Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Changes to the lesser-spotted TSB Avios and TSB Premier Avios credit cards

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New HfP readers may not know that TSB used to issue two Avios credit cards.

When TSB separated from Lloyds, part of the divorce proceedings involved custody of the Avios contract.  TSB ended up retaining the right to issue an Avios credit card, but it was weaker than the Lloyds Avios Rewards card.  Unsurprisingly, it was pulled from the market soon after.

Existing cardholders have retained their cards.  However, with American Express pulling all of its licensing deals, the American Express element of the TSB Avios package is ending on 27th September.

In addition, the TSB Premier Avios credit card – which offered a companion voucher – is being closed completely from the same date. 

Going forward:

TSB Avios credit card holders will only have a Mastercard product, not an Amex

Premier card holders will be moved to the standard card

The earning rate will be a poor 0.2 Avios per £1 on UK spend and the slightly better – albeit with a 3% FX fee – 0.4 Avios per £1 on overseas spend

TSB Avios credit card changes

What is the best alternative to the TSB Avios credit card?

If you still have the TSB Avios credit cards, I recommend you switch to the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard (representative APR 18.9% variable).

The earning rate on this card isn’t great either, but it is the best Avios Visa or Mastercard available unless you are wealthy enough to qualify for HSBC Premier.  You earn 1 Clubcard point (2.4 Avios) per £8 spent – calculated on a ‘per transaction’ basis, so small transactions are penalised.  You are still likely to come out ahead on UK spending.

There is currently a sign-up bonus of 1,000 Clubcard points (2,400 Avios) on one specific version of the Tesco Clubcard Mastercardsee here for details.  There is no annual fee.

If you are happy to walk away from Avios, you can’t beat the new Virgin Atlantic MastercardThe free card has a 5,000 mile bonus and offers a whopping 0.75 miles per £1 – almost 4x what the TSB Avios card earns.  The annual fee card has a 15,000 mile bonus and offers 1.5 miles per £1.

Want to earn more points from credit cards? – May 2023 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:

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard is doubled to a crazy 50,000 Avios! Apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 30th May, the sign-up bonus on the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is doubled to 10,000 Avios. Apply here.

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

CRAZY 50,000 Avios for signing up (to 30th May) and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

10,000 Avios for signing up (only to 30th May) and an upgrade voucher at £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.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.

SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ card is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points. Apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus (to 13th June) 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:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year 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

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

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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 and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (151)

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

  • Arise Sir Genghis says:

    Does anyone have experience with not receiving the SPG Amex card’s 10,000 point bonus if reapplying before 6 months? I know this is the rule for the Gold (20,000 points) and Platinum (30,000) Amex cards, but this is clearly stated on their card application sites (under “eligibility”). However, I find no mention of the 6 month wait rule for the SPG Amex card on its website

    • Wally1976 says:

      I chanced it and applied for the SPG Amex after less than six months late last year and didn’t receive the points I’m afraid.

    • Rob says:

      I really wouldn’t push your luck on this – especially because, if/when it fails, you are back to square 1 waiting another 6 months ….

  • Andrew M says:

    “More on the Heathrow Rewards 50% bonus” – think you might just mean 100%.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      50% bonus is on the skywards points transferred

      • TGLoyalty says:

        To clarify. 6k skywards = 3k HR instead of the usual 2k

        This nets you £60 in the current half price voucher deal instead of the £20 you would’ve got if you transferred without these two deals running.

    • Rob says:

      I know what I meant but I have edited it 🙂

  • Emil B says:

    Slightly off topic.

    I moved to the UK in August last year and would like to get started on earing airline points via credit cards. My initial plan was to apply for the Amex Gold Charge Card. But since it changed to a credit card I am not sure if my application will get accepted. Does anyone have any experience applying for a Amex Gold card as their first credit card in the UK?

    I currently have a bank account and is registered on the electoral roll.

    Would it be safer to apply for the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard and use that for a few months to build up my credit score?

    • Tom H says:

      Hi Emily I had a similar situation last year moving to Canada from the UK, ie no credit record in Canada. If you have held an Amex in another country you can transfer over to one Amex your credit history with Amex (not any other bank ie MBNA) in a new country. If you look on the Amex website there is a link for global card transfer.

    • Rob says:

      Your mobile phone will also be on your credit file as will your utility bills if they are in your name. That might be enough. HSBC, Citi and Amex carry over your credit files from other countries so you will find it easier to deal with them.

    • Andrew says:

      You’re essentially asking two different questions.

      If you are looking for a credit card to build up your credit score, then you may well find that your current bank could be the best place to get your first UK credit card. Have you already received marketing messages promoting cards from them? (If you haven’t, check to make sure that you have “marketing – yes” selected in your profile.)

      Lots of little things add up to helping out your credit score. Rob’s already mentioned the mobile phone bill. On mine, Thames Water supply data, as do TalkTalk.

      Have a look at “ClearScore” to see what is already reported on it. The “score” isn’t a real score though (they don’t give credit) – merely their interpretation of the data.

    • BJ says:

      Is the 3 year address and bank account thing not an issue? At the very least it seems likely to make an ‘instant’ successful decision unlikely, Therefore, I would agree your own bank is the best place to start.

      • Andrew S says:

        Based on my experience, I got my first credit card with Amex very easily when I arrived in the UK (with no direct Amex relationship in NZ).
        First I waited to have a job with a month’s salary in my account. Then applied online for the Amex Platinum Cash Back card.
        Amex requested proof of address (i.e. copy of Bank Statement, with signed branch stamp) plus proof of ID (passport photo copy).
        Soon after I sent these documents in, I received the card.

    • S says:

      Go for the AmEx. When I referred my gal for the Amex Gold, she had absolutely no credit history, she had been on the electoral roll for less than 2 months, and she had been in the UK for just over a year.

      No instant decision, but a couple of days later she was approved.

      Data point – she was already a supp on my Plat account.


    What will happen if you’ve made a payment on your Amex for a future booking and they want to check the card when you arrive (e.g. at the hotel)?

    • David S says:

      If pre-paid, not an issue but I would take your card with you. If card used just for a guarantee, you can pay with a different card.

    • the_real_a says:

      This happens on airlines quite a lot. Every-time i fly Qatar booked in Asia they want to see the payment card at the airport. On the occasion i didn’t have it, the airline refunded full payment to the original card and took payment from the one i had with me. I have never had an issue with hotels however…

    • BJ says:

      In Asia, you may experience problems even with prepaid rates if arriving within a few days of making the reservation. They get worried that people do this, turn up and stay and then cancel the payment somehow. So I was told earlier this month when checking into an IHG property.

  • Tim says:

    OT: My wife and I have never been to the Caribbean and are interested in going next year using our 241. Where should we go, where should we stay, and what time of year? We’d like a mix of relaxation and culture, and we especially love walking.

    • Rob says:

      Best to avoid the hurricane season in Autumn although Barbados hasn’t been hit for decades IIRC. Ignore the rain numbers you might see online – when it rains, it is one massive short shower which is over in 30 minutes before blue sky returns and is actually quite refreshing. June isn’t a bad time – kids are in school and, with Europe getting hotter, Carribbean prices are getting lower.

      • john says:

        I agree with the rain stuff. We did have one day in St Lucia where it rained the entire day pretty much but other than that you get a few quick showers. Sometimes they were helpful.. one hotel we stayed at had a private beach area and had lots of Americans there. When it rained they all ran away to their rooms. The few English people sat it out, or went for a swim in the rain (it’s not like it was cold!) and then had the beach to ourselves. These sorts of showers were usually about 30mins!

        There is a bit of a hurricane risk around autumn generally. It’s also the off-season because of this and we found a number of restaurants / hotels weren’t open yet.. but this made it a bit quieter there generally. Depends how you like it.. and balancing costs / availability etc.

      • Craig says:

        The queue at the pool bar reduces nicely when it rains! Also, I’ve been a few times during hurricane season and have generally been very lucky, I wouldn’t rely on it as your main holiday of the year because an event would almost certainly lead to a complete cancellation. Just read the small print of your travel insurance carefully and watch the weather like a hawk from a week or so before. I’ve haven’t been to Grenada yet but lots of people I’ve met in the Caribbean rate it highly, St Lucia was lovely but very expensive.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        I’ve just checked hotel prices in St Lucia. For the same dates the Hilton costs $2000 (~ £1520) and has the same room (refundable and breakfast included) for £1100… Are the Gold benefits worth those extra £420?

    • john says:

      St Lucia does well for relaxation and culture since it changed between being a French and British territory a few times. It’s quite a hilly island and you can hike up one of the Pitons. St Lucia was also good value compared to other islands when we went at the start of October 2015 and wasn’t really affected by Hurricane Irma. The only downside really was it flew out of Gatwick instead of Heathrow, but the lounges in Gatwick are better now 🙂

    • Lewis King says:

      Would recommend St Lucia, we’re going every year at the moment. Island is smallish, fun, and definitely got a lot of culture. Also BA fly F there.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Maybe not for Tim but I’d recommend trying one of the bits of the Caribbean that aren’t classified as such – there are a few English-speaking parts of Central America/ adjoining Caribbean such as the island of Roatan (off Honduras). Excellent food, cheap eg plate of 2 lobster tails & the bits for under $10, great diving etc.

      • John says:

        Any thoughts on Belize?

        • the real harry1 says:

          Not been but would like to go. Couple of Belizes, of course – I’d go to all.

        • Callum says:

          While I didn’t stay long (and probably wasn’t in the touristy area), I enjoyed every other central American country I saw more. Guatemala and Costa Rica in particular. The Caribbean coast of Colombia is also very nice.

          Yes they are all Spanish speaking, but I always get disappointed when British people will only visit English speaking countries on holiday (not that I’ve seen many) – such a waste!

    • Anna says:

      We’ve been in December several times and had more rain than in the summer months – the weather patterns have become very unpredictable in the past 20 years. May – August inclusive can have great weather (we had 2 rainy days out of 17 in August last year) and prices are much lower because Europeans tend to head for the continent in the summer, not because the Caribbean weather is particularly bad. January to March is gorgeous, not too hot but great to be away from the British winter – however you will need to be really on the ball to get your redemption seats as it’s peak time. Barbados is supposed to have fewer hurricanes than other islands, but these stats are easy to check online.

      Another tip worth remembering is that reward availability is much better to the Eastern US and it’s fairly easy to get connecting flights to “the islands” and combine your beach holiday with a city break. We’re doing Washington CD – Grand Cayman – Boston in a few weeks which ticks all my sightseeing and relaxing boxes!

    • Tilly says:

      November is shoulder season. We went to Antigua end of November last year amd it only rained twice – once in the middle of the night when most people were in bed and once at breakfast for about 20 minutes, short and sharp and because it was breakfast time didn’t matter. I’d highly recommend it, great weather, plenty to see and do on and around the island (we even took a helicopter tour over Montserrat to see the volcano) and the resort we stayed in was fantastic (The Cove Suites at Blue Waters).

    • Kevin says:

      I like Tobago. Small and friendly. Haven’t been for a number of years though.

      You can go walk on an off shore bird island or hop over to Trinidad. You used to be able to visit Angel Falls in Venezuela but I imagine that’s much more difficult now.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Well, we’ve pulled the trigger and booked St Lucia for next June. Any hotel recommendations? I’m looking at TripAdvisor but still hard to decide!

  • JC says:

    Anyone know when the Lloyds Avios card will follow suit? I assume they will cancel the Amex and leave just the Mastercard – I heard something about it being branded as a ‘British Airways Mastercard’ issued by Lloyds. Would seem odd given the existence of the BA Amex, unless this is the back up plan if Amex pull the BA card because of the new regulation and impact on card economics…

    • Rob says:

      Given the new T&C which Lloyds accidentally put on the website recently, I would expect to see something happen in September.

    • Anna says:

      They told me recently that we would get 90 days’ notice of any changes so that should be enough time for people to trigger any outstanding upgrade vouchers (e.g. pay council tax or utility bills up front). I’ve just hit my £7k spend and the card year doesn’t re-start till February so I’m moving my non-Amex spend to my HH visa while we wait to see what will become of the Lloyds card. If they get rid of the upgrade voucher I’ll bin the card as it’s not worth the annual fee without the it.

      Also – has anyone had Lloyds avios post to their BAEC account? My account is still open at the moment so mine are still going there.

      • Mark2 says:

        some of mine are still going to Avios and it is impossible to use CMA

  • Mikeact says:

    Having had both the above mentioned TBS cards, trust me, for those that don’t, don’t bother….total rubbish, and trying to deal with TBS…….you will end up with a heart attack. At least I received a measly 1000 Avios for the pain.

    • Callum says:

      TSB have always been good to me. The recent meltdown aside, they always scored pretty well in customer service.

      If I listened to everyone saying that about banks then I wouldn’t be able to have an account with anyone!

  • Rob says:

    Not 1st August. Probably mid August. I may find out today as I’m speaking to guy in the US who runs Marriott Rewards.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      Speaking of Travel Packages – once you’ve booked a room with one, can you upgrade to a better room by using more points?

      • New Card says:

        Depends – some hotels offer upgraded rooms on points; others don’t. You’ll see which ones do if you go through the process of making a points reservation.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Thanks. This one doesn’t seem to give multiple options when making points bookings.

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