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)

  • ADS says:

    not that it probably makes much difference … but i wonder if the timing of the current push to transfer these credit cards is driven by the fact that Lloyds migrated the MBNA cards over to their own IT platform over the past few weeks. now that MBNA cards are sorted, it’s time to kill the Avios cards ?!

  • JF says:

    Rob why have you not said anything about the Capital on Tap card in this article? Surely this is the next best option for earning Avios whilst abroad, to take advantage of nil fx fees?

    • Rob says:

      a) it is strictly SMEs only

      b) as they are currently trialling a 2nd card with different benefits, which I will cover soon, it is difficult to cover until they tell me which offer they are sticking with

  • DM80 says:

    I was just charged £24 for my annual fee in January. I’m not sure if I’ve received a letter about card changes though (my mail is often misdelivered). Do you think it would be safe to assume that I’ll have until Jan 2020 to earn an upgrade voucher this year? I don’t really want to call Lloyds to ask them as this might trigger them sending me a letter earlier than they would otherwise. Also, has anyone seen communication or mention of the changes from Lloyds on their statements?

    • Alan says:

      Shame no statement message – I too am a bit worried the letter has just been lost in the mail/misdelivered, wouldn’t want to hit the 60 day mark without realising!

      • Julian says:

        Like you my Lloyds Amex card is still working and I haven’t had a letter indicating its imminent demise.

        Everything about this project seems to be taking much, much longer than they planned as my online avios.com account only became impossible to view online in the last few weeks (months later than they originally said) and the Avios I earn on the Lloyds cards are still being credited to my avios.com account and the Avios there have not been swept across to my BA Exec Club account automatically (despite my having manually used Combine My Avios successfully several times since the changeover was announced). Also Lloyds are still crediting the Avios earned on the cards to the Avios.com account and not to the BA Exec Club account as is supposed to have been happening by this point in time.

        As i am only the person of this first name and surname combination in the whole world and am the only person resident at my home address and as my avios.com account and BA Exec Club account have been electronically linked up for years I don’t see any possible IT excuses for the project not to have been completed as originally outlined.

        But anyway meanwhile I am still spending on the Lloyds Amex card ever hopeful of earning more flight upgrade vouchers before I receive the final letter indicating the imminent death of the Amex card and its replacement with the solo Mastercard. I suppose I should have got a Virgin Mastercard in the recent bonus miles promo but didn’t bother as overall Virgin don’t seem to operate on the routes I want to fly on.

  • Nick C says:

    My mail is reliable and no letter re dived as yet………

  • Nick C says:

    Received not re dived!

  • Peter says:

    Like many others I have just received my letter. I am a little confused as to whether I can earn another upgrade voucher. My annual renewal date is in May. My letter states that spending till April 2020 will count towards an upgrade voucher. I have already earned an upgrade voucher for this year(May 2018-May 2019) in July 2018. I expect that my new Mastercard will come in early May. I am in a dilemma as to whether I should do spending early to earn points at the higher rate on the current Amex or delay spending to put towards another (and final) upgrade voucher on the new card. Has anyone else figured out if we will be entitled to earn a final upgrade voucher after the current card year?

    • Simon says:

      In your case you can earn a voucher in your next year as your year renews within 60 days of your letter. Everyone seems to be allowed to earn one last voucher for the year they are in when the 60 days are up – so since you will have just clicked into a new year, I guess you can consider yourself lucky.

      I assume your year is actually April to April (on the date stated on the letter which will match your application approval date, despite the fact that your fee is probably applied in May).

      • Paul says:

        I don’t see how this is fair, some people are being given another year to earn another voucher yet because my renewal is 6th July I don’t! I received my letter yesterday that says I have until 6th July 2019 for any spend to count towards any Cabin Upgrade Vouchers but Ive already had one voucher for this annum (September 2018) Surely I cant earn another?

        • Alan says:

          No – the letter just doesn’t take account of whether you’ve earned one this year or not. It was unfair too when lots of folks got a free extra voucher but not much we can do about it, you win some you lose some!

      • Julian says:

        Simon,

        Why do you seem so authoritative in your comments about what upgrade vouchers will and will not be earned?

        Do you perhaps work for either avios.com, BA or Lloyds credit cards by any chance?

  • David S says:

    Does any one what happens to the upgrade voucher if I did not want to take the new car being offered by Lloyds instead of my current AMEC one?

    • Alan says:

      If you don’t accept the new card then I don’t see how you’d be able to spend towards the voucher? I’m planning to put £6.8k of spend through just now on Amex (with its better earning rates), then put the last chunk through in January 2020 to trigger the voucher at the latest possible time (finally received my letter today confirming mid-Feb as last date to earn voucher)

      • David S says:

        Apologies for not making the question clearer Alan. I already have the voucher and I can’t earn anymore. I was asking what happens to my already earned voucher if I don’t accept the new card which earns lower Avios?

  • david says:

    I got my new mastercard two weeks back. The old Amex seized to work around that time too.