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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (15): Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards American Express & MasterCard

This card was withdrawn in July 2016 and is no longer available to new applicants

This is my review of the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards credit cards.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for.  These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.  My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here for a free 30-day trial of Equifax’s online credit report service.  Note that a monthly fee of £14.95 will apply following the 30 day free trial of this product if you do not cancel within the trial period.  You can cancel your subscription at any time.

As with all rewards cards, this is not a suitable product for you if you do not clear your balance in full every month.  You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the AA Low Rate Card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 6.4% variable on purchases and balance transfers.

Key link:  Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards credit cards application form

Key facts:  £140 annual fee

The representative APR is 52.1% variable including the £140 fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.

About the card

The Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards credit cards are issued by Lloyds Bank. This review is focussed on the premium £140 version of the card – I reviewed the basic Lloyds Avios Rewards card with the £24 annual fee here.  In my view, the £24 card is the more attractive package.

The cards come as a twin-pack of an American Express and a MasterCard. You will receive both cards when you apply, although you will only receive one monthly statement with your combined spending.

The Avios Rewards cards are the only travel loyalty cards issued by Lloyds, so it is unlikely to conflict with any existing cards you hold. However, reports show that it is not easy to predict whether or not you will be accepted, whatever your credit standing may be.

Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards credit cards review

What is the sign-up bonus?

Nothing!

The ‘refer a friend’ bonus which is available for the £24 card is not available for the Premier card.

You will receive double Avios points for the first six months on all of your spending on the American Express card. If you were spending £1,000 per month on the Amex, that would effectively mean a bonus of 9,000 Avios.  The ‘double Avios’ benefit is capped at £2,500 per month.

Any other benefits?

There are three very interesting benefits on the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards cards which make them stand out from all other travel credit cards.

The first two benefits are also available with the basic £24 card:

No foreign transaction fees. This is a revolutionary move. 99% of UK credit cards – and ALL other travel loyalty cards – charge a 3% foreign exchange fee when you use your card abroad. The Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card does not. Even more impressively, you also earn Avios points on your foreign spending!

The high annual fee on the Premier Avios Rewards card means that it is NOT worth getting it purely for the foreign exchange benefit.  Either get the £24 basic Avios Rewards card, or apply for a free credit card which offer no foreign exchange fees – eg the Post Office Platinum Money cardI wrote more about the ‘no FX fees’ benefit on this card here.

Flight upgrade voucher when you spend £5,000 across the two cards. The voucher allows ONE PERSON to book a return Avios redemption ticket whilst only paying the Avios required for the class below the one you booked.

Alternatively, you can upgrade two one-way flights.  This only works if you upgrade two tickets on the same booking at the same time, with the cardholder as one of the travellers.  You cannot use the voucher to upgrade two totally separate one-way flights on different days.

If you want to use the voucher to upgrade a one-way flight for just one person, you can do this by phone.  However, you will not be able to upgrade another flight at a later date – the voucher is used up with the first booking.

A Club World return ticket to New York on a peak date, for example, would only cost 80,000 Avios return (the World Traveller Plus price) instead of 120,000 Avios when using the voucher.

The voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue (you only need to book within 12 months, not travel) and you can only earn one voucher per year.

You only need Avios availability in the higher class to book.  Effectively, the way the voucher works is to book you a redemption seat whilst charging a discounted price based on the cost of the next lowest class.

You cannot use the voucher to upgrade from Club World to First, on BA codeshares or on BA flights from City Airport.

For the solo traveller, this voucher could have real value. It is less use if you always travel with a partner, although you could book a separate ticket at full Avios price for the other person. I wrote about the upgrade voucher in more detail here.  Remember that the £24 basic Avios Rewards card also has an identical voucher, albeit you need to spend £7,000 to trigger it.

Note that if you cancel a flight which has been upgraded using the voucher, the voucher is lost.  You do NOT get it back.   Use with care.

The third benefit is unique to the £140 Premier card:

A 2-4-1 voucher for Avios redemptions when you spend £12,000 per year.  This is valid ONLY on Economy class bookings, which is the big difference between this voucher and the one offered with the British Airways American Express card.

In an interesting twist, the voucher is valid on British Airways plus Flybe, Monarch and Aurigny, plus Eurostar.  The Eurostar option is especially interesting as Eurostar redemptions do not incur any taxes or charges.

What is the annual fee?

The Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards cards have an annual fee of £140.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on the American Express card.  My personal view is that this is too low, given the £140 fee, compared with the 1.25 Avios per £1 earned on the £24 basic Avios Rewards cards.

The MasterCard is very poor. You only earn 0.3 Avios per £1.  Given the annual fee this really should be more generous.  The Tesco MasterCard earns 0.3 Avios per £1 (albeit this is lower in reality because of the way they round down transactions) and that card is free.  If you meet the very strict qualifying criteria, the HSBC Premier MasterCard earns 0.5 Avios per £1 from January 2016 – this card is also free.

The only upside of using the MasterCard is that the spend counts towards the upgrade and 241 vouchers.

What is an Avios point worth?

How long is a piece of string!

This article is my best attempt to calculate the value of an Avios.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the Asda card, which pays 0.5%.

On this basis, the American Express card supplied with the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card performs well, earning 1.5 Avios per £1, although you need to factor in the very high annual fee.  The MasterCard is terrible – you should leave this in a drawer once you have done enough spending to trigger the upgrade and 241 voucher.

How does this compare to the £150 British Airways American Express Premium Plus card?

The Lloyds Avios Rewards card compares equally well for spending (1.5 Avios per £1 on the Amex is the same as the 1.5 Avios per £1 on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card).  The BAPP Amex is slightly worse for fees (the card is £150 compared to £140 for the Lloyds card) and does carry a substantial sign-up bonus.

The real differential, though, is the voucher on offer.  If you redeem your Avios for Club World or First Class on British Airways, you will want the 2-4-1 voucher that comes with the BA Amex Premium Plus card.  If you travel alone or prefer to redeem in Economy, you might find the upgrade voucher and the 2-4-1 voucher offered with the Lloyds card more attractive.

How else can you earn Avios points from a credit or charge card?

The obvious options are the British Airways American Express card, the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card and the two TSB-issued cards.

Don’t forget these less-obvious options though:

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year.  These convert to 20,000 Avios points.

The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up.  These convert to 30,000 Avios points.  It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points for signing up.  These convert to 10,000 Avios points.  It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

Conclusion

There is no sign-up bonus (and no refer a friend bonus on the £140 card) so the card cannot be recommended on that basis.  Based on your predicted level of spending, you can decide for yourself if the ‘double Avios on the Amex card for six months’ deal is attractive or not.

In terms of on-going spending, 1.5 Avios per £1 on the Amex is OK but many people will find the 1.25 per £1 rate on the £24 cards to be better value overall.

I would be expecting 1.75 or 2 Avios per £1 given the £140 fee, to be honest.  The Virgin Black card, for examples, earn 2 Flying Club miles per £1 spent on its American Express card and carries a similar fee.  The Emirates Skywards Elite card has a similar package.

0.3 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard would be weak if the card was free or nearly free and is very poor given the £140 annual fee.

The application form for the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards American Express and MasterCard can be found here.

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. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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Comments

  1. This article raises a question. Does the 1/£1 the Virgin MasterCard Black earns make it a better choice now for MasterCard spending over collecting Avios with MasterCard?

    • The Virgin Atlantic credit card is an Amex and Visa double pack, no MasterCard (although I do remember when it was one).

      The 1 mile per £1 rate on the Visa alone is not worth getting excited over unless you are going to put a lot onto the card, but it is a nice little bonus if you are committed to the overall Virgin product. For me it means flying to their limited destinations (Florida and HK, perfect fire me!), using their PE upgrade voucher, and hopefully redeeming into UC once in a while. I do this together with the BAPP.

      Now that we’ve had a baby who is approaching 2… I rethinking my strategy as I need a 3rd ticket in Club World! The Lloyd’s card might help out a lot here.

      • You need to be careful. A few thousand points in a scheme is worthless. I have got about 5,000 Virgin points and the only exit at present is to convert to IHG which, on recent experience, are not worth much either unless you have got enough to stay in their luxury brands.
        It is probably not worth worrying about the tiny number of points earned from Visa/Mastercard cards unless you are putting large amounts through, in which case the hotel cards are probably more productive. Have you got your two free Hilton nights?

    • Sebastian says:

      Personally, I have come to a stage where I have earnt enough Avios for now that I need to diversify my points balances. Personally, I initially went to Etihad so that I also had the option of AA and their own product, however their massive devaluation put me off of them a little, although I do have around 110k miles with them which should get me to the US and back in J if I hurry and book before the AA devaluation.

      So I got the Virgin card myself, as someone else has said Virgin have a limited network so you need to consider this, however with 32.5k sign up and the ongoing 2/1 rate on their cards it’s the best for me at this moment in time. That said, with Virgin I see it more as a scheme for me and my mates/family, as whilst I may do UC once, I am primarily going to use their rewards on a economy/PE upgrade basis as their taxes are reasonable and they do a lot of points discounts. Additionally if quick you get good availability in school holidays with them. While, if they do a devaluation you’ve also got some protection through the IHG conversion, although personally I am not the biggest IHG lover.

    • It simple mileage terms, yes. Whether you earn enough Virgin miles to redeem them for something good is of course a different question.

      We also need to see what MBNA does with these cards. 1 mile per £1 is not sustainable now on a Visa unless they cross-subsidise with the fee.

  2. Stuart Ross says:

    Two questions. Is the £140 fee refunded pro-rata if you cancel? and do the two one-way *upgrades* option need to originate from the UK?

    • No, only Amex-issued Amex cards offer pro-rata refunds. From the discussion in the other thread I don’t think the upgrade option needs to be on a UK-originated flight.

      • In fact I did get a pro-rata refund on my £24 card fee when I cancelled.

        • Good result in your particular case, although it’s only Amex that offer to do this up front.

          • I was not expecting a refund and did not ask for it. I closed my account. Then logged back a few days later, the account had the refund on it automatically.

    • The two one ways can be used for heading back to the UK. But you need to have flown out with BA to start with which is a bit annoying !

  3. Its worth to note that I had the £24 version which I cancelled after 6 months and immediately applied for the £140 one.
    This was not possible.

    • You officially can’t apply for another Lloyds credit card for 6 months after closing your account.

  4. I find if you have a history with the Lloyds banking group the credit cards are easy to get.

    I applied for a Clarity card and was rejected, so I opened a Halifax current account and was approved with no credit check 6 months later. Ditto with Lloyds.

  5. If you find the voucher useful, and I do, as I have set foreign trips to conferences in North America, then this card is great as it allows you to get two vouchers per year (start with the £24 card and then when you have achieved the voucher, bump up to £150 card). This assumes that you can make the spend. Another benefit, is that if you have a family account, the voucher can be used by any account holder. For the right person, this is really a great card.

    • The point on other people in your family account can use the voucher is very interesting for me. However the way I understand it is that it is not possible to move points if you are in Avios family account and most of my points is earned via BAPP. Does anyone have any experience to share here?

  6. OTP: Got an email from Virgin East Coast couple of days ago offering me 2 first class tickets for being a loyal customer (I did use them heavily for 5 months due to work reasons). the tickets are present in my account and can be used on any Virgin East Coast route before March 15th. They have to be booked 7 days in advances, no changes and only on off peak timings. In short, worth checking any emails from Virgin Trains for regular customers as some may have received free tickets

  7. wally1976 says:

    Two questions

    1. are you sure that double avios are still paid for the first six months on the two Lloyds Avios cards? I can’t see any mention of it on https://www.avios.com/gb/en_gb/collect/credit-cards or the screens that leads to.

    2. If you earn the upgrade voucher and then cancel your card before booking are you still able to use the voucher?

    Thanks.

  8. Just had an idea, to use both the upgrade and companion voucher on the same trip…. of course this would only work if you can make 2 separate one way bookings for 2 people.

    E.g. Book one way using the upgrade voucher for 2 people in CW, only paying the Avios required for WT+.

    Make a separate booking for the one way return leg, using the companion voucher for 2 people in WT but only paying the Avios for 1 person in WT. You would still have to pay the high BA fees, but you would have had to pay these if you were just using your upgrade voucher for a return journey anyway.

    Assuming this works, which I think it would, this might just make it worthwhile using the companion voucher for long haul economy. Might be worth doing if you are Avios poor and don’t want to use the companion voucher for a short haul flight.