Bits: 30% bonus on buying Avios – good deal?, new Gatwick Express trains in service

More news in brief:

30% bonus for buying Avios – a good deal? has launched a new ‘buy Avios’ bonus.  You will receive up to 30% extra Avios with any purchase you make before 17th March.

The bonus is structured like this:

10% bonus Avios – 1,000-15,000 Avios
20% bonus Avios – 16,000-34,000 Avios
30% bonus – 35,000 Avios

At the top end, which is the cheapest deal you can get, you will pay 45,500 Avios for £575.  That is 1.26p each.

Regular readers won’t be surprised to hear that I don’t recommend buying speculatively at this price.  I have a spreadsheet showing the last 2,800,000 Avios I spent and I appear to have got 1.07p of value for each.  This is based on a ‘realistic alternative price’ valuation method.

If you need a few thousand Avios next week, of course, you might as well jump in.  If you have no immediate plans to use them, I would be holding back – a good Tesco promotion, for example, can get you the points for less than this.  The recent Groupon deal with Iberia Plus let you buy Avios for 0.7p.

The strength of the Euro means that buying via Iberia Plus is not a good alternative at the moment.  Buying 45,000 Avios via IB (which is not running a bonus) costs €845 or £654.

However …. look at it this way.  You can buy 45,000 Avios – any day of the week – via Iberia Plus for £654 at the current exchange rate at this page.  On that basis, if you are a speculative buyer with no plans to use them, you aren’t taking much risk in ignoring the offer (£575 for 45,500) in the hope that a better deal will come along.  As a last resort you could go back to Iberia and pay £654.

The ‘buy Avios’ link is here if you are interested.

Gatwick Express new trains

New Gatwick Express trains now being introduced

The first of a new £145m fleet of 27 trains for the Gatwick Express route is now in service.

Details can be found on the Gatwick Express website here.

There isn’t much to get excited about here, unfortunately.  They are basically souped up commuter trains with wider doors, a few more power sockets and wi-fi – but the same cheap thin seats.  Some services will continue to run to and from Brighton which will make getting a seat at Gatwick tricky.

First Class, importantly, appears to feature the same 2 x 2 seating as Standard Class.

My guide to getting discounted train tickets to Gatwick Airport is here.

'Credit Cards' page updated for March 2016 - what are the best deals this month?
9,600 Avios or 10,000 Virgin miles with Tesco Home Insurance - plus summary of other Tesco offers
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  1. Martin says:

    Did you realise that when buying Avios through BAEC with a BA Am Ex card it does not count as a BA spend, so only one point per GBP. Is this fair and legal, I tried to take this up with Am Ex who said it was a BA EC issue. Persued the Ex Club to supervisor level, who said she would investigate and get back. She did call and left a message to say she had called, no information. I’m afraid I gave up at this point. Any thoughts? Why is BA EX club so difficult to deal with when there is an issue?

    • They go via for processing as do 90% of airline and hotel groups. Should be clearer I admit.

  2. Thanks for running this, always looking for a miles top up + currently need to be hitting a spend target.

  3. Martin says:

    PS I gave up when I called the extension and name given by the supervisor to be told they change desks and nobody knew who she was! Forgot the best bit lol this was the Manchester office btw.

  4. Brian says:

    Presumably, one pays £575 for 45,500 Avios and not the other way round! :)) Otherwise, it would actually be a good deal…

  5. Did everyone get all the points from the Groupon offer? I have never been able to claim one of my vouchers for 2000 avios as the website does not recognise the codes. I can not even log into the account I set up at the time and I never receive an email when I click on forgot password. I have emailed Groupon but no response yet. Luckily it was only the 2000 code so I have not lost too much.

    • Tom H says:

      Yep got all mine after quite some time as did Harry I think. There was a lot on FT about it with useful contact details

    • Bigglesgirl says:

      Hi Pid,
      Nope. Ordered all 5 vouchers. Got them through. Went onto the Groupon website. Entered all five voucher numbers, clicked through the enter my Iberia number and thought all was OK.
      Only one out the of the five ever converted, so only got 12k Avios. Groupon and Iberia have been terrible to deal with – Iberia blame Groupon and vice-versa. Groupon only ever email me in Spanish too.
      I’ve now reached the end of my tether and a phone call to my credit card company will be made this week before I miss the 90 day purchase protection deadline.
      Shocking – will never look at using Iberia or Groupon again

    • Looks like I did not too badly then as my others went through. Will have to check which card I used, I think it might have been the supercard so not sure if I will get anything back from them.

    • Mine haven’t gone through either. I only bought one, it’s been marked as redeemed on Groupon but they haven’t shown up in Iberia. Comms with Groupon haven’t been helpful, going to do a dispute with PayPal to get my money back.

  6. Enigma368 says:

    You can now use Oyster to get train to Gatwick. I dont think you save much getting the Gatwick Express but if you get the Southern or Thameslink it is only £8 one way ( I was charged £10.40 from East London so they must add on the initial tube fare to connect to the train). If you have an annual gold card, this would be reduced by 30%. Much cheaper than before.

    • Lumma says:

      It’s £8.60 from east London as long as you avoid zone 1, I think they expect you to get the overground to new cross gate or Norwood junction then change to national rail. It’s slightly quicker again if you can be bothered to change again at east Croydon to a non stop train.

      Just going from say, Blackfriars to gatwick is just £8 though.

      • And even cheaper if you have an Oyster season ticket. I have zones 1-2 and now costs me £3.85 Clapham Junction to Gatwick, my wife has zones 1-4 and it only costs £2:)

        • Enigma368 says:

          Hard to justify the £20 Gatwick Express Oyster fare when you get a train that is 5-10mins slower for as little as 20% of the price.

  7. Nadir says:

    OT, but comments are closed on the Barclaycard IHG Rewards Card post.

    Does anyone know how points earned through the IHG Barclaycard are treated if you set your earning preference to earn miles rather than points? Do the points get converted to miles, and at what rate?

    I know you can convert them manually in batches, but I think you get a slightly better rate (esp when staying in the higher end hotels) if you have miles as your earning preference. Just don’t know if that applies to points earned through credit card spend.

  8. @mkcol says:

    Well seeing Rob’s valuation makes me pretty darn happy that I got a smidge over 5p per Avios value on a recent redemption 🙂

    • Genghis says:

      Valuing avios is really difficult. On my most recent redemption LHR-PVG, HKG-LHR in J cost 150k avios + about GBP1k in taxes for 2 pax using a 241. The cash price was around GBP7k so I got around 4ppa of value. However, would I have paid GBP7k cash for the fare? No. I’d have taken a BA / ME3 ex-EU fare for much cheaper so I’m not truly getting 4ppa of value.

      I’m a spreadsheet buff. Do others keep spreadsheets for value of avios redemptions? Do you value the avios at what you would have paid or the value that you actually got for the flight taken?

      • Fenny says:

        This sounds like one of the accounting exam questions I had years ago on valuing goods at historic or current cost!

        • Genghis says:

          Lol. I’m an accountant by training myself but still cannot figure out how to value them. I don’t want to value at historic cost as many avios are picked up for nothing (flights). I think if I stick to 1p, if I get more value from them great and will buy if less than 0.75p.

        • harry says:

          I’m just a bricklayer (am I? lol) and am an inveterate averager. I get so many ‘free’ Avios by the various wheeling & dealing that HFP boards often point to, I was also very happy to pick up 230,000 Avios in the last 12 months for actual money (Groupon etc) to put some chunky Avios in the bank. I guess my average has to be well under 0.5p.

          Got a million or so stuffed down the back of the settee.

        • Fenny says:

          Does 20 avios with a £2.80 coffee make the coffee good value or the avios expensive?

        • Lady London says:

          Depends which coffee.
          If Starbucks, very very expensive indeed.
          If something with a bit more coffee in it, cheaper 🙂

      • I completely agree. The only reason why I have Avios (or any other program) is FLEXIBILITY. For instance, I booked a rtrn flight to Boston from Madrid for 200£ (Cash), however I needed a flight to Madrid. The dates are just after Easter, and cash flights were around 200£ rtrn in economy: never ever I’d pay so much for travelling within Europe. Nevertheless I used 20.000 Avios + 40£ to travel there and back in Business, so technically I saved 60£ since I would never pay more than 100-150£ (depending on distance) to anywhere in Europe from London.I couldn’t even bother to check how much the price in business was.

        • harry says:

          agreed with the flexibility bit

          plenty of people would like to know how you got Madrid – Boston – Madrid for £200 lol – I guess a typo or a v cheap ex EU eco deal

    • @mkcol says:

      Well just to help with valuations…..I was already booked on a flight with my hubby but I used 32,500 Avios (no taxes, fees or other sundry charges on top) to buy a 3rd “comfort” seat for us. The alternative they would have charged was £1652 which was the base fare (before taxes, fees etc etc which still would not have been charged as no person travelling).

      I would NEVER pay that much cash for a 3rd seat, however more than happy to part with 32,500 Avios that I’ve picked up on credit card/Tesco promos.

  9. In Bangkok on hols at the moment but slightly overexcited by the thought of new Gatwick trains. Which is sad. I do the regular commute on the new through Brighton route. Dead easy to get a seat at Gatwick on the through trains as not every ticket is eligible from Brighton.

  10. Andrew says:

    As we are talking about airport parting, has anyone mentioned the extortionate £2.50 that Luton is charging now for dropping off? Maximum of 10 minutes and you can’t leave the car unattended.

    • blenz10 says:

      Leeds Bradford have had similar £2 fee for years. I do feel for Uber etc. as their drivers end up having to pay this cash just to drop off / collect which isn’t recovered by the App.

  11. Andrew says:

    Er, that should have been airport parking, but parting is it probably better!

    • Sussex bantam says:

      My favourite drop off is at Geneva where it is called ‘kiss and fly’ !!

  12. O/T – Hilton have a 7 day flash sale kicking off 2moro, expect Rob will be running it…

    I’ve already booked on it for a stay in the Cairngorms for Sept… DBB for 2, = £76, cracking bargain..

    • Thanks for the heads-up – knew the sale was on from tomorrow but didn’t realise they’d already loaded the rates today!

    • Genghis says:

      Isn’t it only valid for stays until 3 July?

      • Indeed so, although sometimes properties seem to mistakenly load sale fares for longer than they should – they also sometimes forget to restrict them to weekends only! Mind you have tried three different properties I’m looking to book and only one of them has Flash Sale rates loaded yet, presume the others will be overnight.

    • Staying in Hilton Dunblane tonight on a deal, £50 for bed and breakfast. Diamond status recognised, upgraded to a suite and given a welcome carrier bag with water and jelly beans, and free drinks voucher. I might even get some points out of this!

      • I like the DoubnleTree? in Dunblane, lovely building.

        Be sure to get your cookie before you leave! Lol 🙂

        • Oh yeah got a couple of those too! Great hotel and very busy tonight. The 5pm deals every Dec/Jan.

  13. When two of us travel via LGW we use our Two Together Railcard to get a Thameslink LGW-London Travelcard Zones 1-6. It costs £8 each. You are restricted to taking a Thameslink train from LGW.