British Airways and Tesco have decided to part ways. The option to convert your Tesco Clubcard points into Avios is ending soon.
Nothing will change with the partnership between Tesco Clubcard and Virgin Flying Club.
When is Clubcard ending Avios earning?
The last day to initiate a transfer of your Tesco Clubcard points into Avios is 18th January
For those who receive their Clubcard vouchers quarterly, the last day to earn points via Tesco is 22nd October. This is the cut-off date for the November voucher mailing. The next mailing after that will not take place until February, at which point it will be too late to convert.
However, if you have the Tesco app, you can still collect points after 22nd October. This is because app users can turn their Clubcard points into e-vouchers at any time. You simply need to order an e-voucher with your remaining Clubcard points balance by mid January to ensure that it can be converted to Avios by 18th January.
Why is Tesco splitting with British Airways?
It isn’t made clear.
EDIT: Tesco contacted me after the publication of this article to state that it was the decision of British Airways to withdraw from Clubcard. Tesco did not want it to leave the scheme.
However, let me take a guess.
The volume of points transferred from Clubcard to Avios is likely to have fallen sharply in the last couple of years. I have no idea of the exact numbers, although we know that – in 2013 – 2.5 BILLION Avios were ‘bought’ with Tesco Clubcard points. 2.5 billion Avios represents over £10 million of Clubcard vouchers at face value.
I am guessing that number is well down. We have recently seen:
the closure of Tesco Direct, an exceptional source of bonus point opportunities
the closure of Tesco Wine plus other small non-core Tesco companies
the shrinking of Tesco Bank, including the closure of Tesco Mortgages (which earned points) and the closure of Tesco Bank current accounts to new applicants, which earned points for debit card spending
the ending of Clubcard earning at Esso garages, except those with a Tesco Express store
a move towards price discounts rather than bonus points as a way of driving sales in Tesco stores
Tesco’s loss of market share to Aldi and Lidl
Avios has not become less attractive as a conversion option – indeed, I moved back to converting the few Clubcard points I still earn to Avios after two better alternatives (Safestore and Uber) withdrew – but I imagine that the number of Clubcard points in circulation is down.
Does British Airways have a better offer up its sleeve?
British Airways was a small cog in the Tesco wheel. It wasn’t even the only frequent flyer partner – Virgin Atlantic is also in there. You can imagine why Avios may have wanted something more high profile.
On the other hand …. if Tesco was the only deal in town, it would be foolish to walk away. Surely something is up?
What could British Airways be planning?
Good question. There is no obvious solution:
Sainsbury’s? Arguably a better ‘fit’ with the Executive Club customer base, but how would Avios fit with Nectar? There is no chance of Nectar being dropped given that Sainsbury’s now owns it. Would Avios want to be a Nectar conversion partner? The old BA Miles scheme WAS a Sainsbury’s partner many years ago.
Waitrose? Potentially an even better fit with the Executive Club customer base. Waitrose is only a fraction of the size of Tesco, however. It also has no points-based loyalty programme. John Lewis Partnership has a new management team in place so you can’t totally discount this.
Marks & Spencer? It has an even smaller market share in food than Waitrose. It has also just overhauled its useless Sparks loyalty scheme, which remains non-points based, so I can’t see it making more changes so soon.
Asda / Morrisons? Unlikely. Asda has literally just been sold so I doubt it had been planning fundamental loyalty changes. Both chains have focused on price over points. The same goes for Aldi and Lidl, times ten.
What are the options, realistically?
Perhaps Avios becomes a Nectar transfer partner ….. although this would disturb the whole Avios ecosystem since many Nectar partners compete with Avios partners. The maths doesn’t work either. At present, £1 spent in Tesco earns you 2.4 Avios. Assuming a 2 Nectar to 1 Avios conversion rate, £1 spent in Sainsbury’s would only earn 0.5 Avios. It wouldn’t get many people to switch.
Perhaps Waitrose launches an Avios scheme via card-based earning …. there would be no points scheme BUT you could earn via your credit or debit card spend being tracked. Waitrose offered this with Virgin Atlantic for a while but it was never ‘official’ – Waitrose never promoted it. It would be expensive for Waitrose, however, given that they wouldn’t be getting much in the way of customer data in return.
Perhaps Waitrose and John Lewis launch a combined loyalty scheme (this is believed to be coming soon after a trial in a handful of areas). This could have some points-based element with Avios as one of a small number of partners. The John Lewis Partnership credit card could potentially also be pulled into this with its current 0.25% cashback offering 0.25 Avios an alternative.
The last option makes most sense, but is very hypothetical at the moment. We may need to wait until 19th January to find out.
Please share your craziest Tesco Avios-earning offers!
If you’ve been collecting Avios seriously for less than five years, you won’t understand how fundamental Tesco Clubcard used to be.
You won’t look at the package below and shudder …..
Share your best or most notorious Tesco Clubcard deal in the comments and I will run a special article in a few days. Most of them pre-date Head for Points (so pre-2012) so we are going back a long way.