Credit & Charge Card Reviews (21): TSB Premier Avios American Express & MasterCard

This review was updated in September 2016 and all the information is correct as of that date

This is my review of the TSB Premier Avios 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 to get your free Equifax credit report and score.  Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month.  You can cancel at anytime.

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 links:  TSB Premier Avios credit cards application form

Key facts:  £50 annual fee

The representative APR is 23.7% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  The representative APR on purchases is 13.95% variable.

About the card

The TSB Premier Avios credit cards – issued by TSB, the only travel loyalty card they offer – come as a double-pack of an American Express and a MasterCard.  This model may not continue into the future as Amex fees on co-brand cards to UK retailers are now capped at the same level as MasterCard / Visa at 0.3%.

There are two version of this card – the free TSB Avios credit card which I reviewed yesterday and this Premier version which carries a £50 fee.  The difference is a higher earnings rate and the 2-4-1 voucher.

Feedback from Head for Points readers is that you will not be accepted if you currently hold a different TSB credit card or if you have held any TSB credit card in the last six months.

What is the sign-up bonus?

None at present.  There has not been any sign-up bonus on this card since TSB took it over from Lloyds.

The refer-a-friend bonus which is available for the free TSB Avios card does not include the Premier version.

Any other benefits?

You receive a 2-4-1 voucher for Avios redemptions on British Airways when you spend £15,000 across your Amex and MasterCard during the year.

On the face of it, this is a good offer which could be very valuable.  However, yet again, it comes with some nasty stings in the tail:

It is only valid for Economy flights.  In reality, unless the system has changed since I last looked at it, the Avios website will let you book Economy outbound and a higher class of service for the return.

The voucher is lost if you cancel your flights.  This is a lot stricter than the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, which is available for re-use if you need to cancel.

In general, I cannot see much value in working towards this voucher.  You would be better off getting the voucher on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express which is valid in any class, valid for two years and is not lost if you cancel.

The only reason to get it would be if you have a lot of MasterCard spend – but even here, the pathetic earning rate on the MasterCard (see below) multiplied by £15,000 means that part of your gain from the 2-4-1 will have been wiped out by the very small amount of miles received for your £15,000 of spending.

You also receive 1,500 Avios points for every £1,000 of balance transfer you do.  Any transfer within 90 days of opening the card will be interest-free until six months after you opened the card.  There is the standard 3% fee for the balance transfer, however, so this is not a way to get some free Avios points.

TSB Premier Avios

Is there an annual fee?

Yes, £50.

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

You earn 1.25 Avios per £1 spent on the Amex card and a very weak 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.

Overseas transactions earn double Avios.  However, remember that the TSB cards have an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions.  You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees.  I recommend the Lloyds Avios Rewards card which also earns Avios points – even on your 0% FX transactions!  It comes with a 4,500 Avios sign-up bonus if I refer you.  My review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is here.

What is an Avios worth?

Don’t get me started on that one ….!

Only kidding.  Here is a long post on what an Avios point is worth, based on how you travel.

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% in ASDA vouchers.

The MasterCard is clearly a very poor deal in any scenario, and is best kept locked up in a drawer.  The American Express earnings rate of 1.25 Avios per £1 is good, and 2.5 Avios per £1 on foreign spending is very good.

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

The obvious options are the British Airways American Express card, the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card and the two Lloyds Bank-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.


With no sign-up bonus, it is difficult to recommend the card on that basis.

At 1.25 Avios per £1 on the Amex, the on-going earnings rate is OK for a large spender, even with the £50 annual fee.  2.5 Avios per £1 on foreign spend is impressive although you will be paying a 3% foreign exchange fee.  The MasterCard earnings rate is beaten by various other Avios cards.

The application form for the TSB Premier Avios credit cards 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.

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (22): United MileagePlus American Express & Visa
100 free Clubcard points (240 Avios) with every £50 MoneyGram transfer
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  1. Completely OT, for which I’m sorry, and definitely one of the most frequently asked questions on here (for which I’m also sorry) – but I just wanted to make sure that I’m safe to cancel my BA Amex (the free one) now that I have my 2-4-1 used and booked. I’d already downgraded from the Premium Plus card as I knew I could do that, but now I want to cancel the free one without impacting on the 2-4-1.


    • I would def NOT risk it. BA T&Cs actually say you must take credit card used to book flights to the airport. I have a problem with this as never took my amex abroad ( tho now i have the Lloyds amex I will) and anyway can never remember which actual amex card I used for booking

      • I’ve just received my first 241 voucher today! I want to refer my husband in Feb for another BA Premium Plus card. So if I downgrade to the Blue card and then later cancel the blue card after booking but before flying can you not produce the new BA Premium Plus card if necessary. I will be a supp cardholder rather than the main holder this time. Has anyone ever had their voucher removed for cancelling the Premium card and the blue card before flying. I thought you just had to have any Amex card – not the actual card that the voucher is from. Otherwise how can people churn this card so frequently?

        • Hi,

          Please be careful, I notice that AmEx has changed the refer- a-friend section. For me it looks like if you have the premium plus card you can ONLY refer people to the premium plus i.e. not the classic blue. This is the same in my other accounts. I.e. it seems you can ONLY refer like for like now. So it is possible that if you have the classic blue you may not be able to refer someone to the premium plus.

          Grateful if someone can check too.

          • That appears to be the case – both for my BAPP and Amex Gold

          • The referral page has changed so that the default card is the one you hold, but it is still possible to select a different card to recommend, just click “recommend another card”, and the different varieties appear.

            • avidsaver says:

              Where is this “recommend another card”? Have you checked your account recently? This does not show for me on the new referral page unlike the old page where you had this option.

            • I know what you have done. What I and I suspect the two people below me have done is: login into my account and in the bar at the top click refer a friend. That only allows the Like-for-like that I mentioned.

              What I think Tom H is referring to is if you google AmEx referral uk (or something similar), it takes you to an amex page where you choose your card and there is a link “recommend another card”. You have to type your own name, card number and membership number into here. I’ve just tried this page and have not received the referral email yet. So not sure if this works….

            • Just don’t log in! Click on Cards in the top menu on the Amex site.

          • wally1976 says:

            Looks like you’re right – that’s a real blow; was intending my wife with gold to refer me for Platinum :-(

            • wally1976 says:

              Phew, if you do what Rob says, the terms and conditions for the Gold referral say “What if my friend applies for a different card?” and it goes on to outline that you still get the referral points as before if your friend applies for a Platinum or a Green card (so for the platinum 35k points for new applicant and 18k for the referer).

      • This is purely for random security checks. Happened to me once and they were happy to accept sight of a different credit card.

        • ankomonkey says:

          Happened to me and they just asked the name, address and e-mail address the cancelled card had been registered to. Was able to proceed after supplying this info.

    • Hi, I have just triggered my 2-4-1 on the BA Amex Premium Plus. But I’m not planning on using the voucher for another 6 months. Does anyone know if I’m safe downgrading to the free BA Amex now, or should I hold off downgrading and wait until I’ve booked using the voucher?

      • You can downgrade now but keep your BA Blue Amex until you have flown. If you cancel the flight, you will then get the refund of the 2-4-1. Once flown, cancel card, wait 6 months and apply again (referred by your partner to maximise avios earning).

    • Should be ok. One issue is whether, if you use it and then cancel, whether it comes back.

  2. Hi, I’m about to hit £10,000 spending on my BA Amex Blue. Should I upgrade to the BA PP to get the companion voucher?

    If so what should I do after this? Can I wait say a week and then cancel for a near full refund whilst still keeping the voucher?

    My card date renews in July so if I cancelled I could wait and get an introductory bonus again?

    • Yes – or upgrade later, the voucher will then trigger immediately.

      Voucher should remain if you cancel although Amex will tell you otherwise.

      • Great, I’ll upgrade and get the voucher and then cancel. I’ve just got a Amex gold business card so I’ll divert spending to that to get the 20k bonus. Thanks!

        • Don’t you have to pay the fee for the entire time you had the Blue card (at least since the start of anniversary year)? Otherwise why doesn’t everybody do this?

  3. Still vaguely regarding the BA 241 – can you book a reward flight involving mixed cabins i.e. J out and WT+ back and use the 241?

    • Yes, not a problem. If you struggle online (perhaps because you want F out and Eco back and the site won’t show First and Economy in the same view) then ring BA.

      • Is it definite you can book the out flight first online to secure the out journey then ring up 3 wks later to add your return flights to the same booking and the return flight is included in the 241 and taxes adjusted to include the return flight ?