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.
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.