This is my review of the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard credit card.
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.
Key facts: No annual fee
The representative APR is 18.9% variable.
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.
About the card
The Tesco Clubcard MasterCard is issued by Tesco Bank, which is now wholly owned by Tesco following its acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland’s stake a couple of years ago.
What is the sign-up bonus?
You will receive 1,000 Tesco Clubcard points – worth 2,400 Avios points or 2,500 Virgin Flying Club miles – when you sign up for the card via this link or any of the other links on this page.
The bonus is triggered when you make a purchase or balance transfer within two months of application.
This offer is NOT available on the Tesco Bank website. It is only available via selected Tesco partners, including Head for Points.
Any other benefits?
This specific version of the card which comes with 1,000 Clubcard points as a sign-up bonus has two other benefits:
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You earn 1 Clubcard point for every £8 spent on the card on a ‘per transaction’ basis.
It is important that you understand what this means. At the most extreme, if you bought 100 items at £7.99 in separate transactions, you would earn zero Clubcard points. A £15.99 transaction would only earn one point, whilst a £16.00 transaction would earn two points.
Transaction in Tesco stores will earn double points.
How does that convert to Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles?
One Clubcard point is worth 2.4 Avios or 2.5 Virgin Flying Club miles, so every £1 spent on the card gets you up to 0.3 Avios or 0.312 Virgin miles.
You will receive a statement once a quarter containing your Clubcard vouchers, and you can convert these online to Avios or Virgin or redeem them for any of Tesco’s other ‘Clubcard Boost’ deals. You can even spend the vouchers in-store at Tesco at their face value, although this is a poor use of them.
This is the most generous free Visa or MasterCard card available for earning Avios. 0.3 Avios per £1 is better than you get from the Lloyds Avios Rewards card. However, my enthusiasm for the Tesco card has dropped since it halved its earning rate:
the ’rounding down to the nearest £8′ rule has an impact on the points you earn. Unless you only use the card for major (£100+) purchases, you will find that your average earning rate per £1 spent is lower than the advertised 0.125 Clubcard points / 0.3 Avios.
if you get the £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards card (0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard – which may be more than you get in reality from the Tesco card after rounding down), your spend will also count towards the flight upgrade voucher issued at £7,000 of spending.
The major virtues of the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard are:
it is free, whilst the Lloyds Avios Rewards card costs £24 per year
you don’t have to deal with Lloyds, which has a poor track record of customer service
if there is ever a return to regular ‘Clubcard to Avios’ transfer bonuses, your earnings rate will be better than you think
you can use your Clubcard points for something else if you change your mind about taking Avios
If you meet the stringent wealth criteria for a HSBC Premier current account, remember that the HSBC Premier MasterCard offers an unbeatable 0.5 Avios per £1 and is free.
Any other quirks?
Yes. Your Tesco credit card doubles up as a standard Tesco Clubcard.
It is perfectly acceptable to hand over your Tesco credit card in a Tesco store and ask them to swipe it as a Clubcard. You can then pay for your shopping on a more lucrative credit card!
What is an Avios point worth?
This post outlines my view of what an Avios point is worth, based on your typical redemption patterns.
One key benefit of Tesco Clubcard points is that you do not have to convert to Avios. Unlike dedicated airline credit cards, you have the option to convert to Avios or Virgin miles, but there is also the flexibility to use them for any other good Tesco deals that come along. I use a large pile of vouchers to pay a regular Safestore bill ….
Should I use this card abroad?
Not if you are spending your own money. As with most UK credit and debit cards, the Tesco card has an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions.
You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees. I recommend the Lloyds Avios Rewards card which also earns Avios points – even on your 0% FX transactions! It comes with a 4,500 Avios sign-up bonus if I refer you. My review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is here.
Other points to note
There are a number of variants of the card available, offering different combinations of interest rate, balance transfer rate and 0% interest rate periods. These are outlined on the Tesco Bank site. If you always clear your bill at the end of the month and have no interest in balance transfers, it is immaterial which version you choose.
You will only receive the 1,000 Clubcard points sign-up bonus if you apply for the specific variant of the card I discuss here and use my links.
The card is free and the sign-up bonus of 1,000 Clubcard points is worth 2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin miles so there is little risk in applying and seeing if the card works for you.
Assuming you convert your Clubcard vouchers to Avios points, the earning rate of 0.3 Avios points per £1 is as good as it gets if you don’t qualify for HSBC Premier.
Whilst you rarely see conversion bonuses from Tesco to Avios these days, conversion bonuses to Virgin Flying Club from Tesco are more common. You may rate the card higher if you collect Virgin miles.
The application form for the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard can be found here.
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.