If anyone ever tells you that they know a lot about Avios, ask them how you should maximise your Avios earning when buying petrol. It is such a painfully complex calculation that most people will collapse in a gibbering heap before getting to the answer.
I last wrote about this topic 18 months ago, but that article is now out of date due to the launch of the Tesco Premium Mastercard, the excellent earning deal now offered on the Tesco Bank debit card and a 20% rise in the petrol price which impacts the earning from Esso and Shell.
When buying petrol, you have various permutations of garage and credit card to choose from:
You will some points based on how you pay
You will earn some points based on the loyalty scheme of the garage you use
To maximise your Avios you need to pick the best option on both sides of the equation.
Part 1: Maximising your loyalty scheme points
There are three options here:
You can earn Tesco Clubcard points at a Tesco garage and convert those points to Avios
You can earn Tesco Clubcard points at an Esso garage and convert those points to Avios
You can earn Shell Drivers Club points at a Shell garage and convert those points to Avios
This is what you would earn (excluding Avios points from your payment card) by handing over either a Tesco Clubcard or a Shell Drivers Club card when buying petrol:
1.2 Avios per £1 spent at a Tesco-branded filling station by handing over a Tesco Clubcard (you earn 1 Clubcard point per £2 spent on Tesco Petrol and that converts to 2.4 Avios per £2)
2.4 Avios per £1 spent at a Tesco-branded filling station when you use your Tesco credit card or debit card AS A CLUBCARD (Tesco credit or debit cards, when swiped at a Tesco garage as a Clubcard – not for payment – earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 spent). Note that the Tesco Bank website no longer lists this as a benefit although I asked around last week and it is still working.
0.8 Avios per £1 spent at an Esso filling station which has a Tesco convenience store attached (you earn 1 Clubcard point per £3 spent and that converts to 2.4 Avios per £3). Full details of the Esso earning rates are here.
1.0 Avios per £1 spent at any other participating Esso filling station (you earn 1 Clubcard point for every 2 litres of fuel purchased and I have used a typical price of £1.20 per litre of unleaded, so 1 Clubcard point = 2.4 Avios per £2.40 spent)
0.41 Avios per £1 spent at a Shell filling station (you earn 10 Avios per 20 litres and I have used a typical price of £1.20 per litre of unleaded). You need to join Shell Drivers Club and choose to convert your points to Avios.
0.8 Avios per £1 spent on V-Power fuel at a Shell filling station (technically 20 Avios per 20 litres, based on a typical £1.25 per V-Power litre)
The best option in terms of which loyalty card you show (ignoring how you pay for now) is to visit a Tesco filling station and have them swipe your Tesco MasterCard or debit card as a Clubcard. You can pay on another card if you wish.
Part 2: Credit and charge card options when paying for your petrol
These are the Avios points you will earn when using the main Avios-earning credit and charge cards to pay for your petrol.
2.4 Avios per £1 spent on Tesco Premium Mastercard (you earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 as this is treated as a Tesco purchase)
2.4 Avios per £1 spent on a Tesco Bank debit card (you earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 as this is treated as a Tesco purchase, this earning rate is guaranteed until 1st April 2019)
1.5 Avios per £1 spent on British Airways Premium Plus American Express
1.25 Avios per £1 spent on Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express
0.6 Avios per £1 spent on Tesco Mastercard (you earn 1 Clubcard point per £4 as this is treated as a Tesco purchase)
What is the best combination of garage and card?
Based purely on standard fuel (not V-Power or Momentum) the answer is:
Buy fuel at a Tesco-branded garage. Use your Tesco Mastercard as a Clubcard and pay with either a Tesco Bank debit card or Tesco Premium Mastercard.
For every £1 spent on petrol, you would earn:
1 Clubcard point (earning rate is 1 per £1 when using a Tesco credit or debit card as a Clubcard) = 2.4 Avios
1 Clubcard point for paying with your Tesco Premium Mastercard or Tesco Bank debit card = 2.4 Avios
If you only have the free Tesco credit card, which only earn 1 Clubcard point per £4 spent in Tesco, then the best option is to pay with a British Airways Premium Plus American Express card whilst using your Tesco credit card as a Clubcard. This gets you 3.9 Avios per £1.
If you need to use Esso, note the odd disparity. You actually earn fewer Avios at an Esso with a Tesco convenience store (1 Clubcard point per £3 spent on fuel) than you do at non-Tesco Esso stations (1 Clubcard point per 2 litres of fuel, roughly £2.40).
Finally, it is worth noting that Shell Drivers Club often makes generous bonus point promotions available which can make Shell a good deal. Some of these are exclusive to its app. It is worth downloading this and seeing what offers are selected for you.
How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (December 2022)
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.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:
You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.
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.
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.
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.
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.