Can you get a better travel deal with Clubcard points than Avios?

Tesco Clubcard offers a very cheap way of accumulating Avios points and Virgin Flying Club miles without stepping on a plane.   This is why I cover some Clubcard offers on Head for Points and ALL Clubcard earning offers (however good or bad!) over on our sister site Shopper Points.

Are Avios points a blinkered way of redeeming your Clubcard vouchers, though? After all, there are a huge number of other partners to choose from.  Once in a while it is worth stopping to look at alternatives.

Let’s take a look at Tesco’s other travel partners.

Clubcard vouchers

First, you need to ask yourself ‘What is an Avios point worth to me? – this linked post explains my views. If you settle on 1p, then 1p of Clubcard vouchers gets you 2.4p of value if you redeem for Avios.

Do any other Clubcard travel deals come close to Avios or Virgin Flying Club redemptions?  After all, many claim to offer ‘3x face value’ which would be a better return than 2.4x with Avios points.   You can find a full list of ALL Clubcard redemptions, ranked by the multiple of face value offered, on this page of Shopper Points.

Airlines

The only other airline partner is Monarch. £10 of Clubcard vouchers gets you £15 of Monarch vouchers. This is a poor return.

Train, buses, ferries and car hire

redspottedhanky offers 2x face value for train fares – you are at least cashing out cleanly here, as train tickets are not usually discounted further elsewhere, apart from those operators who offer special deals exclusively on their own websites.

Europcar is 3x but UK only and with restrictions (such as only being valid on ‘pay on arrival’ rates) which reduce the value. The various ferry companies are also 3x – I never book a ferry so I am not sure how easy it is to take advantage of other special deals. Megabus and the railcards tend to offer 2x. None of these companies are likely to soak up a large pile of vouchers in any event.

If you live in Northern Ireland, the ability to redeem for Translink rail and bus tickets at 3x face value may be interesting.

Eurotunnel does offer genuine value.  Feedback from HFP readers is that you pay the same price as shown on their website, availability is the same as shown online and the vouchers get you 3x face value.

Holidays

I have read some great stories about people who have had ‘free’ holidays via Clubcard points.  Tesco works with many of the top groups such as Cosmos, Bridge The World, Leger, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean and SibluThese are generally at a headline rate of 3x face value.

The rules have been tightened over the years, though. Some tour operators have now capped the use of large amounts of Clubcard vouchers. Virgin Holidays left the scheme – back in the days when they allowed you to use unlimited amounts of vouchers it was an easy way to get a totally free holiday.

With cruises, for example, Royal Caribbean does not allow redemptions against flights, taxes, admin fees etc, only cruise costs.  There is a £510 per person voucher cap and a minimum cruise of 7 nights.  The upside is that the minimum spend is also £510 per person so you could cover the majority of the cost of a cheap cruise with Clubcard.

P&O now has a maximum cap of £810 of vouchers per booking (Royal Caribbean is £510 per person) which makes it more interesting for a solo traveller.  With cruise deals you are generally required to book the brochure price which may often be discounted via brokers.

You need to do the sums to see if these deals make sense. How much cheaper can you get the product if you book elsewhere?

Hotels

This is also the land of small print! You can use Clubcard deals for 300% of face value with a number of hotel groups, including Best Western, Barcelo, Butlins, Hastings Hotels, Hilton, Macdonald, Mercure, Novotel and Warner Hotels. 

In general, you are restricted to UK stays, at weekends, paying the ‘fully flexible’ bed and breakfast price. Mercure allows midweek stays ‘subject to availability’ and lets you book ‘advanced purchase’ rates.  Not all Mercure UK hotels take part.

Hilton rooms can be booked 7 days a week (you must book 14 days in advance) at Hilton and Doubletree branded hotels only, in the UK only, priced off ‘Best Flexible B&B rate’ only.  A long list of Hilton and Doubletree hotels also refuse to participate.  You can check availability on the Hilton website by searching for corporate code PR20TC although Tesco don’t tell you this!

Hilton allows you to book most room categories with Clubcard tokens.  This can make them more flexible than Hilton HHonors points if you need a larger room or suite.

apartments4u looks interesting.  You redeem a flat £30 of Clubcard vouchers for a £90 apartments4u voucher.  This can be redeemed on their website as a standard discount code against any 7-night booking and so are getting a genuine 3 x face value saving.  The reviews of Clubcard holders who have redeemed are all very positive.

Conclusion

Fundamentally, I have never been able to get my head around the small print with the non-Avios travel deals. The only one that I know would work nicely for me is redspottedhanky, but at only 2x face value it is not great.  Hilton is a possibility but not one I have tried yet.  That isn’t to say that some of the other deals are not worth it, they just don’t work for me.

If you’ve got any experience of redeeming Clubcard vouchers for travel (or other) deals for genuine bargains then do post below.  All of these deals can be found at the Clubcard Boost ‘travel deals’ page.

Love Clubcard?  You should be reading our sister site, Shopper Points (www.shopperpoints.co.uk), which covers the latest Clubcard and Nectar offers.  Why not check it out now?

HFP 'Credit Cards' page updated for September - what are the best deals this month?
Fewer Avios options: Lufthansa to take over 1/3rd of airberlin routes
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. New Amex offers on PRG

    Eurostar: £20 off £60
    TfL: 1000 extra MR for £200 spend (in increments of £2).

    So if you buy Avios at 1p then it’s 5% back. As I don’t buy Avios at 1p, I’ll still use TSB contactless debit (I have access to 4 cards and haven’t been able to spend £400 on contactless per month)

    • Oops, forgot the MR that you’d earn anyway, so it’s 5% back if you buy avios at 0.833p (which is still too much for me)

    • Can see TFL on mine too both PRGC and BA Amex. However while trying to save it says offer no longer available.

    • It says when using contactless. As I don’t do much travelling in London I wonder if I can load my oyster up in £30 chunks using contactless. At some point in the future I might need to get a refund on my oyster card. Would that work?

      • Nice idea as a season ticket holder no need for any money on my oyster but this would certainly be a route to benefitting from the offer. The ticket office might be surprised to see me asking for a £200 refund but oh well

      • Think the point is using contactless when going through the barriers. Not sure if it would work with contactless when buying credit – if indeed it is possible to use contactless then.

  2. With my grandfathered 800 Avios per £2.50 in CC points, I doubt I’d ever find a better way of redeeming my CC points – thats just 0.3125p per Avios …. for as long as it lasts!

    • Agreed but don’t broadcast it – Tesco might have forgot about it lol. Seriously conidering the Royal Caribbean option as an alternative

      • I looked at my CC balances on a few accounts and saw the expiry dates looming and not wanting to keep depositing £50 vouchers for £2.50 worth of Avios decided to look at RCCL transfers at 3 to 1.

        So I have used £340 CC (81,600 Avios) points to save £1020 on our next three cruises, Its the first time I have used CC for anything other than Avios. You have to check all the options when booking RCCL cruises, I usually leave it late to book and pick up the bargains with a US online cruise agency but lately RCCL are pushing out the deals very early and the late deals are becoming harder to find.

        Back in May I booked a 14 night Transatlantic crossing for this coming April for £1200 this includes a Select drinks package (wine, beer, etc) which if purchased separately would cost £440 per person. If I had picked an inside cabin the cost at the time was £475 and also included the drinks package.

        A £300 deposit has to be paid then the CC discount is applied a few weeks later. So cruise cost £600 pp CC discount £510 pp and a cash outlay of only £90 pp. The £120 over payment was refunded to my Amex a month after booking.
        Similar costings for the other 2 cruises.

        I will still be using Avios for the flights MAD-MIA or MIA-MAD on Iberia due to the low taxes.

    • But the whole basis of the article is that a £2.50 Tesco CC voucher isn’t only worth £2.50. If you have a genuine 2x alternative, it’s £5.00; at 3x it’s £7.50. So you avios are costing you 0.625p or 0.9375p each.

      • The 0.9375p figure is verging very close to the tcb rate that few appear to use on this site. Should be a reminder to people that they need to carefully consider the cost/value of avios. Though for many the joy of the hobby, combined with being the only way of justifying business / first travel probably tips the scales.

        • I think that’s the point of collecting avios, is to do things that you wouldn’t buy ordinarily. Before finding this site I collected some avios through flights and club card but only redeemed them short-haul.

          This year I flew business MAD-ORD JFK-MAD, for £160 in taxes, thanks to what I’ve learned from this site. Now I’m nearing enough virgin miles to try upper class for the first time. Getting a few free train tickets instead that I would have paid cash for anyway, doesn’t really appeal to me.

          But each to their own I suppose

          • I’m with you 80% on that: I put the effort into collecting avios/TCP because of the chance of longhaul J/F flights on good value RFS, and I’m willing to speculatively “buy” them at a certain cost even if I have no particular redemption in mind. But at the other end of the Tesco 2yr cycle if I have a £20 voucher expiring and no immediate need for the avios, I would (and should) ask myself if there’s a better use for it, and if I opt for Longleat or Pizza Express that time around it’s not going to affect my efforts to collect ongoing avios.

      • I see it as me not taking 81600 Avios for the £340 CC in return for £1020 off the price of a cruise which I would pay in cash, not the greatest maths guy here but I get that to 1 Avios to 1.25p I can live with that seeming the Tesco CC points came so easily and I still have a rather large stash along with nearing 2 million Avios, AA combined plus a few hundred thousand Amex without a home.

  3. Currently half way through a 10 day trip sailing the Cyclades islands on a 56ft sailing boat on a Trip with Intrepid Travel so hi from very sunny Greece!

    Usually 3x value however a couple of times a year they have an offer that give you 4x value.

    Need to pay the £150pp deposit on a card but after that you can get up to £800pp off with vouchers. So having bought this trip during an offer period I got my wife and I £1,600 off total price by using £400 of Clubcard vouchers (thank you 3V – ah how I miss those…).

    Clubcard vouchers can be combined with other discounts (after 1st trip you get a 5% previous traveller discount) however a YHA membership (which I think an annual membership is c£20) gets you 10% off.

    Trips can often be booked up to 2 years in advance, so you can then book a trip far enough in advance to match up with flights at T-355 etc if you can utilise that

    Booking process using clubcard vouchers is very simple over the phone and voucher codes come through in under 30 mins from Clubcard themselves.

    This is my 5th holiday with Intrepid and I really can’t rate them enough. The trips are great ways to see a lot of places in a small amount of time, so if your idea of a holiday is sitting on a beach for 2 weeks then fair enough this isn’t for you, but otherwise they are a great way of seeing a lot in one holiday.

    Whilst flying F is nice, I’d never certainly pay the cash price for it so Avios redemption is never normally as high as 3x value for us (although flying BA back directly from Santorini to LHR at the end of the trip is higher than that) so definitely more valuable to do this and getting 4x in the offer periods is an even sweeter bonus!

    Essay over :)

    • Barry cutters says:

      I used them and did the golden triangle trip with the missus. Cost us the £150 deposit and the rest was cc vouchers. Good use of them. Combined with an ex Brussels wtp fare answer and did 2 nights there before . It was great

    • It probably sounds a bit snobbish, but I look at people doing intrepid trips the way you look at people spending 2 weeks on the beach! For the majority of their trips you can do something similar for a cheaper price and much more flexibility.

      That being said, I did resort to using them for an African safari trip I couldn’t find a way of doing alone, and it wasn’t completely horrible!

      • Callum – I don’t think that sounds snobbish and certainly I was not saying that about people sitting on a beach, but simply that if that’s what you like then it’s unlikely you’ll enjoy being (almost) constantly being on the move which is the nature of their trips (although this sailing trip does have the added benefit of only having to unpack once as you’re not moving between hotels!)

        I agree that sometimes that you can do the trips on your own for cheaper, however the majority of the ones I have done often I can’t do so, plus in places like Kenya/Tanzania and Borneo having the transport all arranged is obviously very helpful, as well as obviously travelling with other people (which obviously can go both ways depending on others).

        Plus if you can arrange it cheaper on your own it’s certainly a good place to get some ideas :)

        Forgot to mention that they do offer a tenth trip free (up to £1,200) so if its something you like, you can obviously gain that over time, and can certainly play the system if you wanted to racking up cheaper, shorter trips. Regardless though that is a verrrry long investment period for most people to see that return so certainly not something to be treating as yours from the first trip!

  4. Regarding the ferry. DFDS has occasionally special offers using a promo code e.g. free wine or bottles of beer (handy for long ride) or sometimes some money off. Since you’ll need to call these promos won’t work. Or you can get some Topcashback so Clubcard value is a bit less than 3x but usually still beating a BA conversion.

    Sometimes the duty free has excellent offers so you might gain something.

    Occasionally DFDS has £39 tickets to Dunkirk so £25 worth in Clubcard buys a return.

    • Lady London says:

      P & O has now reduced their offering to their Irish Sea ferries only. (So not Dover and Calais.) This was a bit of a blow when I went to use some Clubcard points last week.

  5. I confirm that with Eurotunnel, the £30 (or whatever) voucher is a simple £30 discount off the going rate. Eurotunnel do occasional amazing short return ticket prices (effectively booze cruises) & the discount would work on those as well. Eg at the moment they’re running £23+ ‘Travel for as little as £23+ per car for up to 9 passengers with our Day Trip & Overnight fare’ ‘With this ticket you can spend two days away for the same price as a day trip’
    http://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/tickets/types/day-and-overnight/

    So if you have a spare couple of days & some Tesco points…

    • Here’s my tip for Eurotunnel: whatever your allocated train time, you’re pretty sure to arrive early most of the time. So take the first train, regardless of your booking. You’ll need to hide your hanger card with the booking number on it & drive straight past the guy directing people at the roundabout – hey you didn’t see him, right? He’ll probably radio ahead that there’s a chancer coming up and you’ll get asked for your booking at the stacks. They’ll then send you to wait in the ‘chancers’ stack – don’t worry, there will be a few of you so it’s not too embarrassing. Then invariably you’ll be allowed on the very next train once the regular bookings have loaded.

      Saves you loads of time.

      • No need to hide the hanger card. If there is space on the the earlier train they won’t mind you put you in the ‘chancer’ lane. Maybe around busy times e.g. Christmas, they are bit more strict.

        At the same time, they won’t mind you taking a train later. So there is no real point of arriving early because you are afraid for road works, etc.

    • Lady London says:

      Does anyone know if you the tunnel or the ferries really charge you extra if you fail to return from a day trip priced like this? For example if you come back some other way a few days later instead.

  6. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Do RedSpottedHanky charge their £1 booking fee on Clubcard redemptions?

    • Clubcard just gives you an rsh e-voucher which you add to your account so yes you have to pay the fee. I.haven’t used them since the fee was brought in but don’t see how it could be avoided

    • I have never used clubpoints this way, but if what John says is correct, after converting Clubcard vouchers to RHS e-voucher codes you can use the codes to pay for the £1 booking fee. At least this was the case a couple of months ago when I used some codes for paying the whole value of the tickets including fees.

  7. I’ve just used them for monarch airlines. I wanted a particular date and time of flight to maximise a long weekend, paid £200 worth of points for £298 worth of flights, I have plenty of avios and would have paid cash for these flights so to me an excellent use of my tesco points. Also these were bought for soon and fiancée not resident at our address with no problem.

  8. OT – Trailfinders £200 off £1000.
    Says no gift vouchers, any idea if this is actually likely to be the case. Anyone tried?

    • Not sure how Amex would know you had bought vouchers 😉

    • Well I used 2 offers for a booking and they have a £75 fee per person plus individual taxes and fees appear to be rounded up after conversion to gbp , and only 1 MR per £ as opposed to 2 if booking on an airline website and 3 on amex travel.

      So it’s more like £110 off, still a good deal though and credited with the transactions themselves.

      No idea about the gift vouchers but agree amex wouldn’t know.

      • Care to expand which type of booking.
        I tried to do dummy quote on airline tickets and their (TF) prices are considerably higher. So not sure if they offer real value.

        Also tried to do quote for a holiday hotl stay in NZ and they were considerably expensive. Even more expensive than hotel’s own website. I am not really sure who uses Trailfinders?

        Would like to know how to maximise value from this TF offer.

        • In the past you couldn’t (easily) beat TF for eco rtw tickets, obviously aimed at students/ budget travellers http://www.trailfinders.com/around-the-world

          I got one in 99/2000 when I had a few months free and got totally flexible dates (after the first flight) UK-USA-AUS (incl different airports in/out)-IND-THAI-EUR for something like £900

          • I did the same. My first RTW, probably 1989, was booked through them. And very good they were too.

            • Used them, and others including travelbag and bridgetheworld. I found in past (may still be) that ebookers had some great hotel deals at times. My favourite though was mixing and matching one way student flights (mostly on BA), that could be changed or cancelled for about £20, booked through STA.

    • Which cards are trailfinders on please? Would like it but didn’t get it. Do amex ever apply offers if you call up and ask?

  9. the_real_a says:

    Also worth a mention is National Express, since outside of London the coach to the airport is often the most convenient. The offer is 3x and available on their airport routes. They have an “open return” options for airport runs for £5 extra which takes out any worry your flight may be late.

    If you have not taken National Express in a while, be prepared for a shock that the coach will be more comfortable than your plane seat!

  10. Best Clubcard deal IMHO is one year of Telegraph iPad edition for £20 in vouchers. Newspapers are over £500 a year for the subscription. iPad subs is £150 from memory.

    • Yes, that is a good deal – I wrote an article on that once and there is a similar article in the Shopper Points archive. I assume you don’t see all the stair lift ads in the app version which would be another benefit :-)

      • Telegraph is free when using Google Incognito. I think they give you something like 10 free articles a month but when that runs out just use Incognito.

  11. Most interesting. I used to be a heavy user of all UK coach services back in the 80s, up until about 92.

  12. Wight link ferry is a good redemption. I think you may be limited to either the flex or non-flex tickets but around 3x value is achievable. It was a little clunky last time I tried it, voucher code then call but well worth it

  13. Will Squires says:

    The Hotel Collection have also pulled out in the last few months. Most annoying as I was planning to use them imminently.

  14. MacDonalds Hotels are still available as a Clubcard redemption.

  15. I have used the CC vouchers for Denby crockery. At one time it was 4x value and now varies between 2x and 3x. It was easy to use email voucher received which was a direct discount off your purchase. This I found works best with their 50% off sale which they have a few times a year.

  16. O/T Hoppa fare for Londoners https://tfl.gov.uk/campaign/hopper-fare?cid=hopper
    Two bus or tram journeys for the price of one
    Make a journey using pay as you go on a bus or tram, and you can make a second bus or tram journey for free within one hour of first touching in.

    You must touch in using the same card on the second bus or tram.

    Hopper fares apply to adult and discounted rate pay as you go journeys.

    A Hopper fare will not apply if:

    You make a journey on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air Line, River Bus or National Rail services between the first and second bus or tram journey
    Your Oyster card has a negative pay as you go balance after the first journey. If you clear the negative balance within one hour of touching in, you can still make the second journey for free
    You use an Oyster card to change from a tram to a bus at Wimbledon station. For these journeys, an automatic refund for the second fare will be paid to your Oyster card

  17. O/T avios.com Enjoy up to 35% bonus Avios
    Top up your balance and take off sooner.
    When you Purchase Avios between 09 – 26 September 2016

    135,000 Avios = £1615 = 1.1962962p

    • or (same 35% bonus)
      114749 Avios for £1375 = 1.1982675p

      • I’m certainly not a buyer at that price!

        • nor am I but there’s a massive case for buying 135000 if you need them to get enough for a 2-4-1 (or perhaps can get more that 1.2p of value elsewhere)

          chean & dead easy, whammo 135000 or 270000 if you feel like it :)

          • I am using reward flight over Christmas to Canary islands and if I calculated correctly I am getting a value over 3p easily per avios. (40000 avios against nearly £1200 cash ticket price for four of us)

            Even though I will now be buying at this price.

            • Should read NOT be buying instead of now.

            • Yes, I can believe that, I had same idea about a week ago and checked out what was available, answer was nothing much at reasonable prices and problematic to get both an out and rtn redemption that worked. Also noticed that BA to LPA was operated by Iberia Express. Didn’t realise Canary Islands were so popular over the holidays.

  18. Clubcard: Also useful for buying Merlin Annual Pass.
    Have used wightlink and managed to achieve 3x value in the past.

    • Forgot to mention other than travel Pizza Express is certainly a good value for me.

      • Only on Fri and Sat IMO. My wife prefers somewhere more fancy on a weekend. (Can use tastecard / vouchers on most other nights thereby diminishing the true value of the redemption).

  19. The apartments4u are mainly timeshare units and I would advise researching the resort and booking only Gold or Silver Crown units as the standard ones may not suit.

  20. O/T Amex

    Finance Times spend £30, get £20 credit
    ft.com/amex

  21. About the Daily Mail-o-graph £20 offer, even if you can’t stand the biased reporting, the offer may be worthwhile, because it includes:
    – 15% discount on Thursdays at Robert Dyas (all week online);
    – free coffee at Debenhams on Mon-Fri afternoons;
    – 2-4-1 and similar dining offers

    You need a subscriber card and may need to request it. Mine came automatically, a pair btw.

  22. We generally use our points for restaurant vouchers (Bella Italia and Cafe Rouge mainly) for when we have family breaks in the UK. At 4x face value I think its a good use of them. You can’t use the vouchers for drinks though, but other than that they are very useable.

Trackbacks

Add your comment here:

*