Exploring the Avios Credit Cards Minefield
The benefits of using an Avios credit card to collect points can be significant especially when a number of these Avios cards offer large sign-up bonuses and strong, ongoing spending rates. As regular readers will know, I’m a big fan of all things Avios so I thought I’d set about finding the best Avios credit card currently available in the UK market.
Let's break this post down...
Why Use an Avios Credit Card?
I suspect the majority of people have heard friends talking about how they’ve used an Avios card to earn miles and redeem these for flights but most people just don’t know where to start. Well with a little dedication it’s possible to slash the prices of flights and even fly the world in First Class for less than the price of an economy ticket.
Yes that’s right, my other half and I have recently returned from a First-Class trip to Brazil using two of the Avios credit cards mentioned below. What’s even better is that we could actually take this trip on an annual basis just using the overly generous sign-up perks offered by some of the UK’s largest credit card companies. You can either read my full BA first class review here or alternatively read the step-by-step guide later in this Avios credit cards review.
Best Avios Credit Card – What Are the Options?
There are currently a total of 10 Avios points credit cards available in the UK. The majority of them come with an annual fee, with the best free Avios credit card being the American Express Gold Card. You will earn a sign-up bonus of 10,000 and an ongoing earning rate of 1 Avios for every £1 spent. You can increase your sign-up bonus to 12,000 by using this referral link.
Ok, let’s look at the 10 Avios rewards credit cards available and which one would be best suited to various individuals. These have been set out in order of sign-up bonus.
- HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard
- Sign-Up Bonus: 80,000 HSBC points = 40,000 Avios points.
- This card comes with strict sign-up criteria but offers the best Avios credit card for sign-up bonuses. The card comes with a £195 annual fee. You must be a HSBC Premier client to apply. Has an earnings rate of 1 Avios per £1 spent.
- Thrifty Points Award – Best Avios MasterCard credit card.
- American Express Platinum Charge Card (Reviewed Here)
- Sign-Up Bonus: 30,000 Amex Reward Points = 30,000 Avios points.
- This card comes with a whopping annual fee of £575, however for those who travel regularly or spend a considerable amount of money on a credit card each month this annual fee may actually be cheap! This is one of the cards I hold and you can read my full review here. Perks include unlimited lounge access with the Priority Pass card, a high earnings rate of 1.0 point per £1 spent, full family travel insurance, car-hire insurance, Gold status with a number of hotel chains, Eurostar lounge access and much more. For a family, I value these benefits at £800 which would increase significantly if you travel frequently.
- You can also increase the sign-up bonus from 30,000 Avios points to 35,000 points by using this specific referral link.
- Thrifty Points Award – Best Avios credit card for corporate travellers.
- British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card (Reviewed Here)
- Sign-Up Bonus: 25,000 Amex Reward Points = 25,000 Avios points.
- In addition to the strong sign-up bonus, this card comes with another significant bonus. The 2-4-1 voucher allows you to redeem a flight for two people for the number of Avios of one person. Why is this so great? Essentially for a return First-Class flight to say Brazil you can reduce the total number of points required from 400,000 to 200,000. This essentially means that the voucher which is granted when you spend £10,000 on the card could be worth as much as 200,000 Avios points. The card also comes with the best Avios earnings at 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent. The card does however come with an annual fee of £195. Read my review here to see why paying this fee could actually make sense for a large number of people!
- You can also increase the sign-up bonus from 25,000 Avios points to 26,000 points by using this specific referral link.
- Thrifty Points Award – Best Avios card for couples.
- Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card (Reviewed Here)
- Sign-Up Bonus: 30,000 SPG Reward Points = 10,000 Avios points.
- With a rate of 3 SPG to 1 Avios point, you can transfer points from the SPG card to Avios. The card comes with a £75 annual fee, which in our mind rules this card out as purely an Avios-earning credit card.
- You can also increase the sign-up bonus from 30,000 SPG points to 33,000 points by using this referral link and scrolling down to the correct card.
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card (Reviewed Here)
- Sign-Up Bonus: 10,000 Amex Reward Points = 10,000 Avios points.
- This free for the first 12 months card is my favourite of all the Avios credit cards on the market. Not only will you earn a 10,000 sign-up bonus when you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months but also benefit from travel insurance, 2 free lounge passes and an ongoing Avios earning rate of 1 point for every £1 spent. Read my review for a full overview as to why I believe this is the best Avios card in the UK market.
- You can also increase the sign-up bonus from 10,000 Avios points to 12,000 points by using this specific referral link.
- Thrifty Points Award – Best Avios credit card UK for newbies.
- American Express Rewards Credit Card
- Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 Amex Reward Points = 5,000 Avios points.
- The baby brother to the Gold version, this card comes with a reduced sign-up bonus, no annual fee and an earning rate of 1 point for every pound spent on the card. I’d strongly recommend the (free for the first year) Gold Card over this.
- British Airways American Express Card (Reviewed Here)
- Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 Amex Reward Points = 5,000 Avios points.
- The baby brother to the Premium Card. The card comes with a reasonable earnings rate of 1 Avios for every £1 spent as well as the 2-4-1 voucher at an increased spend of £20,000 in a year. You can read my full review here.
- You can also increase the sign-up bonus from 5,000 Avios points to 6,000 points by using this specific referral link and scrolling down to the correct card.
- IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard
- Sign-Up Bonus: 20,000 IHG Rewards Club points = 4,000 Avios points.
- This card comes with an earnings rate of 2 IHG points per £1 spent, which convert to 0.4 Avios point. The sign-up bonus is poor for an Avios card which comes with an annual fee of £99.
- Tesco Clubcard Mastercard
- Sign-Up Bonus: 1,000 Tesco Clubcard points = 2,400 Avios points.
- For a limited time only a sign-up bonus of 2,400 Avios is currently being offered on this Avios MasterCard credit card. The card also offers an earnings rate of 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent which equates to 0.3 Avios per £1 spent. This is poor in comparison to the various free Amex cards offered above and as such should only be considered if spending on an Amex is not at all possible.
- Thrifty Points Award – Best free Avios MasterCard.
- IHG Rewards Club Mastercard
- Sign-Up Bonus: 10,000 IHG Rewards Club Points = 2,000 Avios points.
- With the worst sign-up bonus and ongoing earnings rate of 0.2 Avios per £1 this card is not really a suitable Avios points credit card. You should however consider using the points for a free stay with IHG which is a far better use of the IHG Rewards points.
10 Avios Credit Cards – But What’s the Best for You?
Ok, so we’ve looked at the 10 options for an Avios rewards credit card but each one will suit different people depending on their own spending and travel habits. Let’s take a look at a few examples below.
One of the most generous cards currently in the market is the American Express Gold Card offering a sign-up bonus of 10,000 points if you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months. What’s even better about this card is that it’s free for the first year, with most people electing to move to an alternative card at the end of the 12-month period. With 10,000 points you’d be able to fly to somewhere like Geneva – see our Avios points calculator for a full list of possible destinations. Don’t forget about the 2 free lounge passes – which are a great addition – and the ability to increase the sign-up bonus from 10,000 Avios to 12,000 Avios by using this link.
The Big Spenders
With an ongoing earning rate of 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent, the BA Premium card offers the best long-term spending rate as well as an exceptional 2-4-1 bonus when you spend £10,000 on the card. The benefit of this bonus depends on how many points you have and will therefore be able to save when you redeem a flight for two people for the price of 1. You may want to also sign up for the free American Express Gold Card and gain the sign-up bonus to fly further. Don’t forget you’ll also receive a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios (26,000 when you use this link and scrolling down to the correct card) with the Premium card.
Recent changes to American Express rules now mean that to qualify for the sign up bonus on certain cards you cannot have held a personal American Express in the last 24 months. Fortunately you can still sign up and benefit from the bonus of the Premium Plus card if you hold a Gold Card. The same is not true in reverse. If you already hold a Premium Plus card you will not qualify for the sign up bonus on the Gold card. As such always sign up to the Gold Card first and then the Premium Plus card second – learn more about the sign up bonus restrictions and our suggested strategy here.
For those who want an Avios MasterCard
If you’re unable to use an Amex at 90% of the places you shop (this would be difficult with most retailers now accepting Amex) you’ll want to explore an alternative Avios credit card. Whilst the HSBC Premium card offers an exceptional earnings rate of 1 Avios for every £1 spent it comes with very tough eligibility criteria. For most the Tesco Clubcard MasterCard would be their best option with an earnings rate of 0.3 Avios for every £1 spent.
Both the BA American Express and BA Premium Card offer 2-4-1 vouchers which significantly reduce the number of Avios required for two passengers. Whilst the BA Amex is free, it requires a total spend of £20,000 on the card. With a 5,000 sign-up bonus (6,000 if you use this link and scroll down to the BA credit card) and an earnings rate of 1 Avios for every £1 spent, if you were to spend £20k in the first year you’d earn a total of 26,000 Avios points. This would mean that your 2-4-1 voucher could be worth 26,000 points.
Now let’s imagine you are slightly more creative and prepared to spend £195 pa for the Premium version. With a spend requirement of £10,000 and a sign-up bonus of 25,000 Avios (26,000 by using this link and scrolling down to the correct card) you could earn 26,000 Avios plus 15,000 Avios (1.5 Avios to £1 spent) which would provide 41,000 Avios. You’d then have a further £10k to spend. I’d recommend signing up to the Amex Gold and spending a further £3,000 on this (12,000 Avios using this link and 3,000 points for spending on the card, totalling 15,000). Then using the remaining £7,000 on the Premium card, providing a further 10,500 points. With the recent changes to the American Express sign up rules, make sure you sign up to the Gold Card first and then the Premium Card. If you were to sign up to the Premium Card first you wouldn’t be eligible for the sign up bonus on the Gold Card.
In total with a bit of creative license you could earn 66,500 Avios points from a £20,000 spend (yes, over 2.5 times the amount you’d earn on the free card!). Travel to Sydney in economy would require 65,000 Avios per person but you’ll use the 2-4-1 voucher to reduce this to 65k Avios points for the 2 passengers. Alternatively you could (almost – perhaps refer you travel companion to a supplementary card on the Premium Card for a further 3,000 Avios) treat you and your other half to a First-Class flight to New York for 68,000 Avios!!
Yes, by signing up to 2 credit cards you can earn enough for two First-Class tickets to the Big Apple!
Best Avios Credit Card UK – Let’s Sum Up
With 10 Avios credits cards in the UK it not surprising that it can initially seem like a bit of a minefield. To make things even more complicated the best Avios card will vary depending on your personal circumstances. That said, we’ve learned that if you’re new to credit cards your best Avios credit card is likely to be the American Express Gold Card which offers 12,000 Avios using this link. You can use the Reward Flight Calculator (found here) to see how many points you’d need to redeem your ideal flight.
If you’re a big spender or looking to travel as a couple then the best Avios credit cards would likely be a combination of both the Amex Gold and BA Premium Card (using this link to increase the sign-up bonus to 26,000 points). As we’ve seen, it’s even possible to earn enough points to redeem that First-Class flight….
As always we hope you’ve found this Avios Rewards credit card review helpful and please do not hesitate to reach out in the comments below if you have any further questions.
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