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Bits: Lock in your holiday € exchange rate now, Etihad First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi open

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News in brief:

Lock in your exchange rate now if travelling to Europe this Summer

There is general agreement that the £ will drop if the UK votes to leave the European Union on 23rd June.  Many are predicting a fall to parity – 1:1 – which would mean a 20% drop in the value of the Pound against the Euro.

The £ has fallen by 5c in the last five days after a couple of opinion polls showed the ‘leave’ camp ahead’ so this is not an unrealistic scenario.

If you are planning a holiday in the Eurozone which is not fully prepaid, you are looking at a potential 25% increase in the cost of your holiday.  A similar is expected against the US$ and other major currencies so you are not immune from the risk if you travelling further abroad.

A reader pointed out to me that Moneycorp allows you to reserve foreign currency via its website for collection up to a month in advance.  You do NOT pay in advance and there is no penalty if you fail to collect.  You are buying a free one-way option on the exchange rate.

Moneycorp is not at Heathrow but there are Central London branches where you could also pick up your money.  Alternatively, you could buy your currency now from someone else who offers a free buy-back guarantee which is valid beyond 23rd June.

Etihad First Class lounge

Etihad First Class Lounge now – finally – open

Etihad has, after a series of delays which began to rival those of the Qatar Airways First Class lounge at the new Doha airport, opened the doors on its First Class lounge in Abu Dhabi.

There is a special page on the Etihad website describing it.

The access rules are a bit odd in that you cannot get access if you arrived in Abu Dhabi in Etihad First Class but are transferring onto a two class route which does not have First.  On the other hand, top tier Etihad members can always get in, unlike the Concorde Room at Heathrow which is blocked to a BA Gold.

Another oddity is that, like Qatar Airways, it is charging for the majority of spa and shave treatments.

The facilities do sound impressive though.  A bar with 75 premium spirits, a kids room with a Norland-trained nanny on duty at all times so you can leave your little ‘uns in safety, a full gym (but no gym kit provided oddly), a cigar lounge, a clothes pressing service and a fine dining restaurant is just the start of it.

I have 80,000 Etihad miles to use, and I am tempted to use them towards a one-way First Class trip out of Abu Dhabi next time I am in the Middle East.  I have never covered Emirates A380 First for HfP so I may try to tie both together in the same trip.  I’ll need to earn a few more brownie points from my wife before I’m allowed to disappear for a few days and do that though ……

American Airlines

Massive changes to the American Airlines programme

American Airlines finally confirmed the details of its move to a revenue based loyalty programme yesterday.  Showing an astonishing lack of originality, it has simply copied the structure being used by United which was a direct copy of the one pioneered by Delta.  Who made it up at random, as far as I can tell.

The highlights are:

A new tier below Executive Platinum called Platinum Pro, mainly introduced to devalue the benefits of the huge number of Lifetime Platinum members that AA has

Revenue based earning from travel after 1st August (only applies to AA flights and not partner airlines)

Minimum spend requirements for elite status.  These apply to members globally – flights on partner airlines such as BA, which may make up the bulk of flights credited by a UK member to an AA account, will be given a nominal $ value unrelated to the real ticket cost.

I don’t claim to be an expert on AA so if you want to know more I suggest you turn to the US frequent flyer sites.  This article is a good place to start.

Comments (124)

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

  • Yuff says:

    Just got the dreaded notification, from the Myflights app,of a change of plane from Auh to LHR 🙁 at October half term.
    Have contacted Etihad to see if we can change flights and the very kind lady has emailed head office to see if that will be possible.

  • James67 says:

    A little late in the day for currency anxiety. Took care of this scenario last year when £ was over €1.4, $1.6 and 55TBaht, abd I’m good for about two years. Just cannot see brexit happen though, polls exclude don’t knows and they will be afraud if change. Also suspect there will be a ‘quiet tory’ ohenomenon with mwny remain voters unwilling to voice their views. I suspect a comfortable remain vote is likely with brexits only hope being a low remain turnout at the polls.

    • Zoe says:

      I have a daughter heading for a year of study in the US, currently she / we don’t have Dollar accounts. I’m tempted to Transferwise maybe half the money she will need to her Godmother in the US now. I totally trust her Godmother, is this a cunning plan?

      • harry says:

        Anything that removes risk to you, at an acceptable cost, is a decent cunning plan.

      • tony says:

        Two things…

        1) Citibank can set you up with a USD account out of the UK for I think $10/month
        2) If you do this and we vote to stay in AND the US keeps dragging its heels on rate hikes, you might simply be buying in to a poor rate now.

        • Tim Rogers says:

          This is a great idea. I have a Citi account based in the UK and the service is good, and the account free providing you hold enough (I think it’s £2500 that they require). You get a USD Visa Debit card and a USD cheque book.

          • Aeronaut says:

            Am I the only one who still finds Citibank / Citigroup’s sense of spelling to jar somewhat?!

          • KC says:

            Are you able to deposit USD cash with your citibank account?

        • Ck says:

          Is the rate good? It used to be same as fx, but this year it seems to take a percentage as a cut. 1-1.5%.

      • Genghis says:

        I presume she’ll start in Sep and that is when USD will start to be spent? If you’re happy with the exchange rate now, lock in. No one knows what the exchange rate will be in the future.

        I bought EUR in Nov at 1.44 as I had EUR liabilities in H1 this year. I was happy with the rate then and I’m pleased I fixed

        • RW says:

          HiFX have been offering me to fix the GBP:EUR rate now for the next year – I regularly transfer to EU for mortgage. If you don’t want to put down the cash now, or don’t have it, you can arrange a monthly transfer now at a fixed rate, and they are not at all bad. Lots of UK expats use them.

      • James67 says:

        It’s difficult to call. If UK stays in hopefully £ will get a bounce against dollar and everything else. If so, that bounce could be sustained at least through the uncertainty of US election, especially with FED indicating it will hold firm on rates. Difficult to be certain whether brexit will have much effect, £ is already low so brexit effect may already have been phased into the market. Probably brexit might see a further fall but how quick, how far and for how long nobody knows for sure. Personally I would hope it will not get much worse, I’m already over the hill and current £/$ rates are worst I recall in my lifetime. The 2.1 exchange rates when I was probably around your daughters age are just a fond memory of student travels all over the States financed by a part time student job. Hope youf daughter enjoys.

  • Andy says:

    Any thoughts on impact on foreign hotel or flight pricing i.e. when they are originally priced in EUR? Appreciate risk is priced in now to an extent but wonder if its worth making and paying for bookings now to avoid?

    • tony says:

      As you say the risk is to an extent factored in. If we leave, things priced in EUR & USD get more expensive. If we stay, the prices will fall.

      I would say for most people it’s unlikely to be a deal breaker. Think about your overall annual outgoings and what proportion of those are PA on purchases denominated in a foreign currency. Probably 5%, so even a 20% depreciation in the pound at best means your overall cost of living goes up 1% – and if the pound falls, a lot of GBP denominated assets will appreciate.

    • harry says:

      If the £ falls vs EUR, paying in EUR later will be more expensive. If it rises vs EUR, paying later will be cheaper.

      Is that what you were after?

  • Zoe says:

    Off topic but this doesn’t seem like great customer service from Supercard
    Everything you need to know about the Supercard pilot closure:

    When will my account close?
    At 00:01 on 7th June 2016, your account was automatically closed. You’ll no longer be able to use your card or log into your account through the app or website.

    What if I have questions about any transactions made or attempted by me with my Supercard before 7 June 2016?
    If you have any questions regarding any transactions before 7 June 2016, please call the Customer Service team on +44 (0) 203 503 0945.

    If you need to get hold of any transaction data, you can apply to receive this information through a Subject Access Request. This request is made to Tuxedo Money (our issuer for the Supercard pilot), and you can contact them at compliance@tuxedomoney.com, or on +44 (0) 203 503 0945. Tuxedo Money may levy a small charge for this service.

    Glad I noted down my recent transactions last night…

    • harry says:

      It’s appalling but at least the Subject Access fee is limited to £10 ISTR & the phone call to CS would be free for most of us

    • Alan says:

      Agreed, to say you have to put in a DPA request for transaction details is just bonkers!

    • Nick M says:

      My app still allows me to login… Just taken a few screenshots just in case.

      Surely not allowing access would cause them more problems? If I was unsure as to what a transaction related to and couldn’t check I’d be asking my linked credit card to dispute the transaction..

    • World Traveller says:

      I’ve also been able to login to my Supercard account on the app. All my recent transactions are listed & I’m still able to view the detail of each transaction.

      “We will be rolling out Supercard nationwide in the summer”
      We’re already in summer and still no confirmed date for rollout. I hope we don’t have to wait too long for the new service to go live and for us to get our new cards.

  • mark says:

    I have a property purchase going on in the Philippines, their currency is pegged to dollar (not officially) – I need to complete in March, but i will have to really think if i transfer cash now or later…

    I am sure it will drop, but as it will take 2 years to leave the EU – I am sure it should be fine by March

    • John says:

      Well you really should have converted at least half at the time you decided to buy, what would have happened if the USD really shot up and you could no longer afford the property?

      Unless you seriously think the UK might leave the EU, then after the referendum the pound will shoot up for a bit, but what happens after that depends on when the US finally decides to raise its interest rates (and whether the BOE is able to raise them too)

      • Mark says:

        I have made a sizeable down payment so only have the balance to pay and due to delays in construction – I have not made any new payments, it’s over 2 years delayed :/

        I am confident once we remain in, the pound will shoot up and i will pay it all off in 1 go, but it’s a gamble. I have enough cash if we do not stay, not that i want to pay more than i have to :/

        • harry says:

          Not sure about vote outcome Remain —> £ shooting up much. What are we? 2 weeks away or so. Still far enough away for the polls to currently look really unreliable IMV. Closer to the event, the polls should harden & the currencies move to close to where they’ll be a week after the referendum.

          If you look at the analysis examining why the polls got it so badly wrong in the General Election, it essentially came down to over-simplification of questions asked & general avoidance of complexity by pollsters, combined with statistically badly imperfect poll bases. The pollsters needed to spend a lot more money to expand the numbers polled (maybe by a factor of 10) and ask in depth ‘focus-group’ questions about voting intention with a lot of ‘what-ifs’ included. There simply wasn’t enough money provided (by the people commissioning the polls) to do that.

          You might think an in/ out vote is much more black & white – I would disagree, there are lots of issues that weigh differently with different people. The polling methods are still too ‘cheap’ and the don’t knows are being ignored.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    I’m sure treatments were free in the ‘Business’ lounge at AUH when I was there (in F). Is charging for treatments a new thing?

  • Ali says:

    Can anyone point me to the bit that says Moneycorp will not charge you anything if you don’t pick up your EURO order?

    • Trevor G says:

      I’ve used MoneyCorp regularly for travel cash. I can pickup locally at Southampton airport. Their rates appear to be very good and I’ve ordered a couple of times and not collected. Nothing happens, it just expires. When you order from the website you do not have to input any payment details or register etc. You get an e-mail confirmation and just pitch up on the date and pay there. Good reminder from HFP on this. I ordered a lump of Euros this morning to pick up on the 1st of July so I’ll just wait to see what happens with no risk. 🙂

      • Ali says:

        Thanks Trevor – I’m reassured to hear it just expires if not required. I have just made an order for July too on the basis that I can decide whether to pick up (from SOU) later.

    • Blair says:

      I was wondering about this too

    • JP says:

      Terms and Conditions

      6.2 Contracts for the reservation of currency

      6.2.1 As an alternative to paying for the currency when placing an Order, the Client may elect to reserve the currency, using the System only, and pay for such currency when collecting it from a Moneycorp Bureau (‘Reserve and Collect’). In such circumstances, the Client may elect to pay for the currency at the Moneycorp Bureau using a Payment Card or by cash. For the avoidance of doubt, reserved currency is only available to collect from Moneycorp Bureaux and will not be delivered to the Client.

      6.2.2 Notwithstanding any other provisions herein, the Client shall not be obliged to purchase any currency reserved in accordance with clause 6.2.1. However, where the Client chooses to purchase the reserved currency, the Client will do so at the price shown on the System (except in the event of a Manifest Error) at the time of placing the Order. For the avoidance of doubt, if the Client chooses to purchase the reserved currency then Moneycorp shall be obliged to sell it to the Client.

      6.2.3 The Client can place a Reserve and Collect Order up to 30 days in advance of the intended collection date or in accordance with any other timeframe as displayed on the System from time to time.

      • Genghis says:

        Quite clear to me

      • Alan says:

        Excellent – order placed!

        Vote already sent in postally – fingers crossed for a clear remain result!

  • John says:

    It’s quite clear to me that EURO will tank more than GBP if we leave. This will be the beginning of the end for the EU if we vote to leave. Many other (mostly rich) countries across EU will want to have their own referendum and come out. Good luck supporting a failed EURO currency when the EU falls apart!

    • John says:

      But the GBP will tank first, so if you want to spend GBP abroad in July/August, then you will suffer. The euro may drop against USD (although it kind of already has) and the GBP may recover in a few months, but that is unlikely to happen straight away

    • David says:

      Utterly Flawed. You seem to ignore the EUR strength comes not from the concept – or how long it is thought to last – but on countries that make up the EUR. And none of that is going to change.
      Even if I thought the EUR was about to collapse (as an entity) I’d quite happily have confidence in German banks and Germany to have a viable currency afterwards etc. Same for many other euro zone countries.

      If you think the EUR will fall more that GBP, wow. I can’t see anyone credible arguing that.

      • David says:

        That was in reply to John to be clear.

      • Will says:

        By that theory take a look at UK bond yields in relation to polls in favour of leave. They don’t move.

        If Brexit were really perceived to destroy the UK exonomy the bonds would be incredibly volatile.

        I’m not entirely sure why people think the pound will be in for such a hit.

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