Bits: £1 BA ‘hold your fare’ offer, new Barclays credit card rules, Premier Inn ‘stay 3, get 1 free’

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Some news in brief:

Hold the price of your British Airways flight for just £1

A relatively new British Airways feature is the ability to ‘hold’ the price of a flight for 72 hours for a fee of £10.  This gives you ability to lock in a price whilst you try to firm up other arrangements.

To be honest, I am sceptical about the value of this versus the cost – mainly because it does not apply within 21 days of departure, which is when prices are more likely to shoot up overnight.

To promote the service, until September 29th the fee is reduced to just £1.  If you find a British Airways fare that you like, you can lock it in for 72 hours for a quid.  At that price, you really can’t complain.

Full details are on here.

Hilton Visa

Barclaycard brings in new rules on card issuance

Barclaycard issues three of the most interesting non-flight reward cards I cover – the Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa (review here, EXCELLENT deal with a free night for spending £750) and the two IHG Rewards Club cards, which are currently on special offer as I wrote at the weekend.

As these are both pure Visa cards with no Amex element, they will be hit VERY hard by the new rules which will limit the charges that Visa and MasterCard can make to retailers.

In what may be a response to this, Barclaycard appears to have brought in some new rules on who can get a card.  These rules are not available in writing but have been discussed on the telephone with some HFP readers.

You cannot apply for a card if you have already had it in the previous six months (this is an old rule which remains)

You cannot have two Barclaycard-issued credit cards at the same time (this is new)

The latter means that you can no longer hold both the Hilton HHonors and IHG Rewards Club cards.  I can see the logic behind this – why pay for a sign-up bonus when the cardholder will simply shift spend from one Barclays card to another? – but it is annoying.  I held both the Hilton and IHG cards for a time earlier this year.

It will take a while before we know if these rules are being strictly enforced, but they are definitely meant to be in place.

Premier Inn

Free night with Premier Inn

I don’t cover Premier Inn much on Head for Points but I do recommend them – I was in the Scarborough one on Saturday.  Whilst £78 per night was not a bargain, the room was large and spotless and I had absolutely no complaints.

From 21st September to 31st January, you can earn a free Premier Inn night if you complete three separate stays.

Your three stays must each be for a minimum of £39.

The free night must be used on a Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday before the end of February 2016.

You need to register for this promotion via this link.  Existing bookings count as long as you register before you check in.  Thanks to Alex.

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  1. I much rather use the 24h cooling off period. This covers you all the way along as your booking is not in 24 hours. Also remember that the £1/£10 is taken off the fate of you do choose to issue the ticket so all is not lost!

    • Hi slightly OT – does anyone know when I will get the free night certificate when I hit the £750 spend for the Hilton card – I’ve hit it a couple of weeks ago but nothing on my account / email – thanks!

      • I think they do them in batches… I got mine within a couple of weeks of hitting the spend. My wife had to wait a bit longer. Shouldn’t be too long, but HHonours are pretty good if you email them to ask when to expect it.

        • You should get it pretty fast!
          For me it hasn’t been the first full month yet since got the card, but got my certificate already.
          Might worth to drop them an email. 😉
          Good luck!

      • I think they do them once a month or so – I got mine quickly but when I wrote about it, others reported it was slow. I also get batches of email queries about the vouchers at the same time which implies the emails go out at once.

        Vouchers currently have a 12 month expiry rather than the promised 6 months. Not sure if a glitch or a new policy and they forgot to update the website.

        • What is the rule with redeeming the free vouchers for IHG and Hilton. If you hit the target spend in, say Sept 15, do you have to redeem and stay by Sept 16 or can you redeem by Sept 16 and stay after Sept? It’s not clear on the T&C’s. Thanks

        • That’s handy to know Rob as I’m waiting for mine. If it is valid for 12 months that’d be good.

    • flyforfun says:

      Having 72 hours to hold your flight is great when you have an a*hole of a boss that doesn’t sign off holiday leave requests quickly enough. I lost many sale fares in my last company because every time I requested it, he’d take days to come back, even when I prompted him.

  2. Re Premier Inn, are qualifying rates a minimum of £39 or over £39? My reading of the website was ‘over’ and that therefore bookings of £39/night (of which I already have 2) are not eligible.

    • I think it is bad wording. If £39 rooms were excluded, anyone sensible would say ‘Spend over £40’ so it was crystal clear. But I could be wrong …..

      For some reason Premier Inn doesn’t want to be involved with HFP so I can’t approach anyone to ask.

      • I read it that bookings must be £40 or above. I see no wording which suggests that £39 rates are included (phrases include “over £39” and “above £39”). I don’t see why a clarifying call to the Great Night Giveaway helpdesk should be an issue (via the 0333 number stated on website), even if they don’t want to “be involved with HFP”?

      • @alastairtravel says:

        Premier Inn like to do their own thing – they don’t really work with travel agents / TMCs either unless there is no alternative due to major corporate deals

      • That’s their loss Rob.

  3. The Barclaycard rules. Can you close the IHG card and immediately apply for the Hilton?

    • As long as you had held the IHG card for 6 months, so there is a 6 month gap between apps, it reads as if you are ok.

      • Where on the site is the 6 month cooling off detailed? Can’t see it in any of the links on the front page?

        Does this mean if you have a standard Barclaycard, you need to wait 6 months before applying to the HIlton again? Or just 6 months between HIlton cards?

      • That’s handy to know 🙂
        Wife and I both took out premium cards and I cancelled hers, have ended up spending over 20k on mine and only got 1 voucher……what a silly billy I am 🙁

    • I assume the Barclays rule will be for new cards only – or will they shut off one of my IHG or Hilton cards suddenly?

    • It seems it’s now only possible to take out a new Barclaycard issued credit card if you don’t already have one. The following is copied from their website…

      Best suited for people:
      Who do not already have a credit card provided by us, including one of our partner cards. Our partnership cards include Hilton HHonorsTM, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Littlewoods and Caravan Club.

      • i applied last week and already have the platinum card got home from work and the new card is on my doormat already and they did not even tell me if i was approved or not lol ,thanks for the heads up about the extra points raffles

  4. OT – I registered for SPG as recommended a few weeks ago & have been offered 2x “stay a night, get a free category 1-5 redemption”… is there a link to see which hotels this includes? Can’t seem to find it at the moment! Thanks!

  5. OT: what’s everyone’s view of the Swissport lounge at LHR T3? Is it as busy as the notorious T5 Prioritypass accessible lounges?

    I have a flight with CX in October and see that’s the only option with my LoungeClub Card that came with the Amex gold card.


    • I think the only priority pass lounge in T5 is the Aspire lounge – is that particularly busy?

      I’ve not been to the Swissport lounge at T3, but I have been to the Servisair lounge. The Swissport one cannot be any worse than the Servisair lounge, it’s just not possible.


    This is the most depressing update I’ve read all day. I knew about the premier Inn offer but I had not registered yet until I saw that current bookings count if you had spent over £39. I had 2 bookings already so I signed up and went to my bookings – both £35! This particular Premier Inn I stay at a few times a year so I hang on for the sale rooms which are either £29 or £35. I think to take advantage of this offer you need to know which PIs have sale rooms above the £39 level.

    • On the upside, if this is the worse thing that happens to you all day then life can’t be too bad 🙂

    • You should try reading the news. Hundreds of people crushed on a bridge in the Middle East, the refugee crisis showing no signs of abating, people drowning, bombs exploding, David Cameron STILL Prime Minister…

      Slightly more depressing than the fact that you have two bookings at 35 pounds….

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Could be worse. You could be a pig who recently accepted an apparent innocuous invitation to tour No. 10

  7. One assumes the cards are seen by the hotel groups as important incentives to switch and then stay loyal (hence the double points for spend with the hotel group). The cards are used as marketing tools on their website. To be inhibited from taking one out because you have the other, sounds like something the hotel group wouldn’t be happy with.

    Let’s hope MBNA don’t take the same decision.You might only get one bonus ever per card, but at least you can have a few of them.

    • Please email SPG and suggest double points to them 🙂

      There is also an element of assuming that if you see a company logo every time you open your wallet, you will eventually gravitate towards them more. Marriott, especially, also likes to fill your statement envelope with special offers.

      • SPGs a bit of an oddball, I’m note quite sure what we are paying £75 for as the card has nothing going for it except the 20k signup bonus for over 18 months if I recall correctly. Giver the versatility of SPG points though I happily signed up even for 10k.

        • I’m hopping for a similar relaunch of this card as to whats happened in the States. Wishful thinking maybe haha

  8. Paul Irving says:

    If you spend 3 nights at say £40, can you then use your free night at a central London hotel that normally costs circa £120 a night?

    • cheekychappie says:

      Can I redeem my free stay at any Premier Inn?
      Free stays can be redeemed in over 700 UK Premier Inn sites, excluding Preston West, Wakefield Central, Warrington Centre, Wigan West (M6, Jct 26) and Wirral (Bromborough) and any hub by Premier Inn hotels.

    • In the previous two years when they have ran this Promotion I have found that availability in “Central” London is very low.

      Two years ago I ended up at Beckton and last year was Stratford.

      • I redeemed with no issues for a central London property two years ago. As I recall the availability matched those available for sale on the website, although perhaps this has changed since?

  9. Mark Phillips says:

    What happens if you already hold both a Hilton Honors and an IHG Barclaycard? Can you keep them both or will one have to be closed down?

    • You can keep them, but you won’t be allowed to get back into that position if you cancel one.

      Hilton is biggest loser as the IHG card is the only one worth keeping because of the annual free night.

      • I’m surprised the hotel chains will sit and let barclaycard do this. Especially given this point

    • I suspect it’s meant to be like the 6 month rule to stop sign on bonuses.
      If people were getting the cards, and keeping them, I doubt this rule would have been introduced 🙁

  10. cheekychappie says:

    O/T bit

    Register your UK Card to get a £5 statement credit on a transaction of £20 or more on London Restaurant Festival Menus between 1 – 31 October. Valid up to four times per Card for the first 15,000 Cardmembers to register their UK Card . Terms apply.

  11. I have a Barclaycard Rewards Amex+Visa combo. Anyone know if I can also apply for the IHG card (again!!!)?

    • Might not come through but only left to try, especially if you are not applying for anything else.

      Make sure 6 months are passed from the time you closed IHG card.

      If you do, please tell us the outcome.

    • Unfortunately not, it seems from their website it’s now only possible to take out a new Barclaycard issued credit card (Barclaycard or partnership card) if you don’t already have one. Partnership cards include Hilton HHonorsTM, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Littlewoods and Caravan Club.

  12. The BA hold flights facility saved us wasting some flights the other week when a meeting changed during the 72 hour hold. If you don’t want to forfeit the hold fee if your plans change a trick is to go ahead and purchase the flights anyway and then use the 24 hour cooling off period to cancel the tickets. That way you get your (usual cost) £5 hold fee per passenger back (automatically) and the cost of the flights. Not worth the hassle for £1 and only really when there is more than 1 passenger. We did this. It worked, but phoning BA during the 24 hour cooling off window to cancel is a total pain and takes ages (20 minutes on hold).

    • So BA effectively has a 96-hour cooling off period then? As long as your credit limit can take the hit?

  13. I thought the hold a fair was £5 well that’s what I paid last week.

    Can’t use it when doing part cash part avios though.

  14. Really glad I did online check-in for Premier Inn yesterday, grrrr!

    I’m curious Raffles, on average how many nights a week do you stay in a hotel?

  15. I was a bit disappointed to read that Barclays are changing the rules on their cards and quickly applied for the Hilton card this morning. I’ve only had the IHG card for 2 months but have just received an email confirming I’ve been approved for the Hilton card.

  16. Hi, is it true that sometimes if you look up flights to a certain destination on a certain date if you don’t book straight away the website will use cookies to put the price up next time (as they know you are interested in them)?

    • Yes I’ve been told this is done by some LCCs but as far as I know not by BA. One way to avoid doing this (unless you want the hassle of clearing every cookie off your computer) is to use the Incognito mode if you use Google Chrome – or no doubt a similar facility exists with other browsers?

      • I refuse to believe this is true. I challenge people every single time the claim is made and not a single person has ever managed to demonstrate it.

        It doesn’t even make that much sense. You’re just as likely to be deliberating because you aren’t sure you want to spend that much, if they push up the price then you may not fly with them at all.

        • Of the instances I have seen of this in other sectors, it is more about the ORDER prices are shown. For example, a hotel site may list results to iOS users starting with the most expensive whilst it may list them to Android users starting with the cheapest. The prices, however, remain the same.

    • I don’t think any airline which publishes fares to a GDS can do this

      • My partner just got his Hilton Barclaycard, having had the IHG barclaycard for about 5 months now, so the rule on having two at same time obviously not in effect yet.

        • Barclaycard exercises a manual review on this policies. It’s not automatic. The application goes in as usual and passes credit scoring.

  17. Important to mention that using a travel agent, as long as you don’t abuse the privilege, allows you to hold bookings on (almost) all fares, without paying a fee.

  18. I wonder are barclays declining people due to already having a card from them AFTER doing a credit search ?

    Bit hard to give someone a hit on their credit profile, if there is absoutely no chance of them getting the card because of an in-house rule, rather than due to credit worthniess.

    The hit alone will affect the persons future credit worthiness.

    • — I wonder are barclays declining people due to already having a card from them AFTER doing a credit search ?

      I had exactly the same impression. After an application, the website offered to create an online banking profile (and gave the same message as for approved application back in April). The credit scoring was done and it seems application passed their lending criteria.

      But subsequently, I found out that the application was cancelled.

    • Wouldn’t worry about it. One search will have negligible consequences (or maybe none at all, as there are three credit ref agencies in the UK – experian, equifax and call – and most companies will only use one, so the search won’t be recorded by the other two).

      If the publicity from the people flogging alleged credit scores has spooked you though, you can do “soft” indicative applications with Cap 1 or through Money Saving Expert etc which will give you a mostly accurate idea of which type of cards you’ll be accepted for at any one time, but without generating a search record.

      • To sort out the myths,

        All UK financial credit providers hit Experian and might hit Equifax/other.

        One search alone does not make a dent but every next search within a short period likely to have an increasingly negative weight.

        How short — defined by lenders themselves internally.

        • I didn’t know there were any myths.

          Of course all credit providers use the reference agencies.

          Of course 1 recent search adds to you credit search history. However, if barclaycard are going to turn you down REGARDLESS of your credit rating, they there is no point in them doing the search, I wonder do they have a right to do it when it is predetermined that you will be declined anyway. And in doing that useless search, it might put your credit search history to a point whereby it will NOW stop you taking out a credit card that you would go for, after being refused the barclay one.

  19. I am presuming this includes the ordinary platinum barclaycard? Was going to give up my IHG visa in due course and then re-apply. I don’t want to have to give up my long-standing card for credit rating purposes. Should I just keep the IHG? I’ve got the Amex etc.

    • I was under the impression the more credit you have the more detrimental it is to your credit score. So I though cancelling cards you are not going to use was a good idea!

      • My understanding is that it’s wise to keep older cards to keep up your credit rating – you can reduce the various credit limits etc.

      • cheekychappie says:

        You need to think that £15-20K of credit is fine, anything more isn’t helpful and anything less than £10K could be better.

      • It’s also supposed to be good to have credit you don’t use, though, so that it’s clear you’re not desperately spending up to your limit.

        I spent quite a while reading about credit ratings when I went self-employed a little while back, because I was worried I’d never be able to get a credit card again. I ended up reaching two conclusions: 1. nobody really knows how they work, and 2. if your credit *is* good, then your credit rating will be good, and it’s not worth worrying about denting it by trivial things like applying for a card every six months. (As opposed to denting it by significant things like missing payments and defaulting on debts – which it’s easy to forget a lot of people do.)

        • cheekychappie says:

          It is all very individual – as you say – but average people here, ie not the FTSE100 CEOs et al – would be about right to think £20K credit over 4 cards is good, another £10K is OK, more than that they start to ask questions.

      • It’s not the amount of credit you have (above certain, high threshold in proportion to income).

        It is a credit utilisation. It is often cited (FICO forums) that if you spend above 30% of your credit limit then it is seen negatively by the lenders. (The old irony: to get credit you must show that you don’t need credit).

        Yes, having a very old credit card helps. More so, an old current account — lenders like a show of a custom.

        • P.S. It terms of going above 30% of credit limit — lenders will be able to see if there are any promotional BT on your account and might choose to treat them more leniently than ‘normal’ credit card debt.

        • Different companies, different policies – and at different times. It’s perfectly possible to be turned down for a card if the issuer fears you won’t use it to borrow much, especially if they’ve suddenly decided to accept greater risk in return for the possibility of more income and – hopefully – profit.

          A credit history showing low utilisation and full monthly balance pay off is pretty unattractive to many issuers, especially with the new EU cap on interchange fees.

          I’ve a feeling someone with existing card limit utilisation percentages below 30 will soon find it harder to get cards from the likes of cap1, Barclays, Aqua, provident etc than someone with higher balances and even a few missed payments. Especially if there are rewards attached to the cards.

          Time and eventual interest rate rises will tell.

          • Agreed, I found I had a much higher rejection rate when applying previously for IHG or Hilton (compared to a zero rejection rate with Amex or MBNA) – I could only surmise that they felt I wasn’t going to earn them anything in fees!

          • — It’s perfectly possible to be turned down for a card if the issuer fears you won’t use it to borrow much

            It’s perfectly possible but not perfectly fine. Only lenders that specialise in sub-prime or near practise this. Barclaycard, Aqua, Capital One, etc. Call it a predatory lending.

            Generally the better your credit quality — the lender is happy to take you on board.

            — A credit history showing low utilisation and full monthly balance pay off is pretty unattractive to many issuers

            This is quite a speculation and can be dangerous. Lenders usually offer outright credit limits of 5-7k per card that can be perceived very high. This allows them to lock-in a customer — two-three cards with such limits and fourth lender will deny. Often you have to call and reduce the credit limit.

            30% utilisation comes from these numbers, 7k*30% = £2,100 — think what should be a monthly income to put this spending through the card (barring ‘manufactured spending’) and then, what should be gross salary to do this on a couple of cards?

            A missed payment is a NO NO. It must be at least a year old and will blemish your credit record for six years. I’ve seen mortgage applications declined outright because of a missed payment that is 2-3 years old.

          • I had a missed payment on a tesco credit card, for about 3 weeks, until I realised I’d missed the payment when I received another statement from them showing no payment.
            Turns out they have a problem with their credit card app and I’m getting 2 statements because the card number changed when I had some fraudulent use on the card. It’s still not fixed but I know which statement to use now.
            All the charges and fees were refunded but I wonder if that will stay on my file for 6 years.
            Fortunately the cards I seem to use most, Amex, seem to approve my applications, although I can’t remember if I’ve done one since the tesco incident.
            Fortunately I won’t be using my card much from November, should I cancel or drop credit limit down to £500, it’s the old card 1 point per £2 spend.

  20. O/T. does BA have a daily update to their Off peak chart … Looking to book an award seat on the 29th of Sep for next Sep ??

    Any help would be appreciated

  21. Put in a dummy booking that’s how I get it.

  22. I received the IHG Visa card yesterday whilst still holding a barclaycard Platinum Visa although I did half the credit limit before applying. I didn’t get approved straight away so was a bit surprised when it just arrived in the post. I have already managed 4 stays this month so have 2 x free nights to use, hopefully in New York next year. The 40,000 sign up bonus will help me towards a third night.
    All this through subscribing to your emails so thanks for all the info.

  23. Is the hilton free night offer churnable? If I cancel now, will I be able (under current rules of course) be able to get another one in 6 months or so?

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