At the time, I had only been able to test it using the physical Visa gift cards which carry a £2.95 fee for the £25 version and the £3.95 fee for the £50 version.
I had successfully bought £50-worth for £53.95 and received the 150 bonus Clubcard points. I had also successfully used the card as a Visa Debit to pay £50 off my tax bill.
I mentioned that Visa Virtual Cards are also now available in Tesco. Late on Monday I managed to find some in the Tesco Metro in Covent Garden. They look like this:
I have only seen them in £25 denominations.
The genius of these cards is that THERE IS NO PREMIUM TO BUY THEM. And they are included in the ‘150 bonus Clubcard points for spending £50 on gift cards’ promotion!
£50-worth of virtual Visa card therefore costs you just £50 – which will get you 150 bonus Clubcard points! And you can pay in Tesco with an Amex card, which allows you to earn miles and points via Amex AND work towards the target spend for any sign-up bonus.
(You should also be able to use any ‘conditional spend’ Tesco coupons, ie £5 off £50, to buy these cards. You cannot use them for Tesco gift cards but other brands usually go through. I have used them in the past on Pizza Express gift cards.)
As I said, there is no physical credit card. You get a ‘virtual’ Visa number. You go to the 3V website, register your card, and you are emailed an actual Visa number together with an expiry date and a security CVV code.
Now, how can you use these cards?
Various Head for Points readers picked up some of the cards yesterday and have been playing with them. What we have found is:
- You CANNOT use them to pay MBNA or Amex bills online – 3V rejects them
- I also rang Amex and tried to pay my bill by telephone – I failed
- You CAN use them to pay HMRC to settle your tax bill, and it is treated as a Visa Debit with no surcharge. I successfully did this yesterday.
- You CAN obviously use them with most online retailers
- You MAY be able to use them online to buy Premium Bonds which you could cash out – this needs to be tested
However, by far the easiest and most efficient way to use them is for something which allows part-payments and accepts only Visa Debit or charges a premium for a credit card. Council tax, Inland Revenue etc are obvious targets.
You can also use them for mail order or telephone purchases. This may be an easier way of using them, as via the telephone a retailer may be able to split payment between a 3V card and another card for the balance.
There are, however, some more interesting tweaks.
Via the 3V website, you can merge together different registered cards. There is a £1.75 charge for this. This does however make it a lot easier to use them online, because you can merge together enough cards to get to whatever level you need for a particular online purchase.
3V will transfer the card balance to your bank account for a fee of £3.50. Now, this is clearly not cheap. However, if you merge various £25 cards together (paying the £1.75 fee) you could presumably just pay one £3.50 fee to withdraw the money.
Let’s say you spent £250 on 10 cards. You would pay 9 x £1.75 fees to consolidate the balance on one card plus a £3.50 withdrawal fee, so a total of £19.25. (The maximum balance per card is £1,000.) You would have earned 375 Avios points on your BA Amex on the £250 spend plus 750 Clubcard points, worth 1800 Avios. That is 2,175 Avios for £19.25 plus you are £250 further towards meeting the spend threshold on your new Amex card to trigger a bonus.
(I wouldn’t bother doing this if you don’t have an Amex sign-up bonus to hit – the Avios are not particularly cheap and its a bit of a faff. Far better to use the cards for normal online shopping.)
These cards are also available at other retailers, including Morrison, Boots and WH Smith (selected stores only in all cases). It is less interesting without the Clubcard points, but if you have council tax or Inland Revenue bills to pay, you will still get some benefit from it.
Note these other clauses in the rules – “you cannot activate 3V Visa numbers with a total value greater than £1625 in any 365-day period without providing sufficient evidence of your ID and home address” and “you cannot redeem more than £650 from your 3V Visa numbers in any 365-day period without providing sufficient evidence of your ID and home address”.
For me, as I still have some tax due on July 31st, I will be trying to pick up as many of these as I can. Make sure you use them ASAP, though, as 3V may change the rules at any time.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (May 2021)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
There are two official British Airways American Express cards:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.
Do you have a small business? Until 20th May 2021, you can receive a special sign-up bonus worth 29,900 Avios with the Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa credit card. This offer is exclusive to Head for Points readers. Click here to learn more.
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)