Review: the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card
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This is our review of the new (2022) Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card.
It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
Key link: Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard application form
Key facts: £20 per month annual fee, added to your monthly statement
The representative APR is 77.6% APR variable, including the annual fee. The representative APR on purchases is 27.9% variable.
Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate.
This article was updated on 1st June 2023, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.
About the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card
The Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card is issued directly by Barclaycard. This analysis is focused on the £20 per month version of the card – I review the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card (with a smaller 5,000 Avios bonus) here.
You are 100% OK to apply for this card if you already have a British Airways American Express card. Indeed, Barclaycard knows that a lot of people – at least initially – will choose to use their Mastercard alongside a BA Amex, at places where American Express is not accepted.
What is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard sign-up bonus?
You receive 25,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 within three months.
This is a substantially better deal than the 5,000 Avios bonus which comes with the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard. Even if you believe, long term, that the free card may be better for you, you may want to get the paid card purely for the bonus and then downgrade.
What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?
The sign-up bonus is available to everyone unless ….
- you have had either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards in the previous 24 months (you can apply again but not receive a bonus) or
- you have had ANY Barclaycard credit card, including the ‘closed to new applicants’ Hilton Honors credit card, in the previous six months (you cannot apply at all in this case, bonus or no bonus)
You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a British Airways American Express card as this is nothing to do with Barclaycard.
You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s Barclaycard Avios credit card. As far as Barclaycard is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.
You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you currently or recently had a Barclaycard small business credit card, such as Barclaycard Select. These do not count.
Any other benefits with the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard?
When you spend £10,000 in a card year, you will receive an Avios upgrade voucher. This voucher is valid for two years.
We wrote an article here which explains how the Barclaycard Avios upgrade voucher works.
Put simply – and I strongly recommend you read our full article linked above – the voucher lets you book an Avios flight paying only the Avios of the class below.
Book a Club World business class flight on Avios, for example, and you only pay the Avios required for World Traveller Plus premium economy. The usual Club World taxes and charges must be paid.
The voucher can be used to either:
- upgrade a return flight for one person, making this a great product for solo travellers, or
- upgrade one leg of a return flight for two people
The official rules for using the upgrade voucher are on this page of ba.com.
It is important to note that you cannot choose which combination of Avios and cash are used when redeeming a Barclaycard upgrade voucher. You will always be given the ‘most Avios, least cash’ option, which is not great value on short haul redemptions. It is generally the best option on long haul redemptions.
You can take 7,000 Avios instead of the voucher
From April 2023, it has been possible to take a one-off bonus of 7,000 Avios instead of the upgrade voucher. You can select your choice in the Barclaycard app and it is possible to swap from year to year, or indeed during the year if your current voucher has not yet been issued.
Most people will get far more than 7,000 Avios-worth of value from the upgrade voucher but you do now have the option of taking a lump sum instead.
There are Apple and airport lounge benefits too
Cardholders can get up to a five month free trial of Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple News+ and Apple Arcade. Full terms and conditions are on the card application website.
Cardholders can buy passes for any airport lounge in the DragonPass network – including the excellent Plaza Premium lounge in BA’s Heathrow Terminal 5 – for the heavily discounted price of just £18.50 per person per visit.
If you have both a Barclays Premier current account with Barclays Avios Rewards and the Barclaycard Avios Plus credit card, you will receive four free airport lounge passes each year via DragonPass.
What is the annual fee?
The Barclaycard Avios Plus credit card has a monthly fee of £20, so £240 per year. It is billed monthly and added to your card statement.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard?
You receive 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on the card.
This is the same rate as you receive with the £250 per year British Airways Premium Plus American Express credit card, and is very generous compared to similar Visa or Mastercard reward credit cards.
The maximum amount of Avios you can earn per month is 4x your monthly credit limit. This is highly unlikely to be an issue for you, since it would require spending your entire credit limit every few days and then paying it off immediately.
What is an Avios point worth?
How long is a piece of string!
This article is my best attempt to calculate the value of an Avios point.
If you assume that the ‘worst case’ scenario for spending Avios is turning them into Nectar points (1 Avios = 1.33 Nectar points, convert here) then you are getting back 1p for every £1 you spend. This would make the Barclaycard Avios Plus card the most rewarding Visa or Mastercard credit card in the UK.
Can you swap between the two Barclaycard Avios credit cards?
If you have the Barclaycard Avios Plus card, you can use the Barclaycard app to downgrade to the free card once you have triggered your Avios upgrade voucher or have banked the sign-up bonus.
Any spend you have done towards the annual Avios upgrade voucher to date will NOT be carried over. It resets to nil. It therefore makes sense to only upgrade once you have triggered the upgrade voucher in your current year.
You can also do this in reverse. If you have the free Barclaycard Avios card, you can upgrade to the Plus version at any time. Your spend to date towards the upgrade voucher will reset to nil if you have not already triggered it. You will not receive another sign-up bonus.
Is the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard a good card to use when travelling?
As Barclaycard adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.
Unfortunately there are no credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.) 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 Barclaycard charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more about Currensea by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.
Is this card ‘better’ than the £250 British Airways Premium Plus American Express card?
‘It depends’ is the slightly frustrating answer.
However, irrespective of which card you stick with long-term, you should get both and pick up both sign-up bonuses!
The Barclaycard and Amex products are very similar – £240 vs £250 fee, a 25,000 Avios bonus, a 1.5 Avios per £1 earning rate and an annual voucher valid for two years when you spend £10,000.
The key difference is how the annual voucher works:
- the British Airways Premium Plus Amex comes with a 2-4-1 companion voucher, letting you book two Avios flights (any cabin) for the Avios of one ticket, or one ticket for ‘half Avios’. You still pay the full taxes and charges on both tickets. The voucher can be used on Aer Lingus and Iberia as well as British Airways.
- the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard comes with an Avios upgrade voucher, letting you upgrade a return Avios booking by one class for one person or a one-way Avios booking for two people. First Class is excluded. It is only valid on British Airways flights.
The British Airways Premium Plus American Express voucher is likely to be the most valuable option for most people. It’s not that simple though:
- American Express is not accepted everywhere, so even if you get the Premium Plus card you are likely to want the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard to use occasionally
- if you have high enough annual credit card spending, you may want to get both cards and earn both the Amex 2-4-1 companion voucher and the Barclaycard Avios upgrade voucher each year
- because both cards let you earn a sign-up bonus again after a two year gap, you may want to jump between the cards every 24 months
Irrespective of your long term plans, however, you should seriously think about getting the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard purely for the sign up bonus. You may decide to keep it after all, or swap to the free version later.
What other cards have large Avios sign-up bonuses?
Don’t forget these less obvious options
The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year. These convert to 20,000 Avios points.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The American Express Platinum credit card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 Avios points. It has a £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 13th June, the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is doubled to 60,000 Membership Rewards points – and you get £200 to spend at Amex Travel too! Apply here.
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points AND a £200 Amex Travel voucher until 13th June! Read our full review
25,000 Avios for getting the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card is an excellent bonus for a credit card which costs just £20 per month.
In terms of on-going earning rates, 1.5 Avios per £1 is excellent compared to most other Visa or Mastercard credit cards. It matches the 1.5 Virgin Points per £1 rate on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard and no other non-Amex card on the market comes close.
Whether the card works better for you than the British Airways Premium Plus American Express will depend on your circumstances, but it is highly likely that you will want one of the two Barclaycard Avios credit cards in your purse or wallet.
The application form for the free Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card 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 Cards’ 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. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.