As you read this I should be sitting on a beach in the Middle East. Last week, though, I was having a debate with myself about how to pay the hotel bill!
It’s not that I can’t afford it! (Although it will be around £5,000 I imagine.) I was more concerned with which credit card I should use to settle the bill! As I am sure that many of you have similar debates, I thought I would run through my thinking.
I wrote a long piece here on the best card to use for overseas spending. Frankly, I should probably have got myself a Saga or Post Office credit card with no foreign exchange fees, but I never have. My excuse is that I normally need holiday spend to ensure I can trigger 2 x British Airways American Express 2-4-1 vouchers across my card and my wifes each year.
This time, that’s not the case. Here is what my wife and I have in our wallets and what £5,000 of Dirham spend would get me:
American Express Platinum – would earn 5,000 Membership Rewards points. Good for 5,000 Avios or a variety of hotel schemes. I have a huge amount of Amex points so another 5,000 doesn’t mean much.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus – would earn 7,500 Avios. Normally, this would also count towards a 2-4-1 voucher (triggered at £10,000 spend) but I have already triggered both mine and my wifes this year. I have a huge pile of Avios so, again, another 7,500 doesn’t mean much.
Priority Club Black Visa – would earn 20,000 Priority Club points. The PC card earns 2 points per £1, but you get double points for foreign spend. This is worth about £100 of hotel stay – a night in a Holiday Inn or 40% of a night in a 5-star InterContinental.
More importantly, the PC Black Visa has a ‘free night certificate’ which is triggered when you spend £10,000 on the card. This would get me half of the way there. If I used that at the InterContinental in Paris, London or Cannes (not unlikely) I’d be getting at least £250 of value from the voucher.
We only have about 300,000 Priority Club points between us, so the points we would earn are more meaningful.
Lloyds TSB Premier Duo Avios Amex – would earn 12,500 Avios. The card normally earns 1.25 Avios per £1 but that is doubled for foreign spend. This card also has a 2-4-1 voucher (valid only on Economy flights) which requires £15,000 of spending, but I have already triggered that this year.
bmi Platinum Mastercard – would earn 10,000 Avios. I have the old-style version which pays 2 miles per £1.
House of Fraser Mastercard – a card my wife has. It is not bad, paying 1% cashback in House of Fraser vouchers. We would therefore get £50 if we used this card.
NatWest MasterCard – my wife has one of these, it pays out in useless YourPoints worth about 0.5p per £1 spent. I can’t even be bothered to work out how much I would get!
On the face of it, it seems to be a toss-up between the Lloyds TSB Premier Duo Avios card and the Priority Club Black Visa. Should I take 12,500 Avios points or 20,000 Priority Club points plus get half the way towards a free night voucher?
There is another snag as well. I booked the hotel through an Amex special deal, and I am meant to pay with an American Express card. If the hotel holds me to this (usually 50/50 chance in my experience) then I have to use the Lloyds TSB card anyway.
And there is a snag with the Priority Club card … I cannot be certain, given we have two little kids, that there will be a good opportunity to use the free night certificate when it is eventually triggered – although it is valid for a year.
I think, then, I have a plan:
a) Try to use the Priority Club Black Visa if I can (worth £225 of rewards – £100 for the 20,000 base points and £125 for 50% of a £250 free night on the voucher if I use it wisely), or
b) If I have to use an Amex, use my Lloyds TSB Premier Duo Amex and take the 12,500 Avios, worth at least £100
Note, of course, that if I did have a ‘no FX fees’ credit card then I would save £150 in fees on a £5,000 payment, so only with option a) am I actually better off.