Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

If your Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express card is being closed, what should you do?

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After a bit of a lull, Lloyds Bank has sent out what is probably the final batch of letters to holders of the legacy Lloyds Avios Rewards credit cards.  The cards close 60 days after your letter was dated.  

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

What is best replacement for the Lloyds Avios Rewards Amex card? 

I thought I’d run through your options.

In summary, this is what will happen when your card is switched to the new Mastercard:

  • 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, saving £24
  • there will be foreign exchange fees of 3%

Lloyds Avios Rewards credit card replacement

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 Avios Rewards 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 balance transfer option is a great deal when Lloyds runs its occasional ‘no fee’ promotions.  You move as much money as you can, pay it off the same day and pocket a big pile of Avios!

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.

Will the new free ‘Mastercard only’ Lloyds Avios Rewards card open to new applicants?

It isn’t clear.  I asked Avios this last week and my contact said that he hadn’t heard of anything, so the answer looks like ‘No’ in the medium term.

Now that avios.com is closed it is very possible that BA’s agreement with American Express forbids it from actively promoting any other credit card which directly earns Avios.

Lloyds Avios Duo credit cards closing

Is the Lloyds Avios Rewards 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.

There is also going to be a formal announcement soon about a partnership between Avios and NatWest / Royal Bank of Scotland MyRewards.  Holders of NatWest credit cards may or may not currently see Avios as a redemption option for their MyRewards credit.

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.

Lloyds Avios Rewards card closing

What is the best replacement American Express card?

If you have been using the American Express element of the Lloyds Avios Rewards 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 Marriott 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, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, 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 Marriott Bonvoy 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 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.  All cardholders get Marriott Bonvoy Silver Elite status.

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 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.

British Airways has set up a special page on ba.com for Lloyds credit card holders – click here – although there isn’t much there at the moment!

(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.

Comments (181)

  • Rich says:

    From April 5th

  • Claire says:

    Neither of us have had our letters yet but in the likelihood our post is a bit hit or miss and it comes in the next few days does the letter say end of April will be the latest for the voucher to be issued. Would like to use for may half term 2021 but would need the voucher to expire may 2020 for this to work. If not will have to try to time it for use in Easter holidays 2021. Thanks

    • Daftboy says:

      Mine says I can earn voucher up until 29 Dec 2019

      • Daniel says:

        Same here. And given I’m been racing to get towards 7k in the first three months of this year, up to 6.5k so far, the card now goes in the draw until December to trigger the last voucher as late as possible.

        • Alan says:

          Yep – shame they didn’t ever let you pick when you could trigger the voucher – I would have put thousands more through on it over the years if they had! Instead I’d spend £6.5k then leave it in the drawer for 10 months or so!

  • Hugh says:

    I was dreading receiving the letter thinking it was an end to earning opportunities but unless I have missed something (which I probably have) I think I will be better off due to the improved earnings rate in UK MasterCard spend. I realise I will lose out on foreign spend but I don’t do much of that!

    The main reason I say this is because I have never found a way to use the upgrade voucher (I currently have 2 unused vouchers in my account which I don’t think we will use!)! We typically only do one long haul trip a year and use 241 and living in the north use low cost carriers for European travel.

    Am I missing something fundamental?

    • Tom1 says:

      2x one ways for lower taxes?
      use 1 u/g voucher for the outbound for both passengers, and the other upgrade voucher for the return. Could save you significant taxes if going to places with no/low APD etc.
      You would need to look at the Avios impact compared to 241 though, could be more expensive in avios but cheaper in taxes.

    • Neil says:

      Tom1 is spot on here. The 241 voucher is fantastic for F redemption’s however if you are only flying J, the upgrade vouchers can offer a significant saving when it comes to taxes. Just remember that the only way you can use this voucher is by calling Avios @ 8am and by then a lot of redemption’s have already been snapped up. It didn’t stop me using my LLoyds upgrade voucher back from Sydney to LHR for 65,000 avios & £252.00. To this day I still think it’s been my best redemption.

      • Hugh says:

        Thanks for that info. Sounds like I might have been missing a trick for the last few years.

        One of my vouchers will definitely expire before I can use it, but will see if I can figure out how to use my last one to save some money.

        • fivebobbill says:

          Remember, voucher expiry date only applies to when you have to make the booking, not when you fly

        • Alan says:

          Indeed as @fivebobbill says, totally different timeline for Lloyds vs 241 – the former is just book flight by expiry, for the latter you have to have flown the outbound segment. I’ve used lots of Lloyds vouchers over the years on off-peak US returns, really going to miss them!

        • Hugh says:

          Thanks fivebobbill! I had forgotten that. Maybe there is an opportunity after all!!! That’s very exciting, I will have to get my thinking cap on!

      • Nick_C says:

        If you have an Aerclub account, you can still redeem vouchers and book flights online at Avios.com

        Nothing has changed. It functions the same way it always has.

        • Neil says:

          My aerclub account never linked to my avios account. I will look in to this asap.

        • Neil says:

          So I have just gained access to my Aerclub account but there are no vouchers to be seen anywhere?!

          • Rob says:

            The Lloyds vouchers are now administered by BA and are only bookable via the BA call centre. They are NOT visible online but the BA call centre can see them. They are linked to your BAEC account.

        • Alan says:

          @Rob I can still see my Lloyds voucher online on Avios.com – received it in Jan. Of course online booking has never worked for flights with connections so I’ve always had to call anyway!

        • Neil says:

          That’s what I assumed Rob however Alan & Nick appear to still be able to see their vouchers and Nick can actually redeem his online. Looks like it might be a glitch for the lucky few….Trying to secure flights at 8am once the Avios line opens is a nightmare. BA apparently can’t see my upgrade vouchers. I have to call a specific number.

        • fivebobbill says:

          +1, can still see mine and the wife’s vouchers on Avios.com

        • fivebobbill says:

          Just on that, I have also taken screen shots of both vouchers, expiry dates, and terms;/contact details… in case they ever do disappear!

      • Anna says:

        When did this change Rob – I redeemed one by calling avios.com about 4 weeks ago? It never showed in my BAEC account to my knowledge.

    • Discount Mike says:

      Booked using the upgrade voucher a couple months ago. Tried calling BA but was told to call avios.com who apparently temporarily open up your avios.com account. (so I was told).

  • Tom1 says:

    How could I use one of my dad’s vouchers he won’t use?

    I know avios will book a ticket for someone else with the Lloyds vouchers, but how can I transfer the points to him? If I am in his friend and family list will the call centre take points from my account? Or would I need to create a HHA?

    • Rob says:

      Need a HHA so you’d need to switch one of your adresses so both match.

      • pauldb says:

        This probably won’t work. They are now very consistent that they re-activate the avios.com account and move your BAEC avios back there. They will only move avios from the Dad’s BAEC a/c, not the HHA balance.

  • Helen says:

    We just had both our cards renewed good to hear that it sounds like we can still use aboard until end of April, but we have not received a letter as yet. We will then use the Post Office Credit Card, sadly no points but no FX charges.

    • Polly says:

      Link your new mc to curve, still better than no avios. No fx fee weekdays.

    • Alan says:

      I’d look at Curve (I think @Polly means no fee weekdays, 0.5% weekends :D) but also Revolut (top-up from CC), Monzo (limited top-up Monzo.me via Curve), Starling (ditto).

  • Anna says:

    I had given up on the Lloyds card and recently used it for a substantial balance transfer which I intend to pay off over 12 months. It now looks as though I will be able to earn another upgrade voucher as my renewal date is Feb 2020 (though not had my letter now). I’m in a slight conundrum as I assume that the balance transfer doesn’t count for the £7k spend and any purchases made on top of this would attract interest as they would be paid off last. Also, I have become so adept at putting spend through Amex these day I would honestly struggle to spend £7k on a Mastercard!

    • the_real_a says:

      I think spend attracting the HIGHEST interest is paid off first due to legislation a few years ago. Well worth checking this.

      • Anna says:

        I will check as the spend would definitely attract the highest interest, thanks for this. I don’t tend to keep abreast of changes to interest Ts and Cs as I never pay any on credit cards!

        • Polly says:

          Anna,
          The real a is correct. The highest interest is paid off 1st. Law was changed to protect vulnerables a while back…banks were raking it in unfairly…

        • Anna says:

          Thanks both – yes, I don’t think any of us on here would be classed as “vulnerables” (especially not according to Julian!)

    • Jack says:

      From experience I would keep any spends and balance transfers totally separate as I mistakenly once thought if I paid off the spends part I would not incur any interest (this was the Barclaycard HH card) and it turns out I was wrong…They gave me an interest credit as I pleaded (genuine) ignorance but learned not to combine the two again!

  • Mr Dee says:

    Surprised Curve was not mentioned in the article to replace foreign spend…

    • Anna says:

      Is the Curve/Amex partnership officially defunct? There hasn’t been an update for a while.

      • illumintus says:

        Curve + HSBC still works though. Not as good as Lloyds, but you still get zero FX fees + Avios

        • Polly says:

          Is that the WE or Premier?

        • illuminatus says:

          ‘Not as good as Lloyds that is being phased out’ that is, but better than their new offering.

          WE gets you 1 Avios per £1, simple Premier gives you 0.5 per £1. Given that via curve you save on FX, that (or Revolut + HSBC, but that is more hassle) looks like the best deal now.

  • Jamie says:

    Hi, as an avid avios collector spending about half the year abroad working, this is a real blow. Had the letter yesterday. Would be really keen to know what my best options are now. I’d say roughly 50% of the outlets I spend in abroad take amex. Thanks in advance

    • KevMc says:

      Where do yo tend to be for those 6 months of the year? If in the US or a EUR country, then maybe the AMEX USD/EUR card would be a good option?

      • Jamie says:

        mostly mainland Europe, with some spending in CHF and Scandinavian currencies. Can I have a EUR amex with a UK home address?