Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why I Spent £1,052.84 on LEGO Friends – Confessions of a HfP reader (Part Two)

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Here is part two of HfP reader John’s experience with manufactured spending.  You should read Part 1 of the article here before continuing below.  HfP has edited the article and any errors are probably ours.

What about the coffee machines?

“I was actually hoping to offset a slight loss on my LEGO sets with the profits I’d make from the coffee machines.

It turned out to not be as easy.

Nespresso decided to do a sale and suddenly the machines were selling for only slightly more than I’d purchased them for.  This meant I’d actually end up losing money after deducting sales, shipping and handling fees.

Deciding that I just wanted to get rid of the stock, I revisited my calculations and tried to estimate the maximum price I was prepared to pay for my points.

Having recently signed up to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and in-effect paid 0.66p / Avios, I decided that this was my upper limit and reduced my prices to 90% of the RRP.

Suddenly, the floodgates opened and order after order started coming in. To speed up the packaging process I purchased some packing bags on Amazon for next to nothing and got Hermes to pick up the boxes from my workplace.

I did look at getting a thermal label printer which would have made getting boxes ready for shipping an absolute doddle, but they aren’t particularly cheap and after reviewing my calculations I decided I wouldn’t be making a habit of manufactured spending via reselling.

Thanks to Hermes destroying one of the boxes, getting another one wet and losing a third one, I had to deal with three complaints. Hermes sorted out the first two complaints (each item was covered up to £25) and I assume the third person managed to track her LEGO down after I suggested filing a ‘missing item’ complaint.

So … was it worth the effort?

My total outlay stands at £321.63 in return for 99,666 equivalent Avios.  In effect, I’ve ‘bought’ 99,666 Avios for 0.32p each.

I’m relatively new to the miles and points game so I’ve not claimed that many miles but based on my tracking, I’ve averaged 0.3p per Avios.  Most of these miles will be used up on a redemption from Manchester to Dubai in First Class in February next year and I’m looking at a value of around 2.06p / Avios on that route. Even if you value miles as low as Rob (0.75p/Avios) this is still a pretty good deal.

What about your time? Doesn’t that reduce the value of these miles?

It’s true, I haven’t accounted for my time. This wasn’t insignificant and has taken several hours over the past few weeks. I’m a reasonably well-paid web development contractor so I could have almost certainly spent my time on a more productive activity than packing and shipping LEGO boxes.

When factoring-in my time, it is not quite as lucrative a deal.  Knowing the value I’ll be getting on my redemption to Dubai still means it’s a net gain on my time and money.

Would I recommend reselling? Would I do it again myself?

Difficult question …. I can see myself doing this again under the right circumstances (another big Clubcard bonus from Tesco for example) but definitely won’t be in a hurry to repeat this process each month.

When researching reselling as a manufactured spending technique, all the guides encourage you to build up enough cash reserves that you can afford to have your stock sat for as long as a few months to ensure you get a good price for it. I neglected this and was in more of a rush to sell.

I got lucky with the LEGO sets and ended up with 42 boxes of a product that was reasonably easy to sell. However one of the coffee machines was heavily discounted just a few days after I purchased it and I’m now left with £69 locked up in a coffee machine that Nespresso is selling for £59. Not ideal …. but a reasonably small problem in the grand scheme of things.

If you are tempted by reselling, make sure the numbers stack up before you pull the trigger on your move. Research your products and ensure you can sell them quickly and at a price that works for you.

The goal with reselling should be to generate profits and allow the points to accumulate as a bonus on top. In my opinion, this isn’t a great way of accumulating points even if you can ‘buy’ them very cheaply!”

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards

How to earn Avios from UK credit cards (June 2024)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Avios points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

There are two official British Airways American Express cards with attractive sign-up bonuses:

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up and an Economy 2-4-1 voucher for spending £15,000 Read our full review

You can also get generous sign-up bonuses by applying for American Express cards which earn Membership Rewards points. These points convert at 1:1 into Avios.

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points (TO 16TH JULY), FREE for a year & four airport ….. Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Run your own business?

We recommend Capital on Tap for limited companies. You earn 1 Avios per £1 which is impressive for a Visa card, along with a sign-up bonus worth 10,500 Avios.

Capital on Tap Business Rewards Visa

10,000 points bonus – plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

There are also generous bonuses on the two American Express Business cards, with the points converting at 1:1 into Avios. These cards are open to sole traders as well as limited companies.

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and FREE for a year Read our full review

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Avios. This includes both personal and small business cards.

Comments (126)

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

  • krys_k says:

    OT, but touches on manufactured spending (although, strictly speaking this article isn’t exactly manufactured spend, but very interesting all the same). Does anyone have any ideas how to reach the bonus spend on cards? I’ve done the usual, HMRC, Council Tax, also had an extension built (so materials, furnishings etc.). I’ve got £2k to hit in a fortnight and then I’m off abroad working for 3 months.

    • GRAHAM THOMAS says:

      Pay for a holiday on it and just swallow the credit card commission.

    • Anon says:

      Robs/Raffles stock response is to book a fully refundable flight 11months out. Rearrange/cancel if needed.

      (Never done it myself)

      • Danksy says:

        Ok, but it might put you into negative avios / MR when the credit hits the account… I’ve got a Ba Amex where a genuine refund has just landed for £200 (disputed transaction) this gets netted off with the points / avios etc. earned in the current month!

        However if you did something similar and cashed out, I’m not sure they’d be able to debit your avios account with the points refunded.

    • Frankie says:

      Book 2 weeks in a REFUNDABLE room at the Belagio hotel in Vegas on for a stay in 9 month’s time. Then cancel the hotel when you come back from your 3 months away. You’ll just need to be able to cover the 2k spend until it’s refunded, as you’ll need to pay the bill.

      • John says:

        Will they charge you in GBP or USD, as it would be quite risky in USD. Though if you had done this in May or even August you’d be quids in now… but if it had gone the other way, you could have lost hundreds despite being refunded ‘in full’.

    • Frenske says:

      Buy gift cards of your regular supermarket.

  • Anon says:

    Again a good summary of why its not worth the hassle.

    To be honest I’m surprised Tesco don’t monitor the extent these are exploited and take action.

    The current promo interests me, but only for just one lot of £75.

    Lego always makes a great gift for Xmas & the sub £5 ones always welcome by kids charities.

  • Joe says:

    While I can see the benefits (and risks) of taking this approach, I can’t help but feel slightly annoyed by the whole premise of bulk buying one particular item (be that Lego, coffee machines or gift vouchers) because ultimately it reduces opportunities for other people who genuinely want to buy those items. Also, retailers aren’t stupid and such spending patterns influence their future promotional strategies. I.e. shut down excessive attempts to accrue points. This again damages opportunities for other, less “scientific” point collectors. It has a negative influence on points collection as a whole because retailers realise it doesn’t pay to be generous if it is abused by a small minority. In this sense, the spirit of the T&Cs is an important consideration. Year on year it seems there is tightening of earning opportunities and reduction in value of many carriers’ redemption opportunities. So, ultimately the message should be buy your Lego but “play nice” with it.

    • Mr Dee says:

      If Tesco want to put limits in place they have the ability on their website to limit the sale of products, its not exactly a hard task to do purchasing multiple products to gain points, they could even put a note up saying that its limited to 1 award of points.

      If people don’t want to take advantage of these opportunities that is their choice, I don’t see any issue with people taking advantage of these offers and so they should as the supermarkets do the customers over every chance they get.

  • Steve says:

    Are there flights from Manchester to Dubai with 99,000 Avios?

    • Andrew says:

      Only via Heathrow on BA direct, far inferior product. First direct from Manchester with Emirates is a wonderful experience, you can earn tier points and Avios if booked as a Qantas codeshare, didn’t think you could redeem ??

  • Anon says:

    O/T (related but on a bit oif tangent)

    John mentioned using Avios to go First Class to Dubai.

    Looking at the Avios differences here…

    Rather than going crazy amassing the Avios needed for First, does anyone settle for CW to save Avios for another trip?

    I’m asking as considering First using 241 for Singapore or KL, but the difference per sector is 40,000 Avios more than CW…

    (Disclaimer: Only flown First on one sector DOH-LHR, only flown BA CW once rtn to Florida, came back on the new BA A380, flown Virgin Upper Class rtn to Florida about 1/2 a dozen times)

    • mark2 says:

      This is purely a matter of personal preference and what else you can do with the saved Avios.
      I have only flown in First once in an ageing 747 and did not feel it was a great deal better than CW especially overnight. We are flying First to Seattle and back from Vancouver in A380 next June but that will probably be our last long haul flight and I still have over 100 thousand Avios for European flights.
      So you pay your Avios and make your choice.

    • Neil Spellingws says:

      I chose CW over First for a recent 2 for 1 redemption. The last First trip I did wasn’t worth the extra wad of Avios. CW ticks all my boxes..lounge access, flat bed, decent food.

      Most of the “First experience” is down to the on board crew so it’s not worth the risk given the large amounts of extra Avios it burns.

      • Jason says:

        Travelling in F, to DXB, is an extra 10k Avios OW per person using 241’S.
        That seems very worthwhile to me.
        My wife actually prefers BA F, to the Etihad F appt as she felt the appt was too big 😉

      • John says:

        Flying with Avios and a 241 so the extra wad of Avios required for F increases the redemption value of my 241 voucher.

    • Genghis says:

      We booked F to SIN and back from KUL (for a holiday in Bali) as it might be our last holiday before we have children. Special occasion and all that…

      • Genghis says:

        I’ve been to all of these places before when I was a poor student but the plan is to do it nicely this time (and hopefully no bed bugs!). So 4 nights in SIN (hotels not yet booked but thinking the Conrad on part pay with points for 2 nights and Intercon for two – using an Ambassador voucher), Air Asia to DPS, 5 nights in Ubud (not yet booked but have a couple of nights), 7 nights in the Conrad (booked with cash), Air Asia to KUL, two nights on points in the Double Tree (from James67’s recommendation the other day).

        The Conrad on Bali looks great. From the reading I’ve done online they seem to do well with the Diamond recognition. I’ll report back. This is a relaxing holiday that I promised my wife (after our ordeal in China last month) so hopefully it delivers what we want.

        • Andy says:

          How much is the Conrad Bali Cash rates if you don’t mind me asking?

          • Genghis says:

            I think I paid £950 for 7 nights in Hilton sale in June 16 pre Brexit. Not sure of price now.

          • Genghis says:

            Just checked price now for my dates next Easter and the USD cost is the same, though if you’re paying in GBP it’ll cost quite a bit more now.

          • Alan says:

            It’s the one small post Brexit positive factor I’ve seen, hotel points are now worth more as they’re effectively denominated in dollars!

          • Rob says:

            Doesn’t help if you earn points via hotel stays though as you get fewer points for every £1 spent as it is only worth $1.30 and so, for eg, 13 IHG base points per £.

          • Alan says:

            Quite – it’s been rubbish on the earnings front for sure, but my 650k+ stash of HHonors points has jumped up in value, 150k for 3 nights in Chicago is saving me a packet compared to the current USD prices! Also found a few hundred in cash from when the exchange rate was 1.6 which has helped too 😉

          • Alan says:

            Plus if earning on cards here the points earned are worth more if you spend them outside the UK on redemptions 🙂

          • Rob says:

            Perhaps I should be upgrading my valuations ….. may do an article.

          • Alan says:

            Indeed, I’ve popped HHonors up to 0.4p in my own mind now (although for Chicago am getting way better thanks to a conference being on but somehow redemptions still being available!)

          • Liz says:

            I bought 160k HH pts back in May to use specifically for 5 nights in Washington next year – cost £556. I have now booked it – just a Hampton Inn Cat 7 but the cash price is £1096 – that’s a decent return for my points purchase. Finding the USA hotels a lot more expensive now – trying to get as many hotels booked on points rather than pay cash.

          • Alan says:

            Definitely, makes a major difference! 🙂

      • Alan says:

        Personally I wouldn’t attribute too much value to the Concorde Room. It’s fine but compared to the some of the First Class Lounges elsewhere I don’t think it’s top league.

    • HAM76 says:

      It’s a personal choice… Over the past few years it has become more difficult for me to redeem Avios. Availability got worse, 2-4-1’s in Germany got axed with the new credit card rules, our son needs his own seat which reduces availability even more. Avios are nice, but they are worth less to me now. First, OTOH, is definitely worth it, to me. I ended up just paying for the few (mostly one) L/H trips a year. ex-Germany it’s cheaper than CW from the UK.

    • CV3V says:

      For flights in/out of KUL then CW is a good option, on a new 787, so everything is that little bit better than on say a 777 CW. If on a 777 to SIN then my preference is to get into First. In either class bear in mind these are overnight flights so you will be going to sleep anyway, i always feel First is a bit of a waste. Did First class from HKG to LHR a few years ago with CX, now that i would recommend without hesitation!

      Concorde Room is nice and worth at least one visit as a bucket list item. MAS business class lounge at KUL is (to me) preferable to their First Class lounge, lots of food options including a laksa station. At SIN the Qantas business lounge is a great place to hang out, haven’t tried the BA lounge but gets good reviews.

  • Rich says:

    Interesting to read people’s views on this about it being against the spirit of the scheme and unfair on others.

    I actually think that this story is pretty tame when compared to actually goes on. By quite a margin.
    I also think that some of the comments about calculators to hit the spend to trigger the points suggest that you could get a much better return- it’s not just about triggering the points but also about buying items you can easily sell at a decent price.

    I suspect it’s actually a much bigger “issue” than people realise to the point that Tesco cannot simply amend/walk away from it given the impact it would have on their numbers. I can’t imagine they know or to a certain extent want to know how much us genuine sales and how much manufactured.

    I’m glad I’m not the Tesco Lego buyer.

  • Tilly71 says:

    There are a lot easier ways you to hit spend targets than risking a pile of money on buying a range of lego that is not the best selling range, thats why they paid to put bonuses on them to shift stock.
    Gift cards could of probably got you a lot of your required spend on the cards and general spend on the high street.
    Putting large amounts on one or two accounts can be very risky, all it takes is a problem with Tesco and you have to call up CS, thats when any eagle eyed assistant could pull the switch on you.
    If you can afford to sit on stock for months then it could pay off but its a real risk for 100k avios, lot easier ways of earning out there at better rates with low risk.

  • Fenny says:

    I think if Tesco were really bothered about people bulk buying Lego, they wouldn’t run extra points promotions every few months.

    As it is, anyone who has a bunch of grandchildren is probably bulk buying Lego anyway and a few extra points or a money off voucher just means they buy it in Tesco rather than Argos.

    • Tilly71 says:

      Clubcard have been known to shut accounts if they suspect not fair play with the scheme such as making too many points too quickly, especially from one offer.
      The expreiences i have read on FT of this mean it takes months to get anything back from Tesco if they do this to you.
      I think all people re trying to advise on is not to buy too many bonus items ina short amount of time, spece them out a bit, mix it up.

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