Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

“Should I convert my £1,800 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers into Avios by 18th January?”

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As we have covered, Tesco Clubcard and Avios are going separate ways on 18th January. Click for the story. This is the last day to send your points over.

It seems that Virgin Flying Club will remain a Tesco Clubcard partner, although Virgin Red – which will take over all non-flying offers for Virgin Points in the new year – has yet to confirm this.

Should I convert Tesco Clubcard points to Avios

A reader writes …..

A reader wrote to me this week asking what he should do with his £1,800 of Tesco Clubcard vouchers, which would convert to well over 400,000 Avios. I thought I would run through what I told him for the benefit of others in a similar boat.

(The reader didn’t explain how he had so many Clubcard points, given the paucity of deals recently. I imagine that he had a Tesco Bank mortgage and received a substantial points compensation payment when Tesco pulled out of the sector.)

In this particular case, the reader has an existing pot of 400,000 Avios. His current plan was – sensibly – to dripfeed the Clubcard points across as he needed them. This meant that he was not at risk if there was a negative change to the Avios scheme.

One concern he has is that, with credit card sign-up bonuses now harder to achieve, he may struggle to obtain more Avios in the future if he does not convert his existing Clubcard points stash.

Tesco Clubcard to BA Avios

My thoughts ….

If we’re honest, for anyone sitting on a small stash of Clubcard vouchers (I have £25-worth unredeemed), there isn’t much at risk. If I move them to Avios and Avios devalues, I haven’t lost a lot.

If you are sitting on larger sums, it does become an issue. Here are some key points to consider:

The ‘Clubcard to Avios’ conversion rate is strong

Getting 2.4 Avios for 1 Clubcard point is a strong exchange rate. It is important to remember this.

Other Clubcard redemptions are not as good as they seem

There are Clubcard redemption offers which claim to offer ‘3x face value’. If this is true, you would be ‘paying’ 1.25p per Avios since the alternative to taking 2.4 Avios is getting a 3p discount on a Pizza Express meal, Hotels.com booking etc.

In many cases, you are NOT getting a genuine 3x. With Hotels.com, for example, Clubcard bookings do not earn Hotels.com Rewards credit which is equivalent to 10% of your spend. This makes it nearer 2.7x.

We did an article recently looking at other travel-related Clubcard deals. Railcard IS a true ‘3x’, as is Eurotunnel, since these brands rarely discount. This isn’t the case for many brands.

Tesco Clubcard to Virgin Points

Virgin Points remain an option

As far as we know, Virgin Atlantic is remaining a Clubcard partner. The transfer rate is marginally better than Avios at 2.5 Points per 1p of Clubcard points.

The airline has a limited route network, however, and it is changing rapidly. No-one can be sure where it will be flying in 12 months or even if it will survive – although the odds are looking better now that travel will pick up before its rescue funding runs out.

With £1,800-worth of vouchers, our reader has a bigger problem than most

One problem for our reader is that he has so many vouchers.

No-one needs £5,400 of Pizza Express vouchers, or Railcard vouchers, or Alton Towers tickets. Many of the travel options are also restricted – the Hilton offer, for example, is OK but restricted to the UK and Ireland. I wouldn’t wish a tour of UK Hilton hotels on anyone …..

My best suggestion was this …..

Assuming that none of the package holidays deals looked attractive, I told the reader to look closely at Hotels.com.

Tesco Clubcard to hotels.com

With over 325,000 hotels globally, he won’t be stuck for options. There is no limit on redemptions – each booking can’t use more than £750 of converted vouchers, but you can back-to-back your stays for a longer trip.

There are reasons NOT to use Hotels.com, especially if you have hotel elite status. Hotels booked through them do not earn points and you won’t receive any status benefits. The reader didn’t say what his hotel elite statuses were.

It is also worth noting that Hotels.com bookings made with Clubcard points are non-refundable.

However, assuming no status, he is diversifying his risk by continuing to sit on his vouchers and assuming he can convert into Hotels.com down the road. This may be a better route than doubling up his existing 400,000 Avios to well over 800,000 Avios.

And here’s the maths behind it …..

Here is a mathematical reason to back up my thinking.

Let’s treat Hotels.com vouchers as worth 2.7x the face value of Clubcard points, instead of the advertised 3x.

£1 of Clubcard vouchers gets you £2.70 of Hotels.com credit or 240 Avios. This means the reader is ‘paying’ 1.125p per Avios (270/240) by giving up the Hotels.com vouchers and taking the miles intead.

However, Avios will regularly sell you points for a little less than 1.125p. There are a couple of 50% ‘buy Avios’ bonuses each year where you will pay just under 1.1p per point.

If 50% bonuses for buying Avios continue, there is no risk to our reader by opting for Hotels.com vouchers instead of Avios.

If he does decide that he needs more Avios down the line, he can use the money he saved on stays by using the Hotels.com vouchers to buy Avios in a future ‘50% bonus’ promotion. He is no worse off and he has reduced his risk by not going ‘all in’ with Avios now.

These are my thoughts. If you disagree with my thinking, please let us know in the comments below.


How to earn Avios points from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

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

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £12,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

American Express Amex Gold

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

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital On Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,000 Avios.

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review

You should also consider the British Airways Accelerating Business credit card. This is open to sole traders as well as limited companies and has a 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

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

American Express Business Gold

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

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for our latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios this month from offers and promotions.)

Comments (123)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • TripRep says:

    Lol

    “I wouldn’t wish a tour of UK Hilton hotels on anyone”

    I think this could be fodder for an article.

    UK’s top 10 best Hilton group hotels?

    And also…. the bottom 5? 🙂

    • ChrisWalk83 says:

      I’d agree. Outside of London and Edinburgh is there a nice Hilton worth staying in? Having to book UK weekends away and having Hilton status I did struggle to find anywhere.

      • Ben says:

        Hilton St. George’s in burton upon Trent is a decent hotel

      • Rob says:

        Bournemouth is decent as is St George’s Park. Syon Park, but you might call that London. Apart from that, whilst there are plenty of ‘more than acceptable’ Hamptons, I struggle a bit for upmarket options.

        This is not a problem unique to Hilton, of course, in the UK.

        IHG and Hyatt are the best options but ONLY because of their tie ups with Mr & Mrs Smith and Small Luxury Hotels.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I’d say IHG has better properties around the UK with the Indigo and Kimpton brands.

          Unfortunately, they seem to have lost the The Grand Birmingham from the Principal deal which is about to open and looks very good.

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Haha; true enough – although in contrast I’ve come across some very decent Doubletrees. Of course what counts as “acceptable” or even “good” quality depends very much on price charged so whether a hotel achieves this does vary literally by the night. Except if it’s the hideous concrete monolith in Leeds which is rubbish at £0 :D.

        A best/worst would be entertaining though; especially the worst….

        • Lady London says:

          could be a series with one article per hotel group…. with up to 3 wooden spoon awards and 3 gold awards for decent treatment of HfP readers during covid.

          With a special mention of a top 5 experience or aspirational round Europe for brand as an add-on. As things pick up after Covid early rounds a good sell for ad space/comp/sponsor too maybe

    • Mike says:

      I’d definitely count Hilton Olympia in the bottom 5.

      • Rob says:

        I did a couple of £30 day room days there. It started to grow on me, because the rooms are surprisingly large and, as it hasn’t been redecorated since Margaret Thatcher was PM, you get a sturdy wooden desk and a decent chair.

        (It does actually have flat screen TVs and USB chargers, it isn’t that far behind the times! One day the desk had an interesting iron print on it, where clearly someone had been ironing a shirt and thought a wooden desk was a convenient place to put the iron down …..)

  • kk says:

    Last time I looked at T&Cs – you CANNOT REFUND these voucher bookings on hotels.com, unlike normal hotels.com bookings.

    For me this means I either need to be 100% certain of my trip, or book close to the date.

    • Rob says:

      True, but that is true of A standard Hotels.com prepaid booking too.

      • Genghis says:

        Quite. But some properties only offer refundable rates, and using the Tesco points voucher renders these non refundable.

        • Nick_C says:

          The great thing about Hotels.com refundable rates is you can cancel and rebook if the rate drops. I did this three times on one hotel booking last year. Initially booked at £565.80 on 30/7/19. Final price was £389.35 on 26/11/19.

          If I had booked in July with CCP, it would have cost me 45264 Avios (565.80 ÷ 3 * 240)

          I earned a partial reward night worth £38.94, bringing the cost down to £350.41
          I earned 584 Avios paying with my BAPP, and a further 1061 Avios from Hotels.com by using the BA link to book.

          So I now have 46909 Avios that I would not have had if I had taken Hotels.com vouchers from Tesco, and they cost me £350.42 – so 0.75p/Avios.

      • blenz101 says:

        Fair point Rob but what the point that will catch many out is that hotels.com will typically offer two rates at most properties. “Non-refundable” and “Free cancellation” with the non-refundable rate typically being around 5-10% less.

        When using a Tesco voucher even if you book the ‘Free cancellation’ rate in an attempt to hedge your travel plans given the current uncertainty surrounding travel only the cash element of your booking will be returned if you need to cancel.

        e.g. Pullman Maldives for a night on the 14th October 2021. £1,338 non-refundable rate, £1,402 with free cancellation until 30/09/21. Say you convert £200 of vouchers (£600 credit) and want to apply it to the ‘free cancellation rate’ the amount due now would be £688 room plus £160 tax and fees. With your voucher applied (against room only) you owe £248 on your credit card. The transfer charge and tourism fee will be paid in resort in USD so don’t come into play. If come September 2021 the hotel is closed or the UK is in wave 12 of Covid then you can use your free cancellation until the 30/9 BUT you will only get the £248 cash element back. Your £600 voucher is lost for good despite the having booked a flexible rate.

        If you know this going in and are certain of your plans it isn’t an issue. But once you convert to hotels.com and use a voucher you are out of luck if things change.

        • Yuff says:

          If the hotel moves your booking you wouldn’t lose the voucher as hotels.com would not be involved.
          My experience is hotels are very accommodating at the moment.

      • JOHN CONNOR says:

        But when the hotel is closed there should be a refund. Hotels.com would not play ball.

  • Tony says:

    Difficult to make a recommendation without knowing the readers circumstances, for example family size as these will make a difference.
    However based on the limited information, a spread would seem the sensible thing to do to reduce the risk and lots of good ideas on here.
    Having never received vouchers and always converted to Avios did I read one of the comments correct that they can be converted to cash?

  • Brian says:

    I think Rob is pretty generous in valuing conversion to Hotels.com at 2.7. Not only don’t you get the 10% hotels.com allowance , many of the “secret prices” aren’t included in the offer and the rooms don’t qualify to building up your status on Hotels.com.

    In addition , the vouchers can only be used for the net cost ( after VAT etc ) and only redeemed in blocks of £15. This particularly affects lower priced rooms less than £120 , depending on how the net price is above a multiple of £15. So in a scenario where a UK hotel is £107 ( net £89.16 ) you could only redeem vouchers for the £75 and have to pay £32 yourself. A £71.98 price (net £59.99) you redeem £45 and pay £26.98 ( 37% of the booking). I value them at closer to 2.3-2.5.

  • Scott says:

    I’m going to convert my paltry points (and already collected vouchers) to Avios at the start of Jan. No interest in any other deals to be honest, although if Virgin continue, might add a few points here and there after the BA route ends.
    The 20-30k Avios I’ll get, whilst a drop in the ocean for some here, will have some use in future, more so than hotel vouchers.

  • JOHN CONNOR says:

    Remember, TESCO redemptions on Hotels.com are non-refundable. I had hotels cancel earlier this year (they were closed !) and Hotels.com washed their hands of any refunds. Very poor customer service. I won’t be using them again.

  • Freddy says:

    Jeez I’m like an apprentice point collector compared to some here. I have 200k avios, 225k bonvoy 100k virgin and about £30 in Tesco! Emptied nectar in the double up

    I did use quite a few Tesco points on days out in the summer with the kids. The likes of Alton towers is poor value but the smaller attractions where there are no discount vouchers offers genuine 3x value.

  • Liz says:

    We have just over £600 in Tesco vouchers. I’ve decided to transfer about have to Avios which will put my balance to just over 600K which we normally use for one big redemption each year so these will hopefully keep me going for a few years. I cashed out my 200K Virgin miles in the panic to Hilton a few months ago and have decided to use the rest of my vouchers to start to rebuild my Virgin balance.

    • Doug M says:

      I don’t think that makes sense just yet, the rebuild Virgin balance part. I’d want to see a sustained period of real normality before I thought VS were worthwhile. Even before the C19 events they were an airline permanently on the brink of financial problems. What hadn’t they sold and leased back?

      • Liz says:

        I plan on keeping the Tesco vouchers for a while before converting to Virgin – don’t need to convert anything for a while as I will be converting the ones that expire next year to Avios first.

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