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 and 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.
1.2 Avios per £1 spent at any other participating Esso filling station (technically 1 CC point for every 2 litres of fuel purchased, based on £1.00 per litre)
0.5 Avios per £1 spent at a Shell filling station (technically 10 Avios per 20 litres, based on £1.00 per litre). You need to join Shell Drivers Club and choose to convert your points to Avios.
0.95 Avios per £1 spent on V-Power fuel at a Shell filling station (technically 20 Avios per 20 litres, based on £1.05 per V-Power litre)
The best option in terms of which loyalty card you show (ignoring how you pay for now) is to visit a Tesco filling station and have them swipe your Tesco MasterCard as a Clubcard. You can pay on another card.
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.
This part of the equation used to be more complicated, because American Express Preferred Rewards Gold used to give double points on petrol in your first year of membership. That perk has now been removed.
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 fuel at a Tesco-branded garage. Use your Tesco credit card as a Clubcard but use your British Airways American Express Premium Plus card to pay!
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
6 Avios points via your BAPP Amex or Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards Amex
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).
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 visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)