Barclaycard Avios credit cards review

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

Fee£0
Ongoing rewardEarn 1 Avios per £1 spent
Welcome bonus5,000 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 rewardEarn 1.5 Avios per £1 spent
Welcome bonus25,000 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.

Eligibility

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).

Value

If we use the 0.8p value for converting your Avios points to Nectar points, the bonuses are worth the following:

CARDBONUSADDITIONAL POINTS EARNED ON QUALIFYING SPENDTOTAL POINTSVALUE AS NECTAR POINTS
Barclaycard Avios500010006000£48
Barclaycard Avios Plus25000450029500£236

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 £176.

Though it’s worth bearing in mind you’d still get £236 in Nectar points, with the fee 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 earning compares 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.

CardBonusFee
Barclaycard Avios Plus (Mastercard)35,000 Avios points (worth £236 in Nectar points)£240
British Airways Premium Plus American Express credit card35,000 Avios points (worth £236 in Nectar points)£250
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card20,000 Amex Membership points (worth £184 in Nectar)£0 (£140 in year two)
Nectar American Express credit card20,000 Nectar points (worth £110 in Nectar points)£0 (£25 in year two)
American Express Platinum Cashback credit card5% on first £2,500 spend (worth up to £125)£25
Barclaycard Avios (Mastercard)5,000 Avios points (worth £48 in Nectar points)£0
Includes points earned in bonus period / Assumes points are converted to Avios then Nectar

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.

CardEquivalent rate
Barclaycard Avios Plus (Mastercard)1.2% (1.5 Avios per £1)
British Airways Premium Plus American Express credit card1.2% (1.5 Avios per £1)
Chase Bank debit card (Mastercard)1% (12 months only)
Nectar American Express credit card1% (2 Nectar per £1)
Barclaycard Avios (Mastercard)0.8% (1 Avios per £1)
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card0.8% (1 Amex Membership per £1)
American Express Platinum Cashback credit card0.75% (1.25% after £10k spend each year)
Barclaycard Rewards (Visa)0.25%
Assumes points are converted to Avios then Nectar

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 threhold each 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, but reduces to £10,000 on the Plus card. If you spent £10,000 in the year (earning another 10,500 points on top of the total listed above), you’d earn the equivalent of £320 (converted to Nectar points), leaving a profit of £80 after the £240 annual fee.

This is £96 less than ditching the card after three months, so effectively that’s the value of this voucher.

And that’s just in year one with the welcome bonus. After this a £10k annual spend would earn Avios points worth £120 in Nectar. So you’d be paying £120 for 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.

5 thoughts on “Barclaycard Avios credit cards review

  1. I am a supplementary card holder on my partner’s Barclaycard Platinum Visa.

    Would I be consider a ‘new’ customer for the Barclaycard Avios credit card?

  2. I’m lucky enough to actually view both in close proximity. I have the BA Premium Plus AMEX and my wife now has the Avois Plus Barclaycard (we both have supplementary cards). All the comparisons are obviously focused on value of Avois but the ease of use of the Barclaycard is a lot worse than the AMEX.

    Online/App

    The Barclaycard experience is awful, you have to remember 5 login details. Your username, a 5 digit passcode, a 6 digit passcode, a memorable word and then a word that verifies you aren’t getting redirected online. All very onerous and about as user friendly a brick to the face. Compared with AMEX where in 2 years of use, I’ve never had a single problem.

    Online services reliability

    As of 27/03, I can’t view my PIN online for the supplementary card, my wife can’t change her PIN at an ATM (even a Barclays one!), none of the cards will register for Apple Pay. Again never had these problems with AMEX.

    Online purchase verification

    A pain. AMEX SafeKey let’s you add vendors to a list that don’t need two factor authentication. The Barclaycard app needs all those things for it to work, and even with FaceID on an apple device still insists of countless numbers. Then you’re up against the timeout whilst typing all these things in and the handoff (back to the website where you bought something has failed a few times). Again never had these issues with AMEX.

    Customer service.

    AMEX customer service is 24/7, and whenever I’ve spoken to them, I feel very valued. It’s a 5 star experience. We haven’t been able to get through to anyone at Barclaycard…there is online chat option but ONLY if you have an apple device and we have gotten through there and the agents have been ok, one of them even told us the issues that we are having with Apple Pay have been around for ages. On that note we recently got 5000 avois because of the ‘issues we are having’.

    Overall, if you are choosing between AMEX and Barclaycard, then in the usability/customer service AMEX wins by a knockout. I know AMEX has the big ‘not everyone accepts it’ problem and you will never have that problem with Barclaycard but the online experience/reliability is so poor right now that I would choose AMEX.

  3. You say “And I’d also consider whether you’d actually be fine flying economy” but you are also able to upgrade from economy to premium economy, or premium economy to business class, just not up to first.

  4. This is a great video and article Andy. Do you see this changing your current strategy for reward credit cards? As far as I remember, you’re attempting an Amex bonus run… Do you think Barclays will retain such a generous welcome bonus on an ongoing basis (thus making the welcome bonuses comparable to Amex) or do you think it’ll be for a limited period only? Thanks!

    1. Yes, I think the offer will stick around for a good while – and you never know they might even boost it occasionally as Amex does. At the moment I’ll stick with Amex and Chase, and if I do decide to go for the 2-4-1 companion voucher with Amex that’ll keep with there for a year at least. But perhaps after?

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