them in £25 denominations.

The genius of these cards is that THERE IS NO PREMIUM TO BUY THEM.  And they are included in the ‘150 bonus Clubcard points for spending £50 on gift cards’ promotion!

£50-worth of virtual Visa card therefore costs you just £50 – which will get you 150 bonus Clubcard points!  And you can pay in Tesco with an Amex card, which allows you to earn miles and points via Amex AND work towards the target spend for any sign-up bonus.

(You should also be able to use any ‘conditional spend’ Tesco coupons, ie £5 off £50, to buy these cards.  You cannot use them for Tesco gift cards but other brands usually go through.  I have used them in the past on Pizza Express gift cards.)

As I said, there is no physical credit card.  You get a ‘virtual’ Visa number.  You go to the 3V website, register your card, and you are emailed an actual Visa number together with an expiry date and a security CVV code.

Now, how can you use these cards?

Various Head for Points readers picked up some of the cards yesterday and have been playing with them.  What we have found is:

You CANNOT use them to pay MBNA or Amex bills online – 3V rejects them

I also rang Amex and tried to pay my bill by telephone – I failed

You CAN use them to pay HMRC to settle your tax bill, and it is treated as a Visa Debit with no surcharge.  I successfully did this yesterday.

You CAN obviously use them with most online retailers

You MAY be able to use them online to buy Premium Bonds which you could cash out – this needs to be tested

However, by far the easiest and most efficient way to use them is for something which allows part-payments and accepts only Visa Debit or charges a premium for a credit card.  Council tax, Inland Revenue etc are obvious targets.

You can also use them for mail order or telephone purchases.  This may be an easier way of using them, as via the telephone a retailer may be able to split payment between a 3V card and another card for the balance.

There are, however, some more interesting tweaks.

Via the 3V website, you can merge together different registered cards.  There is a £1.75 charge for this.  This does however make it a lot easier to use them online, because you can merge together enough cards to get to whatever level you need for a particular online purchase.

3V will transfer the card balance to your bank account for a fee of £3.50.  Now, this is clearly not cheap.  However, if you merge various £25 cards together (paying the £1.75 fee) you could presumably just pay one £3.50 fee to withdraw the money.

Let’s say you spent £250 on 10 cards.  You would pay 9 x £1.75 fees to consolidate the balance on one card plus a £3.50 withdrawal fee, so a total of £19.25.  (The maximum balance per card is £1,000.)  You would have earned 375 Avios points on your BA Amex on the £250 spend plus 750 Clubcard points, worth 1800 Avios.  That is 2,175 Avios for £19.25 plus you are £250 further towards meeting the spend threshold on your new Amex card to trigger a bonus.

(I wouldn’t bother doing this if you don’t have an Amex sign-up bonus to hit – the Avios are not particularly cheap and its a bit of a faff.  Far better to use the cards for normal online shopping.)

These cards are also available at other retailers, including Morrison, Boots and WH Smith (selected stores only in all cases).  It is less interesting without the Clubcard points, but if you have council tax or Inland Revenue bills to pay, you will still get some benefit from it.

Note these other clauses in the rules – “you cannot activate 3V Visa numbers with a total value greater than £1625 in any 365-day period without providing sufficient evidence of your ID and home address” and “you cannot redeem more than £650 from your 3V Visa numbers in any 365-day period without providing sufficient evidence of your ID and home address”.

For me, as I still have some tax due on July 31st, I will be trying to pick up as many of these as I can.  Make sure you use them ASAP, though, as 3V may change the rules at any time.

Love Clubcard, don’t collect Avios?  You should be reading our sister site, Shopper Points (www.shopperpoints.co.uk), which covers the latest Clubcard and Nectar offers without any distracting frequent flyer talk!  Why not check it out now?

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Comments

  1. Mark B says:

    Are supplies limited to certain stores, if so is there a list ? as are none nor any gap on the shelves at my local Tesco extra (Chesterfield) with an assistant knowing nothing about them, plenty of stock of the wide variety of other cards

  2. tearsplash says:

    Found some in Kennington Lane. Bought the lot though so none left now :-(

  3. How but says:

    Does it work with TFL (online topup and in person withdraw) or NS&I?

  4. I was delighted to find 10 3V cards at Tesco Potters Bar today. These and a couple of ‘Call of Duty – Ghosts’ pre-orders produced a hefty points bonus. I used the 3V cards to part-pay Mrs Roger’s HMRC bill,not due until July but who knows how long we can use the deal.

    A curiosity: logging into HMRC, my wife found she had overpaid and could apply for a refund! ‘The ‘overpayment’ was the total of 3V and Visa gift card payments I made last week.

    Just for a millionth of a second, the thought of recycling HMRC payments entered my mind but quickly disappeared. :)

  5. Just paid Sky and Scottish Power.. both went through :)

    Scottish Power charges 1.5% for using these cards, so if you’re making a payment using a £25 card, you’ll need to set your payment amount as £24.64 or it will be declined.

  6. What's the Point says:

    I have noticed its a bit hit and miss where you can find them. Picked 10 up today from Tesco Extra Stockport. I tried to buy all 16 that were on the shelf but 6 wouldn’t scan properly. I am guessing there is a 10 card limit? The cashier then got into a right muddle about which ones had and hadn’t been scanned. So I had to make sure I got the 10 that had been activated,
    It has now taken me about 35 mins to pay £250 off my council tax.
    There must be an easier way to earn 2,125 Virgin Points! (750 Tesco CC + £250 spend on Amex)
    If these 3V run out, I am going to move over to the Chargeable Visa cards, and get/use a cash back AMEX card (5% for first 3 month) to ease the bitter taste of having to pay 4 quid for each £50 card

  7. Simon says:

    The 3V website says

    3V Visa Numbers cannot be used on gambling sites or for certain reoccurring subscriptions.

  8. Far Canel says:

    Worked with my Council tax, Water rates, and Freemans (catalogue account).

    Will try my Gas & Electricity supplier next hoping that the amount I will have in credit will drop the monthly Direct Debit.

  9. Frisco says:

    Tescos in southern Hampshire of any size (Extra/Superstore/Express) have not heard of the 3V cards – anyone know where they are stocked?