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Bits: avoiding Virgin’s credit card fee, duty free ‘reserve and collect’ now at Heathrow

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News in brief:

How to avoid the Virgin Atlantic credit card fee but still earn double miles

One of the benefits of the Virgin Flying Club credit cards is double credit card miles when you purchase Virgin Atlantic tickets via the American Express part of the package.

Unfortunately, as the Virgin website charges a 1.5% credit card fee, this is unlikely to be a good idea.

A HfP reader came up with a solution.

If you book a flight on expedia.co.uk, it is often charged BY THE AIRLINE with the Expedia fee appearing as a separate item.  This happens with British Airways most of the time.

In turns out, at least on this occasion, that Virgin Atlantic operates the same way.  When the reader booked a Virgin flight on expedia.co.uk, the ticket appeared as Virgin Atlantic Airways on her Virgin credit card statement and triggered double miles.

You haven’t paid the 1.5% Virgin credit card fee however, just the Expedia booking fee.  For any major transaction, this is likely to work out cheaper.

You still receive tier points and miles on your flight even if you book via Expedia.  It is only the hotel companies who restrict your benefits if you don’t book direct.

Virgin Atlantic 747

World Duty Free rolls out ‘reserve and collect’ to Heathrow

World Duty Free, which runs the perfume, tobacco and giant size Toblerone duty free outlets in Heathrow, has launched ‘reserve and collect’.

You can reserve purchased between 1 month and 24 hours before departure via this special website.  Turn up at the airport on the day of your flight and your items will be waiting for you.  You do not need to pay in advance so you can still any WDF vouchers you may have.

This will make life easier for any HFP reader who has ever hunted around World Duty Free on behalf of their partner trying to find a particular brand counter and then track down some obscure French-sounding product, the purpose of which you do not understand anyway ….

Comments (19)

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

  • Brian says:

    “It is only the hotel companies who restrict your benefits if you don’t book direct.”
    Remember, though, the previous article on here about a reader who didn’t get Star Alliance points when booking through Amex. BA will always give you the points, I know, but other airlines may not.

    • Rob says:

      That was Amex Travel being naughty and selling someone a tour operator ticket and pocketing a huge mark-up by selling it for the same price as a normal flight.

      (This is common practice by the way. Why do you think travel agents still sell flights despite not getting commission? Because occasionally they can stiff you with one of these and make 50% commission.)

      Note that, had the airline been BA (which it wasn’t) it would still have earned standard Avios and tier points even then.

    • John says:

      I think it was US Amex and Delta? UK Amex makes the booking class very clear so as long as you make sure you know and record what you are buying…

  • Phillip says:

    WDF have been doing “reserve and collect” for years now. It’s a great idea, but I would use it with caution. I have had no end of issues with trying to get items reserved. The coordinators send out requests to the various counters and the returns have always been inaccurate. From being told something is reserved, when it wasn’t, to finding out they reserved the wrong quantities and so on and so forth. Furthermore, many of the counters will not reserve items more than a week in advance.

  • Mikescores says:

    Is it possible to buy/reserve items for collection on the way home after a long-haul trip ?

  • @alastairtravel says:

    Just to flag that booking Virgin through Expedia will not guarantee that your card will be charged by Virgin to get double points. This would only happen if you were buying a Virgin published fare (normally an indicator would be in the fare matches that on the Virgin website?

    In this case the agent will use your card to pay Virgin so as to pass the merchant fee onto Virgin.

    If you are booking a non-published fare then Expedia would charge your card and appear as the merchant on your statement.

    So might work, but not guaranteed

  • Roger says:

    Using expedia.co.UK can avoid the AmEx ripoff currency penalty. Prices for non-UK departures are generally quoted in GBP. 🙂

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Since it’s the ‘bits’ article, I’ll go offtopic and bring up the WSJ article about Carlson kicking the tires on a possible merger/sale

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/carlson-exploring-strategic-options-for-its-hotel-company-and-radisson-brands-1453398407

    Could be a good fit for Hyatt, expanding their international and downscale presence. Not sure that Carlson have picked the best point in the market cycle though.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, covering this tomorrow. Unlikely Hyatt would do it I think unless they really want to get into Europe in a big way, but it then effectively becomes a European business and the family may not want that.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        There are tons of Country Inns & Suites in the US though. Europe only accounts for 327 of their 1,111 properties. I count:

        574 USA & Canada
        327 Europe
        33 ME
        32 Africa
        106 APAC
        37 LATAM

        Of course, this is just the property distribution under the Carlson brands, the real estate distribution could have a significant geographic skew.

  • Lady London says:

    Dixons has reserved items for me. Last I checked they could do it up to 14 days ahead.
    Not sure if they will actually order in if your terminal’s branch doesn’t have the item, or if they can only get it from Dixons in the other terminals.

  • Nick M says:

    OT – using Hilton free night certificate

    I am trying to find some dates to use our Hilton certificates and understand that I need to be looking for “standard award availability” – which will be a round number (eg 80,000 points).

    I have tried a range of dates for the WA Amsterdam but can’t find anything at all – am I doing something wrong? (I’ve tried a range of dates – eg a random Tuesday in October) but there only seem to be rooms for 200k+

    • mark2 says:

      I just had a quick look and there seem to be about 60% of dates available. If you tick flexible dates’ it gives you a list.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      If you’re logged in, sometimes it won’t show results if you’re way off on number of points required. Try searching when logged out.

      NB also that the Hilton cert is for weekends only so you can’t use it on a Tuesday.

    • Danny says:

      The free night is for Friday-Sunday nights only.

      • Nick M says:

        I know, but after unsuccessfully searching several weekends I thought to check random weekdays and the ones I happened to choose didn’t have availability so thought I must have been doing something wrong

    • Nick M says:

      Thanks all – I hadn’t spotted the “flexible dates” option – but at least I can now see that there are some available for 95k and so it is just an issue of availability!

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