The easiest way to earn a lot of Avios points or Virgin Flying Club miles in 2013 was with 3V Virtual Visa cards – as long as your local Tesco sold them.
They look like this:
…. and, as with all non-Tesco branded gift cards, you earn 150 Clubcard points for every £50-worth you buy. This meant 360 Avios or 375 Virgin Atlantic miles. Because Tesco accepts American Express, it was also an easy way to increase your spending if you needed to hit a sign-up bonus on a new Amex card.
The deal was so great because you could use 3V cards for financial transactions. Most blatantly, you could pay them into certain bank accounts so you got your entire £25 per card back immediately. The only limit to the number of free Avios you could earn via this route was the number of 3V Virtual Visa cards stocked in your local Tesco.
The wheels came off the bus in December 2013. Overnight, 3V changed their acceptance rules. The cards are now rejected if you attempt to use them for a financial services transaction.
However, Tesco is still selling 3V cards at face value.
You still earn 150 Clubcard points for every £50-worth you buy.
Where can you still use them?
I saw my first 3V cards for at least a year whilst on holiday last week. I bought £50-worth and redeemed them for Amazon gift certificates at £25 each.
This is the easiest way, for most people, to redeem 3V cards. You can order Amazon gift certificates for yourself and pay them into your Amazon account. You then have a credit balance which you can work through for future purchases.
(If you do this, please consider using our Amazon affiliate link by clicking here or clicking the Amazon logo in the right-hand margin. We earn a small commission on each gift card purchase. You cannot earn cashback anywhere else for buying Amazon gift cards so you don’t lose anything.)
There are some other places that still take 3V cards. If you have regular monthly payments to any of these companies then it is something you should take a look at:
EDF, Scottish & Southern and E.ON
Apple Store e-gift cards bought direct
You can also purchase gift vouchers via TopGiftCards, High Street Vouchers and Love2Shop.
If you have a direct debit for bill payment with any of the above, you can use a 3V card to make a partial payment onto your account. The next direct debit will then be adjusted.
Some merchants may put a £1 block on your card when you attempt to use it as a security check. The maximum you can then pay is £24. The remaining £1 will be released within 7-10 days and can be used to buy an Amazon gift voucher.
Some merchants will also restrict the number of different card numbers that a single customer can use to 2+ in a 24 hour period. Do not expect to be able to use up 10 3V cards with the same merchant on the same day.
Any updates to the above list are welcome.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (April 2021)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
There are two official British Airways American Express cards:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points, such as:
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.
If you have a small business, we especially recommend Capital On Cap’s Visa card which comes with a generous bonus worth 10,500 Avios:
(Want to earn more Avios? Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)