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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (15): Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express & MasterCard

This is my review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards 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 link:  Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards application form

Key facts:  £24 annual fee

The representative APR is 23.7% variable including the £24 fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.

About the card

The Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards are issued by Lloyds Bank.  This review is focussed on the basic £24 version of the card – I review the Premier version with the £140 annual fee separately.  In my view, the £24 card reviewed here is the more attractive package as the additional benefits on the £140 card do not justify the extra fee.

The cards come as a twin-pack of an American Express and a MasterCard.  You will receive both cards when you apply, although you will only receive one monthly statement with your combined spending.

The Avios Rewards cards are the only travel loyalty cards issued by Lloyds, so it is unlikely to conflict with any existing cards you hold.  However, HFP reader experience is that it is not easy to predict whether or not you will be accepted whatever your credit standing may be.

Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card review

What is the sign-up bonus?

There is no sign-up bonus for applying directly.

However, you can receive 4,500 Avios points for signing up if I refer you via the refer-a-friend programme.  Email me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk and I will arrange for a special application link to be sent to you.

All cardholders will receive double Avios points for the first six months on your spending on the American Express card, up to £2,500 per month.  If you were spending £1,000 per month on the Amex, that would effectively mean a bonus of 7,500 Avios.

Any other benefits?

There are two very interesting benefits on the Lloyds Avios Rewards £24 cards which make them stand out from all other travel credit cards.

No foreign transaction fees.  This is a revolutionary move.  99% of UK credit cards – and ALL other travel loyalty cards – charge a 3% foreign exchange fee when you use your card abroad.  The Lloyds Avios Rewards card does not.  Even more impressively, you also earn Avios points on your foreign spending!

There are a couple of other credit cards which offer no foreign exchange fees – eg the free Post Office Platinum Money card.  None offer rewards points, though.  I wrote more about the ‘no FX fees’ benefit on this card here.

Flight upgrade voucher when you spend £7,000 across the two cards.  The voucher allows ONE PERSON to book a return Avios redemption ticket whilst only paying the Avios required for the class below the one you booked.

Alternatively, you can upgrade two one-way flights.  This only works if you upgrade two tickets on the same booking at the same time, with the cardholder as one of the travellers.  You cannot use the voucher to upgrade two totally separate one-way flights on different days.

A Club World return ticket to New York on a peak date, for example, would only cost 80,000 Avios return (the World Traveller Plus price) instead of 120,000 Avios when using the voucher.

The voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue (you only need to book within this period, not travel) and you can only earn one voucher per year.

You only need availability in the higher class, not the lower one.  Effectively, the voucher works by booking you a redemption seat for the discounted price of a seat in a lower class.

You cannot use the voucher to upgrade from Club World to First, on BA codeshares or on BA flights from City Airport.

For the solo traveller, this voucher could have real value.  It is less use if you always travel with a partner, although you could book a separate ticket at full Avios price for the other person.  I wrote about the upgrade voucher in more detail here.

Note that if you cancel a flight which has been upgraded using the voucher, the voucher is lost.  You do NOT get it back.   Use with care.

What is the annual fee?

The Lloyds Avios Rewards cards have an annual fee of £24.

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

You receive 1.25 Avios per £1 spent on the American Express card.  This is a very good rate of return given the modest annual fee.

The MasterCard only earn 0.25 Avios per £1.  This rate has begun to look better recently after its main competitors cut their earning rates – the Tesco MasterCard is now at 0.3 Avios per £1 (and even less in reality because of the way they round down transactions).  Even if you meet the very strict qualifying criteria, the free HSBC Premier MasterCard only earns 0.5 Avios per £1.  You need to pay a £195 fee for the World Elite version of the HSBC card which gives 1 Avios per £1.

What is an Avios point worth?

How long is a piece of string!

This article is my best attempt to calculate the value of an Avios.

How does this compare to a cashback credit card?

My default comparison card is the AA FuelSave Credit Card.  This card is free in the first year and offers 0.5% cashback on all spending, 2%-4% cashback on fuel purchases and – in year one – free AA breakdown cover.  The representative APR is 22.4% variable.

On this basis, the American Express card supplied with the Lloyds Avios Rewards card performs well, earning 1.25 Avios per £1.  The MasterCard at 0.25 Avios per £1 does not compare well to a cashback card – the only good reason for using it is that your spend will count towards triggering the upgrade well.

How does this compare to the free British Airways American Express card?

The Lloyds Avios Rewards card compares well for spending (1.25 Avios per £1 on the Amex compared with 1 Avios per £1 on the free British Airways American Express card).  The BA Amex is better for fees (the BA card is free compared to £24 for the Lloyds card) and DOES carry a sign-up bonus.

The real differential, though, is the voucher on offer:

if you travel with a partner, you will value the 2-4-1 voucher for Avios redemptions that comes with the British Airways Amex

if you travel alone, you might find the upgrade voucher offered with the Lloyds card more attractive

Of course, if you spend a large amount on credit cards each year and could trigger both bonuses, you may want to have the Lloyds Avios Rewards card alongside one of the BA cards.

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

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

Conclusion

With no sign-up bonus, it is impossible to recommend the card on that criteria!   If you let me refer you via the ‘refer a friend’ scheme then you will receive 4,500 Avios.  Based on your predicted level of spending, you can decide for yourself if the ‘double Avios on the Amex card for six months’ deal is attractive or not.

The on-going earning rate on the Amex card is attractive compared to competing products, especially given the modest £24 fee.  0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard is poor and most people would be better off using a cashback credit card once they have triggered the upgrade voucher.

I feel that Lloyds deserves special credit for the ‘no FX fees’ feature on this card.  If you only spend a small amount abroad on credit cards, you may be better off with the Post Office or Halifax Clarity cards which are free. If you spend more than £2000 abroad on the each year, though, and the Avios earned via the Lloyds Amex will outweigh the £24 fee.

The application form for the Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express and MasterCard can be found here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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.

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Comments

  1. I have held this pair of cards continuously since starting with HfP and avios points collecting. The FX free benefit means it is the only card I use overseas (I would use the Supercard but is almost always rejected).

    The double points for the first 6 months was especially good – does anyone know if there is a possibility of churning. I cancelled the wife’s card over 6 months ago – is there any chance of getting double points again?

    • I have had the Amex rejected a few times overseas in Cyprus and Korea, and also annoying when trying to use from an overseas IP address. However a quick call to Lloyds has usually sorted it out

  2. I guess with the comparison to the free BA card the 2-for 1 voucher is only valid for 12 months from issue whereas the Lloyds card voucher is valid for basically 2 years giving better use for busier routes to book at T-355

  3. From Lloyds site: “You will earn one upgrade voucher if you spend a minimum of £7,000 on your Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards Credit Card in a calendar year”.

    Does use of “calendar year” here imply Jan-Dec, and hence that it’s unwise to apply so late in the year?! Surely not?!

    • It’s “card membership year”. I took out in August 2015, and earned the voucher in early January. Used this year for CW to Hong Kong

      When I took the card out it also came with 12 months 0% on purchases which they then extended by 6 months. Which was nice

    • I’ve recently had this out with them. It’s membership year. I took the card in October 2015, hit the spend requirement in November and got the voucher. Then, assuming calendar year, I hit the spend requirement again in mid-2016 – and didn’t initially get the voucher. It took a few calls bounced between Avios and Lloyds, and an email to Avios, but eventually they (Avios) awarded the voucher – the web site very clearly said calendar year, so basically they don’t have a leg to stand on. Astonishingly, they still haven’t updated it.

  4. Matthew Vaughan says:

    I managed to have two voucher issued this year – one early on, and another in August after a heft Canadian hospital bill was paid on the card. So I think the “one voucher a year” thing may apply to membership year rather than calendar year?

    • It’s 100% definitely membership year – they still need to sort their wording but from experience and (prior to that) multiple phonecalls it is confirmed.

  5. I have had this duo set of cards for 7 years. They look just like the ones in the photo above. However I do not pay the £24 annual fee but I am charged for Fx transactions. Am I missing something or are my cards different because they are on an old scheme? Thanks in advance.

    • I’m in the same position. I have the free duo cards from back in the day. I used to use the post office card for free FX transactions, now switched to the Supercard. But decided to keep the existing Lloyds Duo for the fact the earning rate is the same and has zero annual fee. I don’t rate the voucher highly enough to warrant changing instead opting for 2x BAPP cards per year between the Mrs and I.

    • Yes, those are the old Duo cards, no longer available.

      I think I may have slotted in the wrong image :-)

  6. Did a little experiment with exchange rates in Portugal on the same day a few weeks ago and got:
    Lloyds Amex (1.105)
    Cash withdrawal with Nationwide Plus (1.105)
    Revolut pre-loaded card (meant to be spot rate) (1.105)
    Dummy transaction with UKForex (1.1005)
    Dummy transaction with Thomas Cook (1.0833)

    Just to show that you are getting the best rate possible with the Lloyds card with no fx fees and earning Avios.

  7. TGLoyalty says:

    If you have a lloyds Bank account its the click of a button online

    If you don’t you just do a bank transfer from another account using the details provided and your card number as the reference, it will again be pretty instant with faster parents available from most banks

  8. And nobody seems to mention this – the 24 pound fee is supposedly cut in half if you have a Club Lloyds bank account, i believe.

    • …and upon double-checking, I have to correct myself: only seems to apply to the Choice Rewards card. Might have been different a year or two ago.

  9. Does anyone know if you get to keep the upgrade voucher if you cancel the card after triggering the voucher?

    • I would imagine show as it goes across to your Avios.com account. Given Lloyds don’t seem to offer sign-up offers to previous customers though I’ve just kept it going – I find it a decent ongoing card.

  10. I’m really confused. I have had a pair that looks like this but pay no annual charge. Amex and Mastercard duo for Avios. Do I have something different?

    • Yes, you have the old version of the cards.

      I just checked and the image I used is the same image that avios.com uses on their website for the current Avios Rewards cards.

  11. Probably worth removing the part that talks about the Premier version of this card, given it is no longer available.

  12. I currently have a voucher waiting to be used, and I recently did a test booking on the LCY-JFK route … And I was getting the WT+ points for the Business class seat … So I think your statement that the voucher can’t be used out of LCY is wrong (unless bookings fail at the last moment) ?

  13. 1. Is this a chrurnable card say if one waits for a year or more?

    • Also any idea on how do I guarantee a referral email is sent out?
      Does it take long time for the email to come through?

      • Referral for me and wife came within a couple of days

      • It will not arrive if the person you name has ever been a Lloyds customer OR their Avios account is set to ‘no marketing email’. The latter catches most people as this is a ‘secret’ rule.

  14. Hi, thanks for another useful piece. Just to confirm: I have a Lloyds current account. Does this mean I can’t be referred for to Avíos credit card? The T&Cs suggest there is no problem, but I have read things on here that suggest that there is.

    Also, I have read quite a lot on here about poor customer service. I have had no problems with the current account. Is the Avios credit card significantly worse?

    Thanks in advance for answering my questions!

    • Your referral will never arrive if you are recognised as having a current account.

      The only way around it is:

      a) be referred using a different email address
      b) the link will arrive
      c) …. but Lloyds will refuse you the bonus when you apply
      d) but when you email Avios to question why you haven’t got your bonus, they add it

  15. Is the £7k spend calculated only on whole pounds from each transaction or is it literally hitting £7K in aggregate during the membership year to qualify for voucher?

  16. TigerTanaka says:

    I think Lloyds might have changed how many Avios are given out on the Mastercard.

    The website says “The Avios Rewards MasterCard lets you collect Avios at a rate of 1.25 for every £5 of eligible spend you make.” This is cleary worse than 0.25 per £1.

    I was thinking of getting this to replace my AA Visa and Post Office MC but I would need to spend £8k a year as a minimum on the Mastercard to break even. Amex would be fine but who does this on Visa/MC?

    • By my arithmetic, 0.25 per £1 is the same as 1.25 per £5 since they calculate the Avios on the total spend rather than separately on each item like Amex.

    • It has, to be fair, always been 1.25 per £5. I call it 0.25 per £1 for ease of comparison. As they do not work ‘by transaction’ it makes no difference.

  17. Hi. How long after hitting the £7k spend can you expect the voucher to be issued?

  18. melissa perkins says:

    Hi there.
    Do I need to register my cards somewhere so that the avios points go on to my avios account?
    How do I collect or check the points I’ve earned on these cards?

    Thanks, Melissa

    • Avios will try and match to your existing account. They often get it wrong and make a new one, just do webchat on Avios.com to get them to merge accounts. That’s also where you’ll see the points show up each month when they move across from the credit card.