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

(EDIT:  this article is now out of date as you no longer received double points on petrol with an American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card.  The best option is to pay with a British Airways American Express Premium Plus or Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card.)

I first wrote about this topic 18 months ago, but I thought it was worth re-running. It needed updating to reflect the new earning structure for buying petrol at Esso garages, the fact that you no longer receive double points for Tesco Momentum fuel and the changes to the Lloyds and TSB credit cards.

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 100% convinced that the answer I offer below is correct. However, I have given it my best shot.

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

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

(This analysis 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)

This is what you would earn (excluding Avios points from your payment card) by handing over either a Tesco Clubcard or a Shell Drivers Club card when buying petrol:

1.2 Avios per £1 spent at a Tesco-branded filling station (ie 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).  No-one seems to know why this odd rule exists but it is true – Tesco even puts it in writing here.

0.8 Avios per £1 spent at an Esso filling station which has a Tesco convenience store attached (1 CC point per £3 spent).  Full details of the Esso earning rates are here.

1 Avios per £1 spent at any other participating Esso filling station (technically 1 CC point for every 2 litres of fuel purchased, based on £1.20 per litre)

0.42 Avios per £1 spent at a Shell filling station (technically 10 Avios per 20 litres, based on £1.20 per litre).  You need to join Shell Drivers Club and choose to convert your points to Avios.

0.8 Avios per £1 spent on V-Power fuel at a Shell filling station (technically 20 Avios per 20 litres, based on £1.25 per V-Power litre)

Tesco Esso

Credit and charge card options when paying for your petrol:

These are the Avios points you will earn when using the main Avios-earning credit and charge cards to pay for your petrol:

2 Avios per £1 spent on Amex Gold if you are in your first year of card membership (technically 1 Membership Rewards point per £1, but this is doubled on petrol transactions)

1.5 Avios per £1 spent on British Airways Premium Plus American Express, Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards American Express

1.25 Avios per £1 spent on Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express, TSB Premier Avios American Express

1 Avios per £1 spent on Amex Platinum, Starwood Amex, British Airways American Express, Lloyds Choice Rewards American ExpressTSB Avios American Express

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

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!  This assumes you are in the first year of Amex Gold membership when petrol transactions earn double points.

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.

If you don’t have an Amex Gold – or are out of your first year of card membership and no longer receive double points for petrol – your best payment option is the British Airways Premium Plus Amex or the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards Amex, both of which give 1.5 Avios per £1.

For every £4 spent on petrol at a Tesco-branded filling station, you would earn:

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

6 Avios points (1.5 per £1 spent) = 6 Avios

That is 15.6 Avios points per £4, or 3.9 Avios per £1.

If you need to use Esso for fuel card reasons, note that an odd disparity has opened up now that the price of fuel has fallen.  You actually earn fewer Avios at an Esso with a Tesco convenience store (1 Clubcard point per £3 spent on fuel) than you do at non-Tesco Esso stations (1 Clubcard point per 2 litres of fuel).  As petrol prices continue to fall, this disparity will widen.

Finally, it is worth noting that Shell Drivers Club often makes generous bonus point promotions available which can make Shell a good deal.  Some of these are exclusive to its app.  It is worth downloading this and seeing what offers are selected for you.

(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. Globetrotter7 says:

    I’m still in my first year of Amex gold membership and ALWAYS earn triple MR points on fuel at Tesco and Esso stations with a Tesco Express attached. It works out as:
    1pt- basic
    1pt – fuel spend
    1pt – supermarket spend

    I used to fill up at BP for nectar points but ever since I properly discovered avios, I only use Tesco and Esso.

    Thanks for the tip about using the Tesco credit card as a cliubcard. I had no idea I could earn double points on fuel with it. You rock!!

    • Yes, I’ve ALWAYS earned 3MR per £ on fuel at Tesco.

      I’ve ALWAYS earned 4MR per £ on fuel at Shell. But except for the Shell on Purley Way near to Caterham, it is always 1-3p more expensive than the nearest Tesco.

      Tesco also offers 2p off per litre for every £50 of 3V that I buy, so that makes it even better.

      • Plus, now that Tesco has revamped most of their pay at pump machines, you can use your fuel save automatically without going into the kiosk.

  2. I use my amex gold (1st year membership) at shell and get 4x MR per £1 spent plus the Avios awarded from the shell loyalty card….which is nice!

    • I think this 4x MR points only happens if you pay in the shop. If you pay at pump it is only 2x.

      The 4x is an error but nobody is complaining! 😉

  3. If you are spending a lot at tesco, either on groceries or processing a lot of gift cards for the clubcard points, it’s also easily possible to end up with 20p/litre off every tankful on top too.

  4. Nick Massey says:

    Assuming you’ve got a £5 off a £50 spend (or alike) at Tesco, at the moment you could:
    -Buy a £50 Visa gift card in tesco with the voucher to offset the fee. Use one of the Christmas magazine vouchers to get an extra 100CC points too. Pay for this using an Amex gold or MBNA Diamond Club card.
    -Use the gift card at the fuel kiosk (assuming you can do that – not personally tried it) and a tesco credit card as the club card.

    That will give you 16.4 CC points per £ on fuel and 2p off per L!!

    • At least I’ve been doing something right this past year !

    • You should be able to use the gift card at the kiosk, but why would you? Just pay it into your bank account and use the Amex Gold at the kiosk.

  5. If someone gets a supplimentary gold card from a platinum card holder will they receive double points (triple on petrol) during the first year they hold the card? Can a platinum card holder nominate themseleves for a supplimentary gold card?

  6. As you say in the article, I regularly get 3 American Express Rewards points when buying petrol at Tesco and paying with my Preferred Rewards Gold card. But, even better still, when I buy petrol at my local Shell garage, which is attached to a Little Waitrose I always get 4 points per pound spent. No idea why but this happens every time. I’m certainly not complaining!

  7. Well timed this thread, i dug out my shell drivers club yesterday to claim the remaining points left on the card but could not find anywhere how you enter your avios account number for them to transfer to at the end of the quarter, can anyone advise please?

    • Go to the page where you choose your earning preference and the space to enter your BAEC or Avios number is below the relevant icon.

      • In my selected reward there is no box or section to enter these details, i could see a blue line and a star which i think is where i need to add the details, i will try a different browser to see if this way shows the box or section to enter my avios acc nmber.

  8. Slightly OT, but have Amex improved (not enhanced) their Gold MR scheme? Marks and Spencer now triggers the first year bonus and John Lewis (direct, not sure about in store) is giving 3 MR per £ (1 basic, one first year bonus and one travel bonus). Not sure how buying a bed at JL is travel but I’m not complaining!

    TfL is also 3MR/£.

  9. hi, thanks for all your articles. I was hoping you could assist, I was wanting to get an amex platinum as I rarely fly with any one airline. I took the free BA amex back in September, if I ordered the platinum now does that mean I would miss the bonus sign up points etc? Thanks

    • The rule is that you must not currently have, or had in the last 6 months, an Membership Reward earning card. As the BA card earns Avios and not MRs, having it in no way affects an application for an Membership Rewards earning card such as the Amex Plat or Gold card.

      If you are considering getting the plat card, the best path is to take out the gold card, hit the spend bonus on it, and then upgrade to the plat card. This will get you 3-5K more MR points compared to just taking out the plat card directly, AND gets you two lounge pass cards in addition to the priority pass card.

      Details at:-

      • Excellent analysis. Will certainly follow this advice.

      • Hi, I thought it would be better to take the platinum and order the supplementary cards (up to 50K) as well as platinum welcome bonus?

        Do you think that would be better? I don’t think I would get time to do all of them.



    • No, you’re fine

  10. Yup, tesco cc and amex preferred rewards us mt method. But raffles, you mention that sometimes there’s a bonus resultung in triple points? What’s the rhyme and reason on this, because I’ve never had this happen!

    • Dylan, there’s no apparent rhyme or reason for triple MR points rewarded on petrol purchases at Tesco made with a 1st year Gold Card.

      As Rob rightly says, “sometimes” you receive triple points.

      I live pretty much equidistant to two Tesco stores- at 1 I get double points and the other triple points.

      • The reason is because you get 1x for base points, 1x for supermarket spend & 1x for travel spend.
        Sainsburys & Asda petrol also earn 3x points. The 4x at Shell (in-shop payment) makes no sense at all however!

      • Thanks – it would be great if we had a way of finding out which ones were triple!

  11. I assumed everyone knew why the “odd” double clubcard pointson petrol exists. Its just a perk for credit card holders. I really don’t see what’s so confusing about that!

    The fact alone that it’s listed under rewards on the tesco website makes that quite clear.

  12. Elena-MuslimTravelGirl says:

    Very nice reminder Raffles. Because I never put petrol myself in the car I always have to remind my husband which results in many points from Tesco going to waste.

  13. I always get triple MR points with my Amex gold at tesco PFS

  14. Good point Nick Massey + MikeAct make on Tesco CC FuelSave & Amex Gift Cards, sadly that’s due to end in a couple of months…

    So to take his theory a step further, until end of Feb, could you use the £50 Amex Card (£3.95 fee) bought from Tesco (150 TCC pts & 2p/Litre off ) to use them to buy a few 2x £25 3Vs from Morrison’s to use their FuelSave to get “Free” fuel after Feb,..

    Note I would really only consider ths method if needing to hit a significant CC spending target for more bonus Avios…. The £3.95 / £50 Amex needs to be significantly offset..

    Any thoughts while I muse over the maths + sanity of this approach..?

  15. Raffles

    I’ve got the old bmi Amex which gives 2.5 avios per £1 so that gets me 5.9 per £1 spent and has done for a few years now.

  16. Doh its 4.9p !!! Too much champagne last night lol

  17. What rarely gets mentioned is that if you use your Tesco ClubCard credit card as your ClubCard for petrol purchases, you need to use the same card for all purchases, especially large volumes of gift cards.
    Otherwise you gain a few Avios and lose a lot of Fuel Save!

    • You can link your clubcard to your credit card clubcard. Also, Tesco coupons and vouchers work with all clubcards despite the T&C on the back of the voucher saying it can only be used by the named person with the clubcard it was issued to.

  18. Costs buying £50 Amex cards from Tesco…
    20 * £50 = £1000
    20 * £3.95 = £79 in Amex fees.

    Use the £50 Amex cards to buy 40*£25 3Vs from Morrisons

    Earnings at Tesco
    20 * 150 TCC = 3000 TCC pts = 7200 Avios
    20 * 2p/l = potential of £40 in savings (if you drive with 100L tank)
    £1079 spend on CC = approx 1620 for BA PP Amex, or 2160 for Amex Gold.?

    Plus £1079 closer to bonus spending target…

    Earnings at Morrison’s
    40*5p/litre off = potential of £100 in savings (if you drive with 100L tank)

    So in total for average punter with 60L tank costs are about even, but if you have huge fuel tank you stand to be in profit for cash + Avios.. And a lot closer to hitting a spending target bonus

    The Morrison’s fuel vouchers are valid from 63 days of issue.

    Think I’m gonna give this a whirl….

    Feel free to pick holes in it.

    • Morrisons usually 1p/L more expensive than Tesco, so your £100 becomes £99, or less if you can’t do it all at once (how many Tesco do you need to visit to get 20 cards, and how many Morrisons). Furthermore, this may not be the case for everyone, but often difficult to empty your tank completely before arriving at the cheapest Tesco, e.g. I drive 250 miles round trip every week, but only one Tesco en route is the cheapest, which means that I need to do unnecessary driving to empty my tank or fill up elsewhere with smaller amounts; also driving with a fuel tank uses 0.5-1% more fuel than otherwise!

      Time spent activating 20 Amex GC and 40 3V is going to be over an hour, extracting money from 3V takes about 2 mins per card, not to mention time spent queuing to buy them at the tills, getting odd looks, waiting for supervisor / manager to approve purchase if you get a clueless cashier.

    • It works as you say.
      Just went with my niece’s husband. He bought £400 Amex with cake vouchers.
      Went to Morrison’s and bought £400 Halfords (which Tesco could not supply) using the Amex and got the fuel coupons.

      I shall be doing similar in future to get fuel money off.

    • What's the Point says:

      Morrisons seem to have stopped re-stocking their 3V pegs. And the £50 Visa ones also seem to be a dying breed in Morrisons.

  19. Sounds worth a try, probably a small amount first!
    Some of us will still have cake vouchers too.
    On the subject of Amex gift cards, has anyone managed to use them at Waitrose or John Lewis? Mine was refused at both but accepted with a blink at Tesco, Argos, House of Fraser.

    • Cake vouchers?

      • Vouchers from the Winter Tesco magazine for 100 clubcard points on gift card purchases.

        Known on here as cake vouchers as they were in the magazine with a cake on the front (hard to find in store), not to be confused with the Tesco Gifts catalogue (easy to find in store) which didn’t have a cake on the front!

  20. PS mightof confused £50 £3.95 Amex cards with the similar Visa ones

    Need to check the Ts & Cs on spending them in person rather than over the internet…

  21. This is going a bit off piste, but as an average spender I have benefited quite a bit with the double points on the Gold card, in addition to the inexplicable triple points at some other places – and the even rarer quadruple points. The methodology behind the application of the latter multiplier eludes me.

    This points boost is what holds me back from getting a Platinum. Has anyone ever had those sort of GC earnings on the Platinum? If so, that would swing it for me..

  22. Personally I like to use my Clubcard credit card for 1 point per £, but then use my Santander 123 card for 3% cashback.

  23. Raffles should really do some analysis around Cashback vs points. Lots of people kid themselves that flying in club world is the best, but when you take a hard look at the figures you’d be better off staying at a better hotel or using the cash for an ‘experience’ such as a nice meal or night out.

    So many people forget that they are paying £2.50 per 600 avois when converting and think the avois are free.

    • All of the Credit Card Reviews series article do compare that particular card with the best cashback alternative and I recommend against certain cards for that reason. However, if you are reading this site then it is sensible to assume that you are happy going down a certain route.

      Remember that Avios are redeemable for hotels (at about 0.58p each) and at 0.5p via for other (non travel) stuff so they have a floor if you choose not to use them for flights. That ‘other stuff’ includes meals, theatre tickets etc via ‘Experiences’ redemptions on It isn’t the best use for them but the option is there.

      I happily wrote earlier this year about how I use my Tesco Clubcard vouchers for Safestore because at 3x face value I can’t justify taking Avios. I have also done a few articles comparing other Clubcard redemption options.

      A lot of Avios are, also, free – either from people travelling for work or from credit card sign-up bonuses. If you are effectively topping up a pile of free Avios to hit a target via credit card spend etc then the marginal value of those points is even higher.

      There is another dynamic you don’t touch on. The wealthier you are, the more an Avios point is worth. If I can’t get redemptions for where I want to go, I pay for business class long-haul seats. This means that I do get a real saving from redeeming for Club World as opposed to what you could see as a ‘symbolic’ saving if you would not normally pay for it. The discussion about whether you should spend money on a better quality of flight or a better hotel is also a very personal one.

      • What's the Point says:

        Raffles – do you think the recent substantial “sale” prices for CW may have devalued what an Avios is worth to the typical HfP reader?

        Currently I don’t feel as though I have maximised our redemption flights booked for 2015 as much, looking at what the sale cash price is.

        Don’t get me wrong, its not enough for me to cancel the Avios booking and re-book with cash.

        • You can’t take the recent £1014 sale as a typical BA sale price – it is a fire sale they seem to run occasionally over Christmas.

          When valuing Avios, I ALWAYS use ‘sale’ prices for comparison. That is why I tend to say an Avios point is worth 0.75p. Take our typical Dubai runs – you can get sale tickets on some airline (probably indirect) for £1299-ish. 80,000 Avios and £550 tax would mean 0.9p per point of value, but you should adjust down a bit because a cash ticket earns miles too.

          For longer haul business class tickets I tend to assume I could always buy a ticket to California, Asia etc for £1750. With £550 of tax that would be 1.2p per Avios of value for California.

          A 241 voucher doubles these values, of course.

    • True there is a lot of focus on earning avios and in my opinion you don’t get the best value for money compared with other way of earning. I have now the AmEx cashback and consider the 1.25% cashback a better deal than getting 1 Avios per £1 on my BA AmEx. I have earned £190 cashback in the 6 months I have this card.

      • True. However, as per this article you can argue that the BAPP Amex gets you 7.1% back and there are a lot of cards where the travel rewards are worth over 2% of spend.

        • Everyone’s personal circumstances are different. Having gone done the Avios collection route, for long haul premium redemptions, I would prefer to travel in higher class cabins.
          However, BA are making it ever more difficult to utilise companion vouchers, at the moment, during peak travel periods ie school holidays, but thanks to raffles site, there are lots of alternatives I never knew existed.
          I have never had a huge stash of Avios and spending 640k, only on holidays, is a lot to earn, but just about managing it thanks to HFP and a lot of spending in Tesco’s:-)

  24. Don’t forget the BMI Amex gives 2 Avios per £ spend

  25. My strategy has been to use my Tesco Mastercard as a Clubcard but then to pay with an AA Visa (from MBNA) which I got a few years ago and seems to be giving me 3% cashback on fuel (although my notes say it was initially advertised as being 2%).

  26. Given that Tesco petrol is usually 2-3p/litre more than other local garages where I live, I’m currently only buying their petrol when I have a significant level of fuel savings. When they stop this in Feb, I would think that a lot of people will stop spending so much, either in store or at the petrol stations, which isn’t going to do their financial situation any good.

    Heard on the radio this morning that Asda and Morrisons are cutting their petrol again by 2p/litre. I’ve just been and spent £60 on gift cards at Morrisons to get the Amex credit, which netted me a 6p/litre voucher. Mum can have it, as she gave me her 12p Tesco fuel save yesterday.

    • What's the Point says:

      Hi Fenny – do you have an Amex credit for instore spend at Morrisons? Mine was for only online spend.

      • Bah, you’re probably right. Never mind. Gift cards are only money by any other name and I had to buy the sherry I forgot to get yesterday! The petrol savings make it worthwhile – it’s more than Tescos, the petrol is cheaper and Mum will use the voucher.