Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Free Avios with 3V Virtual Visa – our updated list of places where you can use the card

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It was two weeks ago that I originally ran a version of this article, discussing places which accept the 3V Virtual Visa cards.

(If you missed the original post, you can buy two £25 3V Virtual Visa cards in Tesco for £50, earn 150 bonus Clubcard points – 360 Avios points – and then use the cards to pay off online bills where only debit cards are accepted.  My main 3V Virtual Visa post is here.)

Head for Points automatically closes articles to new comments after two weeks.  I have therefore republished the list below, with the latest additions, so that people can continue to comment.

Here is a list of places (utility companies mainly, I have ignored normal online retailers where they will always be accepted) where they definitely can and cannot be used online:

Works fine:

Amazon (Amazon sells online gift vouchers from 10p.  Ordering a voucher to be sent to yourself is a great way to empty your 3V card if you have a small balance left.  You can then add your gift voucher to your Amazon account as a credit, and it will be used next time you order.  If you use our Amazon link here, Head for Points gets a commission when you order a gift voucher.)

BT

Charles Stanley (an investment group)

Co-Operative Energy

Council tax (varies by authority, of course, but most accept debit cards these days)

EDF

E.ON

Freemans

highstreetvouchers.com (lets you use the cards for a wide range of vouchers eg John Lewis)

HMRC (treated as a debit card so no 1.4% fee to pay, maximum of 20 cards can be used per day)

Next (to pay off account balance, although you can also use Next gift cards from Tesco for this)

Npower

O2

Orange

Oyster (Tube tickets in London)

Royal Mint (see this post on buying 50p coins for 50p!)

Sky (Sky also lets you prepay online, using that balance up before recommencing your normal direct debit)

South West Water

TalkTalk

Virgin Media

With caveats:

Barclaycard (works to settle Priority Club and Hilton HHonors credit cards, does not appear to work with standard Barclaycard bills.  However, you cannot use more than two 3V cards in a day and no more than five in one month.)

First Utility (in your profile is the option to pay part of a bill, however once you have done this once the option disappears and further transactions must be done on the telephone)

Scottish Power (will take it but treat it as a credit card with a 1.4% fee)

TV Licence (cannot split payment, so would need to pay the £1.75 per card transfer fee to move £150 onto one 3V card)

Does not work:

American Express (to pay bill)

British Gas

Capital One credit cards (to pay bill)

Hargreaves Lansdown (an investment group – this was working but now seems to have been blocked)

MBNA credit cards (to pay bill)

Scottish Gas

Selftrade

T-Mobile

Tesco online shopping (surprised by this, any other reports?)

Tesco savings account (when depositing using a debit card)

Please continue to add your own experiences with utility companies, credit card companies etc.  We know that they should work as ‘normal’ with online retailers so that is less important unless there is a special tweak involved.  Other ideas apart from Amazon for cashing out very small remaining balances are also welcome.


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 (106)

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

  • Colin A-B says:

    I managed to (almost) empty Wolverton Extra store of all theirs on Sunday – scanned 24 but 4 rejected. Annoyingly it only said at the end which 4, so we had to open them all up to match numbers. I had already checked Bletchley & Milton Keynes Kingston Extra stores to no avail.

    Strangely, when trying to find which branch had stock, I tweeted Tesco – I kept getting contradictory replies about whether or not they could check stock at stores.

    • Dan says:

      Yesterday, I noticed that Milton Keynes Homebase had a stash of 3V prepaid Virtual Visa cards, so I bought 8. Obviously I didn’t get Tesco Clubcard points for them, but I will have got Avios on my BA AMEX and some way towards a target spend.

      I don’t know if Homebase accepts Argos gift cards, but it might be possible to buy Argos gift cards from Tesco, and then spend them on on the 3V cards in Homebase. Even so, this is probably a step too far for me and I wouldn’t want to explain myself buying one type of gift card with another to the Homebase cashier.

      • Rob says:

        There is a Homebase just behind the big Tesco on Cromwell Road in London …. might have a wander in next time I am there. I still have a bit of July’s tax bill to fund, as well as the £2,000 bonus spend on my wife’s Lufthansa cards to achieve!

        • Alan says:

          I’ve just had two double-use £5 off £50 vouchers in my latest Tesco Clubcard mailing so hoping to make use of them soon for 3V (or potentially even normal Visa ones).

    • louie-m says:

      In future, get the cashier to press sub-total between scanning each card. I’m told that way the cashier can see if the scan has been successful, although I’ve yet to have one not work.

      • louie-m says:

        (That was supposed to be a reply to Dan!).

        Does anyone know if only certain levels of store (eg Extra, Superstore, Metro) have 3V cards? Would save me bothering to pop into other stores if I knew this was the case. Not that I’m doing very well lately, my hit rate is 1 out of the last 7 (all Extra, Superstore or Metro). I reckon HfP is too widely read wherever I go!

        • Rob says:

          I’ve seen them in Metro stores so its not just the big Extras.

        • Louie says:

          Thanks for that – but I’m not sure how accurate it is as I’ve bought 3V cards in stores which are not listed as Gift Card stores…….

  • Louie says:

    On more question! I need to meet a spend target and expect to have trouble finding enough 3V cards to meet it. If I buy Tesco’s own giftcards, can I then use them to buy 3V cards later, when I eventually find them, and if so, will I get the bonus Clubcard points (on the 3V purchase, assuming it is still going at that point)?

    • Rob says:

      Yes, that would work OK. You would still get the bonus Clubcard points for buying the 3V cards even if you pay with a Tesco giftcard.

      (Do not try this in other shops. WH Smith, for eg, specifically bans you from buying 3rd party gift cards with a WH Smith gift card.)

    • Trevor says:

      I have done this already and bought about 25 3V this way, so no problem. I also did this to meet a spend target a while ago and so great to then find out about the 3V option and use these (when I can find them) to continue to spend the money required on a target I already met and got the bonus for.

  • Sinizter says:

    I’ve just made 25 payments to HMRC today before the declined the last transaction.
    So the 20 payment limit mentioned in the main post is not true.
    There must be slightly variable factors involved in how many payments they take.

    • Michael Christie says:

      Hi Sinizter

      There must be differing factors as it happened to me twice with the 20 transaction limit. You will need to call up hmrc (i think it was the debt management dept) and ask for the block to be lifted….you wont be able to put through any more transactions until you do unfortunately.

      • Sinizter says:

        I put through a load more transactions today, without need for a phone call.

        • Michael Christie says:

          You must be very lucky then as i spoke to the women in hmrc and thats what she told me – or im on a bad list somewhere lol

  • James Ward says:

    Boo! What a shame. Oh well, it was good while it lasted (and they were available!). I’m just pleased I picked up 20 when I could.

  • Rich says:

    Doo Amy of the shops you can buy gift cards for in Tesco sell 3v cards? Not sure if this is a way of it continuing?

    • Sinizter says:

      Not many shops let you buy gift cards with other gift cards.

    • Dan says:

      That list is inaccurate as I bought some from Homebase on Saturday. Tesco sell Argos gift cards, and there’s a chance they may be accepted at Homebase, but I don’t know for sure and I’m not going to try it.

  • Rob says:

    I have a post today which (sort of) confirms the same ….

    • Ed E says:

      Tesco in Hammersmith was just restocked this morning (Thurs 30th). Nothing in there yesterday but I went in at 1pm and I happily picked up 20 off the main gift card display and have already activated and used these to top up an ISA.

      I think we now may just be lucky if we find some stock/dregs somewhere but maybe this will stop the near-daily trek to three Tesco stores I have been doing!

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

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