Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Review: the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

This is our review of the new (launched 2022) free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card.

It is part of our series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for. These articles are linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards‘ area in the menu bar. Our other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.

Key link: Barclaycard Avios Mastercard application form

Review free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card

Key facts: No annual fee

The representative APR is 28.9% variable.

Reward credit cards generally have high interest rates and are not suitable for anyone who does not pay off their full balance each month. If you do not clear your balance, you should look for a non-rewards credit card with a low interest rate.

This article was updated on 1st September 2023, and all of the information is correct as of that date. Ignore the original publication date shown.

About the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card

The Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card is issued directly by Barclaycard. This analysis is focused on the free version of the card – I review the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard credit card here.

You are 100% OK to apply for this card if you already have a British Airways American Express card. Indeed, Barclaycard knows that a lot of people – at least initially – will choose to use their Mastercard alongside a BA Amex, at places where American Express is not accepted.

What is the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard sign-up bonus?

You receive 5,000 Avios when you spend £1,000 within three months.

You should note that the premium card – the Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard – comes with a far larger bonus of 25,000 Avios if you spend £3,000 within three months. As long as you can meet the spending target, you may want to apply for the Plus card and then downgrade once you have triggered the sign-up bonus.

What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?

The sign-up bonus is available to everyone unless ….

  • you have had either of the Barclaycard Avios credit cards in the previous 24 months (in this case, you can apply again but will not receive a bonus) or
  • you have had ANY Barclaycard credit card, Avios or non-Avios, including the ‘closed to new applicants’ Hilton Honors credit card, in the previous six months (in this case, you cannot apply at all)

You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a British Airways American Express card, as this is nothing to do with Barclaycard.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s Barclaycard Avios credit card.  As far as Barclaycard is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

Review free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card

Any other benefits with the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard?

When you spend £20,000 in a card year, you will receive an Avios upgrade voucher. This voucher is valid for two years.

We wrote an article here which explains how the Barclaycard Avios upgrade voucher works.

Put simply – and I strongly recommend you read our full article linked above – the voucher lets you book an Avios flight paying only the Avios of the class below.

Book a Club World business class flight on Avios, for example, and you only pay the Avios required for World Traveller Plus premium economy. The usual Club World taxes and charges must be paid.

The voucher can be used to either:

  • upgrade a return flight for one person, making this a great product for solo travellers, or
  • upgrade one leg of a return flight for two people

The official rules for using the upgrade voucher are on this page of ba.com.

It is important to note that you cannot choose which combination of Avios and cash are used when redeeming a Barclaycard upgrade voucher. You will always be given the ‘most Avios, least cash’ option, which is not great value on short haul redemptions. It is generally the best option on long haul redemptions.

You can take 7,000 Avios instead of the voucher

From April 2023, it has been possible to take a one-off bonus of 7,000 Avios instead of the upgrade voucher. You can select your choice in the Barclaycard app and it is possible to swap from year to year, or indeed during the year if your current voucher has not yet been issued.

Most people will get far more than 7,000 Avios-worth of value from the upgrade voucher but you do now have the option of taking a lump sum instead.

What is the annual fee?

The basic Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card is free.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard?

You receive 1 Avios per £1 spent on the card.

This is the same rate as you receive with the free British Airways American Express credit card, and is very generous compared to similar Visa or Mastercard reward credit cards.

The maximum amount of Avios you can earn per month is 4x your monthly credit limit. This is highly unlikely to be an issue for you, since it would require spending your entire credit limit every few days and then paying it off immediately.

Review free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card

What is an Avios point worth?

How long is a piece of string!

This article is my best attempt to calculate the value of an Avios point.

If you assume that the ‘worst case’ scenario for spending Avios is turning them into Nectar points (1 Avios = 1.33 Nectar points, convert here) then you are getting back 0.66p for every £1 you spend. This would make the free Barclaycard Avios card the most rewarding free Visa or Mastercard credit card in the UK.

Can you swap between the two Barclaycard Avios credit cards?

If you have the free Barclaycard Avios credit card, you can upgrade to the Plus fee-paying version at any time via the Barclaycard app. However, you will not receive another sign-up bonus.

More importantly, any spend you have done towards the annual Avios upgrade voucher to date will NOT be carried over. It resets to nil. It therefore makes sense to only upgrade once you have triggered the upgrade voucher in your current year.

You can also do this in reverse – if you have the Plus card, you can use the Barclaycard app to downgrade to the free card once you have triggered your Avios upgrade voucher or have banked the sign-up bonus.

It is possible to earn more than one upgrade voucher in a year if you upgrade or downgrade your card, since the spend counter resets at that point.

Is the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard a good card to use when travelling?

As Barclaycard adds a 3% foreign exchange fee, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.

Unfortunately there are no credit cards with 0% foreign exchange fees worldwide which earn airline or hotel points. (The Virgin Atlantic credit cards have 0% FX fees in the Eurozone.)  One option is to get a free card from Currensea. Currensea is a simple but clever idea. You pay abroad with your Currensea Mastercard debit card. Currensea translates the cost to Sterling with just a 0.5% fee (83% less than Barclaycard charges) and withdraws the money from your bank account. You can find out more about Currensea by clicking here. Currensea is free so there is no risk in giving it a try.

Review free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card

Is this card ‘better’ than the free British Airways American Express card?

Yes. For most people, the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard is a better choice than the free British Airways American Express card.

Let’s start with the obvious reason first.

If you get the free BA Amex card, you will still need to get a Barclaycard Avios Mastercard to use in places where American Express is not accepted. Why not just get the free Barclaycard Avios card and use that exclusively?

Whilst the free BA Amex credit card comes with a 2-4-1 companion voucher when you spend £12,000 per year, the voucher is heavily restricted. It is only valid for Economy flights and is only valid for one year.

If you are interested in the 2-4-1 companion voucher, you should have the paid-for British Airways Premium Plus American Express card instead. This comes with a 2-4-1 voucher which is valid in ALL travel classes – not just Economy – and is valid for two years, not one year. It triggers at the lower spend threshold of £10,000.

In summary:

  • if you’re not interested in the British Airways American Express 2-4-1 voucher, perhaps because you are a low spender, you should forget the free BA Amex and focus solely on using the free ‘accepted everywhere’ Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
  • if you are interested in the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, you should forget the free BA Amex and get the British Airways American Express Premium Plus card instead, because of the two year expiry date and the ability to use it in all travel classes

What other cards have large Avios sign-up bonuses?

Don’t forget these less obvious options:

The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up and is free for the first year. These convert to 20,000 Avios points.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The American Express Platinum credit card usually offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up. These convert to 30,000 Avios points. It has a £575 fee, refunded pro-rata if you cancel.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Conclusion

5,000 Avios for getting the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card is a good bonus for a free credit card.

Before you apply, you should consider whether the paid-for version of the Barclaycard Avios Mastercard – Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard – is a better deal, at least in the short term, given the 25,000 Avios sign-up bonus.

The application form for the free Barclaycard Avios Mastercard credit card can be found here.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (46)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • George K says:

    Not sure why they killed off the spending tracker from the app. It’s just nuts. What’s more is that I’ve now triggered an anniversary voucher, which has landed in my account with no notice whatsoever. No email, or alert. I know I have the £10k voucher coming up, but with the spending tracker gone, it’ll take some effort to count up the statements.

    Statements are a mess too. I wish they could separate the supplementary cardholder spend, like Amex does…

    Other than that… no issues!

    • Aston100 says:

      You can filter spend by card holder / supplementary, on the website anyway.

    • Gordon says:

      I contacted cs and they say I.T is working on this and it will be fixed shortly. It’s been like this for a few weeks now so I don’t hold out too much hope tbh. I am due to cancel my paid one now anyway as I’ve satisfied the 100k avios sign up bonus

  • Colin Thames says:

    Rob, should the Curve warning be included in your article? I used Curve with my Avios Plus card to pay my tax in January. This may be coincidence but I haven’t yet received my 100k bonus Avios under the offer back in November. I am wondering if Barclaycard won’t count it as part of my required £10k spend.

    • Colin Thames says:

      Just realised the £10k spend was for the upgrade voucher. But again, no sign of it two months after having hit the target, but including the Curve spend at HMRC.

      • NorthernLass says:

        There have been a lot of issues with people not getting the vouchers recently – there’s a long thread in the forum. It’s not related to Curve.

    • Rob says:

      Barclays never said that it closed accounts because they used Curve, it just so happened that (looking at our forum) they all did. Not sure their lawyers would take kindly to it.

  • C says:

    I can’t get approved for this card for some reason. I have no issues getting an amex or the virgin cards so I’ve no idea why

    • Greg says:

      Exactly the same for my wife. 999 credit score on Experian, a Barclays Premier customer, and an AMEX customer for many years. Yet Barclaycard keep dismissing her. The letter gives no reason, but an address (no email, no phone number) to answer any queries regarding the decision. She has written 3 times, no reply.

      • Rob says:

        If she’s self employed she’s banned anyway, so don’t bother trying.

        • Gordon says:

          I am self employed and had no problems getting approved for the paid barclaycard?
          So that is a bit misleading.

          • Rob says:

            When the cards launched the self employed were blocked as a matter of policy. Looks like there was some relaxation.

      • JDB says:

        Even if Barclays replied, they probably wouldn’t tell you anything meaningful. They have their own very specific criteria that vary quite a bit vs Amex. A credit score means nothing, but it seems Barclays don’t like it if you have lots of cards or a few cards with high credit limits, even if not used and they don’t like self-employment. Barclays does have the most extensive credit database of any provider as by far the largest UK card provider and as a huge UK banking/mortgage lender. There can be strange things relating to bad experiences in your postcode area that have nothing to do with your personal creditworthiness. Also, if there are any negative links to former partners or addresses, these can be incredibly difficult to eradicate from the system.

      • Colin Thames says:

        I am also self-employed and got turned down when I applied early last year. I reviewed my credit records and increased my recorded annual income. Easily done on MSE, Credit Karma and Clear Score. That covers the main three credit reference agencies. That seemed to do the trick when I came to re-apply last November. No guarantees it’ll work but Barclaycard are clearly very fussy.

  • John says:

    Can I use the Barclaycard upgrade voucher for a mixed class open jaw return?
    e.g LHR BUE Y to Y+
    Back SCL LHR Y+ to J

  • AW says:

    Can’t load the free version of this card onto Google Pay (and assume same for the paid version) so you can’t use it to pay on your phone – I guess at some point Barclays will join us all in the 21st Century.

    If it wasn’t for the Avios I’d close the account as I’m not aware of another major bank that has such restrictions and it’s a right pain when places don’t take Amex.

    In the interest of balance, you can load it on Apple Pay so it isn’t that they don’t like the principle – I believe Barclays are in dispute with Google but I guess that’s more important than their customers.

    BTW – getting through to them on the phone is a nightmare also should you need to.

  • Jim McCord says:

    Hi Rob, I tried to use my Barclay Card Voucher to book a return flight from Belfast to Dallas Fort Worth. It came back no availability. It allowed me to book from London. Does this mean it is only valid for the one flight and does not include uk connecting flights?

  • J Fry says:

    I have a large bill to pay for a family holiday.
    I have the cash to pay all but would I benefit from paying by credit card.
    Would the credit card company raise the credit limit if I deposited the cash somewhere to pay off the card payments.

    • Rob says:

      Most card companies don’t allow this oddly. However, most holiday companies allow you to pay in chunks. You could ring, pay up to your card limit, pay off your card, ring to pay off some more holiday etc.

      Also a warning …. if your card is in credit you do NOT get Secction 75 coverage if your holiday company goes bust. This is because you are paying with your own money and not the credit card companies money.

  • Nazir Hussain says:

    Hi Rob,

    I took out the Barclaycard Avios plus when it first launched in April last year, I got to 10k spend and got my bonuses by September 2022, I then as advised downgraded to the basic Avios card with no monthly fee. It’s now April 2023 a full year and I wanted to change back to the Avios Pus card again so I could get my bonuses again. However I don’t see an option via the app. How do you do it? I am sure a lot of users are in the same position.

    • Rob says:

      You can’t, unless the algorithm decides you can. The only alternative is to cancel entirely and wait 6 months before you’ll be allowed to reapply, although you won’t get a fresh bonus.

      • Nazir Hussain says:

        Sorry I don’t mean the sign up bonus, I meant I wanted to change back to the Avios plus card so that I could get the new years upgrade voucher by spending 10K as a pose to 20k spend for the basic card.

        • Rob says:

          Same answer. You can only up/downgrade a Barclaycard if the algorithm decides you are ‘worthy’ and shows it as an option in the app. For everyone else you need to cancel and wait 6 months, at which point you can get the other card, albeit without a bonus.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.