In Part 1 of this article I did my best to begin answering the question commonly asked by beginners to this hobby – ‘What is the best credit card for earning Avios points?’. Today I wanted to update, in light of recent card closures, my list of the best on-going earning rates.
Because you can earn Avios points both directly and indirectly (eg via Tesco Clubcard or American Express Membership Rewards), the list of possible cards is longer than most people think.
Part 1 of this article comparing Avios credit card sign-up bonuses was the most important part of the exercise. The easiest way to build up your Avios points, after all, is through multiple sign-up bonuses.
It is also worth running over the various earning rates. For simplicity, I have separated these into ‘best American Express card for earning Avios’ and ‘best Mastercard / Visa for earning Avios’.
Before you apply for anything, though, consider the size of the sign-up bonus and annual fee as well as the earning rate. Some cards offer a better sign-up deal if you are referred rather than apply direct – you will find full details of referral deals on the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page of Head for Points.
Let me be very clear on one point. I am not suggesting that the best use for the points from all of these cards is to transfer to Avios. Frankly, you’d be crazy to convert 50,000 IHG Rewards Club points to 10,000 Avios when you could get a valuable hotel stay out of them. However, I have listed all of the options for completeness.
This article does not factor in the value of long-term incentives such as the British Airways American Express Premium Plus 2-4-1 voucher or the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard free night voucher. You should also think about these perks when deciding where to put your long-term spending.
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 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.
If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Experian Credit Score.
American Express cards for earning Avios:
1 Avios per £1 (1.66 per £1 if spending exactly £15,000 pa) – American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card
Best sign-up bonus (20,000 points) for a ‘free for first year’ card. 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios. You also receive double points on foreign and airline spend. You get 10,000 bonus points on renewal when you spend £15,000 per card year, equivalent to an extra 0.66 points per £1. Representative APR 56.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. Our full Amex Gold review is here.
1.5 Avios per £1 – British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card
Best overall card for long-term spending due to the value of the 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher. Double points on British Airways spend (3 per £1) plus the 2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher when spending £10,000 per year. Representative APR 74.7% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit. Full BA Premium Plus Amex review.
1 Avios per £1 – Amex Rewards Credit Card
Best card to get when you are planning to cancel an Amex Gold or Amex Platinum, as it keeps your Membership Rewards points alive. 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios. Representative APR 22.2% variable. Full Amex Rewards review.
1 Avios per £1 – The Platinum Card from American Express
1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Avios. £575 annual fee albeit offset by a very wide range of travel perks. Full Amex Platinum review.
1 Avios per £1 – British Airways American Express Card
2-4-1 Avios redemption voucher when you spend £20,000 per year. Representative APR 22.2% variable. Full BA Amex review.
0.825 Avios per £1 – Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
2 Bonvoy points per £1 = 0.66 Avios, but you get a 25% bonus when converting 60,000 points at once. Our calculation assumes you do this. Representative APR 38.8% variable including £75 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit. Full Marriott Bonvoy Amex review.
Mastercard and Visa cards for earning Avios:
1 Avios per £1 – HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard
Best Visa / Mastercard if you meet the qualifying criteria. This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders and requires substantial savings or investment products to be held with HSBC to qualify. Representative APR 59.3% variable including £195 fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit. Full HSBC Premier World Elite review.
0.5 Avios per £1 – HSBC Premier Mastercard
This card is only available to HSBC Premier current account holders and requires substantial savings or investment products to be held with HSBC to qualify. Representative APR 18.9% variable. Full HSBC Premier review.
0.3 Avios per £1 – Tesco Clubcard Mastercard
Best free Visa / Mastercard for earning Avios points. 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent per transaction. Note that your actual earnings rate will be lower because each transaction is rounded down to the nearest £8, offset by the fact that you earn double points for shopping in Tesco. Representative APR 19.9% variable. Full Tesco Mastercard review.
0.2 Avios per £1 – IHG Rewards Club Mastercard
1 IHG Rewards Club point per £1. Double points on foreign spend and spend in IHG hotels. Representative APR 22.9% variable. Full IHG Mastercard review.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – November 2020 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are my November 2020 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
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
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
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
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
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
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
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.