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Review: the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card

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This is our review of the new (launched 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

Barclaycard Avios Plus credit Card review

Key facts: £20 per month fee

The representative APR is 80.1% APR variable, including the annual fee.  The representative APR on purchases is 29.9% 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.

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 (in this case, you can apply again but will not receive a bonus) or
  • you have had ANY Barclaycard credit card, Avios or non-Avios, including the ‘closed to new applicants’ Hilton Honors credit card, in the previous six months (in this case, you cannot apply at all)

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.

Review Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card

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 is an airport lounge benefits too

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 more expensive £300 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.

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard review

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 Nectar point, convert here) then you are getting back 0.75p 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.

Barclaycard Avios Plus credit Card review

Is this card ‘better’ than the £300 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 but on the face of it, the Barclaycard Avios Plus card looks better:

  • an annual voucher which is easier to earn (£10,000 of spend vs – from 1st November 2024 – £15,000 of spend with the BAPP Amex), especially as Mastercard is more widely accepted
  • both cards have a high Avios bonus (25,000 on the Barclaycard, 30,000 on the Amex), a 1.5 Avios per £1 earning rate and a two year expiry period on their voucher

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:

  • 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 40,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 40,000 Avios points. It has a £650 fee.

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points AND (to 27th August) £400 to spend at Amex Travel Read our full review

Conclusion

25,000 Avios for getting the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card is an impressive 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.

Comments (60)

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

  • Adam says:

    For any readers keen to get on this as an opportunity to get easy Avios, it’s worth mentioning how oddly selective Barclaycard can be with approvals – I’ve been getting rejected despite a perfect credit score, “sweet spot” credit utilisation and more than sufficient income.

    • JDB says:

      Barclays is a major bank/mortgage lender, has around a third of the UK credit card market and has been the market leader in cards for years so has far more UK credit data than any other provider. There’s no such thing as a ‘perfect’ or indeed any other type of ‘credit score’ as far as banks are concerned nor indeed any sort of ‘sweet spot’ credit utilisation. You may disagree with Barclays’ analysis of your situation and they do have specific criteria, but it is very data driven.

    • Andrew. says:

      So what you’re saying is that you’ve actively been manipulating your credit utilisation to achieve a “999” score on Experian, Equifax or Transunion?

      Barclays don’t use external scoring systems, they buy in the data that they need from multiple sources. Your idea of “sweet spot” gaming may be Barclay’s interpretation of suspicious or hard core borrowing.

      Plus, and I say this again and again, you have to check your complete “fingerprint”. If you are a charity Trustee, if you are Director of a company, residents association, sports club or the company that manages your apartment freehold – are all your accounting and reporting submissions up-to-date? Because “Big Data” notices everything.

      • Adam says:

        Don’t know how you define “gaming”, I just meant I’m careful not to go over a certain percentage of my overall credit line with my spending but also careful not to leave it at zero and completely unutilised.
        And as far as I know I don’t really have much of a “fingerprint” otherwise. Aware it’s data driven, that doesn’t mean it’s not misguided 😅 but they may do with their money as they choose, of course. My best guess is that their issue is with the amount of current accounts I have with different banks (4-5ish in total) but what irks me is that there is no specificity in the rejection. I’ll never find out exactly why and thus have to keep guessing.

      • JDB says:

        @Andrew. I’m glad you mentioned the ‘sweet spot credit utilisation’ which sounds like a whole row of red flags!

        • Adam says:

          Genuinely curious, what kind of red flags do you have in mind there? Am I expected to be so clueless as to either put all my spending on the credit card or none at all, not expected to optimise my debts at all?

          • Rob says:

            If you spend too close to your limit each month it is a major red flag. I wouldn’t want to go above 33% of my limit.

            However, if your limit is too high then you won’t get approved for another card either, because there is no difference to a new card issuer between your approved limit and what you actually spend, since you could spend up to the limit at any time.

            So, if you spend £3k per month on a card then a £10k limit (in my view) is about right. A £25k limit is pointless and simply makes it harder to get approved for other cards, unless you have a very high income. If you are spending £3k on a card with a £4k limit then it looks like you are pushing the boundaries of what another lender was willing to trust you with and that would be a concern for a new lender.

          • JDB says:

            @Adam – the point is that, from what you tell us, you are trying to manicure your credit record and systems spot that. Real spending is more varied. It’s quite possible that the rejection relates to something not specific to you but experiences of similar patterns, locations etc. Of course Barclays won’t tell you why you have been rejected as they don’t have to and they don’t want to entering into any sort of correspondence about it but above all, if they told you, it would likely cause you to do some further cosmetic work for a future application. They would be mad to tip people off about their credit criteria.

  • Grammer says:

    Does it work with Apple and Google pay?

    • Amory says:

      Apple pay yes, Google pay no. It does work with curve tho so u can use that to enable Google pay.

      • Mzungu says:

        When the card was launched, neither were supported. BC said that they would be added, but added Apple Pay about a year ago (I’d guess). Still no sign of Google Pay, which is an unnecessary frustration.
        I did think about getting Curve to enable Google Pay, but doesn’t that have to be a paid card to provide fronting? As I don’t have a Curve card, I would be paying just to add Google Pay, which is out of the question.

        • lumma says:

          If you’re just making legitimate payments via Google pay you could just use the free Curve and just link this card to it. It does say there’s a £5.99 card delivery fee for the free plan but not sure if you can decline the physical card and not pay that

          • Mzungu says:

            Oh – I thought that you needed to use “Curve Fronted” to pay a credit card (i.e. Barclaycard in this case). The Curve website says:
            ” Because Curve is a debit card, you can use it to pay a credit card bill with another credit card using Curve Fronted.” and “This carries a 1.5% fee “.
            Am I not understanding something?

          • lumma says:

            You need Curve fronted if you want to pay a credit card bill or other financial institution with a credit card. But if all you want to do is use this card with Curve to make normal payments via Google Pay (in lieu of being able to add it directly) the free Curve card will be fine

  • Amory says:

    There are some additional benefits over amex ba cards worth mentioning. Namely the AVIS and Hertz presidential status’ due to the card being a Mastercard World Elite. These can then status match you to a bunch of additional loyalty schemes such as hotels.com gold (if ur quick before OneKey rolls out).

  • CJD says:

    Bit of a shame that I’ll lose £3,500 in progress towards a voucher, but as I don’t really see the value in the Barclaycard voucher, I don’t see the value in holding this card long term now that I’ve triggered the bonus.

    Lack of Google Pay integration is a major turn off as well.

  • Peter says:

    For a cancelled Avios Barclaycard, I thought it was after 6 months you could get the bonus again. Has that recently changed?

    • Rob says:

      Never been 6 months. 6 months was the gap after cancelling a Hilton card and getting the Avios bonus.

  • Frances says:

    applied twice – knocked back. I think “Self Employed” doesn’t work, despite being in the top tax bracket!

    • Rob says:

      It doesn’t. Well, at launch self employed were deliberately banned. In theory the ban has gone now but it is hard to get over the line.

    • Gordon says:

      @Frances – I never had any problems applying for the Barclays Avios Plus card when it was initially launched (also the BAPP) and I’ve been self employed for many years now, I am also in the top tax bracket! In fact I have never had anything related to credit refused, and I’m 60, I have a 999 credit score, but that does not always help these days.
      So my advise to you, is don’t give up!

      Also @Rob that is not correct!

  • Mike Shaw says:

    If you are a Barclays Premier customer and signed up to the Avios account (1500 points @ £12 a month) you will with receive a refund of £5 a month against the £20 charge for the Barclaycard Avios Plus

  • krdoel says:

    Hi.
    If i sign up for the Barclaycard Premier and the Barclaycard Avios credit card, will i receive 50,000 Avios?

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

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