Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: Virgin East Coast sale, double Avios at Bicester, One Direction with SPG

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News in brief:

Virgin East Coast seat sale now on

Virgin East Coast is running a sale on all of its routes until midnight tomorrow in both Standard and First Class.  Headline prices to Edinburgh, each way, are £20 and £40 respectively.  Travel between September 5th and November 13th, with a couple of black out weekends potentially linked to the Rugby World Cup.

As I spent £250 on some Virgin East Coast tickets on Friday, I refuse to see how low the prices actually are as I will only get upset.  The booking link is here.

Double Avios and VIP lounge access at Bicester Village

Until September 10th, you will receive double Avios (10 for every £4 spent) when you visit the Bicester Village designer shopping outlet in Oxfordshire.  Full details are here.

More interestingly, if you email them 72 hours before your visit you will be able to access the VIP lounge during your trip.  This includes (free?) refreshments.  Thanks to Joel.

Bicester Village

See One Direction with Starwood at the O2

Late last night, Starwood Preferred Guest loaded tickets for four nights of One Direction concerts onto the SPG Moments website.

For just 15,000 SPG points, you can redeem for two tickets to the private SPG suite at the O2 Arena in Greenwich.  High quality and alcohol are included.  The dates are 24 / 25 / 26 / 30 September.  My review of the SPG suite is here.

Michael McIntrye tickets for 3rd October are also available.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (May 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card has doubled its sign-up bonus to 60,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, if you apply by 1st June 2022.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points (SPECIAL OFFER) and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (9)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Steve says:

    Bicester Village also has an offer with Virgin Atlantic Flying Club (22 Aug to 30 Sep).

    “Virgin Atlantic Flying Club members can collect 1,000 bonus Flying Club miles when you spend £500 or more in one day at Bicester Village. This will be in addition to the usual mile earned for every £1 spent, giving you even more value for your shopping.”

  • Will says:

    IIRC the VIP lounge (and offer which is a 10% discount card) is also open to anyone with AA (not the airline but the car association) membership. When in the visitor centre in May getting avois put on my bAec there was a steady stream of ‘VIPs’ being asked for their AA membership card to prove they were VIPs!

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    As the sale has been running since Monday pretty much all the popular dates and times are now sold out. Another problem was they publicised this in advance only to Nectar card holders see here for more info:

    It’s still worth a look though particularly if you’re travelling at an odd time or on the off chance they release more seats.

    The Virgin Red iOS app offer of 20% off East Coast (plus a separate offer of 20% off West Coast) tickets mentioned on this site around the beginning of the month is still active.

  • Kai says:

    Never knew there’s a lounge at Bicester. There’s an offer until the end of this month for free VIP bus tickets between London and Bicester, plus you get the 10% off VIP card.

  • James Alexander says:

    Outbound cost £75 single.
    Inbound Cody £100 single.

    1st class. Pointless as value is poor. Quiet coach – pointless as it’s not quiet.

    As a Gold BAEC flyer with BA I thought I’d use the train for a one night trip to London, not to save money as cost was almost the same, but to have a quieter journey in quiet coach in first class.

    I now ask my self why I booked first class and indeed the so called quiet coach.

    Staff great. “Food” quality atrocious. No hot food. No alcohol.

    I guess the weekend upgrade thing Virgin now running is simply a revenue driver. It’s an insult to first class passengers who pay top whack and seek a 1st class experience. THIS was most certainly NOT first class

    1st Class Quiet coach packed with families with small chattering children. Adults ill equipped to entertain children – electronic games played without headphones. One Granny constantly and I mean constantly walking a small preschool chattering child up and down the aisle for 2 hours.

    Wifi BOTH directions non functional.
    I overheard staff telling another passenger “it’s dodgy”, “rarely works even in 1st a Class”.

    Catering on Sunday ? A small bottle of water, poor quality inedible cheap snack box of cheese with crackers, gooey vegetable paste and a chocolate biscuit with no fruit. ONE single cup of tea served in the two hours between Euston and Preston.

    Catering on Saturday – similar to Sunday but an added tiny cold egg roll.

    For these prices I would rather fly and get the journey over and done with.
    I’d rather take the risk of being seated beside disrespectful and selfish passengers for 55 minutes on a flight than be tortured for 275 minutes on an overpriced and poorly serviced Virgin train with such poor standard of catering.

    Last straw was learning that quiet coach in 1st Class is about to be phased out! You have been warned!!!

    Clearly Virgin planning to go with business model of lowest common denominator; Offering cheap upgrades to make extra revenue and dropping any semblance of real catering.

    Voting with my feet. I’ll take my hard earned money elsewhere. Back to flying BA between Scotland and London!

    • Save East Coast Rewards says:

      Well some people complain about me going off topic 😉

      You must not confuse Virgin Trains (the west coast operator) with Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC). VTEC is still pretty much the old East Coast with generally good service only let down now by their loyalty scheme. Despite having Virgin in their name VTEC doesn’t have much to do with them (10% share).

      Weekend First is still cut down on VTEC (but it’s the same since 2011) but is much better than the Virgin WC offering.

      So I expected to be flying more with BA when they decided to ditch rewards and go with Nectar, but in reality I’m actually flying BA less.

      As a silver cardholder I don’t like:
      – The fact if I’m travelling hand baggage only they won’t even let me select a seat at check in, never mind at time of booking.
      – The higher density seating.
      – The journey to/from LHR (my regular route is NCL so LCY/LGW is not an option)
      – The lounge catering, I’d rather have something off the VTEC evening meal menu.

      The top issue was the straw that broke the camels back. Changing their seating policy said more to me about BA’s attitude to their customers than VTEC’s scrapping the rewards scheme.

      • Fenny says:

        Weekend food offerings in first on Virgin West Coast aren’t anything to write home about. The manky snack box is all you get for your money to/from Rugby.

  • Danksy says:

    One Direction aren’t my thing 😛 I’m in NY in a couple of weeks and was looked at the SPG moments for Madison Square Garden. At a whopping 55,000 points it puts into context how much of a bargain the O2 is!

    • Rob says:

      Will be interesting to see if 15,000 points is the new price level, down from the previous 20,000. There are not many UK residents with that many SPG points to drop.

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