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

by Sharron Livingston

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.

 

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