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)

  • Adam says:

    I haven’t had any letter yet so guess it will come in the next few days? To be honest the loss of 0% FX is the only issue I have. Currently I have the Amex for earn rate and then the mastercard for when Amex isn’t accepted. Going forward I will use the BA Amex and Lloyds Mastercard in the same way. As I am a Lloyds Club customer this means I will now be getting 1.5 Avios Amex and 0.5 Mastercard so is an improvement on the 1.25 Amex and 0.25 Mastercard I had before

  • Robert says:

    I’ve enjoyed the FX savings on this card for two years, but please can anyone tell me Why is the American Express better than the Mastercard version? And what vouchers are you getting from using them?

    • illumintus says:

      The Avios earn rate on Lloyds Amex was 1.25 vs 0.2 on Mastercard. For spending £7000 you used to receive an ‘upgrade’ voucher, ie you need Economy-class Avios to book a Business-class ticket.

    • Rob says:

      If you have the old Duo version then you weren’t getting any vouchers. People on the newer Avios Rewards version got an upgrade voucher every year.

      • Robert says:

        Thanks for the feedback, my MC start date is 07/17 so it may be the old Duo where upgrade vouchers weren’t offered. The higher earning rate on the AmEx is now ringing bells and I’ve missed that trick by mostly spending through the MC. I’ll hammer the AmEx card overseas this Easter!

      • Brian W says:

        Rob, my old Premier Duo cards still earn a Lloyds 241 for 10k of spend. You have discussed these in old articles. They are only valid for 1yr and economy only so not as valuable as the BAPP 241’s. I can still see them via Avios.com (using Aerclub details).

        • Rob says:

          I just assume that virtually no-one has these cards still – articles get unweildy very quickly. Most people switched to Avios Rewards when that launched.

  • Patrick says:

    I too use the Lloyds Amex for mosly non-UK spending. If I were to get Curve/Revolut, what is the best card to link to try and collect Avios? Is the Lloyds Mastercard the only option? My Hilton card still works, but I would rather collect Avios. Can the Lufthansa Diners card be linked to these cards?

    Off topic, I am going to book a few nights in a hilton to use the £75 Amex discount. Does the final card charge have to be over £250, or just the hotel charge? I am looking at either £246 + £7fx = £253, or I book a more expensive room….

    • Polly says:

      If you meet the strict HSBC criteria, the HSBC World elite earns you 1 avios/£, linked to curve. Or the Premier, earns 0.5/£.
      However, the new lloyds mc will earn 0.4 linked to curve, without the hassle of grovelling to HSBC.

  • GB74 says:

    Sort of on topic – my wife and I each have a voucher to use. I would like to make a single HKG-MAN J booking for my wife, daughter and I. Should be 39000 Avios each and I know for sure I can make 2 separate bookings (daughter and I on one, wife on another). However as families with a child under 12 tend to get seated together FOC on BA, would be ideal for us all to be on one booking.

    To further complicate things, my wife had her Avios account closed last year – mine is still open. I don’t know if this rules out HHA as an option. I’ve moved the 117k Avios to my account in anticipation of making the call – any thoughts/experience on whether I’m likely to be accommodated, or if I need to HUACA if the first agent I speak to says ‘no’?

    • Anna says:

      If you’re all in the BAEC HHA, you should be able to use avios from that account for all the tickets, however I think your wife would have to make booking herself with the upgrade voucher in her name. I don’t know if an accommodating avios CSA would link the bookings together or allow you to use your wife’s voucher if she gave permission over the phone. However, if you do have to make separate bookings, it’s not the end of the world – we regularly book CW seats this way (ususally 2 avios seats plus one cash), and have never had a problem getting seats together when checking in 24 hours beforehand.

      • GB74 says:

        Thanks Anna – no doubt will be fine!

        Been spoilt by what feels like every other airline’s policy to allow you to reserve all but the most coveted business seats for free at point of booking, so mildly vexed by the uncertainty (but not to the extent of paying £270 to pre-book seats and alleviate myself from it!).

  • Tom says:

    I have not received the letter, however, when I open my mobile banking app, there is an issue with showing my Avios credit card account and all sums are displayed as ‘N/A’, while my other accounts are loading correctly? … Still no letter though

  • Andrew Petty says:

    No letter here either. I have spent a considerable amount on the AMEX card and awaiting my 241 voucher

    • KevMc says:

      …if you still have access to avios.com, you will be able to login and see any newly issued ones listed in there – got mine a few weeks ago. Now need to get £7k spent on Mrs Mc’s card to grab one last one (still no letter or either of us yet though).

    • Greg says:

      Sorry Andrew, but I am not sure you get a 241 voucher with Lloyds.

      • Brian W says:

        Rubbish Greg. You need to research the old versions of the Premier versions of the Duo cards. I’ve been earning Lloyds 241’s for about 8 years.

  • Joe says:

    Got my letter yesterday. My new upgrade voucher year will start again in the next 60 days. Do we think that means I will be able to earn another voucher this year? Joe

  • kenny says:

    Does that mean you will only have 60 days to earn the voucher?

    • Anna says:

      It looks as though it’s going to be related to your own renewal date from the many other pots on this!