This article was updated in September 2016
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 all of the cards below which offers Avios points or points which could be converted to Avios, you would earn over 140,000 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.
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.
Travel rewards credit cards have high interest rates and are not suitable 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.
The best Avios-earning personal credit cards:
Listed in order of highest sign-up bonus:
80,000 HSBC points convert into 40,000 Avios. £195 annual fee, non-refundable. Issuer: HSBC. You need to spend £12,000 in your first year to trigger the full bonus. The card comes with various other benefits including access to 500 airport lounges via LoungeKey. HSBC Premier has very strict application criteria and is only suitable for high earners. Representative APR 59.3% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
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 hotel status cards (Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Club Carlson Gold, Hilton HHonors Gold, Melia Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade), travel insurance, two Priority Pass cards for free airport lounge access (each admitting two people, includes the Aspire lounge in Heathrow T5) and Eurostar lounge access.
25,000 Avios – British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card (review)
£195 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 British Airways American Express at the same time. Representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
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.
10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest 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. Representative APR 36.2% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
No annual fee. Issuer: Amex. Spend £1,000 in 3 months to trigger bonus. You cannot hold both this card and the British Airways Premium Plus American Express at the same time. Representative APR 22.9% variable.
20,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 4,000 Avios. £99 annual fee, non-refundable. Issuer: Creation. Bonus is triggered with £200 spend within three months. Representative APR 41.5% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 Avios. No annual fee. Issuer: Creation. Bonus is triggered with £200 spend within three months. Representative APR 18.9% variable.
nothing (4,500 Avios 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. Representative APR 23.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.
This card is temporarily suspended to new applications
10,000 Marriott Rewards points convert to 2,000 Avios. No annual fee. Issuer: Creation. Spend £200 in 6 months to trigger bonus. Representative APR 16.9% variable.
The Tesco Clubcard MasterCard and the Premium version, the TSB Premier Avios cards and the free HSBC Premier card are not included on this list because they do not offer a sign-up bonus. The free version of the Tesco card does currently offer 1,000 Clubcard points (2,400 Avios) if you apply via certain comparison websites.
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. 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.