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Review: the Tesco Bank Mastercard credit card

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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 1st December 2021, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

Key link: Tesco Bank Mastercard application form

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 20.9% variable based on the ‘Purchases’ version of the card which I cover here.

Review Tesco credit card

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 18 months.

This version of the card has a representative APR of 20.9% 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?

You will NOT be converting your Tesco Clubcard points to Avios. The partnership with Avios ended in January 2021.

You can still convert your Clubcard points to Virgin Points.

One Clubcard point is worth 2.5 Virgin points, so every £1 spent on the card gets you up to 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 Virgin Points or redeem them for any of Tesco’s other Clubcard partner deals. You can even spend the vouchers in-store at Tesco at their face value, although this is a poor use of them.

I would usually say that earning 0.312 points per £1 is a good return from a free Visa or Mastercard.  However, the Tesco card is competing against the most generous free Visa or Mastercard reward in the UK, which is the 0.75 Virgin Atlantic points per £1 offered on the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard.

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Any other quirks?

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 a Virgin Point worth?

We value Virgin Points in line with Avios, at 1p each. Where British Airways and Virgin Atlantic compete, mileage costs and taxes are close enough to justify this.

Virgin Points are relatively worthless in small quantities, however, if your aim is free flights due to Virgin’s lack of short haul options. Whilst you can redeem for many non-flight items, the value you get is low at around 0.5p per point.

One key benefit of Tesco Clubcard points is that you do not have to convert to Virgin Points, of course. Unlike the dedicated Virgin Atlantic credit cards, you have the option to convert to 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.  When those deals died I moved back to Avios – and have now moved across to Virgin Points – 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 cards without a foreign exchange fee.  One 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 the Tesco card) 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.

Conclusion

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 Virgin Points, the earning rate of 0.312 points per £1 is not attractive.

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 credit card is here.

Whilst there is some value in the greater flexibility offered by the Tesco Clubcard Mastercard, due to its wider range of redemption options, this is not enough to justify accepting 0.312 Virgin Points per £1 when you could be getting 0.75 per £1 on Virgin’s own card.

Even the occasional conversion bonuses of 10%-20% to Virgin Flying Club from Tesco do not go anywhere near justifying the gap.

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 Card Offers’ 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.

Comments (41)

  • Mikeact says:

    I have one of the ancient Tesco bank ‘World’ Mastercards, which I only used on the petrol forecourt, for the 2 points per £ as a Clubcard, and Amex for payment. Now it’s no more Avios, it’s gone to the back of the drawer. I’ll concentrate on Nectar with Amex payment for the time being.

  • Ian says:

    I’ve had a Tesco Mastercard for years and earned a good load of Avios from it. As it’s free I’ll still keep it now. To be very exact the foreign exchange fee is 2.75%. Tesco Bank customer service has always been pretty good too and that’s important as I had to make a chargeback request recently. They warned me that there was such a backlog that it could take up to 6 weeks, but in fact I had the money back in 5 days.

  • Martyn Ford says:

    Is there any point in hanging onto the Premium Card now? I received 2,500 points for my spend in Tesco last year but that won`t happen again.

    • Ian says:

      Martyn, I guess that yes it is assuming it also acts as a Clubcard, so you get double the Tesco points you would otherwise. Every little helps, as they say.

      • WillPS says:

        Also costs £30ish a year though.

        • Ian says:

          Oh, does it? I think my Mum had one and don’t think she would have paid but that was so long ago that there’s no doubt it would changed since. So, it definitely doesn’t look as if it’s worth keeping if you have to pay for it.

  • PH says:

    Is the card now blue? No more giant strawberry.. 😂

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