Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Earning free Avios points with virtual Visa gift cards (Part 1)

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Back in 2013, the easiest way to earn a lot of free Avios points or Virgin Flying Club miles was with £25 3V Virtual Visa cards – as long as your local Tesco sold them.

Why was this so great?

Firstly, as with all non-Tesco branded gift cards, you earned 150 Clubcard points for every £50-worth you bought (you cannot buy cards via this link – I am just showing you, via the small print, that this offer exists).  This meant 360 Avios or 375 Virgin miles per £50 spent.

Secondly, 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.  Amex Gold holders also benefitted from double Membership Rewards points because, until recently when it was stopped, you earned a 100% points bonus on supermarket transactions.

Thirdly, 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 when 3V changed their rules overnight and stopped the cards being used for financial payments.

A few months later, the company behind 3V was taken over and the cards began to disappear from Tesco shelves.

A couple of months ago, they began to reappear.  It has taken me this long to write about them because I wanted to do some tests.  This meant getting my hands on some cards, which has proved tricky in Central London (too many HfP readers in one place).  Finally, up in Yorkshire over the weekend, I found a large stack in Filey of all places.  They are mainly still there if anyone is nearby.

The cards are now rebranded as and look like this:

Pay com card

They are very liberally available in larger Tesco stores outside Central London – you may also get lucky inside Zone 1 but don’t count on it – and you will earn 150 Clubcard points (360 Avios) for every £50 you buy.

There are some important points to note when buying cards.

Firstly, some Tesco stores are restricting purchases to two per transaction.  I was told this over the weekend but was still allowed to buy four.

Secondly, whatever the policy in your local store, you should NOT try to buy more than four in one transaction.  It is VERY common for one of the cards not to activate properly at the check-out and the problems seem to increase when more than four cards are bought.  If this happens, you have no choice but to void the entire transaction and start again.

Thirdly, without wishing to state the obvious, make sure you purchase them in multiple of £50 in order to trigger the 150 bonus points per £50 of gift card spend.   That means two or four cards per transaction.  You do NOT earn any base Clubcard points on gift card transactions.

Fourthly, you cannot buy gift cards at a self-service checkout.

Finally, you CAN buy cards with a Tesco ‘conditional spend’ coupon, ie one of the ‘£5 off your next £50 shop’ coupons that you may receive in the post.  By ‘can’ I mean that the tills will accept the coupon.  Some cashiers will refuse them, however, on the grounds that they say ‘not valid on gift card purchases’ on the back.  If you mix your cards in with some grocery shopping you have a greater chance of success.

I will look at how to spend your cards in Part 2 of this article today which you can find here.

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

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios 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 (87)

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

  • Ian says:

    Tesco Horsham has these in stock.

  • joyce says:

    I saw some cards in Tesco they were I think Visa Pay, but you had to pay an additional £2.95 for the card. Are these the ones everyone is talking about ?

  • joyce says:

    Does anyone know if you could pay a virgin credit card bill with these cards, (if i can find the right ones ) : )

  • sh83 says:

    just emptied Harrow – carrier bag full – oh happy days.

  • martin says:

    am i missing something
    is there 2 versions of the card,
    my tesco has them with a charge of 3,95 each with the same picture
    is there a free version somewhere.
    is that why my tesco has dozens of them

    • Rob says:

      The £3.95 fee cards do not look like cards, they are a different design. Avoid those.

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

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