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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 (May 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 – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes 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.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    hi raffles, i think this post need sumerising by someone with your skill and dexterity

    • Rob says:

      I have already thought about that! We are away over the weekend but I will try to do a summary for Wednesday.

  • ComeFlyWithMe123 says:

    NEW UPDATE: I have just tried to use the 3V card to pay off my Black Priority Club Rewards VISA bill and have got the following message

    Payment confirmation
    Thank you. Your payment request has been authorised and is being processed. You may wish to make a note of your authorisation number:

    This looks promising 🙂

    Will update this message as soon as I see the funds on my account!

    • ComeFlyWithMe123 says:

      That didn’t take long – I just checked my 3V account and my balance is now zero and Priority rewards showing as ‘Purchase Approval’

      03/05/2013 PRIORITY CLUB REWARDS BASILDON GB Purchase Approval £-25.00

      Today is a good day – now on the hunt for more. Wish I cleared the shelves….only bought 12 🙁

      • FromTheRail says:

        I am liking the look of this, I’m sure if it was abused as it will be they will shut it down, question is will they do this before people can apply for cards??

  • jonny says:

    v3 cards work with npower.

    also used them for high street vouchers .com to buy john lewis vouchers (even though they take my amex) as I use waitrose deliver regularily.

    also used for £50 in amazon vouchers (via raffles link)

    • Squillion says:

      Thanks. I think we’ve cracked it.

      • Chris says:

        Now the only problem is supply of these cards … (which are surely becoming the most popular gift card Tesco has ever sold!)

        • Roger says:

          I thought it would be a good idea to list locations with stock of the 3V cards – just for a moment, mind, as it quickly dawned on me that such a list would be instantly out of date!

          Anyway, NO 3V cards in stock at Extra/Superstores Potters Bar, Finchley Central, Borehamwood and Colney Hatch Lane, also none at Barnet Greenhill Express.

  • Zoe says:

    Success with EON. Found another 16 cards in my local store, it’s better if the cashier presses total after each one else, as reported before its difficult to know which ones haven’t worked properly. I was also told that a lady comes in once a week to replenish them.
    Just need to persuade my husband that this is better than the DD’s just paying everything from the bills account every month.

    • Chris says:

      I wouldn’t advise cancelling DDs (as often you get a discount for having DD set up as the payment method, and it is also much safer in case you forget to pay on time) – but what you usually can do, is log into your utility account BEFORE the bill is generated and make a payment with the visa cards. That way when the bill is generated it will be £0 or only a few £s – so you’ll have paid by visa, but still have the safety net of DD.

      • Steve says:

        Excellent idea – going to try this myself in next couple of days

  • Steve says:

    Just managed to pick up 8 of these from a local Tesco, and a friend will be getting the remaining 6 later.
    This is on top of the 16 £25 Visa Debit ones I got yesterday.

    So far that’s a total of 5,800 miles for a teeny weeny £47.20.

    Raffles, I’ll have to buy you a drink sometime!

  • Roger says:

    I previously pointed out the ‘Electronic use only’ message on the back of the Visa gift cards, assuming that the cards could only be used online or on the phone.

    This may not be correct. If the payee can swipe cards, payment should be OK with a swipe and a signature.

    DISCLAIMER: I have not tried this. I have a bill in the mid-thousands to pay where credit card payment would be surcharged, so I would look to pay by debit card and the balance of my Avios cashcard. I could be interested in using £50 Visa gift cards, though the prospect of signing for 100 separate payments is not appealing!

    BTW1: Given that 3V cards are as rare as hen’s teeth at Tesco, isn’t buying them elsewhere (i.e. without the Clubcard bonus) still worthwhile if it means I can pay a tax bill and earn Avios from the card used for buying them?

    BTW2: the comment about Delta cards was made by another Roger. FWIW, I don’t think that the Delta branding is relevant any more. Certainly, it’s disappeared from my Nationwide Visa Delta card and doesn’t show on my Co-op Visa Delta card.

    • Rob says:

      Agreed, if you could get them in a Morrisons it is still a deal for paying tax to save the fee and get up Amex spend. Never seen one in a Boots despite 3V’s claims?

      • Steve says:

        Interestingly there is no mention of Tesco stocking them at all…. perhaps, hopefully, it’s a new thing with Tesco.

        • Chris says:

          They are not new with Tesco. Been there at least 8 months. Only just now been noticed by most.

          • Steve says:

            Ah ok. Just wondered because Tesco isn’t listed in their site as a stockist so presumed it was new.

  • bah says:

    Any other success stories of paying credit card bills with these? I have a few AmEx cards, some MBNA and a Hilton Hhonors card from Barclays (I saw that it works for the Priority Club card, which seems to be issued by Barclays, so I assume it would also work for my Hilton card).

    Also, any idea about which central London Tescos stock these cards (/haven’t been raided yet)?

  • Londonbus says:

    I managed to get 6x£25 vouchers from Tesco Brent Cross. There were none in Colney Hatch or Brent Park.

    Barclaycard won’t accept them as payment. I put the details through. The transaction shows on the 3V transaction list as “Purchase Decline” – so maybe 3V are getting wise?

    I was able to put them through for Council tax (so have paid £150 early).

    Not bad as I bought them with my MBNA Amex – so I get 225 avios for that alone…

    • Oliep468 says:

      Has anyone else been declined by Barclaycard? Was just about to go out and get a load on my card to then pay it off straight away.

      • Rob says:

        Priority Club seems to work up to 5 times, but not Barclaycard itself it seems

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