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

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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 Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

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  1. Billy says:

    Surely it’s simply to drive loyalty to a particular scheme?

    I guess the way around it is to have a coffee card and a Waitrose card 🙂

  2. > (This is not linked to the block on using Visa cards with Nero as I only use an Amex there.

    Hmm wonder what this is.. Last time I went to Nero they refused to let me use an Amex. Although it was inside a house of fraser store, but they also take Amex so was confusing..

    • mark2 says:

      Caffe Nero inside a house of fraser store do not accept Amex, like some Costa don’t either (may sites are franchises).

  3. 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

    • 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

        • 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 🙂

  4. 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….

  5. 2 years for Hilton, lots of chasing…

  6. ankomonkey says:

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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