Lloyds Bank Avios and British Airways American Express credit cards: which is best?

avios logo

LLOYDS Bank is now the bank of choice for the Avios travel rewards scheme, challenged only by American Express's British Airways-branded credit cards.

Between them, the banks issue three Avios earning credit cards (four, when we consider that Lloyds issue both an American Express and a MasterCard). We look at all of them in this review.

Which one offers the best value for money?

Quick look menu
The cards in detail
How to compare them
  • earning rewards
  • the thresholds for extras
  • Side by side
    More ways to earn Avios

    And how do these cards compare to collecting points from Tesco Clubcard or Lloyds Bank Choice Rewards, which can all be converted to Avios?

    Read on to find out.

    We'll start by looking at each card in detail, from the cheapest to the most expensive in terms of fees, then compare them against each other.

    The Avios credit cards in detail

    As mentioned there are three different cards available, ranging from one with no annual fee and a decent rate of return for spending to one with a £195 annual fee that offers much more generous rewards.

    British Airways American Express credit card

    British Airways credit card (Go to provider »)
    british airways
    • Earn 1 Avios for virtually every £1 spent
    • 9,000 bonus Avios when you spend £1,000 in the first 3 months
    • Spend £20,000 within an anniversary year for a companion flight
    Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable), your representative APR will be 22.9% APR (variable).

    Other useful information:

    As could be expected with the only fee-free card in this selection, the British Airways American Express credit card has the fewest promotions.

    That said, when used for as much everyday spending as possible, many users could well find that they can trigger the 9,000 bonus points offer - which is enough to qualify for a free Eurostar return ticket

    Being a dedicated airline credit card, it also comes with the offer of a free companion flight if holders can spend at least £20,000 within the year, but that relies on spending (and paying back in full) an average of £1,670 a month.

    Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards credit card

    Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards credit card (Go to provider »)
    lloyds bank avios rewards
    • Two credit cards - one account
    • 1.25 Avios per £1 spent on the American Express Card, and 1.25 Avios per £5 spent on the MasterCard
    • Double Avios for the first 6 months on the Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards American Express Card
    Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.94% p.a. (variable), with a £24 annual fee, your representative APR will be 23.7% APR (variable).

    Other useful information:

    For those willing to pay an annual fee, the Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards card offers more earning power and more benefits than the entry level British Airways American Express card.

    The annual fee means it comes with a slightly higher APR, but there are frequently promotions offering interest free purchases to new cardholders - and those made using the American Express card (but not the Mastercard) will earn twice as many Avios as they usually would for the first six months.

    The incentives don't end there, either: after spending £7,000 on eligible transactions, cardholders are entitled to a free flight upgrade. This can be used to upgrade both legs of a return flight for one, or two one-way flights for two people travelling to the same place at the same time.

    While the best way to use a rewards card is for everyday spending, the Lloyds Avios card offers a really quite competitive 0% balance transfer period of up to 24 months.

    British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card

    British Airways Premium Plus credit card (Go to provider »)
    british airways premium plus
    • Earn 1.5 Avios for virtually every £1 spent
    • 3 Avios for each £1 spent with British Airways and BA Holidays
    • 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend £3,000 within the first 3 months
    Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 22.9% p.a. (variable), with a £195 annual fee, your representative APR will be 76% APR (variable).

    Other useful information:

    The top Avios earner in this selection comes with a hefty annual fee of £195, and is best suited for very frequent flyers or those who spend (and can repay in full) at least £1,200 a month on their card.

    But the list of features above shows that being willing and able to pay does have its perks.

    It rewards holders with a companion ticket for spending less than £850 a month, which should be more than likely given its intended audience. It also comes with travel accident cover (explained here) and "travel inconvenience insurance", which offers compensation for flight cancellations and delays, and delayed baggage.

    Comparing the cards

    We've already mentioned that the Lloyds Bank Avios credit card is actually two cards, an American Express card and a MasterCard.

    The American Express card earns more points than the MasterCard, but the MasterCard is there as a backup, so people don't have to forgo earning rewards should they find themselves somewhere that doesn't accept Amex.

    However, the reputation Amex has for not being accepted everywhere is a little unfair, as we explain in our guide to who does and doesn't accept American Express.

    Aside from that, how do these cards stack up when it comes to earning us those rewards - and is it worth paying a higher annual fee to get more Avios?

    Earning rewards

    As mentioned above, there's a huge difference between these cards in the annual fees they charge.

    Cardholders who pay a higher fee every year earn Avios at a higher rate, among other benefits, but it isn't worthwhile unless they earn more Avios or other benefits than they pay in fees.

    Firstly, let's compare how many Avios each cardholder earns if they spend the same amount per month. We've gone with a £500 spend per month - we'll explain why shortly.

    Card Avios earning rate Annual fee Avios earned annually with £500/mth spend
    british airways american express credit card British Airways American Express credit card 1 Avios/£1 N/A 6,000
    lloyds bank avios credit card Lloyds Bank Avios credit card 1.25 Avios/£1 £24 7,500
    british airways american express premium plus credit card British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card 1.5 Avios/£1 £195 9,000

    It's clear to see that people willing to pay an annual fee for their card get far more Avios - and as we've discussed above, the extra Avios aren't the only benefit.

    For those of us who don't spend enough to be sure of benefiting from these other perks, it can be tricky to work out whether paying an annual fee is worth it simply for the extra Avios we get.

    Lloyds make this calculation a little easier by suggesting how much they think someone needs to spend on each card every month to make it worthwhile.

    They suggest that their Avios card is suitable for people who spend at least £300 a month - but we'd go so far as to say that it's better suited for those who spend at least twice that each month, £600.

    That's because this will add up to an annual spend of £7,200 (before adding on the annual fee) - enough to qualify for a flight upgrade voucher.

    Holders of the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card have to spend even more per month to really see the benefit, around £1,200 - although if they do spend this much they'll qualify for the companion ticket fairly swiftly.

    The moral is that only big spenders should go for cards that come with higher annual fees.

    Threshold rewards

    This is where we reveal why we chose the figure of £500 for monthly expenditure above.

    Let's say three people, one with each type of card, want to earn 9,000 Avios within a year, so they can exchange them for one return trip to Paris on Eurostar.

    It's possible for one of the four to do this by spending just £500 a month - and given the target audience for that card, they should find this fairly easy to do.

    Card Avios needed for Eurostar return Avios earning rate Annual spend required (average monthly) Annual fee
    british airways american express credit card British Airways American Express credit card 9,000 1 Avios/£1 £9,000 (£750) N/A
    lloyds bank avios credit card Lloyds Bank Avios credit card 9,000 1.25 Avios/£1 £7,200 (£600) £24
    british airways american express premium plus credit card British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card 9,000 1.5 Avios/£1 £6,000 (£500) £195

    Bigger spenders and those willing to use the Avios they earn are more likely to see the benefits of the cards with the higher annual fees.

    People with the £195 a year British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card only need to make purchases of £6,000 within 12 months to get their free return trip to Paris; people with the "free" British Airways card have to spend half as much again to get the same perk.

    Now look at the £24 a year Lloyds Avios card. Spending £600 per month is enough to earn one free return trip on Eurostar - and a flight upgrade too.

    Of course, this way of looking at the cards only takes into account their everyday earning potential; it's possible to boost rewards by looking out for bonus Avios offers - often for spending a certain amount in a certain timeframe.

    Side by side

    So having looked at the cards in detail above, we've pulled together the main features of each in one handy table here.

    British Airways American Express credit card Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards credit card British Airways American Express Premium Plus credit card
    british airways american express credit card lloyds bank avios credit card british airways american express premium plus credit card
    Annual fee N/A £24 £195
    Avios earning rate 1 Avios/£1 Amex: 1.25 Avios/£1
    Mastercard: 1.25 Avios/£5
    1.5 Avios/£1
    Avios promotion? 9,000 bonus Avios when you spend £1,000 in the first 3 months Double for first six months when using Amex card 25,000 bonus Avios when you spend £3,000 within the first 3 months
    Flight upgrade voucher?
    with £7k annual spend
    Companion ticket?
    with £20k annual spend

    with £10k annual spend
    0% on purchases? 0% for 24 months
    0% on balance transfers? 0% for 24 months (3% fee)
    Fee free spending abroad?

    More ways to earn Avios

    How much...
    ...are air miles worth?

    Lloyds Bank and American Express have a close relationship with Avios - but their Avios cards aren't the only way to earn travel miles.

    People who often shop at Tesco could well be better off concentrating on earning the supermarket's reward points, something we've covered in this guide to Clubcard and Avios.

    Finally, Lloyds Bank offer another reward credit card under their Choice Points scheme; points earned through spending on that card can be used in a variety of ways, including being converted to Avios.

    It's called the Lloyds Bank Choice Rewards credit card and it's actually very similar to the £24 annual fee Avios card shown above.

    The earning rate is:

    Lloyds Bank Choice Rewards credit card (Go to provider »)
    lloyds bank choice rewards
    • Two credit cards - one account
    • 50 Choice points per £5 spent on the American Express, and 10 Choice points per £5 spent on the MasterCard
    • Double Choice points for the first 6 months on the Lloyds Bank Choice Rewards American Express card
    Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.94% p.a. (variable), with a £24 annual fee, your representative APR will be 23.7% APR (variable).

    Again, the Amex card earns rewards at a higher rate than the Mastercard. But Choice Rewards points can be redeemed for vouchers for popular high street and online retailers, and magazine subscriptions as well as being converted into Avios.

    That means it's a more flexible scheme for those who perhaps don't want their rewards to be limited to travel perks or the slightly more upmarket deals available through the Avios scheme.

    There's more on how the two cards stack up against each other in our guide here. Those who want to compare all these cards side by side - and find the best for their average monthly expenditure - can do so here.

    Comments

    1
    5 April 2015
    Daz

    Good article but the table states no 'fee free spending abroad' for any of the cards.
    Lloyds website lists no foreign transaction fees for their Avios cards. Is this a mistake on the table above or is there another fee not disclosed?

    10 April 2015
    Choose team

    Hi Daz,

    We're glad you found the article useful. The table above has been amended, currently there isn't a fee for foreign transactions on the Lloyds Avios cards.

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