How to earn Avios or Virgin miles via a Tesco current account

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Since June 2014, when Tesco launched its current account, it has been possible to earn Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles with your day-to-day banking.

As of 19th October, Tesco Bank has tweaked its rules and – for new account holders – is no longer threatening to cut your interest rate in April 2019 as long as you pay in £750 per month and have three direct debits going out.  I thought it was worth taking another look on this basis.

The main reason we don’t cover it much is that Tesco never offers bonuses for moving your banking across.  M&S Bank and First Direct have long standing offers of £100+ bonuses for new customers.  The current M&S offer is £185 if you keep your account for 12 months.  It seemed logical to me that Tesco Bank could afford to offer 10,000 Clubcard points (24,000 Avios or 25,000 Virgin miles) at some point.  But, apart from a couple of very tightly targeted trials, there has never been an incentive to sign up.

Tesco current account

Here is the Tesco Bank website promoting the current account.

If you haven’t looked at this account for a while, you may not know that the £5 monthly fee for paying in less than £750 per month has been removed.  The account is now free for everyone.

How do you earn Avios with the Tesco current account?

You will earn Clubcard points on all of your debit card transactions:

1 point per £1 spent in Tesco (2.4 Avios per £1 / 2.5 Virgin miles per £1)

1 point per £8 spent elsewhere (0.3 Avios per £1 / 0.31 Virgin miles per £1)

The ‘1 point per £1’ spent in Tesco is a very generous benefit.  If you are spending £100 per week in Tesco, which includes Tesco Fuel, you would earn 12,480 Avios or 13,000 Virgin Flying Club miles per year if you put all of this spending onto your debit card.  That is on top of the base Clubcard points you would receive irrespective of how you pay.  This is a pretty attractive deal.

Even the ‘1 point per £8 spent elsewhere’ is attractive.   Whilst you would be better off in most circumstances using a loyalty credit card instead, it is not always possible to avoid using a debit card.

There is ‘small print’ attached to the ‘1 Clubcard point per £8 spent on the debit card’.  All payments to ‘banks and financial institutions’ are exempt.  This means that you cannot pay your mortgage, pay off a credit card bill or pay money into a savings account.  It DOES work with payments to the Inland Revenue but that is not something that most people can benefit from.

As with the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard, it is worth noting that debit card spending is rounded down to the nearest multiple of £8.  A £7.99 lunch payment will earn you exactly zero Clubcard points.  This is a major deterrent unless you are using the card for large transactions.

And a generous interest rate

Current account holders receive 3% interest on the first £3,000 in the account.  

To earn this interest rate, you must pay in at least £750 and have at least three direct debits paid from your account per statement month.

Whilst there is no sign-up bonus, the 3% interest paid on sums of up to £3,000 is – given current interest rates – an incentive to get an account.  You would receive £90 of interest per year, double the rate of a decent instant access savings account.

Foreign exchange use of the debit card incurs a 2.75% fee.


The Tesco Bank current account was not competitive when it launched four years ago.   Dropping the monthly fee for low earners and introducing the new Tesco earning rate has improved it.  If we’re honest, it has also benefited from competitors reducing the benefits on their products.

The lack of a moving bonus remains problematical.  If you are fed up with your existing bank, turning down £185 from M&S in order to earn a few Avios in the future is not necessarily a great deal.

Curve Card has also changed the game a little.  Curve Card is a free debit card (in fact, they pay you £5 for trying it) which recharges your purchases onto a linked credit Visa or Mastercard.  In a few weeks you will also be able to recharge Visa or Mastercard debit card transactions to some American Express cards.  Making your debit card payments, such as HMRC or council tax, with Curve allows you to earn points on whatever Visa or Mastercard you wish.  You can find out more about Curve and how to get your free £5 sign-up credit in this article.

Is it worth the trouble of moving your current account to Tesco Bank?  For me, I’m not sure.

I have VAT, PAYE and income tax payments but I can put some of these – not all, due to Curve’s transaction limits – through Curve and earn miles and points that way

I don’t spend a lot in Tesco – perhaps £5 per week at our Tesco Express – so ‘1 point per £1 on the debit card’ isn’t worth much

I would have no problem keeping a £3,000 balance on the account, but £90 of annual interest (which is £50 more than I would get elsewhere) – less income tax – is not a big enough incentive

For some people, however, this package may well stack up.  If you’re sick of your current account provider it may be time to switch – although, for clarity, you can keep your old bank account open and still take advantage of this deal as long as you move your salary and three direct debits across.

You can find out more about the Tesco Bank current account here.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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  1. Completely off topic. If I open an BAEC Household-Account and the 3 members have 90000 Avios all together. Is it possible to transfer these 90000 Avios to my individual IberiaPlus-Account? Or only my personal 40000 BAEC Avios?

    • Genghis says:

      Personal only. Not sure if HHA creation and disbandment still works given the roll off?

  2. Have a Tesco MasterCard (standard) found service excellent and have received several long 0% balance transfer offers over the past few years . Linked to Pay+ to receive the 1 (!) bonus point per £5 till the end of the year . Just received a 10,000 points targeted offer to open aTesco Bank Current Account ????

  3. “In a few weeks you will also be able to recharge Visa or Mastercard debit card transactions to some American Express cards.”

    So, does that mean only on transactions that have already been posted to a Visa or Mastercard debit card, and then using the ‘Go back in time’ feature to recharge it to certain types of Amex cards?

    Reading between the lines, ‘some’ American express cards could mean:

    – Personal cards only
    – Business cards only
    – Amex credit cards only
    – Amex charge cards only
    – Non co-branded Amex cards only
    – Co-branded Amex cards only
    – Amex cards that have an annual fee only

    (Or a mixture of the above, I suppose!)

    • Geoffthesaint says:

      You can be sure on one will be getting a 241 by withdrawing 10 grand on a bapp or getting a bonus on a platinum paying off gold

    • Genghis says:

      So far as I understand it, the Amex option will be a “top up” rather than a “back-to-back”

      • That was explicitly mentioned in what I had heard – quite how that.wkuld work either in terms of MCC type or credit score effect is anyone’s guess – but since all of approx zero people worldwide would contemplate ‘topping up’ their PayPal account I expect the only takers for this will be those doing some straightforward brought forward spend to hit a target.

        That and people determined to have their Curve and Amex accounts closed simultaneously by paying off an amex with an amex…

  4. Joel Rothell says:

    So it’s better to have this Tesco Debit card at the £1 = 1 airmile shopping at Tesco then it is the Virgin card which is 0.75miles per £1 ?

    • Yes, because you’re actually getting 2.5 Virgin miles (1 Clubcard point) per £1 spent in Tesco when you use the debit card.

      • Joel Rothwell says:

        So in theory use this card when shopping at Tesco.
        Use the Virgin Atlantic mastercard when shopping anywhere else.

        = That’s the best way to bulk up your miles with spending.

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