Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Do you understand Avios / Virgin ShopsAway / Bink in-store ‘card clash’?

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

Both Avios and Virgin Flying Club have launched some interesting in-store earning opportunities recently.  We also featured the Bink loyalty app late last year which lets you earn Avios in High Street retailers.

All of these deals work in the same way.  You register your credit cards with the relevant points provider and give them permission to access Visa / Mastercard / Amex’s transaction records.  They receive card data on transactions at specific retailers and, when your card number is spotted, you receive points.

The key Virgin Atlantic partner is Waitrose.  You earn 4 Flying Club miles per £1 spent instore, as I wrote here.

The key Avios partner is probably Caffe Nero.  You earn up to 10 Avios per £1 spent instore, as I wrote here.

The only Bink Avios-earning partner so far is PizzaExpress.  You earn 3-6 Avios per £1 spent instore, as I wrote here.

But …..

It appears that there is some element of ‘card clash’ at work here.

Importantly, registering a card for one of these services appears to stop you using the same card with a competing service, even for different retailers.

I can’t get to the bottom of it, however.

This is what I do know – the last Avios points I received from Caffe Nero were dated 6th February.  Nothing has turned up since then.  (This is not linked to the block on using Visa cards with Nero as I only use an Amex there.)  At some point after that, I registered the same payment cards with the Virgin programme so that I could earn in Waitrose – and those points have been posting OK.  Avios from all of my recent Pizza Express visits have also been paid OK via Bink.

This wording has appeared in the small print of the Avios instore shopping channel:

“You might not earn Avios In Store if the same payment card is registered with another ‘card-linked offer’ programme. To avoid this, ensure that you delete or remove the card from any other ‘card linked offer’ programmes.”

This is vague.  I can understand why their could be problems if, for example, the same retailer was participating in both the Avios and Virgin instore shopping schemes (and some are in both, for example Ernest Jones).  But does it mean that if I register an Amex card with the Avios instore scheme I cannot use it to collect Virgin miles via Waitrose, who are not with Avios?

I know that some other readers have stopped receiving Caffe Nero Avios after registering for Waitrose / Virgin miles.  There doesn’t appear to be any issues with cards linked to Bink, despite the warning that the Avios e-store is putting out.

We don’t have a lot of evidence though.  If you’ve got any experience of ‘card clash’ when using the same payment card with Avios and / or Virgin, please post your experiences in the comments.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – August 2022 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current 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.

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

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable card perk – the 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Amex Gold

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 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, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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:

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

American Express Business Gold

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

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

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

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa 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 (3% on business travel for four months) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (66)

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

  • Artem says:

    OT: I just called Amex to cancel my Plat and accepted an offer of 2 points per £ for 3 months as an incentive to continue using the card. Is this common?

    • Genghis says:

      I’ve only ever had the offer on the SPG Amex, 2 SPGs/£ for 3 months

    • Alan says:

      Nice, I had that for a couple of years when I first had a Plat thanks to their then-amazing Twitter team, but sadly that came to an end when the people running it changed.

      • the real harry1 says:

        just got 75% discount off x 12 months Sky for [threatening but not] cancelling if that helps

        • the real harry1 says:

          so I’m paying £5/ month – original

        • Alan says:

          Yeah they’re always good for a renegotiation – I’ve stopped using them now, not bothered about sport, gone with Amazon Prime/Netflix with a Roku box instead 🙂

  • Crafty says:

    Sounds about the same as mine. It’s infuriating, but as others have said, you can also get mistakes in your favour. Amex is good for this….

  • TripRep says:

    2 years for Hilton, lots of chasing…

  • ankomonkey says:

    Earnaway paid me £20 for a booking I cancelled. Shame they shut down… Or maybe that’s why they shut down…

  • Hasan says:

    Thanks a bunch for this Rob.

    I registered my Barclaycard Amex for the Bink app and forgot about it. Regular shopper at waitrose which never seemed to post.

    Removed the card from Bink and voila, waitrose transactions started posting.

  • Nicholas says:

    Seems I am no longer earning points from Pizza Express/Bink since signing up my AMEX to earn points via Virgin Atlantic / Waitrose.

  • Rachel says:

    Slightly off topic here, but I’m driving myself mad. i felt sure i had seen that there was a 5,000 avios point bonus for shopping through the avios portal or something, but now I can’t find anything about it. Does anyone know anything about this? I think it was in one of the e-mails with info on the triple avios promotion. Got a decent Tesco Direct order that i want to put through before the promo ends.

    Cheers if anyone can help.

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.