Bits: TopCashback 25% bonus to Avios scrapped, Miles & More gift card deals – any good?

News in brief:

No more 25% bonus on TopCashback transfers to Avios

Quietly TopCashback has withdrawn their 25% bonus when converting TopCashback cashback directly into Avios.

First launched in September 2016 with no expiry date, the 25% bonus with TopCashback for converting cashback into Avios came after Tesco Clubcard pulled their partnership with TCB.

Giving no mention of an end of this 25% bonus prior to the expiry date is especially annoying if you had been wanting to convert your paid cashback into Avios but simply hadn’t got around to doing it.

Converting TopCashback to Avios is still not a bad deal.  You get 1.05 Avios for every 1p of cashback you convert, which is far cheaper than buying points directly from BA.  It just isn’t as good as it was.

If you are not already a TCB member, you can sign up via our refer a friend link here.

TopCashback 350

Miles & More gift card deals – a redemption to be avoided?

Lufthansa’s Miles & More scheme has been sending out emails to their UK members promoting their new gift card redemptions, making it look like a great deal.

‘Did you know that you can get your favourite awards for 3,000 miles already?’, asks the email in badly translated English.

A look at the website shows that for 3,600 miles you can, for example, get a £10 Amazon voucher.  Great.

That is the equivalent of 0.27p per mile!  Considering the 1p value we give to 1 Lufthansa mile when used for premium flight redemptions, this is a deal to be avoided unless you have some miles heading rapidly towards expiry.

What are the best points credit cards with 0% interest on purchases?
January Sale Bits: BA Holidays extra £100 off, Opodo extra £20 off, Monarch flights £29 or less
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  1. It is very annoying re TCB/Avios. Noticed the other day it had gone when I eventually got round to converting. I’ll be better off just withdrawing the cash.

    • Usually I convert smaller amounts (£30-50) to Amazon gift cards and load to my Amazon balance and it sits there until needed. Basically anything I buy on Amazon has 5% discount.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        M&S is a better option at 7%

        Won’t get 5-7% is any bank account

        • But you might get at least 7% if you take the cash and have a credit card sign up bonus ongoing

          • TGLoyalty says:

            This is true but up to £100 TCB pcm as a gift card to sit in my Amazon or spend in m&s won’t affect my ability to hit spend targets.

            In fact my PCP monthly can be paid by AMEX so there’s no need for me to buy much else plus petrol a month to hit any target.

            Thanks for the nationwide tip will take a look. A potential current account for a switch deal in 12m too

          • I hope I’m not stepping on Rob’s toes here but happy to offer you a Nationwide referral. We’d both get £100. Let me know and I’m sure we can get in touch via other means.

          • Feel free

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Is that offer good if its a new account and not a switch? If so my twitter is the same as this if you want to get in touch that way?

          • I would be grateful for a nationwide referral too. Thanks

            I don’t even know what I am asking for but I am guessing it is good. I only have a Santander zero current account if that makes a difference (usually with money just sitting there coz I feel savings account interest bad for higher rate earners so never bothered opening one)

          • I can also help out with Nationwide referrals if Genghis is too swamped or there’s a cap 😉

            I’ve got their FlexDirect a/c (5% on up to £2.5k, have to pay in £1k per month, no fees) regular saver (5% on £500/mo) and loyalty saver (0.75%). Transfers to/from RBS (and thus I presume other Faster Payment banks) are instant. Very good customer service via Twitter.

          • @Boi. Nationwide offer an account of 5% on £2,500 and then a regular saver of 5% on £500pcm. Best package in market IMO. You need to pay in £1k a month but on the first of the month we just do a £1k payment to Nationwide from our Santander account, then £500 goes to the regular saver and £507 goes back to the Santander account.

            The £100 bonus is if you switch (i.e. transfer at least two direct debits).

            Remember there’s the £500/year tax free on savings now for higher rate tax payers.

            If this works, message me on twitter, Genghis1232.

          • @Alan I’ve always got time for fellow HfP readers :)

          • Teehee your generosity knows no bounds 😛 😀

          • Love the sushi cake you got for your bday!

        • Also Nationwide still offering 5% on £2.5k for 12 months and a £500pcm 5% reg saver.

          • Barry cutters says:

            Nationwide are great . Iv been with them forever and the flex plus account for £10 a month is great for the free cash withdrawals, mobile phone insurance and holiday insurance for the whole family.

    • Axel Heyst says:

      My TCB to BAEC transfer of 5 Jan.which offered 5% bonus just posted at 25%! So looks like the mechanics of the transfer havent been downgraded yet.

  2. Been waitimg for £80 to clear on TCB for over 8 months – and have missed the bonus. They’re not the best of outfits.

  3. Typically £38 of TCB went to Payable 1 day after this change!

  4. Archie Bob says:

    Interesting to see how HFP can possibly endorse the buying of Avios here at a rate 0.95p per point as ‘not a bad deal’. Just compare to the article a few days past regarding the purchasing of BA’s new on-board catering with Avios points in which the author recommended not paying cash (effectively selling your Avios instead) and using points at a rate of 0.8p each. Seem to recall the phrase ‘I can not see a scenario where I would pay with cash’ being offered.

    Maybe something to do with the very lucrative referral earnings from TCB possibly? Can’t help thinking inconsistent valuations/recommendations like this devalues the website.

    Still, with regards the withdrawal of the 25% bonus from TCB for Avios, I’ll be taking cash only from now on. It was a marginal call at the earlier rate, but now I can’t see any value there unless you specifically need to top-off an account for a redemption.

    • I expect the fact that Rob cannot see a scenario where he would use cash is down to his having millions of Avios that he is unlikely ever to use up, rather than him thinking that 0.8p per point is especially wonderful.

      • Correct.

        I just used 250k Amex MR for o.65p (4 Emirates J, one way) which I would not recommend anyone else do, but I get ‘free’ cancellation option on the flights.

    • Wally1976 says:

      I agree that even with the 25% offer this wasn’t an especially good deal, I was still taking cash or Amazon credit.

    • Different people will have different valuations, depending on their balances. If someone needs to top up their balance to achieve a redemption worth 1.5p per avios, clearly 0.95p is still a good deal. But if (like Rob) you have millions of the things, then he’d quite sensibly burn a few on a BoB sandwich. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy theory for you here.

      • I just converted 20p of free (won in their competition) TCB to Avios, because I’m just 2 Avios short of a redemption!

        Every little helps!

        It’s a shame my £20 of cashback that went payable the other day could only be withdrawn as cash. I would have rather saved the Tesco cc vouchers I converted to get the Avios instead to Virgin Flying Club miles, which for me are generally a bit harder to earn than Avios.

    • You need to think of the marginal value of a point.

      I have done plenty of Avios redemptions at worse than 0.8p because I have so many of them I simply cannot sit on them just for good deals.

      (On the other hand, I do pay cash for hotels if reward rooms are there – and the value is bad – because I don’t have that many hotel points.)

      Despite that, over the last 4 years I have still averaged 1.1p per Avios redeemed on very conservative valuations so if I did convert TCB cash into Avios I would come out on top.

      You also need to differentiate between ‘free’ Avios (from work flights) and Avios from Tesco / BA Amex etc which are not free – due to the alternatives you are giving it – and which also impact how you redeem.

      • When it comes to redemptions though its just avios coming out of the pot. We normally only do 2for1 and Lloyds upgrade long haul in J/F or occasionally straight short haul redemptions so tend to get better value (against what we would pay for the flights rather than necessarily what the cash fare is). Therefore my rule is never redeem at less than 1p and never pay more. Any ‘free’ avios such as work flights or signup bonuses don’t change that since in the long run the ‘non-free’ avios are additional redemptions that could otherwise be covered in cash. The only exception would be a very small number required to top off an immediate redemption that otherwise fits the rule.

        The threshold will vary depending on redemption approach of course, and part of that is how avios rich you are and how often you travel / how many of you there are travelling together. The number of 2for1s and upgrade vouchers you can earn for example is limited. However as a principle it’s a pretty sound one.

  5. If you are not desperate for avios then there’s no harm in sitting on TCB cash back until the next offer comes along (as long as you log in once every 6 months). That said, lack of communication is annoying!

    • Wally1976 says:

      Each to their own but personally I check my account most days and withdraw straight away if there’s any available. Wouldn’t trust that lot to look after my cash!

      • Likewise – I check it at least once a day, ready to pounce when it does become payable! As you say, each to their own, but I will continue to convert to Avios as I see my TCB earnings as bonus money that I am quite happy to use to put towards building a better Avios balance.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          The maths have changed now there is no 25% using Gate365/estore may be the better option, I always check that plus quid on and virgin to see what’s best.

          Though the miles ones can claw it back from your account where with quidco/TCB I haven’t ever had a claw back after its paid out

          • Yes, very true – particularly when there are bonus offers on Gate365 etc.

          • 1nfrequent says:

            +1 to this. I find as well that the rates on the estore are often better if you’re just looking at it from an Avios POV.


      • +1. TCB are like magicians. First you see it…

  6. Czechoslovakia says:

    Converted £380 of TCB to avois just before the new year after months of toying with the idea. Had a funny feeling it would be dropped as it wasn’t in their recent marketing. Still don’t reckon it was that good a deal at +25%, but the cash back didn’t cost me anything. Back to Amazon vouchers now I think.

    • £380 that qualifies for conversion, that’s impressive. I’ve had around £200 for sometime now but so many of the earnings don’t qualify. Tesco car insurance, late rooms, Jet2 et al don’t count toward TCB / Avios qualifying spend.

      • Czechoslovakia says:

        It mostly comes from one retailer, whos IT is so bad, it cannot distinguish what should be non qualifying items. And they take AMEX.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          A name or Any clues?

          • Czechoslovakia says:

            Tbh, I’m afraid that little perks days are over too, as they just sold out to some other company. I used to get typically 9% TCB, 10% back in vouchers, decent free gifts plus AMEX points on stamps. The new owners have already dumped the rewards voucher program. It was a very aptly named office supplies co, beginning and ending with “s”.

  7. Krankyfly says:

    I have transferred TCB to Avios 3 days ago.
    On TCB it said +5% bonus only. However Avios awarded +25%.

  8. I’ve never been a massive fan of TCB but hopefully someone can shed some light on this matter for me. I roughly spend £1200 @ Viking Direct each month on office supplies for my business. I obviously earn 1.5 per £1 thanks to my BAP Amex however I usually opt to make the purchase using to earn an extra 7 Avios per £1 – This brings my usual avios earning potential to approximately 10,200 per month. Does anyone know from experience if TCB would be a better source to use. Cheers

    • Hi Neil,

      Assuming Viking Direct are on all sites, my personal experience is that Avios and Quidco are most reliable in terms of tracking, and then purchases actually being payable in a half-way decent amount of time. I’d probably give Quidco top place if pushed. Gate 365 less reliable. TCB pretty appalling, frankly.

      Others may have different experiences of course.

    • I think you need to multiply the gain on offer by your confidence of being paid to get an expected payout number. If has paid you consistently for previous monthly orders, I’d stick with them. However, return one item from all ordered and IME more likely to not pay out than TCB

    • Czechoslovakia says:

      I’d honestly say Viking is far too expensive to begin with. Staples used to give a total of 25% back in cash/vouchers/points plus free gifts but that’s only just stopped. Most of my office supplies business spend now goes to Ryman, who give you 10% off at checkout for business accounts. But then I prefer a cash discount immediately as opposed to promised cashback/miles. Bad experiences with both quidco and TCB.

      • But a 10% hard discount has to go through the books, TCB / other vouchers don’t.

        • Czechoslovakia says:

          True, but I’m honest :-) Seriously though, as I own the small business, I apply the same logic. If it were a private purchase, I’d take the guaranteed discount over promised cashback/miles, unless it was just too good to refuse…. It was being tight that no doubts helped me find HfP in the first place.

          • the_real_a says:

            But in essence your points would be tax deductible Vs a cash discount at the till. Of course this depends on how much tax your business is paying. Ryman is very expensive IMO :)

          • The guaranteed discount is always the best route.
            I had hoped to make use of the Amex trailfinders offer, at the end of December, against quidco’ s 14.3% cashback.
            If the trailfinders deal had come close to the cashback deal I would have gone with trailfinders as I would be more hopeful that the Amex offer would payout.
            Unfortunately trailfinders weren’t in the same park so went with quidco, but I’m not that confident quidco will pay out although it tracked.

      • I’m not sure what they’re like now, but in the good old days of phone ordering with Viking in the late 90s they were great – you’d just give them the second part of any item number and they’d go find a special sale price for most things. Always need up paying way below catalogue price!

  9. OT: am I correct in thinking a Lloyd’s upgrade voucher cannot be applied in conjunction with a BA 241?

  10. Any cheap ways of getting 1500 M&M miles? I’ve got 2100 already which I’m unlikely to use given their strict expiry policy – given that, a £10 Amazon voucher is worth more to me! Unfortunately would cost 750 HR points so that route seems more hassle than it’s worth to get an extra £2.50!

    • Hotel booking via their new portal? Current offer is 1k bonus plus 1k base miles minimum.

      • Reasonable idea, but wouldn’t want to miss out on loyalty benefits by going through booking portal (and would probably take a more lucrative Kaligo or Rocketmiles sign up if doing so).

    • Czechoslovakia says:

      Cheap hotel room via m&m hotels? They were running a 5000 bonus on your first night. This was the cheapest way of getting a chunk of miles, but seems overkill in your situation, unless the room is useful.

    • Are M&M points transferrable between accounts? I have 500 about to expire in a couple of months and no way of redeeming them. If I can transfer them, you can have them.

  11. Any ideas what to do with small amounts of Miles and More? I do a couple of short haul economy flights a year and have a balance of about 5k miles. No use for flights (no desire to go to FRA for anything other than work) but any scope to use for hotels or transfer out to hotel programs? Otherwise vouchers may be the way to go. They will start expiring in early 2018 I think as earned in early 2015 onwards.

    • Have a look at Lufthansa Worldshop – you might find something there of use, perhaps on a points and cash basis. I have rather more M+M points than you, though nowhere near enough for a premium flight.

      I got a couple of new suitcases from them last year, mid-range ones and the price seemed reasonable at the time.

    • Heathrow Rewards transfer for a shopping voucher.

      • HR is minimum 7,500 transfer, think the duty free at FRA is better value redemption with same minumum. Will have a look at the M&M shopping portal but may have a trip to Frankfurt in mid-Feb that will get me up to the threshold depending on how it books. Makes spending Avios look dead easy!

  12. This is another killer blow from TCB. The £50 club card points removal was bad enough but the 25% Avios bonus more than made up for that. Now that’s gone I will lose out on around 20,000 Avios per year. TCB has remained my default for a long time but will have to change that now.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The 25% bonus was nice but it didn’t make up for the clubcard offer when it comes to Avios

      £50 transfer to clubcard was worth 12,000 Avios (some still get the old rate so 16k) or 12.500 flying club

      Even at a 25% bonus to get that level of avois you would need to convert £96 (£128)

    • I think the Avios/BA/Virgin (not to the same extent) are usually better earning portals, no? Certainly now!

      • I’ve found Virgin Shops away portal to be very reliable. Not one purchase rejected. Used it a few months ago for some bookings and recently just over 10k dropped into my account.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Agree anyone wanting to convert £332+ @25% bonus for 41.5k Avios were better off than those that used £50 for club card into 12k Avios plus up to £280 @5% bonus for 29.4K

  13. That’s annoying about TopCashback. Didn’t they also used to transfer to FC. When did that go? Not sure what readers make of sudden changes like this? It would be kinda nice to have a bit of warning?

  14. OT – any good deals for the Economist subs, the Mrs needs a new one

  15. OT:
    Closed my platinum account after reaching bonus (and MR transferred out). I now had to return one of the items I had bought with the card and get a refund. I have two issues:
    1. How will I get the money back from amex?
    2. the refund will tip me below the spend target (£1879 instead of the £2000 required), what will Amex do as I have already transferred the MR out?
    3. will this put me in Amex bad books?

    • the_real_a says:

      Easy – call up amex and they will either BACS the credit back to your direct debit account, or raise you a cheque.

      • the_real_a says:

        You wont lose your transferred points, and unless you make a habit of it AMEX will still be friends with you.

  16. Thanks Chaps! I’ve never had any problems with tracking purchases since the avios site was updated. Gate365 on the other hand, I waited over 7 months for 12000 points to turn up from Apple! Looks like I’ll stick with Avios. Cheers

  17. Avios and BAEC conversion now has a 5% bonus which is not as good as 25% but still better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.

  18. It looks like there was a predefined end date to the avios pay-outs by TCB, see link:

    The article was posted 2nd September 2016

    • No, they changed that after the fact. I used that article as the basis for the piece I wrote on HFP and there was definitely no closing date listed.

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