Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: last call for Nutmeg deal, £1000 Virgin Upper Class to Boston, new Norwegian routes

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News in brief:

Last chance for the Avios / Nutmeg deal

The current offer to earn up to 50,000 Avios for opening an ISA or SIPP with Nutmeg closes tomorrow.

As we are now in the 2017/18 tax year, the new annual ISA limit of £20,000 applies.  This would earn you 20,000 Avios.  You can make a larger investment – you earn Avios on the first £50,000 you invest in one transaction – but the balance above £30,000 would sit outside the ISA wrapper.

Full details and the application link are in my original article on this deal which is here.  Remember that your capital is at risk with a Stocks & Share ISA.

Virgin Atlantic brings back £1,000 fares to Boston

Virgin Atlantic has brought back its aggressive Upper Class fares from Manchester to Boston.

How aggressive?  We’re talking ‘£1007 return’ aggressive.

If you are looking to earn some Virgin tier points cheaply or simply want to fly to the US in style – and US fares in economy are not exactly dirt cheap in summer – this is well worth a look.  Even if you are London based, the train trip up to Manchester is not too painful.

Tier point runners should note that you can also book this with a Delta connecting flight from New York or another hub which would generate additional status credit.  No stopovers are allowed however.

Bookings must be made by 12th April and you must travel before 31st May.  

You need to book at least 7 days in advance and stay away for at least 3 days.  You won’t receive the limo transfer at these prices, but you can’t really complain.

The best thing to do if you’re interested is visit the Virgin website and check out potential dates.  Remember to select ‘Upper Class’ before you search, which involves using the drop down ‘Show Advanced Options’ box.  I also strongly recommend using the ‘1 week view’ option as this is not available every day.

Norwegian 787

New Norwegian long-haul routes announced

If our recent coverage of Norwegian Reward interested you, you might be interested in two new long-haul routes which Norwegian is launching from London Gatwick this Autumn.

Gatwick to Seattle launches on 17th September.  The service will operate four days per week.

Gatwick to Denver launches on 16th December.  It will initially operate two days per week, increasing to three days to week when the Winter timetable is launched in late October.

Comments (59)

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  • Roger says:

    OT MBNA Etihad card

    Now with Virgin card offer finished MBNA has Increased sign up bonus of 15000 miles for EY card but you have to spend £2000 in first 90 days. Not a very good deal IMO.

  • Nick M says:

    Semi OT

    I haven’t ever flown Virgin before but am building up my collection of miles (currently 60k)…. we’ll be traveling as a family with a 3 year old and a 6 month year old – is there any point saving up for PE/UC or would an Economy row be the best option for us anyway?

    • the real harry1 says:

      if you can reserve bulkhead seats & a bassinet/ cot for the 6 month old, you’ll get plenty of legroom in economy:
      To make our flights comfortable for your baby (and peaceful for you), we offer in-flight cots free of charge. For your baby’s safety, we don’t allow them to be placed on the cabin floor. The cabin crew will install the cot for you after take-off and advise you if your baby will need to be removed from the cot and secured on your lap should there be any turbulence.
      Sky cots must be requested in advance by calling 0344 874 7747. There is a limited number of sky cots offered on a first come first served basis.
      The cots have slightly different dimensions depending on your aircraft. To check your baby will fit comfortably in the cot that’s on your flight, see the dimensions below.
      Please note there are no in-flight cots in the Upper Class cabin on B747-400 aircraft operating to or from Gatwick or Manchester.

      – these will always be bulkhead seats afaik

    • Mrs_fussy says:

      Flew UC alone with my 3 month old a few weeks ago and I can say the skycot would barely fit her, we were super comfortable sleeping together in the bed though and she had ample space to play.

    • James A says:

      PE on the A330 and B789 is 2-3-2 and is significantly wider than the economy seats (especially bulkhead rows and especially on the B789 where economy is snug, shall we say). I have done several flights on VS in eco/PE with a young child (18 months to 4 years) and we always save the (modest) number of extra miles for PE now, the space is is very welcome.

      Note that the virgin credit cards give an eco -> PE upgrade voucher for 2 sectors which we use to further reduce the difference.

      • Nick M says:

        Thanks both… no specific trip in mind at the moment, but useful to know the differences between aircrafts.

        Will definitely move some MR to Virgin before closing the account down to give some options…

        Are you able to use the cc upgrade vouchers on redemption flights? Completely missed that – might need to redirect some spending back to the Virgin card rather than SPG then!

        • the real harry1 says:

          pretty sure the answer is no, only on cash tickets

          • Alex W says:

            I thought the upgrade vouchers got you a PE redemption for the miles of a economy redemption. It’s the companion voucher that can only be used on a cash ticket (flex ticket at that).

  • TGLoyalty says:

    3 DD is a shame. Anyone know if standing orders count?

    • Lloyd says:

      Just do 3 charity DDs for 50p or something of that order.

    • Brian says:

      Surely you have at least 3 credit cards to pay off each month?? If not, you should have!

      • Crafty says:

        The point is more that these are likely to be going from your true current account, whereas the Tesco accounts make most sense as top-up savings accounts.

        • roger says:


        • James67 says:

          I have rather a lot of true current accounts; in the last 18 months I’ve had bonuses from HSBC, Clydesdale, CoOp, M&S, Halifax and TSB. Switched three in February, that took my experian score down from 999 to 916ish for the benefit of folks interested in such things. At the moment I’m a bit lost on where my direct debits are across five current accounts but since they are not needed for the 3% interest at TSB it is a simple matter of moving those to my new tesco account.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Of course but I also have other current accounts with min DD requirements and most of my bills paid by credit card to maximise points.

        I also don’t use all of my CC every month to have a DD actually paid out. Though I may start have to start putting a little through all of them now and again, my latest experience of lloyds is that they now use paid rather than just active to determine if you get interest.

        • James67 says:

          I believe putting something small through each card every month is also better for your credit score than leaving the card unused for months.

        • Genghis says:

          Whilst on credit scores (which I know don’t mean much but I’m trying to keep mine a bit stable at the moment), any thoughts on whether it’s best to pay off large balances intra month rather than wait until month end?

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          @ghengis I wouldn’t bother. Not much in it, if anything. Perhaps if you’re using a large fraction of your credit limit across all credit products and you’re imminently applying for something critical like a mortgage.

        • Talay says:

          @Ghengis re intra month balance paydown.

          It certainly is worth paying it down as the only data point used is the end of month balance.

          I recently had an issue because I appeared to be carrying £50k or so of debt each month, which was in fact, simply monthly spending, cleared down each month to zero and then bills racking up again during the month.

          I know you can derive this metric but the external world doesn’t seem to know your prior EOM balance and your EOM payment, only what truthfully is the next month’s spending masking the underlying picture.

          Amex has 2 dates, as all the rest will surely. The date they lock down your statement for the month and the date you need to pay. If your lock down date is say 21st of the month, then you could pay online as late as 20th and your statement would show zero or near to zero.

          When looking at credit utilisation, this could be a significant metric.

  • the real harry1 says:

    O/T Easter 2018
    had a slightly cod sweat moment yesterday when I thought I’d missed T-355 but in our case -depends on your kids’ schools – I think we’re actually looking at April 10th

    so if you’re bound to school hols and thinking of a points getaway, worth making plans – not quite so important on our regular European route as there are 4 possibilities each day but the best 2 slots do tend to go early to my Avios competitors so I like to get in first

    • Anna says:

      Up here it’s from March 30th (Good Friday), however I’m hoping to book flights from MAN (assuming they continue for 2018), which don’t start until May, so I’ve got June 4th marked on the calendar to start looking for the May half term dates.

      It would be fantastic if they started flying to the Canaries from MAN; it’s just too much hassle getting to Gatwick compared with using Easyjet or Ryanair from the North West.

      • Anna says:

        But Harry, a cod sweat sounds really unpleasant!!

      • the real harry1 says:

        we can’t wait for the returns to pop up or the outwards will be all gone

        not using 241s so not an issue for us, though of course you can add on your 241 returns later anyway

      • Graham Walsh says:

        For me it’s the 27th so I can fly out off peak but come back peak with Virgin.

  • Crafty says:

    OT: Upgraded from Amex Gold to Platinum on Thursday. Immediately approved and my online account now shows Platinum. But cannot for the life of me work out where to click to upgrade my hotel scheme statuses! I don’t really want to wait for the pack to come in the post as I stay frequently so the sooner I am gold the better. Does anyone know where on the Amex online portal I need to click?

    • Genghis says:

      Have you looked in the Benefits tab?

      • Nick says:

        Or clicking on the ‘hotel benefits’ link on the Platinum section of the Amex website?

        • Crafty says:

          Can’t see either of these. Maybe because accessing site on mobile. Will try on desktop later (hello 1995!)

          • Alan says:

            I definitely wouldn’t try to access Plat benefits sign-up on a mobile, the forms are a bit flaky and definitely a desktop job! – I hadn’t actually thought about accessing on mobile, apart from their app I normally use the website to download PDF statements etc.

          • Stu_N says:

            Yes, you need desktop. Go into the platinum card, then you should see a black menu bar. Go to “Platinum Service”, then “Benefits Directory” . The Hotel and Car Rental status applications are under Travel.

            Hint – SPG membership needs an (I think) 15 digit number, you add zeros at the start of yours until it accepts it. Obviously it doesn’t tell you that….

          • James67 says:

            I had no problems with SPG, Hilton, Melia or CC and I’m reasonably sure I would have done them all on my droid tablet witn desktop view as I use it for almost everything these days. This was last summer though so maybe something has changed.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      That happened to me too.

      The ‘Hotel benefits’ tab under ‘My Platinum’ section gives me an authentication error.

      Go to and you’ll see it there. In 24 hours I got confirmation of status upgrade for Hilton and SPG. The others haven’t come through yet.

    • mzb00 says:

      Did you get a bonus for upgrading to Platinum?

  • Nick_C says:

    Even without 3 DDs, surely its worth opening the Tesco current account anyway just to get double CC points in store with the Debit card (and no interest – just use the account as a Tesco spending account).

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Ofcourse stopped shopping in Tesco since gift card promo but use the fuel. Which is why I have applied hope my card turns up before my £10 voucher runs out

  • Graham Walsh says:

    Damm you Virgin. I need to go to Washington at the beginning of July. Think I’ll hang on from booking as a deal might crop up.

  • James67 says:

    Harry, what’s up, you’re four days late to the party this time? I’m guessing you’re at Harry Towers already and getting too much sun.

    • Alan says:

      Hehe I thought he’d been hitting his wine stores when he missed the OT comments about this a few days ago 😛

      • the real harry1 says:

        saw it yesterday but no Bits for O/Ts

        sorry late to party your end

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