Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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.

  • Alan says:

    I appreciate your coverage of all these sorts of things, Raffles – I must say though that it seems like a major amount of hassle for a not particularly spectacular gain in Avios!

    • Rob says:

      It isn’t worth going to any cost or expense to find them, unless you want to boost your spend to hit the bonus on a new Amex card.

      But if you’re in Tesco anyway, if they some 3V cards and if you have an obvious way of using them (ie HMRC) then it seems a no-brainer to me.

      • Alan says:

        Dammit, Raffles – I’ve succumbed!! Tesco Dundee only had 3 cards in the store I tried so ended up getting them plus £25 Google Play (that’ll be all the apps I need for a good long while!). 300pts bonus showed up immediately. They did find the cards very difficult to scan – took quite a while to process so probably just as well it was only 4 I was buying! Also given a £7 off next spend >£50 so would be good if more showed up!

  • Farringdon says:

    Where are all the Tescos that sell these cards? I’ve been into 3 different shops in central London and can’t find these – and the staff know nothing about them. All they have are iTunes gift cards and mobile phone topups.

    It also seems like a lot of faff for relatively little reward. Nowhere near as good as the stories about people in the US churning thousands of $ through cards.

    • Chris says:

      Supply was never great. I searched some months back and only ever found 3 stores in my area that had them. After they’d all been bought they weren’t even replaced.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    JACKPOT!!!!

    JUST OPENED MY MAIL: a bunch of vouchers from Tesco £10 off when you spend £70, and it worked on £100 of gift cards. Just got £100 in 3v vouchers (ashford kent, sorry londoners!).
    used my 1.5% cash back amex, so paid £88.65 for £100 3v vouchers.

    Tried to use them on selftrade, but it didnt work, so paid £100 upfront on my sky bill (no fee)

    got 6 more £7 off £70 spend vocuhers for the next 6 weeks>

    To answer another question, they will make money out of these cards, because of unspent small amounts, because you cant spend more than £25, if you have a balance left of £1.75, you are unlikley to spend £1.75 transferring, and when it gets to 9 months they gobble the remainder.

    a good use of these vouchers is also AMAZON GIFT VOUCHERS, you can send them to your self, and if you use the link on HFP, Raffles gets a ‘tip’ too.

    • Rob says:

      Good point! If anyone chooses to cash out their cards for Amazon gift vouchers (perhaps so they can put a few vouchers together to buy a bigger item on Amazon) then do please use our link in the right hand margin, as it does pay commission on gift card sales.

  • Paul says:

    The main Tesco Kensington (cromwell road/earls court store) is my usual stop for GVs and didn’t disappoint this morning! There are a few of the 3V left and multiple racks of the £3.95 debit version.

    • Tim says:

      I bought two 3V cards at this store yesterday, and there was a nice stack left. Went back today and there was a conspicuous gap in the gift card rack – no 3V cards left at all!

      A member of staff told me they had already put in an order to their “rep” for more.

      • Rocky says:

        Sorry I went to this store at lunch time and took the last 8 they had on the shelf

  • Yozza1977 says:

    It is definitely worth it. I’ve managed to clear out my Tescos (luckily I live up north!). For every £200 worth you get 400 avios from Gold amex (2x spend in Tesco’s) and 1440 avios from CC points. Thats 1880 avios for £200 spend – 9.2 Avios per pound. The problem is making this work for large amounts – I have around 3k in council tax and 6.5k in business rates to pay (never mind the monthly PAYE), and our council only accept debit cards. It would take a long ime to pay all that off at £25 per go, but it would generate close to 90k avios!!

    • mitpat474 says:

      Im in midlands and on my 3rd trip i got 18 so far 😀 glad I’m not in london.

    • jonny says:

      they are treated like debit cards. I have just confirmed this with my merchant account.

      handy as one of my “friends” has just bought some of my “services” over the “phone” 😉

      I wonder if Tesco will honour the cc points for all these purchases, especially if they have a limit of 5 per day and £2000 per year.

      Is there a way to have additional cc accounts or cards in other names on your account? and would they get there own £2000 limit?

      • Rob says:

        The £2,000 limit is on the cards with the £3.95 fee, looking at the website. It doesn’t seem to apply to these.

        • jonny says:

          cheers Raffles, I wonder if this is an anti money laundering thing?

          • Simon says:

            The £2,000 limit and 5 per day limit is mentioned on the website where you register the £3.95 card as well, I imagine Tesco will let you buy more than £2,000 worth in a year but you wouldn’t be able to register them all to the same Visa Gift Card Account.

  • ComeFlyWithMe123 says:

    Another potential idea………..highstreetvouchers.co.uk sell numerous amounts of gift cards (that are not offered by tesco…eg Sainsburys / Asda etc) so helps with spending if you shop there. Obviously we all love tesco but I am sure we all have friends / relatives that shop here and wouldn’t mind taking these gift cards off you :). Free postage so no spend attached – you can always buy 1 card and then use the online asda top up site if you don’t want to handover tens of gifts cards.

    I’ll be cancelling my t-mobile direct debit and seeing if I can add some credit to my account to see out the rest of my contract.

    • Max says:

      Bear in mind that T-mobile will charge extra for not having DD in place.

  • Gordon says:

    Raffles, does this post combined with the previou one hold the record for most comments 🙂

  • Benge says:

    For those wanting to put through transactions greater than £25, PayPoint terminals sell 3V vouchers with value upto £90 for a £2 fee or value upto £150 for a £3.50 fee. This would be cheaper than paying a £1.75 transfer fee per £25. Admittedly you would earn no clubcard points but .the co-op would allow you to pay via Amex.

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

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