Q&A: Which credit cards offer Avios and other frequent flyer points?

Airline Credit Cards. How to earn points for flights and upgrades.

Credit Cards

You can turn your spending into flights when you buy everyday items and groceries with a credit card that rewards you with air miles. The flights won’t be entirely free as you still have to pay the charges and taxes, but the discounts are worth it.

A word of warning: interest rates are high so it’s only worth getting one of these cards if: a. you intend to travel b. can spend enough to accumulate points (if not a cashback card would be better) and  c. are able to repay the monthly amount without incurring interest.  

Here are five to consider:

1. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Nutshell: No fee for a year and a welcome 10,000 bonus points (which equals to one short-haul return), plus two airport lounge visits.

This card gives you a welcome bonus of 10,000 Membership Rewards once you have spent £3,000 in the first three months.

It is free for a year then you get charged £140 annual fee. You earn 1 Membership Reward point per £1 spent on all purchases and 2 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent directly with airlines or in a foreign currency (transaction fees still apply) and 3 Membership Rewards points per £1 spent at American Express Travel.

The card comes with a sweetner in the form of two annual airport lounge passes to one of 7,000 lounges in the Lounge Club network.

The card has a representative APR of 57.6% variable and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

2. British Airways American Express Card

Nutshell: No fee. Welcome 5,000 bonus points (pays for a one-way short-haul flight), and companion ticket when you £20,000 in a year.

You’ll get 5,000 welcome Avios bonus when you spend £1,000 or more in your first three months. There’s no annual fee and you earn 1 British Airways Avios point for every £1 spent. Incidentally, you can earn extra Avios points when you shop at Tesco.

You can also get 2-for-1 travel with a Companion Voucher when you spend £20,000 each year on the Card, which you can use to take a companion with you in the same flight and cabin when you redeem Avios for a British Airways reward flight.

3. British Airways American Express Premium Plus Card

Nutshell: £195 annual fee. 25,000 welcome bonus Avios points (equals a return to the canaries). Free companion ticket when you £10,000 in a year.

There’s a generous welcome bonus of 25,000 British Airways Avios after spending £3,000 in the first three months. There is an annual fee of £195 but you can earn 1.5 Avios per £1 spent on all purchases and 3 Avios per £1 spent directly with British Airways or BA Holidays.

Spend £10,00 in a year and get a  2-for-1 Companion Voucher. This means you get to take a plus one on the same flight and same cabin when you redeem Avios for a BA reward flight. Of course, taxes, fees and other carrier charges still apply to the companion.

If you can’t repay your spend immediately you pay an APR of 76.0% variable and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

4. Virgin Atlantic Reward Card

Nutshell: No fee. Welcome 5,000 bonus miles. Free companion ticket or upgrade when you £20,000 in a year.

The Virgin Atlantic Reward card has no annual fee and gives 5,000 bonus miles as long as you use it to buy something within 3 months.

There’s no fee and you can earn 0.75 Flying Club miles per £1 spent and if you spend £20,000 in a year you can choose a companion ticket in economy or a flight upgrade from economy to premium.

The card comes with a Representative APR 22.9%. To be eligible you have to be able to show an annual income of at least £7,500.

5. Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

Nutshell: £160 annual fee. 15,000 welcome bonus miles (it will get you to the US), plus free companion ticket or upgrade when you spend £10,000 in a year.

You will get a generous sign up bonus of 30,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles given in two tiers: 15,000 after making one purchase on your card within 90 days, then a further 15,000 after spending £3,000 within 90 days.

There’s an Annual fee of £160 and you can earn 1.5 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles per £1 spent on everyday purchases and 3 Flying Club miles per £1 spent with Virgin Atlantic or Virgin Holidays

Once you have spent £10,000 annually you’ll be entitled to ‘Virgin Atlantic reward’. This varies depending on your status with Flying Club and most generous when you are a Flying Club Gold member as you earn a companion voucher on any redemption flight in any cabin of service.

Outstanding balances will cost a representative APR of 63.9% variable, and a purchase rate of 22.9% variable with an assumed credit limit of £1,200.

To be eligible you need annual income of at least £7,500.