You can now earn points without an American Express.
I’m an advocate of using a cashback or reward card for your spending, and most of the time the best bet is going to be an American Express credit card (at least for the welcome bonus) or the Chase Bank debit card (for one year).
But there are now two new credit cards from Barclaycard which might change this. Both earn you Avios points rather than money to your account, but if you don’t collect these they can be switched to Nectar points.
Here’s how they work and my take on whether they’re worth getting.
Watch my video review or keep reading…
What are the Barclaycard Avios credit cards?
There are two new cards available: a free version and a paid option. Both are Mastercards, and as mentioned will earn you Avios points, but at different rates.
New Barclaycard customers can get a welcome bonus if they spend a certain amount in the first three months and there’s also a cabin upgrade voucher for British Airways flights once you hit another spending level.
You are able to request a supplementary card, meaning your household’s spending can all go towards hitting that signup bonuns threshold. Remember to use the eligibility checker first before making an application.
There’s also free Apple TV+ and Apple Music for up to six months, but that’s something all Barclaycard customers can get.
Here’s more about each card, with analysis further down the article.
Barclaycard Avios credit card
|Ongoing reward||Earn 1 Avios per £1 spent|
|Welcome bonus||5,000 Avios is you spend £1,000 in three months|
|Upgrade voucher threshold||£20,000 over 12 months (starting when you receive the card)|
Barclaycard Avios Plus credit card
|Fee||£20 a month|
|Ongoing reward||Earn 1.5 Avios per £1 spent|
|Welcome bonus||25,000 Avios is you spend £3,000 in three months|
|Upgrade voucher threshold||£10,000 over 12 months (starting when you receive the card)|
How much do you earn on spending?
Depending on the card you choose you’ll earn either 1 Avios or 1.5 Avios per £1 spent. It’s actually rounded up or down to the nearest full pound. So spend £1.49 and you’ll get points just for the first £1. Spend £1.51 and you’ll get points for a spend of £2.
These cards aren’t cashback cards. Instead you are earning Avios points, which are usually airline loyalty points. Though most commonly associated with British Airways, they can also be used on partner airlines such as Iberia, Quantas and Qatar. You can also swap them for hotel stays, car hire, wine and Nectar points.
Personally I like to compare them to other cashback cards with a “real world” redemption value. With Avios this involves switching them to Nectar points, and that puts one Avios at 0.8p Nectar.
So the free card will earn you the equivalent of 0.8% back on spending, the paid card will earn 1.2% back.
It’s hard to give a value to Avios points if you’re using them towards flights. The excellent Head for Points site say they’re worth roughly 1p, but this can vary massively and doesn’t always take into account extra charges levied on Avios earning cards.
How do the signup bonuses work?
As you’ll see from the tables above, the bonuses are rewarded once you hit certain spending thresholds in the first three months. If you spend even 1p less in that time you won’t get the bonus.
Though anyone can apply for these new cards, the welcome bonus is only for anyone who’s not had any Barclaycard in the last six months. This means existing cardholders will have to cancel their card and wait six months before applying. As mentioned earlier, always check your chances of acceptance first (more on this here).
If we use the 0.67p value for converting your Avios points to Nectar points, the bonuses are worth the following:
|CARD||BONUS||ADDITIONAL POINTS EARNED ON QUALIFYING SPEND||TOTAL POINTS||VALUE AS NECTAR POINTS|
|Barclaycard Avios Plus||25000||4500||29500||£196.67|
However, don’t forget to factor in the fee on the Barclaycard Avios Plus. If you keep it for just three months then you’ll need to deduct £60, meaning a profit of £136.67.
Though it’s worth bearing in mind you’d still receive a total of £196.67 in Nectar points, since the fee is paid separately.
Barclaycard Avios vs other cashback cards
So how does it compare to other cards? I’ve shared below how the bonus and ongoing earnings compare to other cashback.
Welcome bonuses compared
As you can see from the table below, the Barclaycard Avios has the edge over the similar British Airways Premium Plus Amex due to the slightly lower fee, though this makes little difference if you cancel after getting the bonus.
However when you factor in the fee in year one (even if you cancel after three months), the Amex Preferred Reward Gold card is the biggest earner from a welcome bonus.
However as I wrote recently, if you want to get multiple Amex welcome bonuses you might be better off with a different first card.
|Barclaycard Avios Plus (Mastercard)||25,000 Avios points (worth £196.67 in Nectar points)||£240|
|British Airways Premium Plus American Express credit card||25,000 Avios points (worth £196.67 in Nectar points)||£250|
|American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card||20,000 Amex Membership points (worth £133.33 in Nectar)||£0 (£140 in year two)|
|Nectar American Express credit card||20,000 Nectar points (worth £133.33 in Nectar points)||£0 (£25 in year two)|
|American Express Platinum Cashback credit card||5% on first £2,500 spend (worth up to £125)||£25|
|Barclaycard Avios (Mastercard)||5,000 Avios points (worth £40 in Nectar points)||£0|
Andy’s Analysis: Welcome bonus hack
One area where the Barclaycard Premium Plus welcome bonus is interesting is if you already have had all your eligible sign up offers from Amex.
Closing that Amex in favour of the Barclaycard means you can start the two year eligibility for another Amex welcome bonus.
So perhaps you go for the Barclaycard Premium Plus for three months to get the bonus, then downgrade to the free option for the remaining 21 months. You’ll still earn ongoing points at a decent rate.
Then after two years cancel the Barclaycard and apply for a new Amex. Then two years later, repeat it all again (assuming the rules haven’t changed).
Ongoing cashback compared
When it comes to ongoing cashback, though you earn more points from the Barclaycard Avios Plus (and BA Premium Plus Amex) than the other cards, you can’t ignore that annual fee.
With that in mind, I think the best one for ongoing cashback is still the Chase Bank debit card for 12 months.
|Barclaycard Avios Plus (Mastercard)||1% (1.5 Avios per £1)|
|British Airways Premium Plus American Express credit card||1% (1.5 Avios per £1)|
|Chase Bank debit card (Mastercard)||1% (12 months only)|
|Nectar American Express credit card||1% (2 Nectar per £1)|
|Barclaycard Avios (Mastercard)||0.67% (1 Avios per £1)|
|American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card||0.67% – 1% (1 Amex Membership per £1 plus bonuses)|
|American Express Platinum Cashback credit card||0.75% (1.25% after £10k spend each year)|
|Barclaycard Rewards (Visa)||0.25%|
Mastecard vs Amex
But you’re probably thinking, isn’t the fact the cards are Mastercard a huge advantage over the American Express cards.
True, Mastercard issued cards will be accepted in far more places than any Amex cards. This could mean it’s easier for you to meet the welcome bonus and earn more points along the way.
From that point of view it’s easy to argue that the Barclaycard Avios cards are better choices. However, don’t forget that the Chase Bank debit card will pay 1% for a year, and that too is Mastercard.
That is a better rate than the free Barclaycard Avios (1% vs 0.8%) and though it’s less than the Avios Plus (1% vs 1.2%) there’s no annual fee.
But when you use up your first year of Chase Bank, I’d certainly look at the free Barclaycard Avios as your back up to better paying Amex cards.
Is the upgrade voucher worth it?
Of course, one reason you might consider keeping the card beyond the welcome bonus is the upgrade voucher.
If you spend above a set threshold every 12 months (starting when you opened the card) you’ll get a voucher that entitles you to pay the price of the cabin below you book with British Airways (so not technically an upgrade).
On the free card it’s a huge spend to get the British Airways upgrade voucher, so it’s really not worth it However, it reduces to a £10,000 spend on the Plus card.
This spend would earn you 15,000 points, which is the equivalent of £100 if converted to Nectar points. But factor in the £20 annual fee, and assuming it takes you 12 months to hit this spend, you’re actually laying out £140 in order to get the upgrade voucher.
So are these values worth it? Potentially. It depends on where you are travelling and the cost of extra taxes you have to pay on top (you’ll pay taxes for the upgraded cabin, not the one below).
Short haul flights probably aren’t going to be worth it. Long haul maybe. But you also need to have enough Avios points to pay in full for your flight (you can’t part pay and use this voucher). So research how many you’d need for this.
And I’d also consider whether you’d actually be fine flying economy and having the choice of which airline you fly and when and having the points and money in Nectar points to spend as you wish.
I think for most people this isn’t going to be worth it, unless you are earning lots of Avios points and saving them for the intention of flying. Obviously do the maths for your own spending.