Nutmeg Avios

Bits: £20 Pizza Express Amex cashback, more uses for Avios as Alaska buys Virgin America

A rather eclectic selection of pieces today as we spent yesterday in the air:

£20 Pizza Express cashback for all Amex-issued Amex cards

A few new American Express cashback deals have appeared – you can see what you have been targetted for by going to your online statement page for each card and clicking the ‘Offers’ tag.

The most useful one is £20 cashback on a £50 Pizza Express spend.  This is valid until the end of June, but you only get the cashback once per card.

It doesn’t even matter if you aren’t targetted for it.  This particular offer has crossed over to the Amex ‘cardmember offers’ website.  You can register any Amex-issued personal Amex card there irrespective of whether it shows on your statement page.

If you have a Lloyds, MBNA or Barclays Amex-branded card, you can register at the Amex Connect website.


BA partner Alaska Airlines buys Virgin America

Alaska Airlines announced yesterday that it is buying Virgin America, the US regional airline which operates primarily on the West Coast.

I reviewed Virgin America in late 2014 and was impressed.  Even their safety videos were a substantial improvement on the usual turgid fare.

Alaska Airlines is a partner with British Airways Executive Club.  I wrote in this article how you can use your Avios points to redeem for their flights.

It is not yet fully clear what will happen to the Virgin America brand but Alaska is hinting that it will disappear, even if some elements of the Virgin service and approach live on.  The Elevate loyalty scheme seems likely to go, to be replaced by Mileage Plan.

Once the airline is fully integrated, which is likely to take two years because of the regulatory approvals needed, you should be able to redeem Avios for ex-Virgin America routes.  Until then, you will still be able to redeem Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles for Virgin America flights.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Earn Avios with IN-STORE and online purchases at Harvey Nichols this month
Bits: 7,200 Avios with any Dyson product, random thoughts on BA cabin crew
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  1. Peaceful Waters says:

    Now to find a way to spend over £50 at Pizza Express, after utilising my son’s 40% student discount.

    Won’t be easy!

  2. Daniel says:

    Or TasteCard deal..

  3. James says:

    Interesting as Alaska is ‘proudly all Boeing’ and VX is 100% airbus.

    • RIccati says:

      I actually would like to comment about Alaska taking over Virgin America —

      This is what airlines do these days, optimise yields, employ algos attempting to sell the commuter flight commodity for as much as possible, get every penny of revenue and then… spend it all at killing (strike that) ‘acquiring’ the competition.

      The shareholders of Virgin America are the winners, but not sure if customers will benefit from transferring the routes and planes to AlaskaAir.

  4. £20 off first UK Uber ride for new customers, code AMEX2016 (listed in offers on my Plat)

  5. Is it me or is that the weirdest looking plane?

  6. Brian says:

    The Pizza Express deal is also on the AMEX Connect page for those with non-Amex-issued cards.

  7. Jonathan says:

    Why are the amex offers so poor ?

    there used to be decent offers on mainstream shops or large discounts, now it seems to be token discounts on very niche retailers

    • You get a feeling that the big retailers who were interested gave it a go and decided the cost / benefit analysis was not worth it.

      I am, however, surprised that they are bothering to target some of the incredibly niche businesses that I now see on there which, with the best will in the world, will be redeemed by a handful of people at best.

      • The_Real_A says:

        Its not particularly helped that the only way we find out about new offers is to read it in the comments here. At least with Nationwide i receive a mail listing the new offers as they launch.

        • Raymond Hennessy says:

          I get the occasional e-mail from Amex about the offers, not regularly though.

    • Frenske says:

      Well not surprising. I got a £75 discount on a £169 espresso machine at Argos when they were doing £25 when spend £50. Argos nor AmEx did not make any single profit on that sale.

      In the case of Pizza Express the profit margins are much higher so they might still make a little profit on it. They are of course banking on the fact that bill might end up much higher than £50 (people tend to spend more when they get a discount). Most of the current AmEx offers are for shops with high margings e.g. what are true costs of making a piece of cothing.

    • Andrew says:

      That should be obvious. The early offers were tantamount to giving money away (spend £50, get £50 back). Great for us, not so great for Amex and the retailer.

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      I’ve made a small fortune out of booking airport parking through the recent Holiday Extras offer !

  8. Does anyone know if you can buy a £50 gift card through pizza express? Would this work?

    • If you bought it in a restaurant it work work, assuming the restaurants sell them. Online sales inc takeaway do not count for this offer.

  9. TomTom says:

    OT – What is the best way to book flights to/from Japan/Hong Kong with Avios? Possible to pay no fuel surcharges?

    • No fuel surcharges FROM Hong Kong, so book any trip as 2 x one ways as it is cheaper than a return.

      I assume JAL or Cathay can get you between Tokyo and HK and both should be low tax.

      If no 241 to burn, the cheapest way TO HK is using Cathay but starting in Europe, eg Dusseldorf, Amsterdam. Check aircraft type and seats first though.

      • TomTom says:

        Looking at the Finnair option from Helsinki to one of the Japan airports… How can I book a direct positioning flight from MAN to HEL on Avios? They don’t seem to offer the direct flight, only via LHR.

        • You can book the MAN flight, eg 1st December it is available, but availability only seems to be there further out.

          There is also Edinburgh to Helsinki and Dublin to Helsinki as options.

    • Umm, on the BA website?? There are no fuel surcharges for any tickets originating in Hong Kong or on Cathay

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Probably something out of Helsinki to Japan (don’t forget that AY fly to FUK and KIX as well as Tokyo), flight to HKG and then back from HKG, booked as three one-ways.

  10. Lumma says:

    I don’t know if many people have been targeted but I currently have £100 off with qantas when spending £600 in my gold Amex offers. It’s not available on either of my other cards however so it must be targeted.

  11. Nick_C says:

    The Pizza Express offer is showing on my partner card as well as my own. Can we get the discount twice on the two cards?

    We’ve only used the partner card once to get the 500 avios bonus.


    I am slightly worried about this Amex Pizza Express offers because it says not to be used for promotions or offers. Pizza Express often has Wednesday offers and Sunday meal deals – how are they going to tell if you have used an offer? I have signed up my Sainsburys nectar Amex and it seemed to register fine.

    • They won’t know. As long as a £50 charge hits your card you get the £20.

    • They won’t know. I redeemed it yesterday & also used a 25% off food items code in the same transaction. No problem at all and I got the confirmation email from Amex that the code had been redeemed before I even left the restaurant.

  13. Wally1976 says:

    OT – anyone know of a way of paying TV License with Amex (with no/minimal fee)? Thanks in advance

    • Take the reminder letter into your local Co-Op and pay with your AMEX there 🙂

      • Although, I should add, my local Co-Op [Kings Road, Chelsea] has staff which actively ask you what card you are using to pay for the bill – I have always said “my debit card” since they don’t ask to see it and that is all that needs saying. Very good method for paying Water Bills, Energy Bills and previously rent with my Amex… and since it is a BA Amex they probably end up £££in 🙂

        • mark2 says:

          If you get the Tesco money off coupons, use them to buy GoSpendIt cards at Tesco with Amex and get additional 7.2 Avios (or 7.5 Virgin miles) from Tesco ClubCard. You can then use the GSI card at Coop. This is not theory; I did it last week and will do it again this week.

      • Simmo says:

        My Co-Op still doesn’t seem to take AMEX! (despite the fact it works in others I’ve tried!)

    • Wally1976 says:

      Great, thanks folks. Need to check when renewal is and cancel the DD.

  14. whiskerxx says:

    Not sure why anyone would want to spend money in a Pizza Express.
    If its a pizza you want the Pizza Express brand are regularly sold at half price in Tesco and Waitrose.

    • Kathy says:

      That’s not terribly useful when I have an hour to eat dinner in central London between finishing work and seeing a play.

      • what, a cold, uncooked pizza express pizza doesn’t appeal? strange 🙂

    • You clearly have no kids (which, to be fair, is about the only way to get to £50 unless a group go out!).

      Clever thing to do I suppose would be to use Clubcard vouchers at 4x face for the food and then spend £50 on booze!

      • Callum says:

        Is Pizza Express (outside of especially affluent areas) really that popular with families? I didn’t know anyone who went while I was growing up – we all much preferred the lowbrow alternatives like Pizza Hut and Dominos!

        • Jonny says:

          Pizza express great for kids. My 2yo loves it, real treat for her. They’re v good with allergies etc (she’s lactose intolerant, can bring our own cheese etc). and I like the “Romana” pizzas too.
          Quite often the offers (e.g. 40% off) apply after 5pm Sunday, and can be redeemed against the kids menu – in which case the place tends to be full of young families.
          How one would spend £50 in such a scenario though is another question!

        • Pizza Express is my 4 year old’s favourite restaurant! She would eat nothing but dough balls & garlic butter given the chance! She actually prefers the pasta to the pizzas, as does our 1 year old.

          The colouring menus & stickers also help keep the kids occupied until the food arrives.

        • They didn’t exist when I was growing up! Pizza Hut is in huge retreat in the UK and shrinking aggressively – the healthy eating trend saw them off. Getting a Dominos delivery is not the same ‘meal experience’ (as the consultants would say) as an ‘eat in’ at a Pizza Express.

      • whiskerxx says:

        I’m sure everyone will be considering Pizza Express as part of a balanced diet, and not be increasing frequency of visit as a result of “getting something for nothing”. PE will of course have healthy products on their menu.(cough)
        But for information:
        Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
        In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 600 million were obese.
        39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2014, and 13% were obese.
        Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
        42 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2013.
        In 2013 in the UK 30% of boys and girls were overweight, that number is increasing.
        Obesity is preventable.

        • You clearly haven’t tried the ‘under 500 calorie’ leggera range of pizzas!

        • Kathy says:

          Yes, the leggera range is rather tasty.

        • whiskerxx says:

          Haven’t tried it, but I know its a pizza with a hole in the middle. Nutritional claims are akin to Walkers offering lower fat, lower salt crisps by putting less in a bag. Its marketing b******s*.
          Fact remains its largely fat, carbs (quite a lot of sugar in some), and salt. Very little protein.

        • Sussex bantam says:

          And in shock news today – pizza isn’t good for you revelation….

        • My wife eats the legara then manages to swill it down with a large glass of wine my 2 year says he wants half the money then ears dough balls or garlic bread so £50 goes in about 1 minute easily done

  15. Yeah I was thinking booze was the way. I tried to find their drinks menu yesterday to see how much the most expensive bottle of wine was, but they don’t seem to have drinks menu online

  16. don’t think ive ever seen a hfp report with quite so many comments on essentially a theme-chain restaurant! what happened to discussion of LPGS vs Krug? haha

    • Does Pizza Expess sell Krug?!

      • If you are in London you may have an offer for £25 off £50 at Mayfair Pizza Company. They sell Krug for £95 a bottle I believe. You could split the bill over two cards …..

        • thought I would double check that raffles for a laugh…and you are right! that is an incredible price, not sure how they can make money on that when I rarely see it RETAIL for less than 3 figures…tks for the tip! I might register for the offer for the wife and I and then just walk in there and see if we can buy a bottle, unopened, for £100, so effectively paying 50 pounds…cheapest bottle of krug ever purchased…will let you know how I get on!

        • Gavin says:

          Have that offer with Pizza Express too. Lots of pizza for me evidently. Don’t live in London but have saved the offer just in case…

        • Brian says:

          The Mayfair Pizza Co offer is on Amex Connect, so anybody can (or could) register, regardless of location.

  17. James says:

    OT – I am coming to (what I thought) was my first year of membership of Executive club, Which frustrated me because i am only 10 tier points from silver. However on closer inspection my BA app says Tier Point Collection Year Ends 8th April 2017.
    Why do I have OVER a year left??

  18. jonnyfive says:

    Most Pizza Express restaurants stock gift cards. They will just process this as a £50 transaction in store so don’t see why this wouldn’t work. Will test tomorrow.

    • I would be interested to know if the gift card purchase works in PE as I doubt my wife and I could consume £50 worth of food (less usual discount) especially as I don’t drink!

      • jonnyfive says:

        ok, tested this afternoon. Bought a £50 gift card in store at Baker St branch. AMEX email confirmation received 1 min later. 🙂

        • Genghis says:

          Thanks for head’s up. I did this today and email confirmation came as soon as I left the branch.

  19. Off topic, but Raffles said it would be OK to post it here.

    Looking for inspiration – I hope someone can help us. My wife and I would like to go to Las Vegas in September.

    We had been planning to use our flying club points to buy an economy ticket and upgrade to Premium both ways or upper class one way with virgin from LHR to LAX/LAS to make use of the UC lounge. However, the recent increase in points needed, and the fact we didn’t realise you can’t upgrade all economy fare tickets means we need to re-think.

    I’ve made a list of the points we have already. I think it’s fair to say our earnings potential between now and then are limited – maybe a few more avios points.

    Since looking around, we are thinking of using the Virgin points to get somewhere east coast USA (New York, Boston, maybe Chicago?) then use the avios or similar to get a domestic US reward flight.

    We normally fly economy so anything else would be a treat. We could then use the hotel points for a few nights as a stop off in America somewhere.

    We live in the midlands so travelling from Heathrow and back to Manchester/Birmingham via Ireland could also be an option.

    Would be interested in people’s thoughts and ideas. Thanks!

    BAEC 5k
    Avios 3k
    Emirates skywards 15k
    Virgin FC 30k each (60k ttl)

    Club Carlson 90k
    IHG 50k
    SPG 11k
    Heathrow Rewards 5k (convert to avios?)