What is the best Avios credit card? (Part 2: on-going earning rates)

Yesterday I did my best to begin answering the question commonly asked by beginners to this hobby – ‘What is the best credit card for earning Avios points?’.

Because you can earn Avios points both directly and indirectly (eg via Tesco Clubcard or Amex Membership Rewards), the list of possible cards is longer than most people think.

Yesterdays article comparing sign-up bonuses was the most important part of the exercise.  The easiest way to build up your Avios points, after all, is through multiple sign-up bonuses.

It is also worth running over the various earning rates.  For simplicity, I have separated these into ‘best American Express card for earning Avios’ and ‘best Mastercard / Visa for earning Avios’.

Before you apply for anything, though, consider the size of the sign-up bonus and annual fee as well as the earning rate.  Some cards offer a better sign-up deal if you are referred rather than apply direct – you will find full details of referral deals on the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page of HFP.

Let me be very clear on one point. I am not suggesting that the best use for the points from all of these cards is to transfer to Avios. Frankly, you’d be crazy to convert 50,000 Hilton points to 5,000 Avios when you could get a valuable hotel stay out of them. However, I have listed all of the options for completeness.

credit cards

If you spend a lot of money abroad on your credit card and someone else is paying (ie you are not bothered about the 3% FX fee added by most cards) then you should also read this article on the most generous reward cards for overseas spending.

This article does not factor in the value of long-term incentives such as the British Airways American Express Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher or the IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard free night voucher.  You should also think about these perks when deciding where to put your long-term spending.

American Express cards:

1 Avios per £1 (1.66 per £1 if spending exactly £15,000 pa) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Charge Card 

Best sign-up bonus (20000 points) for a ‘free for first year’ card.  1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios.  You also receive double points on foreign and airline spend.  You get 10,000 bonus points on renewal when you spend £15,000 per card year, equivalent to an extra 0.66 points per £1.  Full review.

1.5 Avios per £1 British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

Best overall card for long-term spending due to the value of the 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher.  Double points on British Airways spend (3 per £1) plus the 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher when spending £10,000 per year.  Representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

1.25 Avios per £1 Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card

1 Starwood point = 1 Avios, but you get a 25% bonus when converting 20,000 SPG points at once.  Representative APR 36.2% variable including £75 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

1.25 Avios per £1 Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express

Best card for foreign spending due to the 0% FX fee.  Card also has no foreign exchange fees on overseas spending, voucher to upgrade one return Avios flight by one class when spending £7,000 per year.  Representative APR 23.7% variable including £24 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

1 Avios per £1 – American Express Platinum Charge Card

1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios.  £450 annual fee albeit offset by a very wide range of travel perks.  Full review.

1 Avios per £1 – British Airways American Express Card

2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher when you spend £20,000 per year.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.  Full review.

MasterCard and Visa cards:

1 Avios per £1 HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard

Best Visa / MasterCard if you meet the qualifying criteria.  This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders and requires substantial savings or investment products to be held with HSBC to qualify.  Representative APR 59.3% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

0.6 Avios per £1 Tesco Premium MasterCard 

1 Clubcard point per £4 spent per transaction. 1,000 Clubcard points convert into 2,400 Avios. Note that your actual earnings rate will be lower because each transaction is rounded down to the nearest £4, offset by the fact that you earn quadruple points for shopping in Tesco. Representative APR 56.5% variable including £150 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

0.5 Avios per £1 HSBC Premier MasterCard

This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders and requires substantial savings or investment products to be held with HSBC to qualify.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full review.

0.4 Avios per £1 IHG Rewards Club Premium MasterCard

2 IHG Rewards Club points per £1. 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 Avios. Double points on foreign spend.  £99 annual fee.  Representative APR 41.5% variable including £99 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

0.3 Avios per £1 Tesco Clubcard MasterCard 

Best free Visa / MasterCard for earning Avios points.  1 Clubcard point per £8 spent per transaction. 1,000 Clubcard points convert into 2,400 Avios. Note that your actual earnings rate will be lower because each transaction is rounded down to the nearest £8, offset by the fact that you earn double points for shopping in Tesco.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full review.

0.25 Avios per £1 Lloyds Avios Rewards MasterCard

Card also has no foreign exchange fees on overseas spending, voucher to upgrade one return Avios flight by one class when spending £7,000 per year.  Comes as a double-pack with the Amex discussed above.  Representative APR 23.7% variable including the £24 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full review.

0.2 Avios per £1 IHG Rewards Club MasterCard

1 IHG Rewards Club point per £1. 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 Avios.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full review.

0.2 Avios per £1 Hilton Honors Platinum Visa

2 Hilton points per £1. 10,000 Hilton Honors points convert to 1,000 Avios.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full review.

(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. O/T – “Spend £2,000 by 23 Jul 2017 to receive 30,000 points” says my wife’s Platinum card online account. Should it not be 35,000 points for this spend ??? Did it at the weekend, so just waiting for points to post then to cancel the card. FYI. the £450 fee has been charged to it since we activated it on Friday evening……

  2. rachael says:

    Can anyone tell me if i moved my MR from my Amex gold card and haven’t used the free priority pass, is it still ok to cancel the card and still has the passes ?

  3. if you have a gold card you have the lounge club card, not priority pass (which comes with the plat).

    The lounge pass card bills £15 to your gold card, so wont work without it. I’m not sure if it works without a card if you still have your 2 free visits BUT I remember reading a post that it doesnt as the two cards are tightly linked.

  4. O/T – My Amex Gold year is up tomorrow, so will have the 10k bonus hit my account at some point. Thoughts on upgrading to Platinum to grab my offered 15k points for £2k spend then cancel (as I don’t need travel insurance, I’ve got 5 visits of Priority Pass left directly) so no real need for full year of Amex Plat just yet. Just means buying points for say 1-2 months of the Amex fee and then sign up in 6 months again.

    • Points should post at the end of month 13… make sure to only upgrade once the points are in your account.

      • Also the Plat upgrade is now 20K points for a £1K spend via the new plat upgrade amex link.

    • the real harry1 says:

      https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/content/platinum-charge/upgrade/

      seems to be working fine for everybody so far – 20K MR points for £1k

      • Mine arrived within 24 hours of hitting £1k spend.

        Does anyone know how long referral MR’s should take to arrive after acceptance please ?

        I referred MrsS for Gold from my Platinum account rather than pay the fee. She got the acceptance email straight away on Sunday but nothing has hit my account yet. Does it make a difference that I didn’t refer like for like ?

      • m brown says:

        Just trying to use this and am getting an error message after the first page? Literally just the word error and nothing else….tried on different PCs and browsers all the same, strange.

  5. Frenske says:

    AmEx Gold reward has another benefit: Three points for every £1 spent at American Express Travel

    Great for avoiding BA credit card surcharges and getting more Avios for your flights.

  6. Hi – can you get the referral bonus when applying for a Lloyds Avios Duo if you have a Halifax Clarity and ISA (but no current account) – i.e. is the definition of “customer” someone who holds any account?

    • Genghis says:

      I think Lloyds and Halifax are treated separately. I held Clarity and Halifax current account and mortgage but got Lloyds Amex sign up bonus. Wife too.

    • It isn’t clear because the criteria are not published – Lloyds won’t even admit publicly that it blocks existing customers. My gut feeling is you won’t get a referral. Put it this way – I know people who cancelled a Lloyds credit card 7-8 years ago and were refused a refer a friend bonus. Halifax current accounts are also definitely a no-no so it is hard to see why a Halifax credit card would be OK.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I and 2 people I referred all got the bonus and all of us were existing lloyds current account customers. I also hold a Halifax Clarity and one other others a Halifax Current Account

      • You can do it but the work around is too complex. Fundamentally if Lloyds recognises the email used for the referral then it doesn’t get sent out. If you use a different email and they recognise you when you apply, you don’t get the bonus. You can get around this by persuading Avios that it is a mistake and then add them ex-gratia but it is a pain and I don’t encourage it.

        Remember that Lloyds doesn’t publicise the referral scheme and it is run primarily for the benefit of HFP readers :-)

        • Genghis says:

          Mine and wife points posted automatically. No work around required

          • Forgot the extra catch. Because Avios sends the referral, you also don’t receive it if your avios.com account is set to ‘no marketing emails’. They don’t tell you that either.

            Only 30% of the people I refer for the Lloyds card get the bonus in the end. My Amex strike rate is 80%.

  7. O/T can someone be kind enough to remind me of the upgrade to plat link :)?

  8. OT: WARNING
    In the past hour I’ve received two separate email witb avios logos etc confirming transfer from something called abas and ucount. I have never heard of these and email contained no personal information. Take care not to click any buttons in these emails and just delete them if received.

    • Genghis says:

      I got them too but mine contained my name and member no. No idea.

    • Also got these email. Have no idea what they are

      • I have got them. They seem to be from the South African version of Avios. No idea why Barclays and Standard Bank should give me a few Avios!

  9. The Original Nick says:

    My partner wants to refer me for the Amex Platinum Charge Card. How many MR points will she get for the referral? I guess I’ll get 35000 MR points once I’ve spent the 2k

  10. I may be blind, is there any extra Mr points on renewal of the annual platinum card charge, like there is on the gold.?

  11. The Barclaycard IHG Credit cards are no more. RIP.

    Does the above refers to the Creation IHG card?

  12. Dominic says:

    I seem to be grandfathered in to 2 MR points per £1 with American Express. I signed up about 7 years ago with an Amex Platinum Business Card, and ever since I get the same reward rate on all subsequent new cards (incl both AMEX Platinum and Gold) that I take out for other staff in my company. I can’t find much online about this earning rate, but wondered if you ever come across these rates for new signups?