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

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.

I last wrote about this topic 18 months ago, but that article is now out of date due to changes to the rewards structure on Amex Gold and the Tesco MasterCard.

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.

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.

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.

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, Amex GoldStarwood 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 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.)

More petrol - is Virgin / Texaco better than earning Flying Club miles via Tesco petrol?
American Express removes the minimum income requirement from its cards
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  1. I must admit the ‘use’ your Tesco Mcard as a clubcard but not for payment confuses me. When they swipe it, will it not automatically begin the debit process too?

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Pay at pump asks you if you want to use the card to pay after accepting the Clubcard number. In store they do appear to cancel the transaction before your pin is entered, but I do not know what it says on the till.

    • No, just ask to use the Tesco MasterCard as your club card and (waving your payment card in front of the cashier ) ask to pay with this one please … Being doing this for 2-3 years twice a month. Never an issue, always straightforward and simple. I was surprised too in the first instance tbh.

      • Exactly. “Can I put the points on here and pay with this one” is a very common question in Tesco filling stations and they’re always happy to accommodate.

    • How can they swipe it with chip & pin?

      • They put it in the machine like chip and pin. But really- it’s very simple. They will ask if you want to pay with it. Just say no. Honestly, it never goes wrong. The cashiers must so it scores of times a day

      • Same way that putting it in the pay at pump machine asks if you want to pay on it as well as put points on it.

  2. I don’t have an Amex card. Is it best to use my Tesco CC as a Clubcard, then to use my debit card, or do the 2.4 points per £ still stand if I use the Tesco CC to pay?

  3. I use my Tesco credit card as a MasterCard, then pay with my Lloyds Amex as I don’t hold the BAPP.

    I always pay at pump, after inserting my MasterCard (at the scan / insert Clubcard stage), I am asked if I want to pay with this card, I then press “no” and pop my Amex in.

    Works a treat. I’m rarely at the garage when the tills are open so haven’t tried that option. The only issue is making sure I always carry the Tesco MC!

  4. Mikeact says:

    Very opportune, thanks. I only ever got an ‘O’ level Maths many moons ago. Last night, on the way back to Heathrow, I was trying to work out this very thing, in the end I gave up! But it seems I’ve been doing just about the right thing all along. Tesco CC followed by my LloydsAmex, (but, I wasn’t aware of a LloydsAmex Premier card which I must look into.)

  5. tom Hn says:

    Do you definitely have to use the actual Tesco credit card as a club card to benefit from the increased rate, or is it sufficient to use any clubcard from an account which contains a Tesco credit card?

  6. James A says:

    Boy do I miss the days of quadruple MR points with Amex gold at tesco petrol stations! Amex really slashed the earning potential of that card, sadly.

  7. I don’t go for the most Avios, i go for the cheapest…

    The way i do is buy B&Q gift cards at morrisons – £100 = 10p off litre, then i use my BA Amex to earn 1.5 avios per £1… on top of this i have been able to use Amex at B&Q :)

    Got a new kitchen to put in soon, so i will slowly start buying thing at B&Q with gift cards.

  8. Philip says:

    Therefore would I be right in thinking that if I’m collecting Virgin Flying Club miles the best combination would be to use my Tesco Mastercard as the Clubcard and then my Virgin Black Amex to pay?

    • Genghis says:


      • Virgin has a deal with Texaco though – I might update that article as well.

        • James A says:

          1 texaco star rewards point per litre of fuel, and 1000 star rewards points can be exchanged 1/1 for flying club miles. You have to call to redeem.

          Better earning rate than Avios/shell though.

  9. Tilly71 says:

    As I don’t have any tesco or Esso garages near me I use shell which send me a monthly 100 avios bonus on buying 15 ltr of fuel then switch to Texaco for points towards Virgin miles. I use amex or tesco MC for payment.

  10. I got 480 Avios this quarter from Shell. They give 40 points (20 Avios) for a large coffee and some large number for a Super Shine car wash. Coffee on the way back from visiting the parentals and a car wash a couple of times a month are normal expenditure, but bring in the points.

  11. I picked up 2,280 Avios this quarter with Shell. They are always sending me bonus offers in the app of an extra 100 points (50 Avios) when putting 20 litres of fuel in.

    In December as well as a weekly 100 bonus points offer they also sent me a fill up with 30 litres 5 times and get 2000 bonus points, so for 5 fill ups I pocketed 2500 bonus points (1250 Avios) plus the standard points and whatever I got on my credit card as well.

    Shell is also the most handy for me.

    • Shell is also the most expensive of the options near me, I find, so any extra Avios I might earn there is easily cancelled out by the extra cost of the fuel.

      • Tilly71 says:

        In my local area both shell and Texaco are the same price per litre. I would have to drive 15-20 miles to a Sainsburys/Tesco/Morrisons so they round 40 mile trip would negate any savings plus I get avios and VA Miles.

  12. Andrew* says:

    Shell card like ClubCard – one per adult in the household…

    • I go to sainsburys as it’s either the same price or up to 3p cheaper than tesco, and it costs me 25p to drive to the tesco.

  13. As Mark mentions above – and harry has pointed out ad nauseum… :)) – Morrison’s is the best way to get petrol, if you have one nearby. In Rob’s best-case scenario, you’re getting 3.9 Avios per £1 – if you value your Avios at 1p each, then that’s a 3.9% return. If you buy gift vouchers at Morrison’s, you’re getting 1p off per litre per £10 spent. Let’s say you spend £100 on gift vouchers – making sure they’re ones that are NOT available at Tesco, to keep things simple, like John Lewis/Waitrose or Amazon – you’ve got 10p off each litre for expenditure that you would have done anyway, one assumes – a much better return than 3.9% for Avios.

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      ..although this does rely on your ability to be able to spend the gift vouchers you have acquired on things you would have bought anyway.

      I always worry that Harry has £’000s of Amazon credit to work through !!

      • I did have to knock it on the head once I built up £1K of amazon credit

        • I am surprised that I may be able to buy Jeff Banks shirts with Debenhams gift cards through the concession they have, whichncurrently seems to have a sale.

      • Any gift cards I can buy in morrisons I can get a better deal at tesco.
        So the morrisons fuel thing doesnt work for me :(

    • Has anyone managed to ever find gift cards? They don’t issue pay point cards, don’t take Amex.. Just another way I’m looking for to use Amex. Really do miss our little 3Vs….

  14. Londonbus says:

    To add to the confusion use the Shell app when its offering say 100 points (= 50 avios) for 20 litres – and just fill up with 20 litres…

    • Tilly71 says:

      Strange, my 100 points are always for a min of 15 litres?

      • Londonbus says:

        I used to get 20 litres. Not bought petrol at Shell for 2 months.. now at 15 litres.

  15. If you are in Spain you can use your Iberia plus card on Repsol and get 1 avio per fuel litre. I found an odd way to maximize it:
    – 1. get an Air Europa SUMA card
    – 2. get the Cepsa-air Europa combo card
    (Both of them are free and and digital, you can use them on a smartphone app / wallet)
    – 3. Buy fuel on Cepsa on tuesdays

    You will get: Cepsa points + air Europa miles + points for paying with your fav credit card + a code for renting a digital movie from wuaki

    If you redeem your wuaki code via Iberia Plus Store, you get 100 avios

    More info:

  16. I’ve got the club card plus and bapp cards which card would I be better off paying with ? I can’t work it out I get double points on purchases in store but unsure about petrol ? Anyone know

  17. You effectively get 1.25 avios per £1 spent on the SPG Amex card, assuming you have other ways of getting your SPG balance up to 20K to avail of the 5K bonus for transferring 20K to avios.

    Given the flexibility that the SPG Amex card has in terms of the broad range of transfer partners, many of which are unique for UK residents, I’d argue it’s the best option, once you have hit any bonus on other cards, unless you are absolutely focused on Avios and no other reward schemes are in any way on your radar.

  18. On topic:

    Still trying to get my head round the reasons why the Tescos vouchers plus boost might be better than the Morrisons 10% off gift vouchers via Petrol Saver plus 2% Virgin miles.

    But anyway, our Tesco petrol is a few miles away, and I’m planning an electric car.

    Off topic:

    Just received my Hilton Diamond Status match from Accor Platinum (in turn via Amex Plat), and they obviously follow the letter of the rules – I had precisely ONE Happy Monday’s night in an Ibis (Euston).

    Will be useful for my 3 weeks in Oz in the autumn courtesy Raffles.

  19. Please could someone advise on which product is better between Virgin Upper class and BA first class flying to New York or somewhere in the same distance zone ?
    Both will work out the same for points as Virgin is 80,000 points per person , and Ba is 160,000 But I have an Companion Voucher on the way

    Virgin will be cheaper in taxes at £460 Total

  20. Andrew* says:

    WooHoo. New in-app offer for me.

    100 pts at Shell, min fill 5 L

  21. Worth remembering that not all branches of Esso offer Clubcard points, notably those in the North East with a Co-op attached to them.