This is my review of the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards credit cards.
It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Offers‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
Key facts: £140 annual fee
The representative APR is 52.1% variable including the £140 fee, based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.
About the card
The Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards credit cards are issued by Lloyds Bank. This review is focussed on the premium £140 version of the card – I reviewed the basic Lloyds Avios Rewards card with the £24 annual fee here. In my view, the £24 card is the more attractive package.
The cards come as a twin-pack of an American Express and a Mastercard. You will receive both cards when you apply, although you will only receive one monthly statement with your combined spending.
The Avios Rewards cards are the only travel loyalty cards issued by Lloyds, so it is unlikely to conflict with any existing cards you hold. However, reports show that it is not easy to predict whether or not you will be accepted, whatever your credit standing may be.
What is the sign-up bonus?
The ‘refer a friend’ bonus which is available for the £24 card is not available for the Premier card.
You will receive double Avios points for the first six months on all of your spending on the American Express card. If you were spending £1,000 per month on the Amex, that would effectively mean a bonus of 9,000 Avios. The ‘double Avios’ benefit is capped at £2,500 per month.
Any other benefits?
There are three very interesting benefits on the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards cards which make them stand out from all other travel credit cards.
The first two benefits are also available with the basic £24 card:
No foreign transaction fees. This is a revolutionary move. 99% of UK credit cards – and ALL other travel loyalty cards – charge a 3% foreign exchange fee when you use your card abroad. The Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card does not. Even more impressively, you also earn Avios points on your foreign spending.
The high annual fee on the Premier Avios Rewards card means that it is NOT worth getting it purely for the foreign exchange benefit. Either get the £24 basic Avios Rewards card, or apply for a free credit card which offer no foreign exchange fees – eg the Post Office Platinum Money card. I wrote more about the ‘no FX fees’ benefit on this card here.
Flight upgrade voucher when you spend £5,000 across the two cards. The voucher allows ONE PERSON to book a return Avios redemption ticket whilst only paying the Avios required for the class below the one you booked.
Alternatively, you can upgrade two one-way flights. This only works if you upgrade two tickets on the same booking at the same time, with the cardholder as one of the travellers. You cannot use the voucher to upgrade two totally separate one-way flights on different days.
If you want to use the voucher to upgrade a one-way flight for just one person, you can do this by phone. However, you will not be able to upgrade another flight at a later date – the voucher is used up with the first booking.
A Club World return ticket to New York on a peak date, for example, would only cost 80,000 Avios return (the World Traveller Plus price) instead of 120,000 Avios when using the voucher.
The voucher is valid for 12 months from the date of issue (you only need to book within 12 months, not travel) and you can only earn one voucher per year.
You only need Avios availability in the higher class to book. Effectively, the way the voucher works is to book you a redemption seat whilst charging a discounted price based on the cost of the next lowest class.
You cannot use the voucher to upgrade from Club World to First, on BA codeshares or on BA flights from City Airport.
For the solo traveller, this voucher could have real value. It is less use if you always travel with a partner, although you could book a separate ticket at full Avios price for the other person. I wrote about the upgrade voucher in more detail here. Remember that the £24 basic Avios Rewards card also has an identical voucher, albeit you need to spend £7,000 to trigger it.
Note that if you cancel a flight which has been upgraded using the voucher, the voucher is lost. You do NOT get it back. Use with care.
The third benefit is unique to the £140 Premier card:
A 2-4-1 voucher for Avios redemptions when you spend £12,000 per year. This is valid ONLY on Economy class bookings, which is the big difference between this voucher and the one offered with the British Airways American Express card.
In an interesting twist, the voucher is valid on British Airways plus Flybe, Monarch and Aurigny, plus Eurostar. The Eurostar option is especially interesting as Eurostar redemptions do not incur any taxes or charges.
What is the annual fee?
The Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards cards have an annual fee of £140.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on the American Express card. My personal view is that this is too low, given the £140 fee, compared with the 1.25 Avios per £1 earned on the £24 basic Avios Rewards cards.
The Mastercard is very poor. You only earn 0.3 Avios per £1. Given the annual fee this really should be more generous. The Tesco Mastercard earns 0.3 Avios per £1 (albeit this is lower in reality because of the way they round down transactions) and that card is free. If you meet the very strict qualifying criteria, the HSBC Premier Mastercard earns 0.5 Avios per £1 from January 2016 – this card is also free.
The only upside of using the Mastercard is that the spend counts towards the upgrade and 241 vouchers.
What is an Avios point worth?
How long is a piece of string?
How does this compare to a cashback credit card?
The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a Mastercard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the Asda card, which pays 0.5%.
On this basis, the American Express card supplied with the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards card performs well, earning 1.5 Avios per £1, although you need to factor in the very high annual fee. The Mastercard is terrible – you should leave this in a drawer once you have done enough spending to trigger the upgrade and 241 voucher.
How does this compare to the £150 British Airways American Express Premium Plus card?
The Lloyds Avios Rewards card compares equally well for spending (1.5 Avios per £1 on the Amex is the same as the 1.5 Avios per £1 on the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card). The BAPP Amex is slightly worse for fees (the card is £150 compared to £140 for the Lloyds card) and does carry a substantial sign-up bonus.
The real differential, though, is the voucher on offer. If you redeem your Avios for Club World or First Class on British Airways, you will want the 2-4-1 voucher that comes with the BA Amex Premium Plus card. If you travel alone or prefer to redeem in Economy, you might find the upgrade voucher and the 2-4-1 voucher offered with the Lloyds card more attractive.
How else can you earn Avios points from a credit or charge card?
Don’t forget these less-obvious options though:
The American Express Platinum charge card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 Avios points. It has a £450 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express credit card offers 10,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points for signing up. These convert to 10,000 Avios points. It has a £75 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
There is no sign-up bonus (and no refer a friend bonus on the £140 card) so the card cannot be recommended on that basis. Based on your predicted level of spending, you can decide for yourself if the ‘double Avios on the Amex card for six months’ deal is attractive or not.
In terms of on-going spending, 1.5 Avios per £1 on the Amex is OK but many people will find the 1.25 per £1 rate on the £24 cards to be better value overall.
I would be expecting 1.75 or 2 Avios per £1 given the £140 fee, to be honest. The Virgin Black card, for examples, earn 2 Flying Club miles per £1 spent on its American Express card and carries a similar fee. The Emirates Skywards Elite card has a similar package.
0.3 Avios per £1 on the Mastercard would be weak if the card was free or nearly free and is very poor given the £140 annual fee.
The application form for the Lloyds Premier Avios Rewards American Express and Mastercard can be found here.
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.