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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.

(Want to boost your Clubcard points?  Click here and scroll down to the Clubcard logo to see our list of current promotions.)

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Earning free Avios points with virtual Visa gift cards (part 2)
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  1. Londonbus says:

    Very rarely seem them at Tesco Wembley Extra (Brent Park). Grrr.

  2. Clare says:

    Managed to pay £300 of my self assessment over the past few days, another £300 to go!

    Has all be working perfectly, thanks Rob 🙂

  3. Am I missing something? My Tesco still has tons of 3v cards and no ones. And the 3v ones say there is a £3.95 charge so it hardly seems worth it. Would be interested in using them for HMRC as we have a huge tax bill coming up this month.

    • The 3V ones have no charge to use, however there are also prepay visa cards that do have a £3.95 charge that Tesco stock.

      I have noticed though that some 3V cards are occasionally mixed in with the cards (ie old branding mixed with new branding) but they still work fine obviously. One checkout lady even asked me if I was OK with the old branding or if I wanted to swap it.
      I told her it wouldn’t be “unused” long enough for it to matter to me what branding was on it!

    • No – those £3.95 ones are a totally different sort of Visa gift card. The 3V ones look identical to the picture in this article, except the branding is replaced by 3V branding.

  4. Lloyd says:

    I have a savings account in which I can deposit money using a debit card. Can I use these cards as normal debit cards to deposit the money into my savings account, without incurring and fee?

  5. Colin JE says:

    Is there any way to find which branch stocks these? My two local Tescos had not even heard of them. When I asked them to check, their computer said they had -384 in stock! Says a lot about their stock control system…

    • mark2 says:

      Were they Express branches by any chance?
      You normally need to go to an Extra or at least a metro, but expect a flood of people saying that they have found them at Express. YMMV

  6. Colin JE says:

    Managed to find loads of cards at Tesco Brooklands, near Weybridge. Bought £500 worth, split into 5 parcels of 4 cards. A manager helped put them through, using the sub-total after each one technique, and they all registered first time. Didn’t seem worried by the number I was buying, though I did get a text from my card’s fraud department half way through to check!

    I’ve figured I’ve earned £15 (3750 Virgin miles) in clubcard points, 20p off a litre of petrol in August, worth about £12 on a full tank, plus 1000 Virgin miles on my Virgin black Amex. As the miles would cost about £90 to buy I’ve figured it’s worth about £100. More if Tesco does another redemption bonus.

    Mind you, activating 20 cards online and making payment at HMRC 20 times must have taken me well over an hour.
    Many thanks for the tip.

  7. David says:

    you can pay your BA american express card bill with these !!!!! so you get 360 avois from tesco , 75 from american express and it counts towards your 10k spend !!

  8. Marco says:

    OK David, let me get this straight – you logged on to, selected your BA Premium Plus card, clicked the “Pay Bill” button, selected the “Pay with a different Visa / Electron or Delta / Mastercard / Switch / Maestro / All must be issued by a UK bank/building society” radio button, entered your 3V/ card details, and the payment was accepted???

  9. Gemma says:

    Has anyone tried to buy one card and top it up to the required amount, thus spending more than £50 on gift cards and gaining the cc points but without the need to register all of them individually?

  10. Waldek says:

    Has anyone seen them around or near London?? Please

  11. Tesco Horsham has these in stock.

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