Adios … Virgin Little Red status match over, using pre-paid Visa with NS&I over

Two good deals have just bitten the dust:

Virgin Atlantic status match closed

For well over a year, Virgin Atlantic has been offering a status match to your British Airways Executive Club card if you took a flight with Little Red.

This was a great offer which I took advantage of last year and I know many other Head for Points readers also used.  Unfortunately, Virgin withdrew the promotion on March 1st.  This is not altogether surprising as Little Red services to Manchester will stop at the end of the month.

Little Red

National Savings & Investments no longer accepting pre-paid Visa cards

Until December 2013, there was a fantastic wheeze to be had via 3V pre-paid Visa gifts.  These could be bought in Tesco for £25, earning you 150 Clubcard points (360 Avios) for every £50-worth purchased plus the miles earned from your credit card.  You could then pay them into a National Savings ‘Direct Saver’ account and withdraw the cash back to your back account.

It was, literally, free Avios as long as you could find the cards in-store.  A year ago, however, 3V cards were changed and are no longer accepted by ‘financial services’ businesses.  They are still taken by some utilities, Vodafone, Sky, some council tax areas etc – here is my last article on the topic.  Tesco still gives 150 Clubcard points for every £50 you buy although stocks are very low as they are being relaunched under the ‘’ brand soon.

Plan B was to buy the ‘paid for’ Visa gift cards from Tesco, pictured below:

Visa gift card

Whilst these carried a £3.95 fee for a £50 card, this could be negated by using the conditional spend coupons (eg ‘£5 off £50’) that Tesco is always posting out and finding a cashier who would accept them.

In recent weeks, it seems that National Savings is no longer accepting these ‘paid for’ gift cards either.  – The cards are not totally useless if bought with a coupon – plenty of places still accept them – but NSI was a very easy exit route.  On the odd occasion I bought one I paid the money to HMRC against future tax bills.  I don’t know if this is still possible or not.

PS.  In the run up to Mother’s Day, Tesco is currently offering 20% off the following gift cards – iTunes, New Look, Monsoon, Facebook, Prezzo, H&M and Accessorize.  You will still receive your 150 bonus Clubcard points if your spend, after discount, is £50.  Offer ends 15th March.

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  1. Yes, the ‘paid for’ cards still work for HMRC payments. Just yesterday I loaded a few hundred pounds worth for my upcoming VAT return payment. With the bonus Clubcard points plus FuelSave, it’s a good way to manufacture spend to hit new card bonuses.

  2. erico1875 says:

    I untill the middle of Feb used to cycle about £1200 of these thru NS&I..2 failed to load . I was hoping it was an IT issue. I have had other uses for them since so hadnt tried again.
    Oh well. Avios are getting harder to collect

  3. Jason says:

    Tried using some paid Visa cards, where 3v’s still work, and the payment was declined – edf and c/tax.

  4. lammy52 says:

    Can anyone advise whether the American Express £50 +3.95 pre paid cards be used through NS&I

    • There is no such thing as an Amex debit card. The reason you can use the Visa or MC cards with EDF, the Revenue etc is that they are treated as debit cards so there is no usage fee. Amex gift cards have minimal uses for this sort of thing as it has lower levels of acceptance by utilities.

      • lammy52 says:

        Thanks, was thinking of using the Amex gift card offer to hit a spend target.

        • mark2 says:

          If you buy Amex from Tesco you get ClubCard points > Avios and FuelSave; from Morrisons big reduction off fuel. You can spend them in shops who take Amex.

  5. What on earth is a Facebook gift card?

  6. idrive says:

    3V are impossible to find nowaways…it has been more than a couple of months that I have never seen one. Also 50£ Visa Fee cards are not available anywhere…what about your experience these days?

    • sandgrounder says:

      Stacks of the £3.95 fee cards about in my local Tesco stores. Managed to find 3v for my Sky bill last two months but there is a drought at the moment.

    • Fenny says:

      I saw 4 in my local Homebase the other evening, but without the additional clubcard points, or the ability to use my £9 off £60 spend, they don’t have the same appeal.

  7. Little Red is interesting – I emailed them a few weeks ago asking to be status matched (no littlered flight taken or booked). They responded telling me I needed to have a LittleRed booking, after a bit of deliberation i finally got round to booking a one way Man – Lhr flight for £38 yesterday and responded to the their email with booking ref etc. I was a bit worried when i saw this post this morning but luckily they’ve just emailed, my account has been upped to Gold from Silver and the bonus 10k miles applied. Great timing on my part, and a bargain for £38 spend for Gold plus 10k miles, especially given I get another 2k miles on my birthday and I’m going to be flying a lot more on VS given the recent avios devaluation.

  8. Cheshire Pete says:

    Is the Virgin match still valid for flights taken pre 1st March? Just didn’t get round to returning the form from my January flight on Little Red?

  9. I would email them now, there was nto mention of the offer finishing in my email from them this morning although i did have an email chain to respond to dated pre March 1st,.

  10. mark2 says:

    I have just received a load of Tesco money off £80 spend vouchers for the next 6 weeks totalling £62. I was also granted £13 off £80 by the till after spending £50 on gift vouchers last week.
    In the absence of 3V (should be here ‘real soon now’ as they used to say about software releases) I shall have to waste the saving on card fees since we shall certainly not be spending £560 at Tesco on anything else. My recent experience tells me that the GoSpendit Visa cards are not much use now as they are not accepted at HighStreetVouchers (I have never used NS&I). Scottish Power still accept them, but this will only be of use to a few. I shall plump for the Amex gift cards since they are accepted in Waitrose and most shops.

    • Jason says:

      Can you use the amex gift cards to pay for online shopping eg at tesco?
      The paid for Visa cards are hardly debit cards these days, as places that accept visa debit cards don’t acceot the paid for Visa cards which are promoted as being able to use them as a debit card!

      • mark2 says:

        I have never tried at Tesco online only in a store. I would expect to be able to, but they are usually only for £50 so this would probably limit the amount purchased.

      • Amex gift cards often don’t work online, because it checks that your address matches.

    • Grimz says:

      Why not buy the visa gift cards at Tesco using your money off vouchers and then buy Asda, Sainsburys etc vouchers at Highstreetvouchers and then do your shopping in the these stores!

    • Polly says:

      Mark2 how do you get these vouchers, I have never ever been sent those , lucky you…

      • mark2 says:

        It seems to be completely random. We have two CC accounts: one gets them, the other not. They are always used to buy gift cards, almost our only purchase from Tesco.
        Last week I even had a £13 off £80 spend printed by the till when I bought £50 in gift cards.

        • Grimz says:

          I got some thru as well 1x£12 OFF £80 and 5x£8 off £80 and i bough some groceries along with 2x£50 visa cards, got another £13 off £90 at the checkout which i went back an hour later for some groceries and another 2x£50 visa cards!!

  11. Crap. Was about to book and take advantage of the status match offer. I had assumed the EDI flights would still be offering it even after MAN ended.

  12. Clive says:

    1000 Club Carlson Points for free

  13. Tim_t says:

    I must have been one of the last to benefit from the status match as my flight was to Manchester on the 1st at 4:30pm. The crew told me it had ended but I emailed customer support anyway and they told me it had ended on the 1st – inclusive!

    Customer services sorted out the match in less than 24hrs – well impressed.

  14. Aaron says:

    Can someone help me in the manufactured spend?
    I got a tax bill to pay & worked out even with loading fees, the fuel save & clubcard points will be worth my while.