For the first time, I have dedicated all three posts today to the same topic – the new Lloyds Avios credit cards. They have a couple of unique features which need to be explained fully, and that means multiple posts! The bottom line, though, is that these cards will – for a lot of people – be a ‘must have’. Although not necessarily as a main card ….
This post will focus on a general overview.
Lloyds Bank unveiled an overhaul of its Avios-earning credit cards yesterday. It is ‘goodbye’ to the old Duo credit cards, although the free version is still available via TSB. You will remember that these came in two versions – free and with a £50 fee. The difference was the Avios earnings rate and a 2-4-1 voucher (economy flights only) on the £50 card.
To cause extra confusion, Lloyds launched a third card yesterday – the Choice Card – which also offers Avios as a redemption option. I will focus on the Choice Card tomorrow. Do not apply for anything until you’ve read about all three cards!
Here is a quick summary of the changes on the new Avios cards compared to the old cards:
You can still get the free version of the ‘old’ Avios Duo cards by applying via TSB. Here is the link. For simplicity, I won’t discuss this card again in this article. Everything I say refers only to the new Lloyds cards.
Both cards come as a double pack of an American Express and a MasterCard
The earnings rates are improved over the old cards. The Premier card (£140) offers 1.5 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.3 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard. The basic card (£24) offers 1.25 miles per £1 on the Amex and 0.25 Avios per £1 on the MasterCard.
No foreign transaction fees. This could be a game changer, and I will discuss it in more detail in a separate post. Never before has a mainstream UK reward card, of any sort, offered to waive the 3% foreign exchange fee.
Double Avios points on the Amex card for the first six months. This is instead of a sign-up bonus. This is capped at £2,500 of spending per month.
Flight upgrade voucher when you spend £7,000 (£24 card) or £5,000 (£140 card). Post 3 today looks at the terms and conditions attached to this voucher, and whether it is worth aiming for.
A 2-4-1 voucher when you spend £12,000 per year on the £140 card. This is valid ONLY on Economy class bookings. It is valid on British Airways, Flybe, Aer Lingus, Monarch, American Airlines, Air Malta and Aurigny, plus Eurostar.
0% on purchases for the first 13 months. This means that, if you choose not to repay your balance in full, you will not incur any interest. You will still need to make the minimum 1% monthly repayment, though.
So, should you get either of these cards?
You should read my other two posts today, to fully understand the ‘no foreign exchange fees’ and ‘flight upgrade voucher’ rules, before carrying on reading here.
Question 1: Do I recommend the £24 card (Lloyds Avios Rewards) ?
Yes, I do.
If you can answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions then I think this card is worth adding to your wallet.
Do you spend over £800 per year on your credit card outside the UK?
If so, then get this card. The foreign exchange fees on any other credit or debit card are 3%, whilst this card is 0%. Spend over £800 and you are in ‘profit’ as your saving on FX fees has covered the £24 fee.
Do you spend over £2,000 per year outside the UK on a ‘no FX fees’ credit card?
If you already have a card with no foreign exchange fee, like the Post Office MasterCard, it may be worth switching as this card also earns Avios points. The break-even point is around £2,000 of foreign spend. Put that through the Post Office card and you earn 0 Avios. Put that through the Lloyds Avios Rewards card and you get 2,500 Avios points which justifies the £24 fee.
Do you travel on your own?
The biggest issue with the 2-4-1 voucher on the British Airways Amex card is that it requires two people to travel. For solo travellers, the voucher that comes with the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is better, as you can upgrade both legs of one flight. You might find the Avios Rewards card a better choice than the BA Amex.
Are you a heavy Amex spender (up to £2,500 per month)?
If so, get this card, at least for the first year. You get double Avios on your Amex spend for the first 6 months, on up to £2,500 per month. That is 2.5 Avios per £1, which is 1 Avios per £1 more than the British Airways Premium Plus Amex. The additional Avios will easily cover your £24 fee.
Question 2: Do I recommend the £140 card (Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards)?
In general, ‘No’.
Let’s compare the £140 card to the £24 card:
- Both cards offer the ‘no foreign exchange fees’ benefit, so there is no need to pay for the expensive card
- The difference in earnings rate is minimal (1.5 vs 1.25 Avios per £1 on the Amex)
- The MasterCard earnings rate is a joke on both cards – 0.3 per £1 and 0.25 per £1 – and you would be substantially better off using a cashback card or the Amazon MasterCard (1% back) instead
- Both cards offer the ‘upgrade’ voucher, and the difference in spend required is only £2,000
- I do not value the 2-4-1 voucher highly
The key, of course, is the last point. I do not value a 2-4-1 voucher which is only valid on Economy redemptions. Long-haul Economy redemptions are generally a waste of Avios points, and short-haul redemptions mean that you do not save much from the voucher given the £12,000 of spend required. My personal view is that you are better off with the BA Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher which is valid in ALL travel classes.
- The BA Premium Plus (BAPP) Amex does have a 3% FX fee, but you can escape that by getting the cheaper £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards card and using that just for foreign spend
- The BAPP Amex has the same earnings rate
- The BAPP Amex has a £10 higher fee
- The BAPP Amex does not have the ‘upgrade’ voucher, but this is also available via the £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards card
- The 2-4-1 voucher with the BAPP Amex is valid in ALL travel classes. This offers a saving of up to 300,000 Avios (First Class return to Australia) and realistically 100,000+ Avios if used for a Club World return.
As you can see, the 2-4-1 voucher – and the ability to use it in premium classes – is the deal breaker.
What will you do Raffles?
The ‘no foreign exchange fee’ benefit is a huge one for me, a game changer. My gut feeling, at this point, is that I will apply for the £24 Lloyds Avios Rewards cards and use it purely for overseas spend. (For the first six months, whilst it offers double Avios, I may put other spend through it as well).
I have no interest in the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card. The £140 fee is not justified by the additional benefits, in my view.
I will retain my British Airways Premium Plus Amex and I will ensure that I continue to spend £10,000 on it each year to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher. I will continue to use these for premium class redemptions.
I know that there is a huge amount to take in across these three posts today. It is also possible that there are some intricacies to these cards that I have not yet picked up on. Please share your thoughts and questions below.
(To see our complete list of all current credit card bonuses, click here to visit our ‘Credit Cards Update’ page or use the link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)