Can you earn cheap Avios points buying Tesco Visa gift cards with a £3.95 fee?

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?

I ran an article on 3V Virtual Visa gift cards recently, the first one for a while.  These are the £25 Visa gift cards which you can buy for £25 in Tesco, earning yourself Tesco Clubcard points and generating some American Express spend.  Unfortunately, the uses for 3V cards are now limited as they are no longer accepted for ‘financial’ transactions.

Tesco still sells a different sort of Visa gift card, which carry a fee.  They look like this:

Gift Card

The fee is £2.95 when you buy a £25 card and £3.95 when you buy a £50 card.

Why could buying these cards make sense?

For a surprisingly long time now (over a year) Tesco has been offering 150 bonus Clubcard points when you spend £50 on gift cards in-store.

Here is the Tesco webpage which outlines the deal.

Whilst you do not receive the bonus Clubcard points if you buy Tesco’s own gift cards, all other gift cards qualify – including the Visa ones.

These Visa gift cards come with a huge list of terms, conditions and fees. However, there are only four things you need to know:

A £25 card carries a £2.95 fee, a £50 card carries a £3.95 fee

Tesco limits you to £2,000 of purchases per year (you can get around this relatively easily) and 5 cards per transaction

You need to register the card before you can use it online or by phone, presumably to put a name on file to match up with the card details the retailer enters, but for face to face transactions it can be used immediately. (When you have registered one card, adding additional cards is very quick and painless.)

It is treated as a debit card when you use it

How can I benefit from this?

Let’s assume that you have payments for which debit cards are accepted but credit cards or Amex cards are not.

When you buy a £50 Visa debit card, the maths looks like this:

Fee paid: £3.95

Avios points earned from Tesco: 150 Clubcard points = 360 Avios

Avios points earned with an American Express Gold* = 106 Avios

Total Avios points earned = 466 Avios, or 0.85p per Avios

(* Amex Gold – reviewed here – offers 2 American Express Membership Rewards points per £1 spent in supermarkets for the first year you have the card.  These transfer 1:1 into Avios points.)

0.85p per Avios point is a good but not amazing deal.  It is, of course, far cheaper than buying them directly from British Airways.

You will also get more than 0.85p per point when redeeming, especially if you are using a British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, so you are unlikely to lose money buying these Visa cards.

There is an extra benefit – you can use it to put additional spend through whatever American Express card you use in Tesco, which may help you hit a target for a sign-up bonus or your BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher.

You may be able to buy them below face value for free Avios!

Occasionally, Tesco sends out ‘conditional spend’ vouchers in the post or with till receipts.  These are often ‘£5 off £50 spend’ or similar.  Whilst the small print of these vouchers says ‘not valid on gift cards’, it really means ‘not valid on Tesco gift cards’.  The voucher WILL scan at the till if you buy any other gift card.

Some cashiers, not unreasonably, read the small print of the voucher and don’t let you use them.  In these circumstances, the best you can do is to ask them to scan it and see if it works.  To avoid this issue, it is best to buy a few grocery items along with your gift card and put the gift card through first.  The cashier has normally forgotten about it by the time you come to pay.

You would also get an even better deal if you saved the Tesco Clubcard vouchers for an Avios or Virgin Flying Club conversion promotion.  Avios bonuses have been thin on the ground recently but Virgin does offer regular ‘20% bonus’ promotions.

How can I use these Visa cards?

They can be used for all sorts of transactions, including all the companies discussed in my last 3V article.  However, if you are going to use them for one of those companies then you should be buying the 3V cards directly and avoiding the £3.95 fee!

The difference between the fee-charging Visa cards and the ‘no fee’ 3V cards is that you can still use the former for ‘financial’ transactions.

If you pay the Inland Revenue directly, they work just fine – I have done it myself.  You can also pay them into National Savings Direct Saver accounts and they may well work with other bank accounts which accept debit card payments.  Note that there may be a limit to how many different cards you can use per day when paying in.  You cannot do this with 3V Virtual Visa cards now.

If you think that you have an easy way of liquidating these cards, you may find it worth adding a couple to your basket every time you are in a Tesco which stocks them.

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. Sounds interesting. I have been churning using Amex Travellers Cheques, but it appears this way I would be around £30 worse off but almost 4,000 Avios richer.
    The fuel save might tip it for me which would equate to another £10 or so at max discount.

    Is it possible to buy 10 cards in one go? Assuming I open an NS&I, how quick is it to cycle funds back to my bank?

  2. We’ve successfully put them through 8 at a time @ Tesco. It seems to help to TOTAL each one on the till first, before moving on. Success also depends to a great extent on how helpful the till operator is!
    Whatever you do, make sure you always walk out with an activation slip for each gift card.

    • Yes having a friendly checkout person definitely makes for a more pleasant experience. If you get them to hit sub-total (rather than total) after each card that definitely helps with the activation process and in flagging up any issues.

  3. Last Saturday my second batch of four Argos/3v cards would not go through. The Romanians in the queue behind me were getting a bit stroppy but the till operator put them in their place. The supervisor came and switched it to a ‘Store Transaction’ and we went to Customer Services. They tried again and I paid but the activation slips said ‘Tesco Phone Top Up £50’. Eventually they gave me a £100 cash refund and it was only later that I realised that in the confusion I had omitted to swipe my Club Card. By now Argos (across the road) was closed so I tried again the next day when I discovered that Argos gift cards take up to 24 hours to activate.

    • Had exactly the same problem Sunday with some till receipts saying £50 Tesco Phone Topup. 6 x 3V cards mixed in with loads of shopping produced a buggers muddle of activations/ failed activations and phone top ups. After 30 minutes, with every manager in the store gawping at a receipt 2 feet long, they gave up and gave me £125 cash because they couldn’t unscramble the mess. But actually the final result was correct. If the 3V purchase goes on like this MrT will throw in the towel. The checkout staff have no idea how to find the card number that failed so you have to teach them to look under the cardboard slit on the back.

      The manager then went and took all the 3V cards off the hook :-(

      • Stop doing that please and stick to 4 each time. Had rarely issues. You can close a bill and start a new one.maybe that was a technical fault inthe system..

        • Yes that’s true. Do they in 100s and it works best and easiest. My local two branches have had a continuous stream since this all started and I’ve been told I’m the only one who buys them. I know when they come in and I clear the shelf everytime unless there’s a 25 odd one.

      • The point here possibly being how crap 3V’s system is.

        Why else does a multiple buy of 3Vs fail so often at Tesco tills, which (despite what you might like to think) are modern & the best you can typically get?

  4. When you activate, is this when the £3.95 is taken off your credit or do you have to pay £53.95 at the till?
    I want to pay for something £50 exactyly with this card, do companies allow two payment methods online?

  5. Just used my £10 off with £100 voucher with £40 of groceries and £100 of 3V (put through first).
    I gave the girl the voucher with a lot of others while talking to her and she just scanned without looking at them. The another 12 cards 4 at a time.

    • scottydoobuy says:

      hi where did you get the voucher for £10 off ??

      • We got a set of coupons/vouchers for various periods in the post.
        This happens every so often at seemingly random intervals for one particular ClubCard.

        I later discovered that in another batch she had put one of the cards through twice and one not at all so I had to return to correct this.

        • scottydoobuy says:

          Ok thanks i did get one of them voucher books but just sill get money off items in it =(

          • Yesterday I bought £5 of groceries and £100 off 3V at Tesco and used one of the ‘£10 off when you spend £100’ vouchers so paid £95.
            When I got home I discovered that among the activation slips the till had spat out a ‘Save £15 when you spend £100’ voucher so that in the next two weeks I can save £35 (2x£10 + £15) when I spend £300.
            This will be handy to pay our JL Home Insurance and the saving will more than cover the cost of amalgamating the 3V cards into one (£19.25) so breakeven without the extra £15.
            I also get £300 spend on Amex, 2610 Avios and 12p per litre off fuel.

            Thank you Tesco .
            Thank you Raffles for pointing me in this (slightly OCD) direction.

  6. 4 @ a time seems to work OK

  7. Oops 10W

  8. Do you just print them off?