PhD level Avios: Which is the best way to collect Avios when buying petrol?!

If anyone ever tells you that they know a lot about Avios, ask them how you should maximise your Avios earning when buying petrol. It is such a painfully complex calculation that most people will collapse in a gibbering heap before getting to the answer.

Even now, I am not convince that the answer I offer below is correct. Howeer, I have given it my best shot!

When buying petrol, you have various permutations of garage and credit card to choose from!

Garage options, presenting either a Tesco Clubcard or a Shell Drivers Club card:

(Ignores the potential of higher Avios per £1 from Tesco during a Tesco to Avios conversion bonus, ignores Clubcard Plus, ignores those grandfathered onto a higher Tesco to Avios conversion rate)

1.2 Avios per £1 spent at a Tesco-branded filling station (technically 1 Clubcard point per £2 spent)

2.4 Avios per £1 spent at a Tesco-branded filling station when you use your Tesco credit card AS A CLUBCARD (technically 1 Clubcard point per £1 spent)

2.4 Avios per £1 spent on Tesco Momentum fuel at a Tesco-branded filling station (1 Clubcard point per £1 spent)

4.8 Avios per £1 spent on Tesco Momentum fuel at a Tesco-branded filling station when you use your Tesco credit card AS A CLUBCARD (1 CC point per £1 spent)

0.8 Avios per £1 spent at an Esso filling station which has a Tesco convenience store attached (1 CC point per £3 spent)

1 Avios per £2.60 spent at a Shell filling station (technically 10 Avios per 20 litres)

2 Avios per £2.60 spent on V-Power fuel at a Shell filling station (technically 20 Avios per 20 litres)


Credit card options when paying for your petrol:

(Ignores cards no longer available to new applicants and cards paying under 0.5 Avios per £1)

0.6 Avios per £1 spent on Tesco MasterCard (technically 1 Clubcard point per £4)

2 Avios per £1 spent on Amex Gold (technically 1 Membership Rewards point per £1, but this is doubled on petrol transactions)

1 Avios per £1 spent on Amex Platinum, Starwood Amex, Lloyds TSB Duo American Express

1.5 Avios per £1 spent on British Airways Premium Plus American Express

1.25 Avios per £1 spent on Lloyds TSB Platinum Duo American Express

The most difficult thing to get your head around here is using your Tesco credit card as a Clubcard. If you have a Tesco credit card, you can use it as a Clubcard as well – you don’t need to carry around two cards.

Usually, a normal blue Clubcard gives the same points as a Tesco credit card used as a Clubcard. However – when buying petrol – the Clubcard element of the Tesco credit card gives you double points.

So, what is the answer? What is the best way to earn Avios when buying fuel?

Based purely on standard fuel (not V-Power or Momentum) the answer is:

Buy standard fuel at a Tesco-branded garage. Use your Tesco credit card as a Clubcard but use your Amex Preferred Rewards Gold card to pay!

For every £4 spent on petrol, you would earn:

4 Clubcard points (earning rate is 1 per £1 when using a Tesco credit card as a Clubcard) = 9.6 Avios

8 American Express Membership Rewards points (2 per £1 when buying petrol) = 8 Avios

That is 17.6 Avios points per £4, or 4.4 Avios per £1.

You may earn even more. Sometimes, when using an Amex Gold at Tesco to buy fuel, you will actually receive triple points. This is the 100% bonus for buying petrol and the 100% bonus for visiting a supermarket! In this scenario, you would earn 5.4 Avios per £1.

(Amex Gold is odd, though, but in a good way! One person I know receives 4 Membership Rewards points (= 4 Avios) per £1 when he uses his Amex Gold at any Shell garage!)

Here is my full review of the Amex Preferred Rewards Gold if this post encourages you to get one!

(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to see our latest articles on earning and spending your points and click here to see our list of current Avios promotions.)

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  1. mrtibbs1999 says:

    I’m not going to disect the maths, but Tesco fuel with the Amex Gold is how I do it, it’s the triple MR that makes it lovely plus the CC points on top :)

  2. Congratulations on sticking your head in the lion’s mouth and surviving! I had tried several times to get my grain around this and yours is a very good stab.

    I’ve been getting 1 point per £ using my Tesco World MasterCard as a Clubcard, as you mention, and triple MR points on my AmEx Gold. I believe the 3rd MR point is good for the first year only, though, so I guess fom the second year, that will disappear (as will our Gold cards as the regular deal is not worth the fee for us).

    • When you say “our” gold cards, why not just have one at a time and then re-refer the other person each year?

      • Good point, and one worth considering though timing would just be wrong this year so we would need to start afresh.

        However, having given up my platinum card following the devaluation last year and with my Diamond Club MC effectively giving me 2x Avios per £ (4x on BA spend), I’m currently feeling less need to do so.

  3. James67 says:

    For those fortnare to have opportunity 9.7 avios/£ should be possible buying 3V cards with MBNA DC mc, and then buying giftcard with these such as asda or sainsbutys.

  4. If you have the Platinum Amex charge card (1 membership point per £) and you take a gold card as a secondary card are the points earned in that gold card treated the same as platinum or as if if were a normal gold card? (I.e. double points on fuel and supermarket spend?)

    • Sinizter says:

      It would be treated as an associate card of the platinum, not as a separate new gold card.

    • Same as the Platinum, so no petrol bonus. Good question, though, its the first time I’ve ever seen that asked!

  5. Surely for your ideal situation there is no need for a credit card clubcard – a normal clubcard would give the same result?

    • mrtibbs1999 says:

      For some strange reason the Credit Card Clubcard gives more points.

    • The Tesco credit card is promoted as getting extra points. I receive 1 clubcard point per £ with my Wold MasterCard being used as a clubcard only rather than the 1 clubcard point for every £2 which is the standard clubcard rate. From Raffles comments it appears this is available on any Tesco credit card being used as a clubcard – I had been unsure if this was the case.

    • The deal from Tesco is you get 1 point per £ spent on fuel when you pay for your fuel with a Tesco Credit Card (normal earning rate is 1 point per £2 spent), in reality you get 1 point per £ spent on fuel simply by using the Tesco Credit Card as a Clubcard no need to pay for the fuel with it.

    • No, because the Clubcard built into the credit card gives you 1 per £1 on petrol, instead of the 1 per £2 a normal Clubcard gives.

  6. Simon85 says:

    I get 4 MR points per £1 at Shell on my Amex Gold too. Haven’t been able to fathom out why though!

  7. Great post.
    Good to see I’m using the best method too (Tesco Credit Card as clubcard and Amex Gold to pay :-)

  8. The Amex Gold only provides double points for supermarkets and fuel in the first year so this needs to be factored in to your decision when buying fuel as there is only the benefit availablemn year one.

  9. Squillion says:

    Tesco credit card as clubcard + BMI Amex also gives 4.4 Avios per £1.

  10. Talking about double and triple points on Amex Gold, is there a list of stations where you can top up your oyster and get triple points? There are old posts on HFP and FT from 6 months ago only.

    I need to buy an annual travelcard soon and it would be great to earn triple points on that.

    btw, topping up at South West Trains stations didn’t even give me double, had to email them. I got triple at Knightsbridge and Hounslow East tubes.

  11. Strange. I thought I was doing well with 3 points/£1 at Shell on my Gold card.

  12. Squillion says:

    It has been reported & evidenced elsewhere that using your Tesco Credit Card as a Clubcard gives 2 CC points per £1 when buying Momentum99 (4.8 Avios per £1). Combine this with either Amex Gold or BMI Amex to give another 2 Avios per £1.

    Total therefore = 6.8 Avios per £1. You could stick in 60 litres for (say) £1.41/ litre and clock up 575 Avios!

    Hope that helps some petrolheads – no good for us as we’re both diesel ;-)

    Sorry if my maths is out but I think that’s right.

  13. I’m getting 4 MR points per £1 at Shell with my Amex Gold; also get Shell Driver Club points and they’re relatively good at emailing promotions for bonus Shell points above a certain spend.

    • Sideysid says:

      Also worth noting the Barclaycard Bespoke Offers on Shell at the mo, 5p off p/l on V-Power petrol and diesel. Anyone can print them off, you don’t have to be a Barclaycard holder.

      • … and myWaitrose cardholders received a 5p/litre coupon in their latest snailmailshot, not limited to specific fuel so far as I can see.

  14. Could anyone have a stab at the best option if you have been grandfathered into a higher tesco earning rate (presumably through the legacy finest credit card) and have access to a clubcard plus? Does the legacy credit card work in the same way as the newer ones where you just present it as a clubcard then choose a different payment method for additional points?

    • I assume by legacy card you mean the Tesco World Mastercard?

      As far as I know, the CC+ by itself does not earn the higher credit card points on fuel, so the earning rate per pound for each would be:
      World Mastercard: 0.5 CreditCard + 1 Clubcard = 1.5 CC = 3.6 Avios
      Clubcard Plus: 1 CreditCard + 0.5 Clubcard = 1.5 CC = 3.6 Avios
      Normal Tesco Credit: 0.25 CreditCard + 1 Clubcard = 1.25 CC = 3 Avios
      So there is no difference in earning between the legacy credit card and the CC+.
      I don’t know if you can swipe the World Mastercard for points and then pay with the CC+, if you can that would be even better (2 CC = 4.8 Avios). If it works this is your best earning method. Try it! (Check on the clubcard website My Points to see what you actually got)

      The legacy credit card can be used with AMEX as Raffles described, and is otherwise the best method:
      World Mastercard (Clubcard) = 1 CC = 2.4 Avios
      Amex Gold (Payment) = 2.0 Avios
      Total: 4.4 Avios
      (ie, you dont gain anything over the current tesco credit card + amex)

      The World Mastercard is also beaten by the BA Plus (3.9 Avios), and is just beaten by the Lloyds Duo Premier (3.65) but is the best after that. Those two cards have fees so I figure you need to be spending over 10k per year for them to actually be better.

      Note, I got the CC+ earning rate from an MSE thread which is a couple of years old so you might want to double check these figures on your clubcard statement. The World Mastercard numbers are up to date.

  15. Especially unbranded filling stations sometimes advertise “most major credit cards accepted” – and if your most rewarding card is an AMEX one, you’ll know what that means: no AMEX, less Avios.
    Well… I found out that, despite this announcement, some card terminals at these places still DO accept AMEX cards! Just pop it in and see what happens. There’s nothing to lose!

    • I’ll second that – quite often I’ve tried my luck with the BMI Amex in shops that say “AMEX doesn’t work here” and we’re all pleasantly surprised to find that it does in fact work ;-)

  16. Tesco credit card for the points paying with BMI Amex normally.
    Unless the Shell app is giving 100 bonus points on a 10 litre fill up. With 4 shell cards in the family that works out better.

  17. I don’t think this is as difficult as some people make out:

    1. Where do you buy the petrol?
    Tesco v Shell v Esso… Tesco:… wins easily – 1.2avios/£

    2. Can you increase this?
    Add a tesco CC as a clubcard to double the reward

    3. Use the most generous credit card to pay.

    Amex gold’s bonus sound good, but if there’s something else you’re working towards eg AA’s target then use it., or an older generous one no longer open to newcomers. Or consider a cashback one if you’re that way inclined, as much as 3% is possible.

  18. Can’t see people have beaten my 6.8 Avios per £1

    • Its certainly hard to beat. It is worth considering that if your car does not require the higher octane fuel you are basically buying the avios:
      Tesco: 59.46l@132.9p = £79 * 4.4 = 347.6 Avios
      Tesco Momentum: 59.46l@137.9p = £82 * 6.8 = 557.6 Avios
      (210 Avios for 300 pence = 1.43p/Avios)

      This doesn’t take in to account Tesco’s claimed 3% better fuel efficiency. If true it would make up most of the difference in price.

    • 7.8 Avios/£ should be possible with a Tesco CC and an Amex Gold in the first year, if you buy premium grade petrol.

      Most cars won’t really benefit from the higher grade fuel though, and the extra Avios don’t compensate for the extra cost unless you attach a really high value to them.

  19. That extra Avios is a bit hit & miss.

    But yes, I see your point.

    OTOH they claim that the extra MPG saving more than compensates for the extra cost, so forget Avios – the better MPG alone should justify the 5p/ litre.

    • Not for me. I reliably get 3 avios/£ spend on Tesco fuel with the supermarket and fuel bonus. I have been doing so on and off for the past three years (having cancelled and reapplied, then got a second year of supermarket and fuel bonuses on the second card when they increased the annual fee).

      The extra octane rating won’t make a difference to most cars. The cleaning additives possibly might, though that depends as much on where you get the fuel as the type you buy. Personally I’d take any such claims with a pinch of salt.

  20. Time for me to get a job as a Taxi driver

  21. How does the maximum avois compare in % of spend terms ? I’ve got a santander 123 credit card that pay’s 3% casback on fuel does this trump the avois ?

    • Probably not.

      Depends of course on how much value you place on 1 Avios, and whether you also have an Amex Gold card that is getting the bonus fuel/supermarket spend. However unless you value an Avios at 1p, or more, then you’re probably better off with the cash back.

      • Agreed. Assuming you do value avios at 1p, and the AMEX Gold gets the double points on fuel then that is 2%. To match the cashback you need to either value avios at 1.5p or get the triple bonus mentioned in other comments.

        I think your best bet would be to combine the Santander cashback (for payment) with the Tesco credit card (for clubcard points).

        • Thanks chaps, not got an amex gold, but do have a tesco credit card, that I had previously assumed had to be used for payment, so from now on will combine with santander for paymentill as I value Avois at 1p per point

  22. Has anybody ever experienced any problems at the (manned) checkout when staff were trying to swipe the Tesco credit card? Here’s what happened to me: I had a number of CC coupons (the ones that give you extra CC points if you spent at least £1 on apples etc) and some space in my bag when flying out of GLA. So I went to the Tesco Metro at the airport and filled my basket with all the goodies.

    At the till, I wanted to pay with my AMEX and handed the lady my Tesco credit card in order to link the purchase to my CC account and for redeeming the coupons. Unlike the CC card, my credit card hasn’t got a barcode but only a magnetic strip. After swiping the card in vain for a while, the girl asked me “Do you have a proper CC as well?” Yes, I do, and both cards are linked to the same account. The whole transaction worked fine with the “proper” CC card, whereas the coupons obviously weren’t recognised when swiping the Tesco credit card. That’s at least what I was told.

    Has anybody ever encountered similar problems? As soon I get near a Tesco filling station, I’ll definitely try the “refuel at Tesco’s, pay with AMEX” deal you have described above and see if that’ll work for me.

    • The bonus points coupons should work fine with your credit card. It sounds the problem wasn’t with the coupons though, but with scanning the credit card? It was probably just a problem with her tills magnetic reader.
      If you want to use it only as a clubcard you don’t need to hand it over. They should ask you to put it in the chip and pin reader. The till will first load the clubcard – then it will ask them how much to charge on to the card (for if you only wanted to part pay on the card) – they can cancel it at this stage. All of this is before you are prompted for a pin, so there is no risk you will be charged.

      • Thanks a lot for your advice.

        “They should ask you to put it in the chip and pin reader.” I assume that’ll work at the self-checkout, too? I’ll try it anyway.

        • Yep. I haven’t used them in a while, but I think you select the clubcard option on the touchscreen then put your card in the pin reader.

  23. GingerBread says:

    Hi All,

    Although the Tesco route appears more productive from most of the computations above, for those sticking to Shell, I’d recommend getting their free iPhone/iPad/Android App, as addition voucher offers seem to appear much more often than the quarterly mailed ones.

    Most of my recent visits have had an additional 100 Shell Points ( 50 Avios) for a minimum 20 litre fill.

  24. Londonbus says:

    You missed the postdoc level.

    Every so often Shell makes an offer if you have a Shell Drivers Club app.

    Typically it is 100 extra points if you buy 15 litres of fuel.

    So from Drivers Club paying £19.50 (£1.30 a litre) you get 115 points. That’s 57.5 avios. Plus anything you can get through your specialist payment card.