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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.

  • Pat Butcher says:

    Works for paying orange mobile phone bill.

  • Rob says:

    Two quick things:

    1. I have changed the Comments setting so they now show over multiple pages.

    2. I just got a pack of Tesco coupons – 1 x £4 off £30 and 5 x £3 off £30. Interestingly, if I use 5 of these I will be sent a one-off £15 coupon later. That is effectively worth £6 off each £50 transaction, so its even worth buying the Visa cards with the £3.95 fee on this basis. I would effectively still be paying just £48 plus getting the credit card points. I won’t be going out of my way to track down the gift cards, though.

    • Squillion says:

      What a difference 2.5m Avios makes 😉

      I WILL be going out of my way to grab a few this quarter end as I have a strong hunch bonus conversion rate awaits us after 4th May. So I’m wanting an easy way to boost my CC tally by COP Saturday.

      Whilst the council tax site for me was rather clunky, the EDF site was really easy to whistle through: I was taking it easy with cups of tea etc but still managing to upload another £25 every 3-4 mins. Got a phone call today regarding my odd pre-payment activity as it happens but nice lady was perfectly happy with my explanation.

    • Mr Bridge says:

      great with tesco coupons, it got 1x £10 off £70 spend, and 6X£7 off £70 spend

  • Rohan says:

    Our local Tesco is 20 minutes away and in a small village. Surprisingly they had 13 3V cards. Unfortunately 5 of them did not go through the till . However , got 8 (quite happy with this) and 600 bonus points. 200 pounds closer to my threshold spend on Amex. Have just activated it and managed to pay sky. Excellent , all went through smoothly . Now onto Council Tax and finally HMRC. wish could order a chunk of these online .. 🙂

  • Cliff says:

    Well I purchased a dozen of the 3V cards today from Tesco’s in Witham. I still left about 20 on the rake.
    Was nice to use a £5 conditional spend voucher and also received the Pyrex vouchers.
    I will load them on to various store gift cards.

  • Mike says:

    Hi, I’ve got some £6 off £50 coupons, but it says they can’t be used on gift cards. Is it the case that they actually work as reported in earlier comments?

    • Rob says:

      If the cashier is happy to scan it, it works.

    • nick says:

      Despite what it says on the Tesco vouchers, you can also use a £6 off conditional spend (or whatever you have been sent) together with a £5 off helping hand voucher (from transactions over £40 last week) to purchase these 3v gift cards. Just picked up the last two 3v cards in my local store for £39!

  • biggles says:

    Bought up 8 of these cards this afternoon. For any tunnel commuters in the Liverpool area, I can confirm that these work to ‘top up’ a Mersey Tunnels Fast Tag account (Barclaycard payment system). I’ve now cancelled my usual direct debit and will be using these to make one off payments as long as the loophole exists. Now to do the council tax…

    Thanks so much Raffles for your excellent blog! I’ve managed to earn a whole bunch of miles and foursquare money using your tip offs.

  • Roger says:

    The Visa gift cards don’t work at tills and card processors that require a PIN. They’re for online and phone use only where you have to give the last 3 digits of the number on the back of the card.

    I found this out when I checked the T+Cs – AFTER purchase as they were (un)helpfully contained within the sealed packaging.

  • Roger says:

    I reckon these cards are trated as “Delta” debit card and looking through MBNA payment page for credit card bill, there is no option to pay using “Delta”

    Might be worth trying with other credit card providers who will accept “delta debit card”.

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