Which are the best credit cards for Avios?

8 min Read Published: 28 Jun 2022

Best credit cards for AviosFrom frequent flyers who want to be rewarded for the miles they are clocking up, through to holidaymakers who dream of upgrades and free companion vouchers, collecting Avios is a great way of accessing a range of travel and lifestyle perks. In this article, we look at credit cards that reward you with Avios points, including those with the best sign-up offers and the most competitive earning rate for ongoing spending.

What is Avios?

Avios is a frequent-flyer loyalty scheme that allows members to collect points which can be traded in towards the cost of flights, hotels, car hire and other activities and experiences. It is most commonly associated with British Airways (BA) - indeed, all Avios members are part of the BA Executive Club - but Avios can be used for flights with Air Lingus, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar, Royal Jordanian, S7 Airlines and SriLankan Airlines.   

Members can collect Avios in a number of different ways, including:

  • Booking flights, hotel stays or car hire through BA or one of its partners
  • Using BA’s shopping portal to earn points while shopping with certain brands, which include Marks & Spencer, John Lewis and Apple
  • Using the services of one of BA’s lifestyle and finance partners. There is a full list on the British Airways Avios website
  • Converting your Sainsbury’s Nectar points to Avios 
  • Taking out a credit card that offers Avios rewards 

The value of an Avios point varies depending on what you are redeeming it on, but the average Avios point is equal to 45p. Avios are generally worth more when used for flights or upgrades and less when redeemed with lifestyle partners. As a rough guide, 10,000 Avios can secure you off-peak, economy return flights from London to Paris, Amsterdam or Berlin, or an off-peak, economy single flight from London to Rome, Corfu or Tel Aviv, among other European destinations. This doesn't include fees and taxes.

What are Avios credit cards?

There are a number of credit cards available that offer Avios points as a reward. This can include both a sign-up bonus if you spend a certain amount on the card within a set period of time, as well as ongoing rewards for day-to-day spending on the card. There are some cards that are aimed specifically at businesses, but there are also a growing number of options for personal use.  

Some credit cards specifically offer Avios rewards, while a range of other cards have broader "membership reward points", which can then be converted to Avios. This offers greater flexibility in how you can use your reward points, but some of these cards attract a higher annual fee or don't have as high an earning rate as is available on Avios-only cards.

How to choose the best Avios credit card for you

When weighing up which Avios credit card best suits your needs, consider:

Is there an Avios sign-up bonus?

A key appeal of getting a credit card that has Avios rewards is the potential to gain a large number of Avios as an introductory bonus when you take out the card. Indeed, the Barclaycard Avios Plus credit card has a special offer until 18th July 2022 that means you can get 50,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 in the first 90 days after opening the account, this is double the normal bonus. 50,000 Avios is enough to secure an off-peak business class flight to New York, or a peak economy return flight to Barbados, excluding fees and taxes.

Before taking out a card to secure a sign-up offer, you need to work out if you are likely to be able to spend the minimum amount required to access the deal within the introductory period. This should be based on your normal spending habits; it isn't worth racking up additional debt simply to earn extra Avios, particularly as the APRs on these cards can be quite high.

What is the earning rate for Avios?

Credit cards for Avios have either a standard rate, where members get a set number of Avios for every pound spent on the card, or a sliding scale, with some types of spending worth more Avios than others. For example, you may earn multiple Avios for every pound spent on flights or holidays, a different rate for spending when you are onboard a flight and then a lower flat rate for all other spending on the card. It is worth considering how you are likely to use the card to make sure you get the best option for you. If, for example, you travel frequently, you may benefit from a higher rate for onboard spending, while if you only travel once or twice a year, it may be better to have a higher standard rate on your everyday spending.

Is there an annual fee?

The downside of many Avios credit cards is the fact they charge relatively high monthly or annual fees. This means you are, in effect, paying for the privilege of having the card and being able to earn Avios. You need to consider carefully whether you are likely to make a significant enough saving by earning Avios on your card to warrant the fee. You should also check whether the fee is payable monthly or annually and factor that into your budgeting.

How much does it cost to use the card?

In terms of the overall representative APR, cards that offer Avios are generally very expensive, with some topping 100% APR (variable). However, this figure includes the monthly or annual fees, so you need to look at the purchase rate for the card, which is how much interest you will pay when you spend on the card, unless you pay the balance off in full each month.

Does the card have other benefits?

While Avios credit cards don't generally offer 0% deals on balance transfers or purchases, some do have additional perks that can make them particularly attractive. For example, American Express has a "Shop Small" initiative, which gives members the potential to earn £5 cashback for every £15 spent with a participating small business, up to a maximum of £75, on set days each year. Meanwhile, cards on the Mastercard network, including the HSBC Premier World Elite, offer exclusive access to experiences in cities across the world through Mastercard Priceless.

The best Avios credit cards

In the table below, we highlight our top picks for credit cards that offer Avios in the UK. The choices are based on the introductory offer, the Avios earning rate, the fees and overall APR.

Avios deal Representative APR Purchase rate Annual fee  Extra information 
Barclaycard Avios Plus 50,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 within 90 days (until 18th July 2022) 72.4% (variable) 23.9% (variable) £240 (£20 paid monthly) Collect 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent
 

Barclaycard Avios

10,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 within 90 days (until 18th July 2022) 23.9% (variable) 23.9% (variable) £0 Collect 1 Avios for every £1 spent
HSBC Premier World Elite 40,000 HSBC points when you spend £2,000 within 90 days (converts to 20,000 Avios) 59.3% (variable) 18.9% (variable) £195 2 reward points for sterling and 4 points for non-sterling spend. 2 points converts to 1 Avios
The Platinum Card from American Express 30,000 Avios when you spend £4,000 within 90 days Charge card n/a £575 2 points for every £1 spent on amextravel.co.uk, 1 point for every £1 spent elsewhere. Membership Rewards points convert directly to Avios
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold 30,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 in 90 days (until 19 July 2022) 61%    (variable) 25.3% (variable) £140 (£0 in first year) 3 points for every £1 spent on American Express Travel, 2 points for every £1 spent directly with airlines, 1 point for every other £1 spent.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus 25,000 Avios when you spend £3,000 within 90 days 102.5% (variable) 25.3% (variable) £250 3 Avios for every £1 spent with British Airways or BA Holiday, 1.5 Avios for every £1 spent elsewhere. Membership Reward points convert directly to Avios

Best for... sign-up bonus

Barclaycard Avios Plus Barclaycard Avios Plus 

If you apply before 18th July 2022, you can enjoy 50,000 bonus Avios if you spend £3,000 in the first 90 days, double the usual 25,000 on offer, which makes it the most attractive Avios introductory offer available. In addition, if you spend £10,000 on the card within 12 months, you receive a cabin upgrade voucher. The card does have a £20 monthly fee, however, which makes it more expensive than the HSBC Premier World Elite, American Express Preferred Rewards Gold and British Airways American Express Premium Plus, making it much less appealing when the offer period comes to an end and the bonus reduces back down to 25,000 Avios.

Best for... frequent flyers

American Express Preferred Rewards credit card American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

The elevated earning rate for purchases through American Express Travel and those made onboard flights - 3 points for every £1 spent on American Express Travel and 2 points for every £1 spent directly with airlines, respectively - makes the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card a good option for those who are often travelling, either for business or pleasure. There is the added benefit that it has a considerably lower fee than many of its rivals and that it is fee-free for the first year.

Best for... low interest rate

HSBC Premier World Elite HSBC Premier World Elite

This HSBC card has the lowest purchase rate of all our best-buys in this selection at 18.9%, which makes it worth considering if you don't feel confident you will be able to pay the balance off in full each month. It also offers 40,000 HSBC points when you sign up, which is equivalent to 20,000 Avios, with another 40,000 on offer if you spend £12,000 or more in your first year of membership. In addition, it enables users to collect 4 HSBC points for every £1 spent on non-sterling purchases, which coverts to 2 Avios, which may appeal to those who are often abroad, although you need to keep in mind that there is a 2.75% non-sterling transaction fee payable.

Best for... overall low cost

Barclaycard Avios Barclaycard Avios

In a sector of the credit card market characterised by high monthly or annual fees, the Barclaycard Avios card is a fee-free option that also offers decent rewards. Indeed, like its sister-card Barclaycard Avios Plus, it is currently offering double its usual sign-up offer, meaning you can get 10,000 Avios if you spend £1,000 in the first 90 days if you sign up before 18th July 2022. There is also the potential to earn a cabin upgrade voucher if you spend £20,000 on the card within the first 12 months.

What are the advantages of an Avios credit card?

  • The rewards on offer make these cards incredibly attractive, with business class flights to New York, return flights to the Caribbean or multiple trips across Europe all within reach
  • With more cards being launched within this space, there is greater competition, which means there are likely to be good deals available in the future too
  • Although the overall APR tends to be high, the purchase rate on these cards tends to be reasonable. Moreover, if you pay off the card in full each month, you won't have to pay any interest on your spending
  • Using a credit card means you have section 75 protection on purchases between £100 and £30,000, both at home and abroad

What are the disadvantages of an Avios credit card?

  • The monthly or annual fees might put these cards out of reach for some people. Many of the cards require a high spend to unlock additional bonuses which may be off-putting for some people.
  • Although you can use Avios for "free" flights or upgrades, you will still need to pay the taxes and other associated charges, which could still come to several hundred pounds
  • There are rarely 0% interest deals on these cards
  • You are unlikely to qualify unless you have a good or excellent credit rating

Summary: Should I get an Avios credit card?

If you are happy to shoulder the fee (with the exception of the fee-free Barclaycard Avios card, which is fee-free), credit cards that allow you to collect Avios on your normal spending can make sense, particularly if you often travel or would like to enjoy a flight upgrade as a rare treat. You need to keep in mind, however, that not all of these cards are the best option to use when you are abroad, with many attracting foreign transaction fees. Instead, you may want to consider a travel credit card, in which case you may find our articles "Compare the best travel credit cards" and "Best 0% foreign transaction fee credit cards" useful.

Alternatively, if you are considering other loyalty schemes, check out our article on the best air-miles credit cards, which includes a wider range of airlines.