Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

What is the best Avios credit card? (Part 1: comparing sign-up bonuses)

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What is the best credit card for earning Avios points?

This is not as easy an answer as you might think.  Beginners to this hobby may not be aware of the full range of cards which are available.  You have more options than you may think.

Whilst there are the American Express cards which issue Avios directly, there are other cards which offer rewards which can be converted into Avios points.

credit cards

But which of these is the best credit card for earning Avios?  This article focuses purely on sign-up bonuses. Part 2 of our best Avios credit card guide, which you can read here compares the same cards in terms of their day-to-day earning capacity.

Note that most of the best cards carry an annual fee.  The best free card (at least, free for the first year) is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which gives you 10,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 10,000 Avios.  We reviewed Amex Gold here.

You should note that, whilst some of these cards offer points which convert to Avios, this is not necessarily the best use of them.  The 20,000 Marriott Bonvoy points bonus from their American Express would get you a free night at many mid-range hotels which is a better deal than converting to 6,666 Avios.

All of these cards add a 3% foreign exchange fee, so 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.

Another option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than usual) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

Some of these cards offer a higher bonus if you are referred.  You can find full details of these in the relevant entry on our ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.

The best Avios-earning personal credit cards:

Listed in order of highest sign-up bonus:

40,000 Avios – HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard  (HSBC World Elite review)

80,000 HSBC points convert into 40,000 Avios.  £195 annual fee, non-refundable.  Issuer:  HSBC.  You need to spend £12,000 in your first year to trigger the full bonus, and you only receive the second half at the year end which commits you to paying the fee for Year 2.  The card comes with various other benefits including access to 500 airport lounges via LoungeKey.  HSBC Premier has very strict application criteria and is only suitable for high earners.  Representative APR 59.3% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

30,000 Avios The Platinum Card from American Express (Amex Platinum review)

30,000 Membership Rewards points which convert into 30,000 Avios amongst other things. £575 annual fee, refunded pro-rata on cancellation. Issuer: Amex. Spend £4,000 in six months to trigger bonus.  The Platinum card also comes with a substantial number of other travel benefits including hotel status cards (Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Hilton Honors Gold, Melia Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade), travel insurance, £10 per month of Addison Lee taxi credit, two Priority Pass cards for free airport lounge access (each admitting two people, includes the Aspire lounge in Heathrow T5), access to the Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow T5 and Eurostar lounge access.

25,000 Avios British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card (BA Premium Amex review)

25,000 Avios points.  £195 annual fee, refunded pro-rate when you cancel. Issuer: Amex. Spend £3,000 within six months to trigger bonus.  You cannot hold both this card and the free British Airways American Express at the same time.  Representative APR 74.7% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

20,000 Avios – American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card (Amex Gold review)

Best bonus on a free or ‘free for first year’ card.  10,000 Membership Rewards points which convert into 10,000 Avios amongst other things. No annual fee for the first year. Issuer: Amex. Spend £3,000 in six months to trigger bonus.  Representative APR 56.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. 

6,666 Avios – Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (Marriott Amex review)

20,000 points in the Marriott Bonvoy programme convert into 6,666 Avios. £75 annual fee, refunded pro-rata on cancellation. Issuer: Amex. Spend £3,000 in six months to trigger bonus.  Representative APR 38.8% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit.

5,000 Avios – Amex Rewards Credit Card (Amex Rewards review)

5,000 Membership Rewards points bonus which convert into 5,000 Avios amongst other things.  No annual fee.  Issuer: Amex.  Spend £2,000 in six months to trigger bonus.  For clarity, I prefer Preferred Rewards Gold for the first free year because of the higher bonus and the better benefits.  Representative APR of 22.2% variable

5,000 Avios – British Airways American Express Card (BA Amex review)

5,000 Avios points.  No annual fee. Issuer: Amex. Spend £1,000 in six months to trigger bonus. You cannot hold both this card and the British Airways Premium Plus American Express at the same time.  Representative APR 22.2% variable.

2,000 Avios – IHG Rewards Club Mastercard (IHG review)

10,000 IHG Rewards Club points convert into 2,000 Avios. No annual fee.  Issuer: Creation. Bonus is triggered with £500 spend within three months.  Representative APR 22.9% variable.

The free HSBC Premier Mastercard and Tesco Clubcard Mastercard are not included on this list because they do not offer a sign-up bonus.

In Part 2 of this article – click here – I look at what the best Avios credit card is for day-to-day earning.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – January 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these:

American Express Business Gold card

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

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.

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.