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 pay.com 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 pay.com and look like this:
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 pay.com 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 pay.com 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 pay.com cards in with some grocery shopping you have a greater chance of success.
I will look at how to spend your pay.com cards in Part 2 of this article today which you can find here.
(Want to boost your Clubcard points? Click here and scroll down to the Clubcard logo to see our list of current promotions.)