What is the best Avios credit card? (Part 1: comparing sign-up bonuses)

(EDIT: This post was updated in October 2014)

I recently had an email asking ‘What is the best credit card for earning Avios points?’.

This is not as easy an answer as you might think. Whilst there are the BA and Lloyds / TSB cards which issue Avios miles directly, there are other cards which offer points which can be converted into Avios points. If you are intent on squeezing out every free Avios that you possibly can, you might want to get these cards as well!

If you applied for every single credit card which offers Avios points or points which could be converted to Avios, you would earn over 100,000 Avios!

But which of these is the best credit card for Avios?  Today I am focussing purely on sign-up bonuses. Tomorrow I will compare the same cards in terms of their day-to-day earning capacity.

Some of these cards offer a higher bonus if you are referred.  You can find full details of these in the relevant entry on our ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.

The best Avios-earning personal credit cards:

Listed in order of highest sign-up bonus:

30,000 AviosAmerican Express Platinum Charge Card

30,000 Membership Rewards points convert into 30,000 Avios. £450 annual fee, refunded pro-rata on cancellation. Issuer: Amex. Spend £2,000 in 3 months to trigger bonus.

20,000 AviosAmerican Express Preferred Rewards Gold Charge Card

20,000 Membership Rewards points convert into 20,000 Avios. No annual fee for the first year. Issuer: Amex. Spend £2,000 in 3 months to trigger bonus.

18,000 AviosBritish Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

£150 annual fee, refunded pro-rate when you cancel. Issuer: Amex. Spend £3,000 within 3 months to trigger bonus. Cannot hold both this card and the BA Amex.

10,000 AviosStarwood Preferred Guest American Express Card

10,000 Starwood points convert into 10,000 Avios. £75 annual fee, refunded pro-rata on cancellation. Issuer: Amex. Spend £1,000 in 3 months to trigger bonus.

4,000 Avios – IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa  (unavailable until mid October 2014)

20,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 4,000 Avios. £99 annual fee, non-refundable. Issuer: Barclaycard. Bonus is triggered with your first purchase.

3,000 AviosBritish Airways American Express Card

No annual fee. Issuer: Amex. Spend £500 in 3 months to trigger bonus. Cannot hold both this card and the BA Premium Plus Amex together.

2,000 Avios – IHG Rewards Club Visa Card

10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 3,000 Avios (although you need to convert in 10,000 point chunks). No annual fee. Issuer: Barclaycard. Bonus is triggered with your first purchase.

nothing (2,400 if referred) – Tesco Clubcard MasterCard

No fee.  Issuer: Tesco Bank. There is no sign up bonus.  However, once you have applied, you can claim 1,000 Clubcard points (2,400 Avios when converted) by sending in a ‘refer a friend’ form to say that you were recommended by someone.  Email me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk for a referral form.  If you have recently got the Tesco card you can still claim 1,000 points for being referred.

2,000 AviosMarriott Rewards MasterCard

10,000 Marriott Rewards points convert to 2,000 Avios. No annual fee. Issuer: Creation. Spend £200 in 6 months to trigger bonus.

Tomorrow, I will look at the earning rate on all of these cards.

(Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.)

39,000 American Airlines miles post promptly from my MBNA card !
1,000 bonus Avios for Tesco conversion now extended to avios.com AND BAEC
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  1. luckyjim says:

    So if you cancel one of these cards after a couple of months, particularly one with a pro-rata refund of the annual fee, would you still keep the bonus?

  2. 35k bonus has hit on first AA statement – over 44k miles in one lump, nice :D

  3. Farringdon says:

    Any idea when Amex might do a promotion to award bonus Avios on conversion from MR? They just did one for US cardholders, but not sure if theres a regular pattern to this in the UK. I have a chunk of MR points on my Amex platinum, but thinking about cancelling the card in the near future.

    • They haven’t done one in at least a year, other than targeted, I’m also waiting for one before I cancel my Gold card but I wouldn’t hold your breath!

    • There was a targetted one in February. You can always trade down to a Gold or Green Amex with no fee, or transfer the points to your partner for the £15 fee.

  4. Kiran K says:

    I currently have an Amex Platinum Cashback credit card. I wanted to apply for the BA Amex premium card but the customer service agent informs me that I won’t get the sign-up bonus because I already hold the Platinum cashback card. Does anyone know if this is true?

  5. Courtster says:

    I signed up for the BAPP a couple of months ago with the 18k/3k/3m bonus. It just posted, but with an extra 12k for a total 30k
    – additional bonus (equalling 30k total) 0 12,000
    – 18,000 bonus Avios 0 18,000

    I didn’t have any referrer bonuses. Any clue as to how I got this bonus? Not that I’m complaining obviously!

  6. Wyseman says:

    Just phone booked 2 seats Etihad business AUH/LHR through AA, using signup bonus miles plus top-up.
    Taxes/fees for Etihad USD 46.80 per person versus £180.80 for Club BA on same date!

    This hobby is definitely worthwhile!

    • Very nice! I think I will end up using mine for a 1-way business class from the US, on an AA plane to avoid fuel surcharges.

  7. signol says:

    The BA Amex seems to be offering 25000 Avios sign up bonus at the moment.