I have had this subject down to write about for some time, having advised that the best way to take your Avios-collecting to the next level is to diversify and try and collect from as many different sources as possible. That means you should be thinking about all of the activities you do on a daily basis and analyse the best way to extract the maximum amount of miles from them.
Filling up your car with petrol is one such chore, yet I have been somewhat dreading putting this piece together because there are so many variables and possibilities. Nevertheless, I have tried to make this analysis as simple as possible and will only focus on the top earning options.
The first thing to note here is this is a two-part strategy. The first part occurs even before you pay.
(Note: Although you can also earn Avios via Shell Drivers Club, the earnings rate isn’t nearly as good as the method I will outline here. I will run a separate article in due course looking at the value of the Drivers Club scheme).
Part 1 – Using a Tesco Clubcard
This is one of the real hidden tricks that many people won’t be aware of. You will have noticed when filling up with petrol at Tesco*, that although you normally earn 1 Clubcard point per £1 spent at Tesco, buying fuel only results in 1 Clubcard point per £2 spent.
However, there is a clever method to double that and still receive 1 Clubcard point per £1.
At the bottom of most Tesco Bank Credit Cards, you will see a Clubcard number printed there.
This allows you use your credit card as a Clubcard should you wish to do so – and there is a very good reason to do so when filling up with petrol. If you use your credit card as a Clubcard when filling up, you will see from your receipts that you are receiving the full 1 Clubcard point per £1.
Part 2 – Which payment card should you use
However, just because you used your Tesco credit card as a Clubcard doesn’t mean you actually have to pay with it!
When paying at the pump, insert your Tesco Credit Card when prompted to insert a Clubcard. After doing so you will be asked if you wish to pay with this card, press no. You can then insert whichever card you wish to pay with. When paying at a cashier just tell them what you want to do and hand over both your Tesco Credit Card and your desired payment card – this won’t be an issue.
To pay, you should use whichever card earns you the most miles, or in this case, Avios. This would be the British Airways Premium Plus Card which earns 1.5 Avios per £1 spent.
A close second best option would be the Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express Card which earns 1.25 Avios per £1. In third place would be the Amex Gold, Platinum and Starwood cards as well as the HSBC World Elite MasterCard which all earn 1 Avios per £1 spent.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that other factors may influence your choice of payment card. You may be working towards a spend threshold to trigger a sign-up bonus on a new card. In that instance, you may prefer to shift all of your spending on to that card for the time being, even if it earns slightly less per £1 than another of your cards.
Total miles earned by using this method
Let’s take a hypothetical £60 fill up at a Tesco petrol station to see what you could earn:
Remembering that 1 Clubcard point = 2.4 Avios.
60 Clubcard points +
60 x 1.5 Avios earned from credit card spend = 234 Avios
What if I prefer Virgin miles to Avios?
If collecting Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles is your preference, this method can actually prove even more profitable. If you were to pay with the Virgin Black Credit Card which earns 2 Virgin miles per £1 you could end up with the following:
Remembering that 1 Clubcard point = 2.5 Virgin miles
60 Clubcard points +
60 x 2 Virgin miles earned from credit card spend = 270 Virgin miles
This a great trick to be aware of, with virtually no extra effort required. It is simply a case of knowing what to use when. As mentioned above, there may be times where you will have another reason for using a different payment card. That aside, for Avios collectors the best combination would be:
Fill up at a Tesco filling station + use a Tesco Credit card as your Clubcard + pay with a British Airways Premium Plus Card.
*The examples in this analysis are based on filling up at an actual Tesco petrol station. Esso petrol stations which may/may not have a Tesco shop attached also earn Clubcard points but at a reduced rate and thus don’t feature in my search for the best earnings rate.