This is the second part of the updated article I began two weeks ago, discussing the best ways to ‘zero out’ loyalty card accounts which you want to abandon. You need to remember that you may first need to ‘top off’ an account by earning a few more points before you can reach the smallest redemption level.
Part 1 looked at how to use unwanted points in hotel schemes. Today I look at some of the major European airline schemes and Tesco Clubcard. I have not covered Avios as Head for Points readers are generally keener to build those up – and if you did want to bail out, the obvious route is to convert them to Nectar and go on a spending spree at Argos, Sainsburys or eBay to get 0.8p per Avios.
Tesco Clubcard (points convert to Virgin Points)
If you have multiple cards in your name, try to get them up to 150 points using extra points coupons or offers. 150 points is the trigger to receive vouchers or allow in-app points conversion. You can then chuck the card.
Tesco can also merge accounts together if you contact them.
American Express Membership Rewards
If you are closing your American Express card and emptying out your Membership Rewards account, you will discover that transfers to Avios are in multiples of 1,000. If this leaves you with 1-999 spare points, get a Nectar account and transfer the exact balance there. There is no minimum conversion into Nectar.
Another option, if you are closing a Gold or Platinum American Express card to avoid the annual fee, is to get the FREE American Express Rewards Credit Card. Holding this card will keep your Membership Rewards balance alive after you have closed your Gold or Platinum. You can learn more about the Amex Rewards Credit Card in this article.
Virgin Flying Club / Virgin Points
- SPEND – You can use a small amount of points as part-payment towards a cash flight on Virgin Atlantic. You will get £16.50 per 3,000 miles used. You also use points at the same rate to part-pay with Virgin Holidays.
- SPEND – Virgin Points (10,000+) can be transferred into Hilton Honors (1:1.5) and IHG One Rewards (1:1)
- SPEND – 2,000 points gets you a £10 Virgin Voucher, valid at many Virgin Group businesses
- SPEND – The new Virgin Red app lets you redeem Virgin Points for lots of low value items, even for coffee and sausage rolls at Greggs!
- SPEND – You can redeem Virgin Points for hotel rooms booked via the Kaligo.com site
- SPEND – Remember that one-way flight redemptions are available, so you may need fewer points than you think for a flight (use Avios to come back!)
- SPEND – With Air France and KLM now redemption partners, you can book low cost flights to France and the Netherlands from as little as 4,000 points one way
- TOP-UP – You can earn Virgin Points whenever you shop in Morrisons stores (this offer comes and goes – it is not currently active but I have kept it on the list because it may well return)
- TOP-UP – There is a 15,000 points sign-up bonus with the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card
- TOP-UP – Alternatively, you could get the free Virgin Atlantic credit card (no bonus) and top-up your account at 0.75 points per £1 spent
- TOP-UP – You can top-up your account from various hotel schemes, Tesco Clubcard, Heathrow Rewards, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards and American Express Membership Rewards, or via a car rental
- TOP-UP – Some hotel chains give Virgin Points even when they do not give Avios points
- TOP-UP – Receive 2,000 miles with your first Virgin Wines purchase from the Discovery Wine Club
Lufthansa Miles & More
- SPEND – You can cash out small amounts into Heathrow Airport shopping vouchers via Heathrow Rewards
- SPEND – You can redeem for UK High Street gift cards from 3,700 miles for £10
- SPEND – There are hotel and car hire redemptions available via the new M&M hotel booking portal
- SPEND – Remember that one-way redemptions are allowed on Lufthansa and all its partners, so you need fewer miles than you think
- SPEND – Keep an eye on the regular list of destinations which are on mileage sale
- TOP-UP – You can transfer in from Heathrow Rewards (and out, see the first point) or credit a car rental. Many hotel schemes have suspended transfers into Miles & More due to a on-going legal dispute in Germany.
- TOP-UP – You can also earn Miles & More miles from shopping at Bicester Village
- SPEND – You can redeem Skywards miles for Arsenal football tickets, both general seats and the Emirates Skybox, although the 2022/23 season will not be loaded for a few weeks
- SPEND – Other event tickets pop up throughout the year. Here are details of a 2022 VIP package at the Queen’s Club tennis tournament for example.
- SPEND – You can transfer miles INTO Heathrow Rewards. The minimum is 6,000 miles which gets you a £20 Heathrow shopping voucher. You can also top-up your account with Heathrow Rewards points.
- SPEND – You can redeem Skywards miles for easyJet travel credit
- SPEND – If you are travelling to Dubai, Skywards miles can be used for gift vouchers for various Dubai shops and tourist attractions
- SPEND – You can use your miles to book a hotel via this Emirates / Rocketmiles site
- TOP-UP – Emirates Skywards is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. Miles transfer INSTANTLY as long as your accounts are already linked.
Etihad is a partner with Amex Membership Rewards which lets you top up your account to a suitable level.
You can also cash out via the Etihad Guest Rewards Card / PointsPay. This is an impressive scheme for small balances which I have used – you used to get 0.55p per point, delivered as a ‘virtual Visa’ card number. There is no excuse for having an unused Etihad balance. I wrote more about Points Pay here although I haven’t run the numbers for some time on the current value.
You can redeem SAS points for Radisson and Park Inn hotels, Scandic Hotels, First Hotels, Best Western (selected countries only) amongst other hotel offers – see here. You can also redeem points for lounge access.
SAS EuroBonus is also an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner if you need to top-up your account..
Apologies for the lack of Flying Blue coverage but this scheme is really not my strong point. The obvious way to cash out of Flying Blue miles is by transferring them into Accor Live Limitless hotel points in chunks of 4,500. Please leave any further suggestions or ideas I have missed in the comments below.
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – October 2022 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current 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:
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
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.
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
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
60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER), £200 travel credit and unbeatable benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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 offers:
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
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
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
10,500 points bonus – the most generous Avios Visa for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.