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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (22): TSB Premier Avios American Express & MasterCard

This is my review of the TSB Premier 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 links:  TSB Premier Avios credit cards application form

Key facts:  £50 annual fee

The representative APR is 23.7% variable, including the annual fee, based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  The representative APR on purchases is 13.95% 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 Premier 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 – the free TSB Avios credit card which I reviewed here and this Premier version which carries a £50 fee.  The difference is a higher earnings rate and the 2-4-1 voucher.

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?

None at present.  There has not been any sign-up bonus on this card since TSB took it over from Lloyds.

Any other benefits?

You receive a 2-4-1 voucher for Avios redemptions on British Airways when you spend £15,000 across your Amex and MasterCard during the year.

On the face of it, this is a good offer which could be very valuable.  However, yet again, it comes with some nasty stings in the tail:

It is only valid for Economy flights

The voucher is lost if you cancel your flights.  This is a lot stricter than the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, which is available for re-use if you need to cancel.

In general, I cannot see much value in working towards this voucher.  You would be better off getting the voucher on the British Airways Premium Plus American Express which is valid in any class, valid for two years and is not lost if you cancel.

The only reason to get it would be if you have a lot of MasterCard spend – but even here, the pathetic earning rate on the MasterCard (see below) multiplied by £15,000 means that part of your gain from the 2-4-1 will have been wiped out by the very small amount of miles received for your £15,000 of spending.

You also 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 Premier Avios

Is there an annual fee?

Yes, £50.

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

You earn 1.25 Avios per £1 spent on the Amex card and a very weak 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.

Overseas transactions earn double Avios.  However, 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.

If your employer reimburses your foreign spending – and so you don’t care about the 3% fee – it is worth noting that at 2.5 Avios per £, this is the most generous Avios credit card on the market for using abroad.

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 1.25 Avios per £1 is good, and 2.5 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 sign-up bonus, it is difficult to recommend the card on that basis.

At 1.25 Avios per £1 on the Amex, the on-going earnings rate is OK for a large spender, even with the £50 annual fee.  2.5 Avios per £1 on foreign spend is impressive although you will be paying a 3% foreign exchange fee.  The MasterCard earnings rate is beaten by various other Avios cards.

The application form for the TSB Premier 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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Comments

  1. Annonomous says:

    Where can I fly to with 55,000 MasterCard points ?

  2. Smellyden says:

    Is this card still available, cannot find any info about it?