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Lloyds starts to close its Duo and Avios Rewards Amex cards – what should you do?

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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.

Don’t forget that our directory of all UK airline and hotel credit cards can be found here.

(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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Comments

  1. Andrew says:

    Slightly OT… I know you can’t use the Lloyds voucher to upgrade into 1st, but once you’ve booked and have an award booking in CW, can you then pay the change fee and upgrade to 1st? Thanks in advance!

    • Not sure if that would work – you can normally only upgrade a booking by one cabin and you’ve already upgraded from WT+ to CW with the voucher.

      If you really want to fly in F then an airport upgrade at check-in would probably be the only option – there’s a thread on the BAEC board on flyertalk that lists prices. There is also no guarantee of availability and you wouldn’t know until you check in.

      • Andrew says:

        Thanks and yes that’s what I thought, but will give it a try. On Flyertalk it seems to suggest the booking is made as an ordinary CW redemption and then the Avios amount manually adjusted to be the PE amount… I’m hopeful (but doubtful) that the booking is indistinguishable from a Lloyd’s voucher booking to the agent.

        Otherwise I’ll try for an AUP. Would have been happy in CW but BA have just switched from an A380 to a 777 which is a darn shame.

        • Andrew says:

          *I guess I mean indistinguishable from a non-Lloyds voucher booking!

        • pauldb says:

          I think though they may process an upgrade by refunding the avios and taking the new cost (not just the difference). So the voucher may confuse that.

  2. Hsergio10 says:

    OT:
    Aer Lingus AerClub Becomes American Express Membership Rewards Partner in the UK and US

    Just seen it in my Amex account

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Since when? Nothing on mine…

    • And the benefit of that is ….?! I suppose it may sell a few Amex cards in Ireland, except that I don’t think Amex operates in Ireland except via the ICC cards.

      • Daftboy says:

        Focus is probably US market and those travelling TATL to Ireland for an annual summer trip etc – was reported on OMAAT yesterday as a US Amex Rewards partner

        • Hsergio10 says:

          I saw a banner in my Amex account

          It said the following:
          “Membership Rewards members in the UK will can start converting their points to Aer Lingus Avios later this year.

          Membership Rewards members in the US in the United States can convert Membership Rewards points to Aer Lingus AerClub Avios at 1:1 ratio before the end of August”

          I’m sure some US blog will report the info

  3. Hi all
    I currently have the Lloyds Avios Rewards Amex and MasterCard. I am currently in the 0% interest period which lasts until December 2019. Do you think that they’d keep the rate at 0% despite transitioning to a new card? I am hopeful that this is the case…. it could be a bit of a PR disaster to have such a fundamental change in a contract term!

    • Of course, it’s will certainly remain the same. You’re not signing a new credit agreement, just getting a new card with different benefits. The credit account remains unchanged

    • the_real_a says:

      They must allow you keep this rate for existing debt you hold. However there is nothing stopping them from closing this “product” preventing you making further purchases.

  4. OT, I have a 6k limit on my GC but only 1.5k on my recent BAPP, does anyone have any experience of Amex swapping the credit limits on the two cards?

    • I understand they’re usually receptive though it isn’t guaranteed.

      I’ve done it once and was allowed what I wanted

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, never had an issue doing it.

    • Yes – call them and they can reshuffle things for you. You can only do this once every six months to best to know what you want before you phone up.

    • I’ve been trying to do the same since getting my BAPP recently but they keep telling me the system is down but it will happen in a few days. So far, no luck.

  5. Brian S says:

    Slightly OT:

    Looking for a bit of advice / thoughts on the following…

    I currently have these cards:

    AMEX Platinum (primarily for PP, Hotel status and insurance benefits)
    BAPP Amex
    IHG Premium
    Hilton VISA
    Marriott Rewards Mastercard (previous incarnation)
    SPG Amex (wifes card, I’ve already had one in the last 3 months and cancelled after bonus)
    Amex PRG Charge (wifes card, still has 8 months left fee free)

    I’m putting all my spend on BAPP where possible to hit the 241. Everything else is going on IHG (up to 45k so far this year). I’ve easily hit the free IHG night and also achieved Spire elite through spend but feel that I could direct this spend better elsewhere as I’ve done what I needed to with IHG.

    Any advice or ideas what I could go for next?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Genghis says:

      Plat and/or BAPP for wife?

    • remember that you can get up to five referrals @ 18,000 MR on a Platinum card including what Genghis said.

    • I pretty much have same cards lol. I have got the 241 this year on BAPP. Can’t use two 241 in a year so husband doesn’t have one. I have reached Spire Elite with IHG through credit card spend, we are now putting spend through husbands IHG card to get him the free night too and hopefully spire elite with bonus 25k points. I put as high a value on hotel points as I do on airmiles though. Hoping the new Marriott card is released soon, I fancy racking up some Marriott points, unfortunately I don’t have the old Marriott card…

      • Brian S says:

        Thanks for the ideas 🙂

        Actually thats a fair point about the IHG, might as well apply and put spend through on the wifes account now as I’m not getting anything other than points at the moment and without being able to rollover elite earning points it’s not worth it. Will get a free night and might even hit Spire for the 25k by the end of the year.

        I’ll also max out what I can on Amex too including referrals, hopefully SPG won’t change too much by December so I can apply again although I’m not holding my breath on that one.

      • Brian S says:

        Plus racking up Marriott points is the benefit of having the SPG amex at the moment. I’ve got a few Marriott stays coming up this year and at 6 points per pound it’s very much worth it.

  6. Sad to see the upgrade voucher and no FX fees go! My card year re-started in August, so I have one voucher to use (expires in Feb) and if I have understood correctly(?) I will be able to earn another one before next August on the new card. So I guess the challenge is going to be earning enough Avios to make the most of both of them, given the reduced earning rate on the Mastercard. Most of my £7k spend before was on the Amex, so earnt me 1.25 avios/£ – the same MC spend on the new card only earns 2.8k avios.

    I may have to see if I can bring some spending forward before the Amex gets replaced – gift cards etc.

    • Buy a fully refundable J flight..have it refunded back to your bank account the direct debit is taken from…as an overpayment when the card closes..or buy store gift cards you will use over the coming months after it closes..whichever..at least you get another voucher.

      • the real harry1 says:

        And they said me buying 20 IB flights I wouldn’t actually fly was somehow unethical 🙂

    • Or link it to a curve card and withdraw cash on it. £200/month is £2400/year towards the spend target, potentially double that if you have a companion card.

    • My understanding is that you would have to trigger the voucher before the card is withdrawn in it’s current form. I spoke to Lloyds a few weeks ago and they said they have to give 90 days’ notice of any changes which would make it achievable for some.

      • Callum says:

        Where’s that from?

        Lloyds seems to be quite good at paying out compensation for consequential loss so if that was the case I’d be demanding much more than a pro-rata annual fee refund!

  7. Lloyds bank.com/avioschanges has a lot of answers to some questions. 2.95%fx fee

    • pauldb says:

      Thanks: this suggests they will refund the fee pro-rata. No mention of the voucher and being able to complete this year’s spend/eligibility. Did you get that in concrete Rob?

  8. As an Amex plat, can I self refer? to a Gold whilst I won’t get the sign up bonus will I get the referral bonus?

  9. What classes as ‘legacy’ Lloyds Duo Avios credit cards?

  10. I assume any upgrade voucher that has been issued is safe beyond the card closure?

  11. pommy ray says:

    strange I got a changing your terms and conditions in July effective 21 Sept 2018. no mention or removing anything more to do with admin fees etc. annual fee and no currency fees was on there. most odd given what could be around the corner!

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