TSB withdraw Avios credit cards

14 November 2016, 16:10   By Samantha Smith

TSB have withdrawn their Avios credit cards from sale to new customers, with both cards being taken off the market over the weekend.

tsb bank branch sign
Credit: Barry Barnes/Shutterstock.com

The move comes not long after Santander stopped selling their exceedingly popular 123 credit card, replacing it with two rather less remarkable deals.

TSB's Avios cards rewarded users with up to 1.25 Avios on every eligible pound spent, and double Avios on spending abroad.

Existing cardholders shouldn't be affected by the closure of the cards to new applicants; they'll still be able to earn Avios and rewards as before.

Why the cards have been withdrawn

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The TSB credit cards could be the first in a fresh series of credit cards being withdrawn from the market, as a result of a decision made by American Express.

As well as offering their own range of credit cards in the UK, Amex license other card providers - among them TSB, Lloyds, MBNA and others - allowing them to offer Amex branded cards alongside the more common Visa and MasterCard brands.

But as TSB have told us:

"American Express have taken the decision to withdraw from their European licensing business. This affects a number of rewards card products in the UK including the TSB Avios Reward Credit Card."

That means we're likely to see various other American Express-branded credit cards disappearing from the market - and as TSB say, that's likely to affect a range of rewards credit cards.

Longer term, it may also have some impact on how widely accepted American Express is in the UK and the rest of Europe, as it's products like TSB's that have helped make Amex more mainstream among customers, and therefore more attractive to retailers.

What the TSB Avios cards offered

Even so, both the TSB Avios and the TSB Premier Avios credit card were two cards in one: the American Express card, which offered the best rate of reward on spending, and a MasterCard for use where Amex isn't accepted.

TSB Avios Credit Card
tsb avios credit cards
  • Two credit cards - one account
  • 1 Avios per £1 spent on the Amex, and 1 Avios per £5 spent on the MasterCard®
  • Double Avios on eligible spend abroad
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 17.95% p.a. (variable), your representative APR will be 17.9% APR (variable).

The fact that it was fee-free and had a relatively low APR (variable) made it fairly competitive before we consider that it rewarded us for spending.

It would often be promoted with an interest free balance transfer period as well, although one of the golden rules of rewards credit cards is to use them for everyday spending rather than loading with existing debt.

The main difference between this card and the TSB's Premier Avios credit card was that the Premier version came with an annual fee of £50 - although that was waived for TSB Premier Current Account holders.

For that, however, it earned more Avios per pound, and higher spending cardholders would qualify for a free companion ticket when they spent a minimum of £15,000 a year on the card:

TSB Avios Premier Credit Card
tsb premier avios
  • Two credit cards - one account
  • 1.25 Avios per £1 spent on the Amex, and 1.25 Avios per £5 spent on the MasterCard®
  • Companion Ticket with £15,000 spend in one year
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 13.95% p.a. (variable), with a £50 annual fee, your representative APR will be 23.7% APR (variable).

Again, TSB would often sell the card with the added incentive of a short interest-free balance transfer period.

The cards still available

But while the Avios cards are no longer available, TSB still offer three other credit cards, not counting their student credit card: the Platinum Purchase credit card, Platinum Balance Transfer credit card and their Low Rate Advance MasterCard.

At the moment the Platinum Purchase credit card comes with an interest free period on purchases for up to 20 months, and a standard representative APR of 18.9%.

Note that although this card is designed for everyday spending, it also offers a 0% period on balance transfers for up to 20 months.

As we explain in our guide to 0% purchase credit cards, those that try to multitask can prove problematic for users if the 0% periods are of different lengths.

While that's not the case here, those more interested in finding a balance transfer deal would do better to consider TSB's dedicated balance transfer deal:

TSB Platinum Balance Transfer Credit Card
tsb platinum balance transfer credit card
  • 0% on balance transfers for 28 months made in the first 90 days after account opening (min £100 balance transfer)
  • 0.50% balance transfer fee applies
  • The APR and length of the promotional period are dependent on your personal circumstances.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 18.9% p.a. (variable), with no annual fee, your representative APR will be 18.9% APR (variable).

Note the very low fee for transfers made within the first 90 days; as 0% periods have grown longer and longer, card providers have realised that they can also compete on low or no-fee transfers.

This isn't the lowest transfer fee available at the moment - click here to see who's offering fee-free transfers - but it is one of the lowest being offered with a balance transfer period of more than two years long.

Finally, TSB also continue to offer their version of a consistently underrated kind of credit card, the low rate Advance MasterCard.

Low rate cards always lose out to their flashier 0% promotional rate cousins, but considering how many people fail to stick to the terms and conditions of those promotional deals, low rate cards are a far less risky way of paying off any debts we incur.

Although low rate cards do incur interest every month, it's at a much lower rate than those charged on most cards that come with a 0% purchase or balance transfer window.

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So should we miss a payment or fail to pay off the debt before the end of that period, there'll be no shock hike in the rate of interest we're expected to pay, or to the minimum we're expected to repay each month.

There's more on how and when low rate cards like this come into their own in this guide.

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