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 (September 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Run your own business?
We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.
You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.
There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.