Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Daily Mail writes about (a HfP reader?) buying Royal Mint coins for Avios

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

Well, I never expected this story to reach the hallowed pages of the Daily Mail, but there you go. 

I have, a couple of times, mentioned that it is possible to buy face value commemorative coins from the Royal Mint using a credit card.  I have never made a big deal of this because:

the Royal Mint doesn’t take American Express, so it was only really worthwhile if you had a ‘no longer available to new customers’ Visa or Mastercard such as the BMI Diamond Club one which pays 2.5 Avios per £1

you were 100% dependant on finding a willing bank if you wanted to pay in the coins.  It was never totally clear what the legal position was.

We now know, thanks to the Daily Mail, what the legal position is.

Avios wing 15

You should read the article in full, but here are some extracts:

The reader, who wishes to be known simply has James, would buy high value commemorative coins from the Royal Mint in bulk to gain air miles on his credit card before cashing them in at the bank.

However, the Royal Mint appears to have cottoned onto his system by writing to banks and telling them not to accept the coins, which are deemed ‘legal tender’.


James said: ‘I am someone who has a bit of an addiction to frequent flier miles. I’ve done various things over the years to generate more miles – and the only way to generate such things is by spending on a credit card.


The coins, such as the £100 ‘face value’ Buckingham Palace coin issued last year are limited edition and are described by Royal Mint as legal tender. They also have a 14 day returns policy. 

But its terms and conditions section on the website describes legal tender as having ‘a very narrow and technical meaning in the settlement of debts.’

It adds: ‘In practice this means that although the face-value UK coins in denominations of £5, £20, £50 and £100 are approved as legal tender, they have been designed as limited edition collectables or gifts and will not be entering general circulation.

‘As such, UK shops and banks are not obliged to accept them in return for goods and services.’


A recent letter sent to a bank branch from the Royal Mint, published below, has told staff to no longer accept coins over the counter and that customers should be referred to them instead.


James adds that when he entered his local HSBC branch, as he usually would to cash them in, the bank accepted the deposit. This is Money has seen the deposit slip.

The branch manager then chased after him as he was leaving the branch and advised that it could no longer accept them.

It is a great story but, to avoid copyright issues, I recommend you head over to the Daily Mail site and read it in full for yourself.


How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (March 2023)

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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Successfully apply for either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards by 2nd April 2023 and you will be entered into a free draw to win ONE MILLION AVIOS! Full details are on the application forms here (free) and here (paid). This competition is exclusive to Head for Points readers. T&C apply.

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

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £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 £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

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

30,000 points and unbeatable travel 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

Get a 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.

Until 30th March 2023, the sign up bonus on American Express Business Platinum is increased to 120,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. The bonus on American Express Business Gold is increased to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – click here. T&C apply, see the application forms for details.

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 30th March) and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

60,000 points sign-up bonus (to 30th March) 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 (92)

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

  • Danksy says:

    I’ve got about £300 of Olympic 50p still, got fed up of unwrapping them so they are in a box… I did eBay some for a nice profilt! All paid for by Amex of course!

    • Danksy says:

      I’ve just looked on eBay…. 50p coins in packaging are selling for 99p plus postage! Could possibly be the best investment I ever made!

      • DW201 says:

        some of them are selling without packaging for up to £4….

        Just found a full packaged set in a wardrobe id forgotten about 🙂

    • Jon says:

      Olympic 50p can be used anywhere.

      • Aeronaut says:

        Yep. They were released into general circulation… then rapidly started disappearing from circulation! I thought they were neat and had a little collection going, but stupidly then spent some in a parking meter without realising it… they were just sculling around in a small desk drawer amongst other bits. Guess I’m not destined to be a coin collector!

    • TomTom says:

      I’ll pay face value for them all. Got a little collection going.

  • harry says:

    O/T Amex Travel – £50 off £150

    Did anybody find a clever way of adding £5 to a flight coming up at £145? Just booking my wife’s flights for the summer.

    • chris says:

      @harry you can book an “experience” like airport transfer

      • harry says:

        I can see a scenic river cruise for £6 but I am struggling to get this & the flight on the same checkout

        • harry says:

          Fairly sure it can’t be done & nobody has done it. Ie you can’t book a flight plus another Amex Travel option eg scenic river cruise in the same booking.

    • Axel says:

      you can also use your Amex MR points sitting in your account points for the payment. So if your total purchase comes to £180 you can use your card to pay £150 then £30 of MR points.

      Worked for me the confirmation email came through directly after payment.

      • Brian says:

        Yes, but you’re getting poor value for your MR points – and it doesn’t help harry’s problem, which is to get the total OVER £150…

        • harry says:

          yep I am resigned to checking daily until the fare pops above £150. The problem is, the other 4 of us already booked on the ‘right’ flight that day – so we need to get my wife on the same one.

          • John says:

            Is it a one-way you’re booking? Then see if you can find areturn fare for less than £45 extra

          • harry says:

            The fare is £145 so I’m looking for £5 more

          • harry says:

            Anyway, here’s another weakness (unless it’s deliberate?) in Amex Travel – you can’t book a one-way flight + car/ or flight + hotel option. Same seems true of BA site.

            So I have no option other than to pay up now or wait, I think I’ll wait. You never know, prices go up & down, so does RFS availability.

          • Rob says:

            That is because the airlines don’t sell one-way IT fares, I think, which is the ‘not available to the public, only to travel agents putting together packages’ discount fare used in this scenario.

    • jon says:

      Ring them and ask them to book it in to a fare bucket one further up. That will increase the price (by an unknown amount). I have done this once before. They sounded pretty incredulous on the phone and thought I was mad.

      • harry says:

        Has to be an online purchase. You reckon I could buy online then make the phone call? I think too much doubt about it working.

        OTOH I did wonder if I could ring them & get them to combine £145 air fare + £6 river cruise into 1 transaction – would probably work as Amex just sees Amex Travel, surely?

        Anyway, there’s a big difference between taking one for the team & throwing away £50 🙂 – so I think I’ll just wait a bit for the fare to go up or down or RFS availability to come back.

  • Paul says:

    I was very interested to read more but it is the Daily Mail on a matter of principle won’t touch the rag

  • LDT says:

    There is a far better option: the US Mint accepts credit cards including Amex for orders up to $24,999.99. Considering that gold and silver coins are always in high demand and that the price of gold is likely to rise if the current turmoil in the financial markets continues, selling coins in the secondary market possibly at a profit shouldn’t be too hard.

  • Callum says:

    I’m not sure why they would mention you anyway, but I’m more perplexed over why you’d want to be mentioned in such a vile piece of trash at all!

    • Rob says:

      Pretty sure Mr Google values backlinks from the Daily Mail even if the general public doesn’t!

  • Clive says:

    OT but might be of interest to some. UA have Business Class Fares loaded to Orlando from Dublin pricing at £650 in July and August

    • Rich says:

      Madness! At the height of summer too. (Very useful, thanks.)

      A quick search turns up LH/LX for £10-£20 more as well.

  • Dan says:

    Well I know of a method in which I can spend on an Amex card and return the same high value item on another Amex card and its totally legal and allowed by the retailer as I have been doing it for years. I was tempted to mention it on this site but when loud mouth idiots like to publicise it to the press like the Royal Mint, I think no, forget it, I’ll just keep it to myself.

    • Brian says:

      Thanks for sharing that with us. Very useful.

    • Callum says:

      While it’s totally legal, I doubt it’s allowed by the retailer. It will be an oversight by an indifferent or unknowledgable employee (even if that employee is a manager) – unless this is a small local firm?

      And am I missing something? You seem to have described the method you say you’re not going to describe?

      • Dan says:

        No, its a company policy that you can use any Amex to return things to. Not a single employee or an oversight. All their branches allow. Saying any more will give the game away and I’ve leant now to keep my mouth shut after that idiot who went and boasted to the press (probably after being on this site) and explaining how he returns all these Royal Mint coins to the bank.

        Well, now hopefully he’s truly shafted since the rule change.

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

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.