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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (21): TSB Avios American Express & MasterCard

This is my review of the TSB Avios 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.

Key link:  TSB Avios credit cards application form

Key facts:  No annual fee

The representative APR is 17.9% 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 TSB Avios credit cards – issued by TSB, the only travel loyalty card they offer – come as a double-pack of an American Express and a MasterCard.  This model may not continue into the future as Amex fees on co-brand cards to UK retailers are now capped at the same level as MasterCard / Visa at 0.3%.

There are two version of this card – this, free, version and the Premier version which carries a £50 fee.  I will discuss the Premier version in a separate review.

Feedback from Head for Points readers is that you will not be accepted if you currently hold a different TSB credit card or if you have held any TSB credit card in the last six months.

What is the sign-up bonus?

There is no current sign-up bonus, and there has not been one since the card was taken over by TSB from Lloyds.

Any other benefits?

You receive 1,500 Avios points for every £1,000 of balance transfer you do.  Any transfer within 90 days of opening the card will be interest-free until six months after you opened the card.  There is the standard 3% fee for the balance transfer, however, so this is not a way to get some free Avios points.

TSB Avios credit cards review

Is there an annual fee?

No, there is no fee.

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

You earn 1 Avios per £1 spent on the Amex card and a pathetic 0.2 miles on the MasterCard.

Overseas transactions earn double Avios, which makes the TSB American Express card a better deal than either of the British Airways American Express cards for foreign currency spending.

Remember that the TSB cards have 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.

What is an Avios worth?

Don’t get me started on that one ….!

Only kidding.  Here is a long post on what an Avios point is worth, based on how you travel.

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.

The MasterCard is clearly a very poor deal in any scenario, and is best kept locked up in a drawer.  The American Express earnings rate of 1 Avios per £1 is OK and 2 Avios per £1 on foreign spending is very good.

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

The obvious options are the British Airways American Express card, the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card and the two Lloyds Bank-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 official sign-up bonus, it is difficult to recommend the card on that basis!

At 1 Avios per £1 on the Amex, the on-going earnings rate is OK, especially for a free card.  2 Avios per £1 on foreign spend on the Amex is impressive although you will be paying a 3% foreign exchange fee.  The MasterCard earnings rate is beaten by a large number of other Avios cards.

The application form for the TSB Avios credit cards 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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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (20): Tesco Premium MasterCard
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Comments

  1. Under the right circumstances the 1,500 avios for balance transfers may have some use. We’re remortgageing next year and have large balances on interest only cards which are coming to an end which need clearing down. May be better than nothing….

    • If you’ve got large balances on cards and paying interest, surely getting a card with a lower than 3% BT initial fee and a 0% interest rate should be your main priority. E.g. Virgin do an effective 0.59% initial rate with 0% interest for 30 months and I’m sure there are better ones. Going with TSB over this Virgin card would mean avios at 1.6p and I’m not a buyer at that price.

  2. Hi Genghis. The balances are on cards which are all in interest free periods; I’m not paying interest or any associated costs with these cards. However the interest free period on some cards is drawing to an end and It’s time to pay them off in readiness for remortgageing next year. You raised a good point though – thankyou.

  3. Some maybe interested in my experience I had with TSB and this dual package.
    I applied, on line , through the Avios.com site. I was initially attracted to the Double Miles for overseas expenditure, but more of that later.
    Having applied, I received an Email some 2/3 weeks later, ‘Approved ‘, but to take proof of ID into my local branch which I did.
    Another 2/3 weeks went by, with another Email ‘Approved ‘, but to take my proof of ID into my local branch, again.
    The local manager was a little embarrassed but after phone calls admitted they had been ‘lost’ within the organisation.
    No real problem, we were on our way, I thought. Another 2/3 weeks and another Email, this time, telling me that my application for a Current Account had been ‘approved’ !
    Back to the local Branch, more phone calls, more apologies. After a couple of days, received phone call from the Manager that my cards would be with me within ‘7/10’ days, and by way of compensation, 2500 Avios would be credited to my account. Both the Manager and one of his staff were more than helpful at a local level but were badly let down by ‘Head Office. ‘
    Sure enough, the cards did arrive as promised. So, around 2 months from start to finish.
    Now the card/s themselves.
    Stupidly, I initially thought that double Avios for overseas expenditure was quite good, NOT that I was going to use them direct. My thought was to backup the M’card version to Supercard, but doing a small online € purchase, it was of course treated as a UK purchase, not foreign, when I checked. So, they are now both relegated to the bottom drawer…my fault.
    Not quite all bad news though. I have now built up quite a good rapport with the local staff, in fact, we’re all on Christian name terms.
    It’s a pleasure of go in once a month……walk over to the ATM, withdraw £200, courtesy of Curve , then across to the lady on the cash desk, “Good Morning Mike, and how are you today……another 40 Avios?” (!)
    Ps. I guess you all received the Amex flyer, regarding the small retailer promotion in December. Take a look at the T’s and C’s…..the only Amex card not taking part ? TSB Amex !

  4. I do realise I could earn a few more Avios each month, but they are a pretty good bunch of people in my local branch and it wasn’t their fault….only too happy to support them in a small way.

  5. How do you apply for this? I cannot find it anywhere?