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Credit & Charge Card Reviews (21): TSB Avios American Express & Mastercard

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This is my review of the TSB Avios 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 Card Offers‘ page.  My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key link:  TSB Avios credit cards application form

Key facts:  No annual fee

The representative APR is 17.9% variable.

Most rewards cards are not suitable products if you do not clear your balance in full every month.  You should focus on a credit card with a low interest rate such as the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard Low Rate card. This has a very attractive representative APR of 5.9% variable – and you can transfer your Clubcard points into Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles.

About the card

The TSB Avios credit cards – issued by TSB, the only travel loyalty card they offer – come as a double-pack of an American Express and a Mastercard.  This model may not continue into the future as Amex fees on co-brand cards to UK retailers are now capped at the same level as Mastercard / Visa at 0.3%.

There are two version of this card – this, free, version and the Premier version which carries a £50 fee.  I will discuss the Premier version in a separate review.

Feedback from Head for Points readers is that you will not be accepted if you currently hold a different TSB credit card or if you have held any TSB credit card in the last six months.

What is the sign-up bonus?

There is no current sign-up bonus, and there has not been one since the card was taken over by TSB from Lloyds.

Any other benefits?

You receive 1,500 Avios points for every £1,000 of balance transfer you do.  Any transfer within 90 days of opening the card will be interest-free until six months after you opened the card.  There is the standard 3% fee for the balance transfer, however, so this is not a way to get some free Avios points.

TSB Avios credit cards review

Is there an annual fee?

No, there is no fee.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You earn 1 Avios per £1 spent on the Amex card and a pathetic 0.2 miles on the Mastercard.

Overseas transactions earn double Avios, which makes the TSB American Express card a better deal than either of the British Airways American Express cards for foreign currency spending.

Remember that the TSB cards have an FX fee of almost 3% for foreign currency transactions.  You may want to consider getting a separate card to use abroad which charges no foreign exchange fees.  I recommend the Lloyds Avios Rewards card which also earns Avios points – even on your 0% FX transactions.  It comes with a 4,500 Avios sign-up bonus if I refer you.  My review of the Lloyds Avios Rewards card is here.

What is an Avios worth?

Don’t get me started on that one ….

Only kidding.  Here is a long post on what an Avios point is worth, based on how you travel.

How else can you earn Avios points from a credit card?

The obvious options are the British Airways American Express card, the British Airways Premium Plus American Express card and the two Lloyds Bank-issued cards.

Don’t forget these less-obvious options though:

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold charge card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year.  These convert to 20,000 Avios points.

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.

Conclusion

With no official sign-up bonus, it is difficult to recommend the card on that basis!

At 1 Avios per £1 on the Amex, the on-going earnings rate is OK, especially for a free card.  2 Avios per £1 on foreign spend on the Amex is impressive although you will be paying a 3% foreign exchange fee.  The Mastercard earnings rate is beaten by a large number of other Avios cards.

The application form for the TSB Avios credit cards can be found here.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will end soon:

  • 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (10)

  • Julia says:

    Under the right circumstances the 1,500 avios for balance transfers may have some use. We’re remortgageing next year and have large balances on interest only cards which are coming to an end which need clearing down. May be better than nothing….

    • Genghis says:

      If you’ve got large balances on cards and paying interest, surely getting a card with a lower than 3% BT initial fee and a 0% interest rate should be your main priority. E.g. Virgin do an effective 0.59% initial rate with 0% interest for 30 months and I’m sure there are better ones. Going with TSB over this Virgin card would mean avios at 1.6p and I’m not a buyer at that price.

      • Alan says:

        There’s also cards with 0% fee and 0% interest for 12+ months that would be even better.

        • Genghis says:

          Thanks Alan. So this makes the avios 2p each if going with TSB. Wowsers.

  • Julia says:

    Hi Genghis. The balances are on cards which are all in interest free periods; I’m not paying interest or any associated costs with these cards. However the interest free period on some cards is drawing to an end and It’s time to pay them off in readiness for remortgageing next year. You raised a good point though – thankyou.

  • Mikeact says:

    Some maybe interested in my experience I had with TSB and this dual package.
    I applied, on line , through the Avios.com site. I was initially attracted to the Double Miles for overseas expenditure, but more of that later.
    Having applied, I received an Email some 2/3 weeks later, ‘Approved ‘, but to take proof of ID into my local branch which I did.
    Another 2/3 weeks went by, with another Email ‘Approved ‘, but to take my proof of ID into my local branch, again.
    The local manager was a little embarrassed but after phone calls admitted they had been ‘lost’ within the organisation.
    No real problem, we were on our way, I thought. Another 2/3 weeks and another Email, this time, telling me that my application for a Current Account had been ‘approved’ !
    Back to the local Branch, more phone calls, more apologies. After a couple of days, received phone call from the Manager that my cards would be with me within ‘7/10’ days, and by way of compensation, 2500 Avios would be credited to my account. Both the Manager and one of his staff were more than helpful at a local level but were badly let down by ‘Head Office. ‘
    Sure enough, the cards did arrive as promised. So, around 2 months from start to finish.
    Now the card/s themselves.
    Stupidly, I initially thought that double Avios for overseas expenditure was quite good, NOT that I was going to use them direct. My thought was to backup the M’card version to Supercard, but doing a small online € purchase, it was of course treated as a UK purchase, not foreign, when I checked. So, they are now both relegated to the bottom drawer…my fault.
    Not quite all bad news though. I have now built up quite a good rapport with the local staff, in fact, we’re all on Christian name terms.
    It’s a pleasure of go in once a month……walk over to the ATM, withdraw £200, courtesy of Curve , then across to the lady on the cash desk, “Good Morning Mike, and how are you today……another 40 Avios?” (!)
    Ps. I guess you all received the Amex flyer, regarding the small retailer promotion in December. Take a look at the T’s and C’s…..the only Amex card not taking part ? TSB Amex !

    • Genghis says:

      Awful experience. You should look at linking your curve to a better earning card.

  • Mikeact says:

    I do realise I could earn a few more Avios each month, but they are a pretty good bunch of people in my local branch and it wasn’t their fault….only too happy to support them in a small way.

  • Paul says:

    How do you apply for this? I cannot find it anywhere?

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