(EDIT: This article was updated in April 2015)
What is the best credit card for earning Avios points? This is not as easy an answer as you might think and beginners to this hobby may not be aware of the full range of cards which are available. You have more options than you may 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 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 from the sign-up bonuses! (Obviously you should not do this!)
But which of these is the best credit card for earning 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.
You should note that, whilst some of these cards offer points which convert to Avios, this is not necessarily the best use of them. The 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points from their Premium Visa would get you a free night at many Holiday Inn hotels, for example, which is a better deal than 4,000 Avios assuming you achieve 1p per mile.
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 Avios – American Express Platinum Charge Card (review)
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. The Platinum card also comes with a substantial number of other travel benefits including three hotel status cards (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Club Carlson Gold, Le Club Accorhotels Platinum), travel insurance, two Priority Pass cards for free airport lounge access (each admitting two people) and Eurostar lounge access.
20,000 Avios – American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Charge Card (review)
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 Avios – British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card (review)
£150 annual fee, refunded pro-rate when you cancel. Issuer: Amex. Spend £3,000 within 3 months to trigger bonus. You cannot hold both this card and the free BA Amex at the same time.
10,000 Avios – Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card (review)
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.
6,000 Avios – IHG Rewards Club Visa Card (review)
30,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 6,000 Avios. No annual fee. This is a special offer which runs until March 31st. Issuer: Barclaycard. Bonus is triggered with your first purchase.
3,000 Avios – British Airways American Express Card (review)
No annual fee. Issuer: Amex. Spend £500 in 3 months to trigger bonus. You cannot hold both this card and the BA Premium Plus Amex at the same time.
2,000 Avios – IHG Rewards Club Premium Visa (review)
10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 12,000 Avios. £99 annual fee, non-refundable. Issuer: Barclaycard. Bonus is triggered with your first purchase.
nothing (4,500 if referred) – Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express and MasterCard (review)
£24 annual fee. Issuer: Lloyds. There is no sign up bonus. However, there is a ‘refer a friend’ scheme for existing cardholders which will earn you 4,500 Avios points for signing up. If you need someone to refer you, email me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk and I will be happy to help.
nothing (2,400 if referred) – Tesco Clubcard MasterCard (review)
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 retrospectively claim 1,000 Clubcard points for being referred.
2,000 Avios – Marriott Rewards MasterCard (review)
10,000 Marriott Rewards points convert to 2,000 Avios. No annual fee. Issuer: Creation. Spend £200 in 6 months to trigger bonus.
The Lloyds Premier Avios cards, TSB Avios cards and the HSBC Premier card are not included on this list because they do not offer a sign-up 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.)