This year, I’m swapping my debit card for a credit card. It’s not because I’m starting 2017 in the red. It's to make sure I stay comfortably in the black. My New Year’s resolution is to make my money go further – and this is where my credit card comes in.
I’ve taken inspiration from friends and family who’ve long been rewarded for paying for virtually everything other than their mortgage and bills on credit. I’ve watched as their spending has earned them perks including concert tickets, meals out, hotel stays and even free flights. So my plan is to do what they do – pay for everything that doesn’t incur an additional charge with my credit card and clear the balance in full every month.
If my expected spending pattern is correct, not only will my current account be healthier because more of my earnings will stay in it longer each month but I could also fly business class for the first time without paying for the privilege.
This particular aspiration of mine could come courtesy of one of the credit cards I’m considering: the Lloyds Bank Avios Rewards credit card that costs £24 a year. As well as not charging interest on purchases for the first two years, it rewards card spending with airmiles, or Avios points to give them their new name. Collect enough points and I could be rewarded with free flights for me and a friend or even an upgrade.
I’d collect points by spending on either of the two cards that come with the account - an American Express (Amex) and a MasterCard. Points are earned five times faster with the Amex card, at a rate of 1.25 for every £1 spent instead of every £5 spent on the MasterCard. So with return flights requiring a minimum of 8,000 points, I’d be able to claim that perk with an annual Amex spend of £6,400, or just over £533 a month. By comparison, I’d have to spend £32,000 a year or £2,666 a month on the MasterCard. But as not everywhere accepts Amex, the MasterCard serves as a useful backup.
To obtain a flight upgrade voucher, I need to spend a minimum of £7,000 in a year across the account, which seems achievable if I start paying for everything from coffee to next year’s Christmas presents with my credit card each month.
It’s no wonder this card has become something of a firm favourite with travellers, especially as it also doesn’t charge foreign usage fees. And with Amex spending earning double points in the first six months of the card, I could see the card becoming a favourite of mine too.
The only potential downside I’m aware of is that there can be delays in receiving the flight upgrade vouchers, with some customers reporting they waited months after building up sufficient points for their vouchers to come through.
While there are several other reward cards that could also benefit my family, such as the Tesco Purchase card that earns you points to redeem against your food spend, I think the risk of an admin delay could be one worth taking if it means I can fly to the Caribbean business class this time next year.
Laura Whitcombe is knowledge and product editor at ThisisMoney.co.uk.