Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Lloyds starts to close its Lloyds Duo Avios and Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express cards

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Lloyds Bank is sending out letters to holders of the legacy Lloyds Duo Avios credit cards announcing that the cards are closing in 2-3 months time.  The exact date was not given.

This is the first stage of a process.  Letters will be following to holders of the Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express and Mastercard double pack.

The Lloyds Duo Avios American Express and Mastercard package will be replaced with a new Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard.  There will be no American Express element.

I have been told that existing Lloyds Avios Rewards Amex and Mastercard holders will be moved to the same product although, until we see that letter, this isn’t certain.  My understanding is that, for Lloyds Avios Rewards cardholders:

  • the upgrade voucher is dead (you will be allowed to earn one for your current card year)
  • there will no longer be an annual fee
  • there will be foreign exchange fees

However, this is an article for another day when we see the first of the letters.  Today I want to focus on how the changes impact holders of the Lloyds Duo Avios credit cards.

This is the earnings rate on the new Lloyds Avios Rewards Mastercard:

0.4 Avios per £1 you spend in the UK

0.8 Avios per £1 you spend outside the UK

0.4 Avios per £1 transferred on a balance transfer

Because the Mastercard element of the old Duo Avios cards was so poor, this actually represents an improvement.  You currently get 0.2 Avios per £1 on the Mastercard in the UK and 0.4 Avios per £1 elsewhere.

The big drop is on the balance transfer rate, which was previously 1.5 Avios per £1.  A lot of readers did exceptionally well from this offer, because Lloyds would often have periods when there was no balance transfer fee.  You could move a balance for free from another credit card, pick up 1500 Avios per £1000, and then immediately pay off the amount before any noticeable interest was incurred!

Based on the leaked information we saw recently, I would expect that holders of a Club Lloyds current account will earn an extra 0.1 Avios per £1 (0.2 Avios per £1 for foreign transactions).  This takes you up to 0.5 Avios per £1 for UK spending and 1 Avios per £1 for foreign spending.  For this to kick in, you must have had a Club Lloyds current account for at least six months.

And if you had the £50 fee premium version of the Lloyds Duo Avios card?

I don’t know.  I haven’t heard from a reader who had that version.  I would imagine that the premium card is being scrapped and that everyone is being moved to the free version outlined above.  This would mean the end of the 2-4-1 voucher, although that is not a major loss as it was restricted to Economy travel.  This is only an educated guess at this stage.

Lloyds Avios Duo credit cards closing

Is the card worth keeping as a Mastercard?

If you want to earn Avios, yes.  It is more generous than the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard (0.3 Avios per £1).  The HSBC Premier cards are better (0.5 Avios per £1 on the free card, 1 per £1 on the paid card) but HSBC Premier has tough income and asset criteria and requires you to have a current account with them.

However ….. if you are happy to walk away from Avios, you can’t beat the new Virgin Atlantic Mastercard.  The free card has a 5,000 mile bonus and offers a whopping 0.75 miles per £1 – almost double what the new Lloyds Avios card earns!  The annual fee card has a 15,000 mile bonus and offers 1.5 miles per £1.

What is the best replacement American Express card?

If you have been using the American Express element of the Lloyds Duo Avios cards for your daily spending, you will need a replacement.  Assuming that you want to keep earning Avios, here are your FIVE options ranked in order of sign-up bonus:

American Express Platinum    Sign-up bonus:  30,000 Amex Membership Rewards points = 30,000 Avios

(£450 per year, earns 1 Avios per £1, my Amex Platinum review)

British Airways Premium Plus American Express   Sign-up bonus: 25,000 Avios

(£195 per year, earns 1.5 Avios per £1, representative APR 76.0% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, my BA Premium Plus review)

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold   Sign-up bonus:  20,000 Amex Membership Rewards points = 20,000 Avios

(free, earns 1 Avios per £1 with a 10000 point bonus for spending £15000 in a year, representative APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit, my Amex Gold review)

Starwood SPG Amex   Sign-up bonus:  30,000 points = 10,000 Avios

(£75 per year, earns 1 Avios per £1 jumping to 1.25 Avios per £1 if you convert in chunks of 60,000 points, representative APR 39.7% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, my Starwood Amex review)

Amex Rewards Credit Card   Sign-up bonus:  0 – 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points = 0 – 10,000 Avios

(free, earns 1 Avios per £1, APR and sign-up bonus depends on which of the three versions you get, my Amex Rewards review)

In my view, these are the best two options:

British Airways Premium Plus American Express – the No 1 attraction is the 2-4-1 voucher that you receive for spending £10,000 each year. This is valid on Avios redemptions in ALL classes and saves you, for eg, 150,000 Avios on two Club World peak day tickets to San Francisco. Coupled with a high earnings rate, all serious Avios collectors should have one of these.

(If you travel solo, though, ignore it as the 2-4-1 has no value to you.  Similarly, if you cannot spend £10,000 per year on the Amex to trigger the voucher then look elsewhere and save £195.  You also need to be certain that you can generate enough Avios per year to use the 241 voucher effectively – although reading HFP will make that easier!)

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – this card offers the most generous sign-up bonus for a free card.  You receive 20,000 Amex points for signing up (=20,000 Avios) and there is no fee for Year 1 (£140 thereafter).  You also receive two Lounge Club airport lounge passes among other benefits.

These cards work well if you fall into a specific niche:

British Airways American Express – the free BA Amex has a decent (for a free card) rate of 1 Avios per £1. However, do not get this card if you are planning to spend the £20,000 required to earn the 2-4-1 voucher – this article explains why the free BA American Express card can be a bad deal.

American Express Platinum – you should consider applying for this card if you think you can get value from the travel benefits.  Focus on the 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus, the Priority Pass for airline lounge access, Eurostar lounge access, the Starwood hotels Gold card (which also gets you Marriott Gold following the merger), Hilton Honors Gold, Shangri-La Jade, Melia Rewards Gold and the Radisson Rewards Gold cards.  Many people find that they end up keeping the card despite their initial intentions because of the value of the travel insurance, lounge access and other perks.  For day to day spending, 1 point (= 1 Avios) per £1 is a bit of a joke considering the annual fee.

Starwood SPG American Express – the day-to-day earnings rate of 3 points (= 1 Avios) per £1 isn’t bad and you get the flexibility to convert to 40+ different airlines as well as using your points for Starwood or Marriott hotels.  You also get an enhanced conversion rate of 1.25 Avios per £1 when you convert in chunks of 60,000 points.  The sign-up bonus is 30,000 points, which converts to 10,000 Avios.  The £75 annual fee is refunded pro-rata if you cancel.  For long term use, this card would be exceptional if it was free but the £75 fee curtails its value.

Amex Rewards Credit Cardthis is the only ‘free for life’ Amex card which earns Membership Rewards points.  You get 1 point per £1 and these convert 1:1 into Avios BUT you can also use them for other airline schemes or transfers to Hilton, Radisson and SPG / Marriott.  This card is better than the free British Airways American Express if you won’t spend £20,000 to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher because, whilst both are free and earn 1 Avios per £1, Amex Rewards gives you alternative reward options.  The downside of the Amex Rewards Credit Card is that holding it stops you getting a sign-up bonus if you take out an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum card.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2020 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

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

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending 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:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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.

Comments (212)

  • guesswho2000 says:

    Just triggered my second upgrade voucher for the year (card anniversary year is in July), guess the timing was perfect. RIP, I’ll miss this one!

    • BJ says:

      Yes, lucky you 🙂 Mine is late October so I need some luck with the 2-3 months being nearer 3 to get into another card year and a last voucher.

      • Alan says:

        I’m March so definitely not getting another after this one! Currently at £6900 spend so delaying it as long as possible!

    • Rts says:

      I’m Dec… So maybe squeeze another in?

  • Paul says:

    I am in the USA at the moment and you cannot move for credit card deals offering 50,69 and 75,000 miles for just getting one! No spend required being pushed on every AA flight I take, free first bag not just for the car holder but every passenger on the PNR and no FX fees!
    Now the USA is a different beast and no capping but still these deals do lend a lie to the idea that EU regs are solely responsible for the lack of choice in the UK

    • BJ says:

      Many of the USA cards come with a hefty fee and many cannot be churned. The current turmoil in the UK industry is definitely driven by the fee cap, the fees received are less than the price the banks etc have to pay for the points and miles.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Indeed, for example the writing’s definitely on the wall for the Hilton Barclaycard for existing customers, I pay them nothing and they’re issuing 10-20,000 HH points per month based on 0.3% interchange alone.

        I was never an epic churner before, I wouldn’t push my luck etc., but I’m hammering through cards and points like there’s no tomorrow while I can (my main and tax residence isn’t the UK though, so I don’t really care what happens to my UK credit file in the short-medium term, which might be more of a concern for someone who might want a mortgage, for example).

    • Alan says:

      Not really – even years before the interchange cap the US deals were vastly more generous. Sure it has reduced things further but there was a massive gap to begin with.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      The fee cap was actually an UK idea.

    • Bonglim says:

      I think the no-churning rule is the biggest difference.

      I am fairly new to this, but think I have had 200000 from the amex charge cards alone.
      i suspect there are people on this website who have had >1Million reward points from Amex charge card applications; that might be 19 applications, but some people might be there as an individual.

      • John says:

        No churning is relatively new though, and will probably come to the UK eventually

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Australia is similar, loads and loads of cards offering tens of thousands (150k is the most I’ve seen) of points, usually either Qantas or Virgin Australia, but they’re still worth their weight in Gold. Also Amex MR as is usual!

          There’s also an interchange cap that the RBA have recently forced upon us here, the differences here are, that I can see, that annual fees are more widespread and tolerated, and churning periods are long (12 months on most, 18 months on Amex – and the Amex rule here means no Amex at all for 18 months, except bank issued, or the David Jones/Westpac directly issued by Amex partner cards).

        • Lady London says:

          But aren’t Australian card fees outrageously high? I thought I saw a 1500 dollar fee for an Oz card recently.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          The only one I know if that’s that bad is the Amex Platinum, which is about to go up to $1,450. Mine are between $99-$395, and the $395 one has a $400 annual travel credit with it.

          A lot of places charge credit card surcharges here though.

  • BJ says:

    I would guess they will need to honour existing interest free periods, balance transfers etc on new cards, they signed an agreement with customers regarding these.

  • Anna says:

    OT but Lloyds related – early morning brain fog; does the avios Amex as well as Mastercard have 0% FX fees?! I don’t use the Amex very often but I’ve hit all the other sign up bonuses for the moment and need to pay a bill in USD so the .Amex would seem the best option currently.

    If/when the cards go I’ll probably move my non-Amex spending to HH.

    • Mr Dee says:

      The Avios Reward cars was 0% which I will miss, not many alternatives for foreign spend apart from the ICC Amex to earn something. Once you start paying fx fees it is better to just go with a fx free card and no rewards.

    • Leo says:

      YEs, both the MC and Amex are FX-free!

    • Luke says:

      Yes it does Anna, I use mine a lot aboard both Europe and the US and it’s never incurred fees (unless used for cash withdrawal). Shame to see the card go, thankfully I will just trigger the upgrade voucher. But as a solo traveller, there isn’t anything in the market quite like it, certainly avois related… I think there’s a real gap now.

    • Wally1976 says:

      Yes 0% FX for the Lloyds Avios Amex too ????

  • Punkpig says:

    Slightly OT, has anyone actually received their new MBNA Horizon card as replacement for the discontinued Miles&More duo? I don’t have the letter anymore but wasn’t this supposed to happen late July?

    • Claire says:

      Yes, I received mine last week (Fri) and hubby got his yesterday.

    • Graeme says:

      We’ve both received ours, although they were a couple of weeks apart.

    • Rob says:

      You don’t need it. Your existing card is already operating as Horizon.

    • RussellH says:

      Not received either of mine yet, but my letters specify August, not July.

      However, given the spend I have put on my cards over the last 24 months, usually just for the occasional newspaper in order to actually use the card to keep my M+M miles alive, I would not be surprised if MBNA accidently ‘forget’ to ever send me new cards. My last LH Visa bill was £0.60 for a copy if the i paper at a self-checkout.

  • Marta says:

    Hmmm they have just taken the annual fee for which I would expect all the original benefits for full year. Are they intending to refund it?

    • Alan says:

      Yes, if they can’t honour the benefits for the year that you’ve paid for they’ll refund it (either in full or pro-rated), it’d be a slam dunk complaint otherwise.

  • Mike P says:

    Are there any options out there now which are FX free and Avios earning?

    If not, I guess I could take out a separate FX free card.

    For Avios earning then I guess the best options are BA PP / Amex Gold / Amex Plat?

    Thanks!

    • Daftboy says:

      I’d also welcome info on FX free cards – that was the big benefit for me personally

    • Claire says:

      What about Revolut? 0% FX but can’t top up using an Amex so Avios earning would be lower as mastercard / visa only.

      • John says:

        We need an article about which cards can top up revolut without being treated as a cash advance

        • Claire says:

          Doesn’t it say on the Revolut website that transactions are treated as purchases and not cash advances? I didn’t know there were any exceptions to this?

          • Rob says:

            Banks can treat it how they like. Tesco just moved to calling it a cash advance. It makes sense for the card companies to try to squeeze Revolut.

        • John says:

          I read it on some HFP comments and don’t want to test it out and be charged…

          • Rob says:

            If you’re not willing to take a punt with the risk of a couple of quid of fees then you’re in the wrong game, arguably …. 🙂

        • Claire says:

          I topped up with LLoyds Avios Mastercard yesterday and it is showing as “online / phone / mailorder purchase” with no fees and have topped up with Virgin Money mastercard and it also says “mail / phone order” purchase with no fees.

          Maybe we could make a list of cards that go through ok and ones that don’t??

          • Rob says:

            Not sure having that list openly published on a site with 1.4m page views per months would be hugely sensible ….

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Maybe we need to keep as quiet about this as possible, given the fact that Revolut could end up stopping credit card topups if people abuse it…

        • Alan says:

          That’s the last thing we need! Why do you want to draw attention to this? Just do your own tests (minimal fee risk) and enjoy 🙂

        • RIccatti says:

          Revolut credit card top ups — not that gainful.

      • Claire says:

        I don’t mind losing a few £ in fees, what worries me more is if the credit card treats it as a cash transaction and that has an affect on my credit rating? (ATM withdrawals from credit cards lower credit scores) Does anyone know if that would happen or am I worrying unnecessarily?

        • Genghis says:

          Little risk IMO.

          There’s quite a lot of people who like to be spoon-fed…

        • Nick M says:

          Experiment less if you have any important credit issues coming up (e.g. new mortgage application)

        • Alan says:

          It’s not going to have any meaningful effect. Just pay it off straight away too to minimise the time.

        • RIccatti says:

          ATM withdrawals mostly matter when things go for manual underwriting (such as with mortgages) or second application review.

          They are not going to prevent you from getting a credit card, even if your notional Experian score is on the lower side because of ATM withdrawals from credit card (just stay under 30% utilisation for total credit limit).

    • John says:

      Curve is probably the best if you really want to earn points. Yes the fee is 1% but the exchange rate changes by more than 1% every day and the difference between MasterCard, Amex and visa may differ by close to 1% on the same day anyway.

      I bought 5000 euros at 1.33 and that has saved me hundreds more than any points will ever do (sign-ups bonuses excepted)

      • Polly says:

        Yes, we will use our curve connected to our hsbc elite, soon to be premiere card when abroad once our lloyds finishes.

      • Nigel says:

        Likewise with what Polly said. Once my Lloyds Card ends *sobs in upgrade vouchers* then I will do the Curve x HSBC Premier Credit Card route.

  • John G says:

    Any suggestions for an alternative card with no FX fees? I guess the days of earning rewards at the same time are gone?

    • Oh Matron! says:

      I have a Tandem card, with 0.5% cash back. Whilst you earn no miles,. the 0.5% cash back is useful

      A note: it also comes with a great mobile app that leverages the open banking initiative, allowing me to see all my accounts / cards on one app (with the exception of MBNA, as we all know their app has always sucked)

    • Jon says:

      Not avios earning, but the tandem credit card gives 0.5% cash back and has 0% fx fees.

      • Jon says:

        That will teach me to refresh the page after reading the article/comments!