What is the best Avios credit card? (Part 2: on-going earning rates)

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Yesterday I did my best to begin answering the question commonly asked by beginners to this hobby – ‘What is the best credit card for earning Avios points?’.  Today I wanted to update, in light of recent card closures, my list of the best on-going earning rates.

Because you can earn Avios points both directly and indirectly (eg via Tesco Clubcard or American Express Membership Rewards), the list of possible cards is longer than most people think.

Part 1 of this article comparing sign-up bonuses was the most important part of the exercise.  The easiest way to build up your Avios points, after all, is through multiple sign-up bonuses.

It is also worth running over the various earning rates.  For simplicity, I have separated these into ‘best American Express card for earning Avios’ and ‘best Mastercard / Visa for earning Avios’.

(EDIT: this article was updated on 2nd February 2019)

Before you apply for anything, though, consider the size of the sign-up bonus and annual fee as well as the earning rate.  Some cards offer a better sign-up deal if you are referred rather than apply direct – you will find full details of referral deals on the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page of Head for Points.

Let me be very clear on one point. I am not suggesting that the best use for the points from all of these cards is to transfer to Avios. Frankly, you’d be crazy to convert 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points to 10,000 Avios when you could get a valuable hotel stay out of them. However, I have listed all of the options for completeness.

credit cards

This article does not factor in the value of long-term incentives such as the British Airways American Express Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher or the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard free night voucher.  You should also think about these perks when deciding where to put your long-term spending.

All of these cards carry a 3% foreign exchange fee when used abroad.  If you want a dedicated credit card to use abroad, take a look at the Virgin Money Travel Credit Card (click here).  This card is free and charges NO foreign exchange fees.  It also offers 0% interest on purchases for 12 months and 0% interest on balance transfers for 12 months, with no fee.  Representative APR 19.9% variable.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

American Express cards:

1 Avios per £1 (1.66 per £1 if spending exactly £15,000 pa) American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card 

Best sign-up bonus (20000 points) for a ‘free for first year’ card.  1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios.  You also receive double points on foreign and airline spend.  You get 10,000 bonus points on renewal when you spend £15,000 per card year, equivalent to an extra 0.66 points per £1.  Representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit.  The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% APR variable.  Full Amex Gold review.

1.5 Avios per £1 British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

Best overall card for long-term spending due to the value of the 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher.  Double points on British Airways spend (3 per £1) plus the 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher when spending £10,000 per year.  Representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full BA Premium Plus review.

1.25 Avios per £1 Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card

3 points = 1 Avios, but you get a 25% bonus when converting 60,000 points at once.  Representative APR 39.7% variable including £75 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full Starwood Amex review.

1 Avios per £1 – Amex Rewards Credit Card

Best card to get when you are planning to cancel an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum, as it keeps your Membership Rewards points alive.  1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios.  Full Amex Rewards review.

1 Avios per £1 – American Express Platinum Charge Card

1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios.  £450 annual fee albeit offset by a very wide range of travel perks.  Full Amex Platinum review.

1 Avios per £1 – British Airways American Express Card

2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher when you spend £20,000 per year.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.  Full BA Amex review.

Mastercard and Visa cards:

1 Avios per £1 HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

Best Visa / Mastercard if you meet the qualifying criteria.  This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders and requires substantial savings or investment products to be held with HSBC to qualify.  Representative APR 59.3% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full HSBC Premier World Elite review.

0.5 Avios per £1 HSBC Premier Mastercard

This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders and requires substantial savings or investment products to be held with HSBC to qualify.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full HSBC Premier review.

0.4 Avios per £1 IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard

2 IHG Rewards Club points per £1. 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 Avios. Double points on foreign spend.  £99 annual fee.  Representative APR 41.5% variable including £99 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.  Full IHG Premium Mastercard review.

0.3 Avios per £1 Tesco Clubcard Mastercard 

Best free Visa / Mastercard for earning Avios points.  1 Clubcard point per £8 spent per transaction.  Note that your actual earnings rate will be lower because each transaction is rounded down to the nearest £8, offset by the fact that you earn double points for shopping in Tesco.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full Tesco Mastercard review.

0.2 Avios per £1 IHG Rewards Club Mastercard

1 IHG Rewards Club point per £1. 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 Avios.  Representative APR 18.9% variable.  Full IHG Mastercard review.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. Gareth says:

    I think it important to take into consideration what percentage of you annual spend you estimate you put through American Express (With much lower acceptance rates out USA) V’s Universal acceptance of MasterCard.

    HSBC MasterCard may have lower point to pound rate but if you can spend 100% annual spend on the card as it accept everywhere it can out balance slight higher point rate on Amex. Especially if you only want to pay one annual fee.

    • Genghis says:

      It’s not an either/or decision though is it? I’d consider £ amounts rather than percentage of annual spend.

  2. Mossy says:

    This website is amazing! I’ve read a lot but still have some newbie questions. If anyone knows the answers I’d be very grateful; we want to try and get enough avios points and a companion voucher for flights for our next holiday.

    Currently my husband has the BA Amex fee free card £20k spend for 2 for 1, I am a card holder on it.

    We want to get the BA Platinum with the £10k spend for 2 for 1 and the 25,000 bonus points.

    1. Can I apply for the card and get the bonus points and then add him to my account as a supplementary card holder, or will that not work because he currently has an active card with them (which I am also named on)? If so, I guess we’d need to cancel that for six months and then reapply, which would mean six months of not earning air miles (would have to look at alternative card for avoid point earning in between).
    2. We would be buying flights for the three of us (my daughter will be 16+). Would we be able to buy our tickets by using avios points (for one adult flight) companion voucher (for another adult flight) and then pay cash and or some avois points for the third adult flight? Presuming we could get three reward flights?

    Thanks in advance for your help. 🙂

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