This is our review of the Tesco Bank Mastercard credit card.
It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for. These posts are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Card Offers‘ area of the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
This article was updated on 19th October 2020, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.
If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.
Key link: Tesco Bank Mastercard application form
Key facts: No annual fee
The representative APR is 19.9% variable based on the ‘Purchases’ version of the card which I cover here.
About the Tesco credit card
The Tesco Bank Mastercard is issued by Tesco Bank, which is now wholly owned by Tesco following its acquisition of Royal Bank of Scotland’s stake a few years ago.
What is the Tesco credit card sign-up bonus?
There is currently no sign-up bonus on the card. Occasional promotions used to offer 1,000 bonus Tesco Clubcard points for signing up but we have not seen one of these since May 2018.
Any other benefits?
The core version of the Tesco Bank Mastercard offers 0% interest on purchases for up to the first 20 months.
This version of the card has a representative APR of 19.9% variable.
Alternative versions of the card are also available with different interest rate and balance transfer terms.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You earn 1 Clubcard point for every £8 spent on the card on a ‘per transaction’ basis.
It is important that you understand what ‘per transaction’ means. At the most extreme, if you bought 100 items at £7.99 in separate transactions, you would earn zero Clubcard points. A £15.99 transaction would only earn one point, whilst a £16.00 transaction would earn two points.
You earn 1 point per £4 spent in Tesco.
How does that convert to Avios or Virgin points?
IMPORTANT: Tesco and Avios are ending their partnership on 18th January 2021. You cannot convert Clubcard points after that date. The partnership with Virgin Flying Club will continue.
One Clubcard point is worth 2.4 Avios or 2.5 Virgin points, so every £1 spent on the card gets you up to 0.3 Avios or 0.312 Virgin points. This rate is doubled for spending at Tesco.
You will receive a statement once a quarter containing your Clubcard vouchers, and you can convert these online to Avios or Virgin or redeem them for any of Tesco’s other ‘Clubcard Boost’ deals. You can even spend the vouchers in-store at Tesco at their face value, although this is a poor use of them.
Compared to alternatives, this is an acceptable Visa or Mastercard rate for earning Avios at 0.3 Avios per £1. However, this is still very poor compared to the 0.75 Virgin Atlantic points per £1 offered on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.
If you meet the stringent wealth criteria for a HSBC Premier current account, remember that the HSBC Premier Mastercard offers an unbeatable 0.5 Avios per £1 and is free.
Any other quirks?
Yes. Your Tesco credit card doubles up as a standard Tesco Clubcard.
It is perfectly acceptable to hand over your Tesco credit card in a Tesco store and ask them to swipe it as a Clubcard. You can then pay for your shopping on a more lucrative credit card!
What is an Avios point worth?
This post outlines my view of what an Avios point is worth, based on some typical redemption patterns.
However, one key benefit of Tesco Clubcard points is that you do not have to convert to Avios. Unlike dedicated airline credit cards, you have the option to convert to Avios or Virgin points, but there is also the flexibility to use them for any other good Tesco deals that come along. I used to use a large pile of vouchers to pay a regular Safestore bill and then moved on to using them for Uber. Both of these deals are now dead so I have moved back to Avios, but it was good to have the choice.
Is this a good card to use when travelling?
As Tesco Bank adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad. Unfortunately there are no travel rewards card without a foreign exchange fee. One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.
If you link your Curve Card to your Tesco Bank Mastercard, however, do not use Curve for cash withdrawals as Tesco adds a fee for these. Most other credit card issuers still treat cash withdrawals on a Curve Card as a purchase and so award miles and points for it.
Another option is to open an account with online bank Starling. It comes with a debit card which charges no fees on FX cash withdrawals up to £300 per day and no fees at all on overseas transactions. You can fund Starling by moving money to and from your existing bank account via their app. Our review of Starling Bank is here and you can apply here.
With no sign-up bonus, there is no reason to get the Tesco Bank Mastercard for a quick points boost.
Assuming you convert your Clubcard vouchers to Avios points, the earning rate of 0.3 Avios points per £1 is pretty much as good as it gets if you don’t qualify for HSBC Premier. That said, you could be earning 0.75 Virgin Flying Club points per £1 with the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard. Our review of the free Virgin Atlantic Mastercard is here.
Whilst you rarely see conversion bonuses from Tesco to Avios these days, conversion bonuses of 10%-20% to Virgin Flying Club from Tesco are more common. You may rate the card higher if you collect Virgin miles.
The application form for the Tesco Bank Mastercard 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.