Bits: bonus Heathrow Rewards points, Coutts credit card changes, South African Airways sale

News in brief:

Bonus Heathrow Rewards points on fashion purchases

Heathrow Rewards is offering bonus points on purchases at selected retailers until 31st October.  No registration is required this time.

The bonus points on offer, which convert 1:1 into various airline miles including Avios and Virgin, are:

500 points when you spend £125 – £199.99
1,000 points when you spend £200 – £299.99
1,500 points when you spend £300 – £399.99
2,000 points when you spend £400 or more

Participating retailers are Accessorize, Bottega Veneta, Bulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Dior, Gucci, Harrods, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Jack Wills, John Lewis, Kurt Geiger, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Mulberry, Paul Smith, Prada, Reiss, Smythson, Sunglass Hut, Thomas Pink, Ted Baker and Zara.


Coutts making more changes to its credit and debit cards

Private bank Coutts is making further changes to its credit and debit card structure.  This follows the scrapping of its ‘Courtesy of Coutts’ loyalty scheme in 2013, which weirdly offered the wealthy an opportunity to redeem points for …. easyJet flights.

The new structure seems to be a way of competing more effectively with HSBC Premier and American Express Platinum.  All foreign exchange fees on Coutts debit and credit cards have been scrapped.  The £350 fee for the ‘Silk’ credit card has also been removed.  The downside is the loss of travel insurance and Priority Pass as benefits.  An ‘enhanced’ rewards programme will be introduced but there are no details as yet.

The new HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard – with its 40,000 Avios first year bonuses – still seems a more attractive package to me.  There is a £195 fee but it still includes airport lounge access.  Whilst the Coutts cards are now free, there is still a minimum fee of £900 for the underlying current account required unless you meet certain criteria.

South African Airways sale

South African Airways sale

Whilst the latest British Airways sale finished last week, South African Airways has a few days to go on its own September sale.  Here are the headline prices in Economy and Business – the Business fares are available over Christmas and New Year:

  • Johannesburg £593 / £2546
  • Cape Town £613 / £2566
  • Windhoek £613 / £2746
  • Durban £620/ £2796
  • Port Elizabeth £620 / £2796
  • East London £720 / £2796

amongst other destinations.   These are clearly not ‘bargain basement’ prices but South Africa is rarely heavily reduced as you will have seen from recent British Airways sales.  The requirement to keep a $200m aircraft sitting on the ground for half a day in London before it can fly home makes the economics of direct flights difficult.

As a Star Alliance member, you can credit the miles from the flight to a number of loyalty schemes including Lufthansa’s Miles & More, SAS EuroBonus and United MileagePlus.  Flights depart from Terminal 2 at Heathrow.

You can find out more on the SAA site here.

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  1. I’ll be on the look out for an iPhone 7 in Oct and obviously will want to maximise points / CB opportunities. John Lewis are based after security at T2 and offer ‘home delivery’ per LHR website. Do you think they would take a telephone order and deliver to my home / work, taking my HR number?

    • No, definitely not. Otherwise you could by stuff tax free without flying.

    • I’m not in the market for an iPhone 7, but did give it some thought, if only for the points. The best deal seems to be buying through the Avios portal then through Selfridges’ website. At 12 points per £ (excluding VAT and delivery), should should be able to get somewhere between 5,000 and 8,000 for ordering on there.

  2. Re the SAA sale, some people may also still have the £100 cashback available on Amex offers:
    South African Airways
    Spend £500 or more, get £100 back
    Save to Card to get a £100 statement credit when you spend £500+ at by 19/03/17. UK departure flights only. Valid once per Card for the first 10,000 Cardmembers to save. Terms and restrictions apply. :-)

  3. Very OT (sorry)…

    I added the Amex CDP to my Hertz profile when I had the Gold charge card which I cancelled 4 months ago. The app says I’m a Gold member still… If I make a booking using the Amex code will I still get the upgrade, free additional driver, etc?

  4. Apologies for sticking this up again but I fear it will get lost – for those who were complaining about poor connections by rail to LHR – there’s hope (delivery 2024!):

    ‘Improving rail links to Heathrow
    A new direct rail link connecting the west to Heathrow will improve journeys to the UK’s busiest airport’

    • In general the “London” airports have poor rail links from the rest of the UK. Journey from midlands has to go via central which is off putting.

      Birmingham on the main line and Manchester quick connection isn’t bad cant comment on the others

  5. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    From memory, the £350 fee on the Silk card was waived after something like £10k annual spend. Given the client base, I don’t expect too many were paying the fee beforehand.

    • £75k I think?

      The client base is people happy to pay £900 a year for a fancy cheque book. It is part of NatWest remember. I don’t go near it and I only have one friend to my knowledge who does.

      The Premier model of sticking a centre in branches with a high local income is far better – 5 minutes walk for me. Why would I want to head to The Strand?

  6. Wonder if Coutts scrapping exchange charges will be followed by the likes of Amex platinum? It already happens for the US version anyway

  7. OT Just booked our Virgin UC flight to Atlanta for next year on an A340-600 flight VS103 – we seem to have to pick of seat choice – looks like they are all the same seats but are there any really good choices or bad ones to avoid ? Thanks

  8. Yes I looked at the layout on seat guru – I just wondered if there was a favoured good area or an area to avoid.

    • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

      For me it’s 6&7K because, in theory, those seats have fewer people walking past them.

  9. OT. After my stay at Sofitel Xi’an (excellent btw), Accor sent me an email containing the below link.

    4x points at selected new hotels for the upcoming two months for status members. I wasn’t aware of this promo so thought it worth sharing. It could mean you change your hotel choice in a certain city.

  10. Re: Heathrow Rewards 2500 sign up bonus. Can I get this by changing USD to GBP at travelex?

    • You are not meant to, as per the rules, but I have had a few reports that, yes, it does work. No promises though.

    • I’m sure I read about the 2500 sign-up bonus on here a few days ago, so I signed up for a new card with different details, but now I can’t see any reference to the 2500 bonus, only 100 bonus points for registering. I’m I going mad??

      • See our ‘Quick Avios’ page at the bottom.

        • Ah thanks – I looked at the bottom for the Quick Avios page!!! I did find it at the top after a brief search :-)

          I’d never spotted that page, so I need to have a read. I obviously need more time for this hobby!

  11. I suspect that the changes to Coutts card range (which include the phasing out of its Black Card) indicate that RBS/NatWest will also soon discontinue the RBS/NatWest branded Black Card (the original one with £250 annual fee which has some useful benefits).

    RBS/NatWest has been simplifying products across its range of current, savings and card accounts. Customers with products that are no longer available have been moved to products in the current range. Their policy now seems to be to provide travel related benefits (e.g. travel insurance and airport lounge access) as part of a packaged bank account (the Black Reward Account). Customers with this bank account have the annual fee refunded for the Reward Black credit card which has no foreign transaction fees.

  12. Sorry OT again – if you book a pts and cash IHG in the USA do you have to pay taxes on the booking or just the extra $40 or $70 to make up the points

  13. OT. The extra £20 from the moneycorp card has finally arrived in my account.

  14. hmm, not sure I am up for a last gasp fully flexible £5000 flight or 2 on my BMI DC card – not really my thing, you do what you want, though :)

    But a long summer holiday car park booking using the 15% HEx statement credit might be acceptable! £1.99 insurance to get a full refund if you change your plans.

  15. OT – and nobody is up right now, I’m sure – but Tesco haven’t binned the bonus CC points for gift cards after all! Indeed, you might say it’s better for smaller spenders now – get 75 points for £25 spend!