Part 1: The two new Lloyds Avios Rewards cards – my review

For the first time, I have dedicated all three posts today to the same topic – the new Lloyds Avios credit cards.  They have a couple of unique features which need to be explained fully, and that means multiple posts!  The bottom line, though, is that these cards will – for a lot of people – be a ‘must have’.  Although not necessarily as a main card ….

This post will focus on a general overview.

Lloyds Bank unveiled an overhaul of its Avios-earning credit cards yesterday.  It is ‘goodbye’ to the old Duo credit cards, although the free version is still available via TSB.  You will remember that these came in two versions – free and with a £50 fee.  The difference was the Avios earnings rate and a 2-4-1 voucher (economy flights only) on the £50 card.

These two cards have been replaced by the Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards Credit Card (home page here) and the Lloyds Bank Premier Avios Rewards Credit Card (home page here).  Here is my review.

To cause extra confusion, Lloyds launched a third card yesterday – the Choice Card – which also offers Avios as a redemption option.  I will focus on the Choice Card tomorrow.  Do not apply for anything until you’ve read about all three cards!

Lloyds Avios Rewards 2

Here is a quick summary of the changes on the new Avios cards compared to the old cards:

There is no longer a free Avios earning card from Lloyds.  The basic card has a £24 fee.  The ‘Premier’ card has a whopping £140 fee.

You can still get the free version of the ‘old’ Avios Duo cards by applying via TSB.  Here is the link.  For simplicity, I won’t discuss this card again in this article.  Everything I say refers only to the new Lloyds cards.

Both cards come as a double pack of an American Express and a MasterCard

The earnings rates are improved over the old cards.  The Premier card (£140) offers 1.5 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.3 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.  The basic card (£24) offers 1.25 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.

No foreign transaction fees.  This could be a game changer, and I will discuss it in more detail in a separate post.  Never before has a mainstream UK reward card, of any sort, offered to waive the 3% foreign exchange fee.

Double Avios points on the Amex card for the first six months.  This is instead of a sign-up bonus.  This is capped at £2,500 of spending per month.

Flight upgrade voucher when you spend £7,000 (£24 card) or £5,000 (£140 card)Post 3 today looks at the terms and conditions attached to this voucher, and whether it is worth aiming for.

A 2-4-1 voucher when you spend £12,000 per year on the £140 card.  This is valid ONLY on Economy class bookings.  It is valid on British Airways, Flybe, Aer Lingus, Monarch, American Airlines, Air Malta and Aurigny, plus Eurostar.

0% on purchases for the first 13 months.  This means that, if you choose not to repay your balance in full, you will not incur any interest.  You will still need to make the minimum 1% monthly repayment, though.

So, should you get either of these cards?

You should read my other two posts today, to fully understand the ‘no foreign exchange fees’ and ‘flight upgrade voucher’ rules, before carrying on reading here.

Question 1:  Do I recommend the £24 card (Lloyds Avios Rewards) ?

Yes, I do.

If you can answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions then I think this card is worth adding to your wallet.

Do you spend over £800 per year on your credit card outside the UK?

If so, then get this card.  The foreign exchange fees on any other credit or debit card are 3%, whilst this card is 0%.  Spend over £800 and you are in ‘profit’ as your saving on FX fees has covered the £24 fee.

Do you spend over £2,000 per year outside the UK on a ‘no FX fees’ credit card?

If you already have a card with no foreign exchange fee, like the Post Office MasterCard, it may be worth switching as this card also earns Avios points.  The break-even point is around £2,000 of foreign spend.  Put that through the Post Office card and you earn 0 Avios.  Put that through the Lloyds Avios Rewards card and you get 2,500 Avios points which justifies the £24 fee.

Do you travel on your own?

The biggest issue with the 2-4-1 voucher on the British Airways Amex card is that it requires two people to travel.  For solo travellers, the voucher that comes with the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is better, as you can upgrade both legs of one flight.  You might find the Avios Rewards card a better choice than the BA Amex.

Are you a heavy Amex spender (up to £2,500 per month)?

If so, get this card, at least for the first year.  You get double Avios on your Amex spend for the first 6 months, on up to £2,500 per month.  That is 2.5 Avios per £1, which is 1 Avios per £1 more than the British Airways Premium Plus Amex.  The additional Avios will easily cover your £24 fee.

Question 2:  Do I recommend the £140 card (Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards)?

In general, ‘No’.

Let’s compare the £140 card to the £24 card:

  • Both cards offer the ‘no foreign exchange fees’ benefit, so there is no need to pay for the expensive card
  • The difference in earnings rate is minimal (1.5 vs 1.25 Avios per £1 on the Amex)
  • The MasterCard earnings rate is a joke on both cards – 0.3 per £1 and 0.25 per £1 – and you would be substantially better off using a cashback card or the Amazon MasterCard (1% back) instead
  • Both cards offer the ‘upgrade’ voucher, and the difference in spend required is only £2,000
  • I do not value the 2-4-1 voucher highly

The key, of course, is the last point.  I do not value a 2-4-1 voucher which is only valid on Economy redemptions.  Long-haul Economy redemptions are generally a waste of Avios points, and short-haul redemptions mean that you do not save much from the voucher given the £12,000 of spend required.  My personal view is that you are better off with the BA Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher which is valid in ALL travel classes.

Let’s compare the £140 Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card to the £150 BA Premium Plus Amex:

  • The BA Premium Plus (BAPP) Amex does have a 3% FX fee, but you can escape that by getting the cheaper £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards card and using that just for foreign spend
  • The BAPP Amex has the same earnings rate
  • The BAPP Amex has a £10 higher fee
  • The BAPP Amex does not have the ‘upgrade’ voucher, but this is also available via the £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards card
  • The 2-4-1 voucher with the BAPP Amex is valid in ALL travel classes.  This offers a saving of up to 300,000 Avios (First Class return to Australia) and realistically 100,000+ Avios if used for a Club World return.

As you can see, the 2-4-1 voucher – and the ability to use it in premium classes – is the deal breaker.

What will you do Raffles?

The ‘no foreign exchange fee’ benefit is a huge one for me, a game changer.  My gut feeling, at this point, is that I will apply for the £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards cards and use it purely for overseas spend.  (For the first six months, whilst it offers double Avios, I may put other spend through it as well).

I have no interest in the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card.  The £140 fee is not justified by the additional benefits, in my view.

I will retain my British Airways Premium Plus Amex and I will ensure that I continue to spend £10,000 on it each year to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher.  I will continue to use these for premium class redemptions.

Your comments

I know that there is a huge amount to take in across these three posts today.  It is also possible that there are some intricacies to these cards that I have not yet picked up on.  Please share your thoughts and questions below.

(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Do not apply for a BA or SPG Amex on Tuesday or Wednesday!
Part 2: Why 'no foreign exchange fees' on the new Lloyds Avios Rewards cards is a game-changer
About Head for Points

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Comments

  1. I’m thinking of the double points for 6 months, capped at £2.5K a month, which is £15K over 6 months x 2.5 is 37.5K avios and then stop using.. and will have triggered the £7k spend upgrade voucher..a bit of jam on top.. then bin the card..can I face Lloyds though..’sir the spend on the first 6 months started last christmas prior to application /started when the last eclipse happened.

    • I would expect some trouble getting the double points (so no trouble would be a nice surprise) but the voucher should be fine, as long as you don’t do things like refunds on the triggering spend.

      • To be fair, Lloyds always posted bonus points on spend (as opposed to bonus points on sign-up) promptly when I had the card.

        An extra bonus would be had if you booked something refundable in the last month of double points and then refunded it the following month!

  2. Do you think, or have they confirmed that the double avios is just a promo to get the card going? I’m thinking of getting the preferred rewards Amex first for the sign up, then maybe move on to this one in a few months.

    • Well I think the bonus is likely to be here for a while.

    • It looks like its a permanent feature. Remember that the Lufthansa card also offers this as a permanent feature – Lloyds has just been pinching good ideas from other issuers!

  3. Great trio of posts Rob, thanks for your obvious hard work on this. Can you recall if the no fx fees applies only to purchases or also cash? I currently have Nationwide select credit and N&P debit so despite the lure of avios I am disinclined to apply now. I prefer to wait until end of February to see if the 6 months double earnings is replaced with a more lucrative up front bonus although Lloyds track record on crediting those is disheartening. My other reason to wait until then is that I would then bring council tax, home insurance and other annual one-off ecpenditures into the 6 month window if an upfront bonus does not appear. The 13 month interest free purchase period on a decent rewards card is also welcome as it allows us on more modest incomes to manage better spending targets on other cards we may hold. So this combined with avios on overseas spend and the potentially valuable upgrade voucher makes the £24 card a winner for me too if benefits maximised over the March-August period. If you apply soon and referal becomes an option then you can count on mine in the spring. Thanks again for your efforts on this.

    • Is it that hard to check for yourself, cash withdrawals have a 3% fee.

      • Actually it’s a little harder than yoj might imagine as I’m visually impaired and currently overseas so relying on my smartphone which is not the most userfriendly option for navigating complex websites using a combination of magnifiers, screenreaders etc. The simpler text layouts of blogs such as HfP and assistance of people such as yourself makes ingo much more accessiblr to me, patticularly when I am away from home.

        • haha, ok, well Lloyds’ website does have “accessibility” features but I suppose they may not work that well on a phone.

  4. I have the premier duo which didn’t have a fee if you have the premier current account – is the fee for either wipe with the added value current account?

  5. Jeremy Gautrey says:

    Hi,
    I have the existing duo cards. Will I be able to get the new cards and sign up bonus?

    • Lloyds website says no, upgrades not currently allowed. Probably requires cancellation and a new application.

      • Existing Duo cards will continue as they are with their existing terms and conditions. If you want the new cards, you will have to make a new application as Raffles mentions.

  6. Actually the min repayment is higher of 1% or £5.

    3% is the BT fee. If you have a credit card balance which you are struggling to clear, you can get some Avios by doing a BT too – which won’t work if you were intending to spend 2.5k per month.

    • 1%? Is it that low now? No wonder people get into debt. I wrote 3% from memory because I thought that was still the legal minimum.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        It has changed a bit. It is now generally 1% + fees and interest incurred (by law for US-parented issuers). This means that min payment will always reduce the balance owed. Previously it was often just 3% of balance, but this might not in itself cover interest and fees, so the balance could build.

        • Barclays’ is the most complicated – but you will never pay less than 2.25% of the balance. Since interest rates are low, none of their BT offers are remotely interesting.

          Tesco and Nationwide are 1% but £25 min, which works if you have a large enough balance. Lloyds, Halifax and MBNA are 1% and £5 min.

          If I can earn 3% from a balance transfer or no interest purchase deal, I find that to be better than collecting points. If Amex is paying 3MR/£ then I’d take that though…

  7. rossmacd says:

    I have the existing Avios Duo cards – does my account automatically change to this new card (i.e. will I have to pay the fee?) or do I remain on the old card?

  8. I have an existing Lloyds Duo. I would very much like to apply for the new ones. If I cancel my existing Lloyds Duo account how long will I have to wait before I can re-apply?

  9. I have just acquired the CapitalOne card for FX spend. I have the BAPP AMEX and a supplementary card on the Diamond Club Mastercard/AMEX duo, which we put day-to-day items on.

    For me this Lloyds card offers an interesting proposition.

    I am about 2K short of triggering the 2-4-1 on the BA AMEX. My plan was to trigger the voucher and then downgrade to the free AMEX. I had given thought to getting the Gold AMEX and then churning back to the BA AMEX after a year, once the 2-4-1 was used. However, the Lloyds Duo, if as good as they seem might be a better option.
    I think I will put day-to-day spend on for the first 6 months and then use it for FX after that.

    • “…and a supplementary card on the Diamond Club Mastercard/AMEX duo…”

      I knew there was that legendary BMI/DC Mastercard which gives you 2.5 Avios per £, and I was at least lucky enough to sign up for the VISA/AMEX duo before it was too late. What I did not know is that they issued a Mastercard/AMEX duo. How many Avios per £ do you earn on each of them, BD, and when was this combination available?

      • Opps, Ive just had a look in my wallet, its a Visa, not a Mastercard! I think I got confused, as the bmi product was a mastercard for so long.
        Earn for the account is 2/£ on the AMEX and 1/£ on the Visa.

  10. BritBronco says:

    Not worth the effort of applying or paying the fee for me. I already have a Nationwide Select card and a Clarity Card for the ATM. Also have the BMI Amex for normal spending.
    Best upshot of this is that it might cause other Amex card issuers to review their FX fees.

    • Exactly. Amex asked me about ways to improve the Gold card recently, and I told them that waiving the FX fee would be a game-changer. Would look more like a catch-up move if they did it now, but would still be valuable.

  11. I see your argument comparing £140 card to £24 and then £140 card to BAPP, but if you compare the £140 card to the combined pair you would pay £174 in annual fees vs £140, need to accumulate 10,000 BAEC Avios + 7,000 Avios to get the 2-4-1 and upgrade (vs 12,000 avios) and these could not be used in tandem – the BAEC 2-4-1 needs to be redeemed through BA and the upgrade must be on a flight bought with standard avios. The £140 card would allow you to get ecomony flights and upgrade to club europe for 2 travellers one-way, plus free foreign spending whilst abroad. Also, trying to juggle 2 different spending targets across the BAPP and £24 card is much more hassle than just accumulating in 1 place, so I think the premium card will find its niche.

    • I agree. The 241 voucher on the BA Amex is of most value to people who generate at least 100,000 Avios per year and can get 2 x Club World redemptions with that 100k. If you don’t generate that many Avios, and so use your 241 for economy redemptions, the Lloyds card may work just as well.

      Do not underestimate the power of the 2-year BAPP voucher, though. A voucher which is only valid for 1 year is very inflexible for routes which require you to book a long way in advance. With a 2-year voucher in my account, I can happily sit and wait for seats to open up at 355 days out for flights I want at peak periods.

      • Good point about the 2yr expiry.

        On the Lloyds book-then-upgrade point again, a pair of return flights to Istanbul out 05/04/14 Euro Traveller, returning 19/04/14 Club Europe would cost £ 1,110.10. Using the Lloyds premium card 2-4-1 plus upgrade would make that 20,000 Avios plus £85. That gives an Avio the price of 5.1p unless my sums are totally wrong! :-)

        • Except that Manage My Booking would probably offer you a cash upgrade from ET to CE for £125 anyway!

          And you can only upgrade reward tickets, and would need reward inventory to be available in BOTH economy and Club Europe. Very restrictive.

  12. Off topic, but did anyone else get a random Amex Membership Rewards points adjustment today in the form of many bonus points ??

    • Yes, I got this – no idea what it’s all about, but while it’s a +ve adjustment I’m not too unhappy about it!

      • I got this too – and looking through my statement seem not to have got any bonus points for the last week or so… So maybe it was for that…

    • Could it be for missing bonus points for foreign spend?

      They have beeen having issues with zero bonus points being awarded, and they promised to make this up later.

    • Have just checked my account and got 200 additional rewards points for a ‘bonus error adjustment’, so no idea what transactions it might relate to.

      • They have made no errors in a long time so I have no idea where over 5500 bonus points came from. Thanks Amex !

        • I got a couple of hundred this morning, and about another 1,800 a couple of hours later on my PRG card. Can’t see any errors, and I’ve had no foreign spend on this card, have only had it a few weeks. Very nice of them, and I can’t work it out, so I’m just going to stop worrying about it!

    • Nothing for me :(

      • StephenF says:

        Got 10 points as error adjustment.

        On another point my gold card is giving me (and wife who has own card) 584 avios when filling up the car (4x points on top of base points + Tesco clubcard points)!! Amazing.

    • After complaining about my spends on several OW and *A airlines only earning single points, I got the following message from Amex:

      “A technical error has been identified regarding your MR points. You have not been earning the correct rate for certain travel industry spend between May and October 2013. The root cause of this issue has now been identified and corrective measures have been implemented.

      A further adjustment will be applied to your account in early November for any remaining bonus MR points you are entitled to, for spend in September and October.”

      Received 10000 MRs more than I should have – meaning triple / quadruple points on most things. That makes up for being denied the 20% bonus avios offer.

    • I did, twice for that matter and have no idea what it is for. I think it is in the region of 2000 MR, if my memory serves me right.

  13. Raffles do you see any additional value in the Lloyds 2-4-1 for those of us in N. Ireland? If it can be used with Aer Lingus then Dublin-San Francisco in J would save 100,000 avios with little taxes.

    • Good point, my thinking is London-centric as usual. Assuming, of course, that avios.com can book you on long haul AI redemptions as opposed to short-haul.

      If this could be used on the Aer Lingus services then it is a decent option for people who don’t want to pay BA taxes. But then, if are happy to pay £140 for the card and can easily put £12,000 through an Amex in a year, then BA’s taxes are unlikely to be a high priority.

    • I thought it was just Y redemptions for the 241 not J

      • Ah yes you are correct. Well at least a 50,000 saving might be possible then. Not really feasible to fly on BA in Y with taxes anyway

  14. Is this available to people on the existing lloyds duo programme?

  15. Thanks, Jacqui, glad someone bit the bullet and attempted what we were all wondering and questioning – can existing Lloyds duo card holders apply? Of course the next step is to ensure that as ex members once cancelled, we can both apply and qualify for the initial 6 month bonus.

    • Oops, forgot to include an interesting post from Flytalk (see trackbacks below):

      “If you are an existing Lloyds Bank Credit Card customer looking to change to the Premier Avios Rewards Credit Card, you can’t do this at the present time, but you will be able to shortly.”

      So, how long is “shortly” and what will the conditions be…?

  16. “Never before has a UK reward card, of any sort, offered to waive the 3% foreign exchange fee”

    The Aqua reward card and Halifax Clarity reward does. Neither provide cash back on foreign spend though so this could still be better.

    • Callum: which part of ‘UK REWARD card’ don’t you understand? 😉

      James: it DOES. Mine does, and I use it exclusively outside the UK. :)

      • Sorry, perhaps, but Raffles was probably thinking of ‘Rewards’ being miles or points rather than a discount. I do anyway.

    • Sorry my mistake. I regret using my Clarity instead of Aqua card abroad so much now!

      Roger – I understand it perfectly well thank you very much… I suggest you consult a dictionary to get the definition of “reward” though. From other posts raffles has made in response to people pointing out these cards, it seems like he was genuinely unaware of them and wasn’t restricting it to miles and points cards only.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      The Aqua most certainly does pay 3% on foreign spend – I barely used it in the UK last year.

  17. I’m glad the beast is out the bag for those of us waiting to see what Lloyds would offer. Thanks, Raffles, for such a details explanation across 3 posts!

    Having now read all posts, all comments, the flyertalk thread and had some time to contemplate it, if you can stand Lloyds notoriously bad service and frequent stuff-ups, then this isn’t a bad offering, though no marvel either.

    The points I am considering:

    Opening bonus: It sounds ok to get double points, and to take advantage of it all the way auto-qualifies you for the upgrade voucher, even the 2-4-1 on the premium, but is it worth it? While Lloyds are also known for low credit limits, many may find they can’t even reach a £2.5k target per month, though by paying money into the account through the month, this is possible to circumvent. So let’s say you get the maximum 18,750 Avios “bonus” disguised as double-points in the form of £1 spend targets. You can’t really count the original 18,750 earned, as you’d get that anyway for the spend, on this card or at least that on many others. And on that point, with many readers hanging onto their old BMI cards, a number of us can earn at least 2 Avios/£1 with no effort or special bonus. The difference of 0.75 Avios/£1 therefore reduces the effective bonus of this offer to only 11,250 Avios. Not such a fancy bonus now, is it, and for a spend of £15k??? You could trigger 7 x £2k spend targets for that amount of money on a number of other cards to net, say, 7 x 15k bonuses (just a thumb-suck average, in reality it could be more with the likes of the Amex Plat offering 35k bonuses!) = 105,000 Avios. So by itself, the double-points bonus is very weak.

    Upgrade voucher: With a family of 4 and normally travelling together long-haul, this isn’t worth much to me.

    2-4-1 voucher: Opposing Raffles’ views, I think this is worth something if taking out the premium card. I would rather pay economy taxes and charges for a family of 4, despite getting better value per Avios when redeeming the BAPP 2-4-1 in premium cabins. But what makes the BAPP “better value” is because BA charges in economy are so high already and you can’t use it elsewhere – it is therefore its own restrictions that give that sense of upgrade value. This 2-4-1 is available for redemption on other airlines (Flybe, Aer Lingus, Monarch, American Airlines, Air Malta and Aurigny, plus Eurostar) which charge far less in fees, so suddenly economy redemptions using a 2-4-1 have become a lot better value for money/avios! An economy redemption LHR-JFK return using 40k Avios and BAPP 2-4-1 would cost you £716 (staggering!), but an AA redemption using the Lloyds 2-4-1 would possibly cost £242! The 2-4-1 has just increased its value by nearly £500! But since the 2-4-1 is only bookable on avios.com which doesn’t show AA as an option, how do you book these?

    Free FX fee: This is a definite game changer, as remarked, to earn points and save on FX, but would you be able to put all your foreign spend through on your Amex? Unlilely, so you are hardly going to recover your card fee this way. Its benefits are therefore very much determined by your personal trips and usage, leaving it, for some, no better than other 0% FX load cards.

    So, some definite enhancements, though not outstanding, but how much does it take to entice back disgruntled customers who currently can’t even apply!

  18. I’ve had a think about these new Lloyds cards and I have to say that I’m really underwhelmed. The prizes for reaching the spending thresholds are lame and the 6 months of bonus avios is not as good as most sign-up offers. Unless I’m missing something, the mastercards are not even as good as the free Tesco Clubcard.

    The zero currency charges is good but in general not worth going through the hassle of dealing with Lloyds for, as I already have a (free) Zero card. I get that it doesn’t accrue avios but I spend maybe £500 a year abroad, and for me the max 1,250 avios < £24+dealing with Lloyds. I would have to spend thousands a year abroad before it was worth going through the hassle of signing up for a card (especially with Lloyds). I can see that it's different if you didn't already have a card that waived the FX fee.

    The only reason I'd have for taking one out has nothing to do with Avios – I want a card with an interest-free period because I'm buying a car and it's a cheap way to finance it, but Lloyds credit limits are so measly that it wouldn't really help.

    So despite my initial excitement, my wallet will be staying the same. Amex Gold PR for supermarkets and travel; BA PP for everything else; Tesco clubcard for Screwfix and other daft places that don't take Amex yet; and Santander Zero for foreign spending.

    • I have a BMI visa that I use for generating Avios on non AMEX spend. Since this is no longer available for new customers is the Lloyds one now the best card to use at outlets that don’t accept AMEX.

      • No, the Tesco card is better, and it is free.

        However, the upgrade vouchers etc may make the Lloyds card more interesting, but only if you are sure you’d use them.

  19. I am responsible for that! I emailed my contact there yesterday, as they were still showing the Duo link. The text is still wrong, though ….

Trackbacks

  1. […] to Raffles for the updates on The Blog. Extremely clear and helpful. I shall want to wait a couple of months before applying, and my next […]