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Free Avios or Flying Club miles via the 3V Virtual Visa Card and Tesco – our findings

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Yesterday, in this article, I explained how Tesco is now including Visa branded gift cards in its ‘150 bonus Clubcard points for spending £50 on gift cards’ promotion.

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. 

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

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2024)

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:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

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 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

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.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (171)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Neil Spellings says:

    I think there must be quite a few HFP readers frequenting my local Tescos….all three I tried this morning (Purley Extra, Canary Wharf and South Quay Metros) had a very conspicuous empty shelf where the 3V virtual cards usually reside!

    • Steve says:

      I’m going to take advantage of my 07:00 start by popping into my Tesco at 06:30 tomorrow on the way in.

    • Rob says:

      Canary Wharf didn’t have any on Monday although they did have the standard fee Visa cards – I got mine there.

  • Mr Bridge says: do an anywhere card that you can top up free with a debit card, however their minimum top up is £50, but you could use the fairfx card to go back to tesco and purchase more 3v visa cards

  • Zoe says:

    I think if you pay money to HMRC that is not yet due you may be due their overpayment rate of interest, currently running at 0.5%.

    • Mr Bridge says:

      if you overpay your tax, cant you request a refund

      • Rob says:

        Yes. I was tempted to try this last year when Lloyds was offering 12.5 Avios per £1 on their credit card, but in the end I didn’t. You are always refunded by bank transfer in my experience!

      • Louie says:

        Yes, but not for 30 days.

    • Louie says:

      No, you only get supplement if you are refunded a payment which was originally due, eg if your payments on account prove too much. If a payment has not been allocated against a specific liability previously, you just get the credit balance back.

  • Shaun says:

    Does anyone know whether a tesco “double points voucher” would work when buying these?

  • Manufactured Spend UK - Page 9 - FlyerTalk Forums says:

    […] […]

    • Far Canel says:

      Worked with my Council tax, Water rates, and Freemans (catalogue account).

      Will try my Gas & Electricity supplier next hoping that the amount I will have in credit will drop the monthly Direct Debit.

      • Frisco says:

        Tescos in southern Hampshire of any size (Extra/Superstore/Express) have not heard of the 3V cards – anyone know where they are stocked?

  • Gordon says:

    Yesterday I managed to secure quite a few of these cards. On the last receipt, I noticed the words “qualifying spend”. Does anyone know what this means? This was the only receipt where I bought anything other than the vouchers and the qualifying spend is the amount i spend on everything excluding the vouchers

    • Dan says:

      Most probably the amount of the spend that qualifies for regular (ie. 1 per pound spent) Clubcard points. This line is in the Clubcard Statement section, right?

  • jonny says:

    TV Licence looks like a no go,

    “only payments of the full Licence fee amount are accepted by debit or credit card.”

    • Rob says:

      Still doable. Licence is £145. That requires 6 cards. You would need to register all 6 and then pay 5 x £1.75 fees to move all the money (assuming you had 6 x £25 cards) onto one.

      Fees would be under £9 but you’d have earned 450 Clubcard points (1080 Avios) from Tesco plus whatever you get for £150 of credit card spend.

      • jonny says:

        I agree it is “doable”, but I am loathed to spend money just moving the balances around especially when I could use it with no cost at the right place. really looking to use it where I would have spent the money anyway.

        just exploring options as alternatives to giving hmrc any more money in advance!

  • Tom says:

    OK, so which one of you bought up all the cards across the whole of the City of London? Checked a bunch of stores, all out!

    • Rob says:

      They were never in the Cheapside Metro, I know that for a fact.

      I had never seen a 3V card in a Tesco before Monday night, although I had heard rumours they existed!

      • Tom says:

        Indeed – and there aren’t any today either 🙂

        • Joule says:

          None in Kennington Lane, Vauxhall, Finsbury Park or Pimlico. The hunt continues!

          • Rob says:

            Upper Street has no gift cards at all, it seems. None in the little Tesco next to the (old) Stock Exchange on Old Broad Street.

          • Andrew says:

            You can search on the Tesco store locator by stores that sell gift cards, but not guarantee they stock the Visa cards. Most of the London stores I’ve tried only have the regular retail ones – next etc.

          • Rob says:

            As I posted yesterday, I had never seen one – ever – until Covent Garden on Monday, and that was before we started buying them up.

            Given that Tesco is pushing the £3.95 Visa cards on its websites, it makes you wonder why they bother stocking the 3V ones – or indeed if they are planning to run the stocks down.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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