Bits: Etihad drops free chauffeur transfers, IG Index drops credit card fees

News in brief:

Etihad drops free chauffeur transfers

Times are getting tougher for the Middle Eastern airlines, as the easy pickings in terms of destinations run dry and organic growth starts to slow.

We have already seen both Emirates and Etihad allowing ‘paid for’ access to their Business and First Class lounge networks.  Just a couple of days ago Emirates dropped free wi-fi for heavy users.  Charges for seat selection have also been creeping in.

In the latest move, Etihad is dropping its free chauffeur service at all airports except for Abu Dhabi.  The car that took me to Heathrow for my Etihad First Class flight recently (review here) was, frankly, a bit of a dump and it was clear costs had  been cut.  The service is now being scrapped altogether except for passengers in the A380 Residence (which means one car per flight maximum needed!).

Etihad had removed car transfers from its cheapest Business Class cash tickets a while ago, and it was a pleasant anomaly that they had been retained for Etihad Guest mileage redemptions.  That said, this was a bit of a sop to offset the impact of the chunky fuel surcharges which Etihad started to add on at the time of the Etihad Guest devaluation two years ago.  The fuel surcharges were added per leg, which meant the figure for anyone travelling from the UK beyond Abu Dhabi was getting silly.

All Business Class and First Class tickets – excluding Business Saver – booked by 3rd July will still receive free rides at outstations.  Etihad has made it clear that any changes to a ticket from 3rd July will result in it being stripped of its free rides irrespective of the original booking date.

Etihad A380

IG Index removes credit card fees

A few readers have contacted me with interesting changes to operations at spread betting firm IG Index.

From 20th June, IG Index has removed all charges for using credit cards or PayPal to pay money into your account.

It isn’t clear if these transfers will be treated as cash withdrawals or points-earning purchases by your card company – I’m sure someone will try it out.  Even if a direct card payment is treated as a cash withdrawal, I’m not sure if that would also apply to payments processed through PayPal.  We will see.

(EDIT: see the comments below for the results so far of reader experiments!)

American Express is not accepted, unfortunately.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Get 15,000 American Airlines miles with the NEW MBNA Visa (no Amex!) card
Excellent SWISS long-haul business class sale from the UK!
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. Not a big problem, but the Etihad First Class link actually goes to your Emirates review.

    • Stu R says:

      …. and clicking on the image of the Etihad A380 takes you to the Emirates website ?!?

      • Must …. stop ….. writing …. stuff ….. late.

        Anika is in NY with Norwegian so I took the day off and decided to write everything late in the evening instead 🙂

        • Don’t mean to nitpick…I’m sure all of us are grateful for all the work you put in!

  2. Tried the ig index via 4 credit cards. 3 of them counted as cash transactions thus charged with cash fees ranging from 3-5% plus accrued interest on the cash portion.
    Only one seemed to have posted today with no cash fee (HSBC premier elite card).

    Called the other 3 vendors up and 2 were nice enough to refund the cash fee but no points earned on cash transaxtions

    • Swiss says:

      Can I ask which cards you have tried? Has anyone tried Curve or via Paypal? I’ve not got an IG account but if there are cards out there that work this might well cause me to get one…

      • Swiss says:

        Might be good if between us all we could compile a list.

        • Sam: went through PayPal as I thought that would add a layer of “protection” should the cards recognise IG as a gambling site.

          Let us know how the IHG went through OK.

        • Sam Wardill says:

          The direct HSBC World Elite tx I did didn’t seem to credit any points. Will try via Paypal.

          I don’t know if the IHG tx credited points (the Creation website isn’t really advanced enough for me to work that out).

  3. HSBC Australia isn’t as user friendly as HSBC UK as it treats PayPal transactions as cash withdrawals on gambling sites.

  4. JaFooli says:

    If you got points on your credit card when funding your account for say IG Index, would you not lose those points when the funds come back to your account? Surely it would come back as a refund, even it was through Paypal.

    • No you take it out via debit card transfer so nothing goes back to your credit card till when you have to pay.

      However as mentioned above, all the card vendors that accept it (that I have tried bar hsbc) all recognise the transaction as a cash transfer. Per their terms, all cash transfer get charged a percentage fee AND DONT earn points

    • the_real_a says:

      This is not a sure fire way by any means. Anything other than a few hundred pounds will be stopped by compliance – unless you have traded – for money laundering checks. They will force you to take the refund back to the card it originated. IGIndex has been done to death in past years as some credit cards appeared as debit cards and did not attract the fee’s.

  5. Chris says:

    It must be 10+ years ago now when a particular online ‘party/betting’ company took account top ups by Amex but refunds could be done to a nominated bank account.

    Memories of hand rubbing 🙂

    • The Urbanite says:

      I still do so on a daily basis with a guaranteed profit each time, very lucrative indeed.

      • Who is that with?

        • Doubt he’ll be telling you!

        • The Urbanite says:

          Suffice to say it is a possibility, but won’t be possible for anyone if details are made public. Those who really want to know can find out through a bit of trial and error!

        • Neil Donoghue says:

          Let the games begin! Cheers for the info Urbanite 😉

        • Sorry that wad a stupid question, last thing you want to do is let everyone know! Good to know something is out there, will be looking around, cheers.

  6. Talay says:

    The end of Etihad for us. Despite being heavily invested in their, frankly great, family account thing, it has been some time since we’ve seen 3x or 4x points for cash fares (I’ve tracked these back around 5 years for cyclical reference) and with the extra taxes on redemptions, I think the next set will be the last.

    I have for some time berated the poor quality of chauffeur car but as it is worth around £200/250 to me against a decent taxi, when travelling singly it made a difference to the “net” fare i.e. net of mileage accrual, tier points, chauffeur, lounge etc. and pretty much brought my LHR-AUH-BKK cash fare down to a “net” £1250 or so in business.

    On board they have made significant cut backs as well (wine and cheese !) and for my flight in 2 days was a struggle to get the overseas chauffeur as their website has already been closed to chauffeur bookings.

    Yet we’ve seen Etihad’s cash prices rising when others have been falling, save Emirates who tend to stay around £100 ahead of Etihad.

    Emirates is a potential option I guess but I think TG will be the winner and we will simply suffer the taxi fares.

    As Etihad takes delivery of it’s 10th and final A380, we say goodbye to what was truly a trailblazer in aviation.

  7. Lostantipod says:

    A little side anecdote – Rob you say only one car is required for the Residence. Unless EY have now put a limit on baggage for that fare, then here’s a story as told to me by a driver: a son of some sheik or prince or whatever was travelling from LHR to AUH in Residence. There was a car to pick him up in Knightsbridge ….and THREE MPV’s for his luggage ! Apparently he was taking a lot of gifts back with him….

    • Simon says:

      Can’t remember where I read/heard this, but they also have to run freight flights which are loaded with the Sheiks/Princes’ cars, which they bring over to London for the season each year.

      • Talay says:

        As soon as the oil runs out our “love affair” with the middle east will disappear in an instant.

        • the real harry1 says:

          no love affair here, I assure you

          ME3 that’s different & just a case of weighing up personal advantage gained on LH

        • Lady London says:

          Don’t worry we’ll be fine with the Russian oligarchs and Chinese/Asian capitalists etc. That’s who’s also been smartly investing in London real estate and businesses as well as money originating from the Middle East, for these many a year….The grandsons of the original oil sellers have been educated in UK, Europe and the US, they are part of the international oligarchy. Oil money has been put into other assets and funds that yield longterm. Provided we maintain law and order, and low corruption with a fair amount of financial freexom, we will remain one of the safer and more attractive destinations in the world in which to live in and invest.

      • Lady London says:

        Yes you can see (and hear) those cars racing up and down in Belgravia and closeby areas evenings and late at night a lot in summer. Residents complain. In the day around those streets these wonderful machines can quite often be seen parked up. If they’re not parading. Must be many more parked in private garages around there.

        A good spot can be the odd one stuck in Sloane Street traffic jams or off Pavilion Road going up towards Knightsbridge…It’s car porn and a conspicuous display of wealth, one of the reasons some Central London areas have changed so much.

  8. Very OT, has the Waitrose/Virgin link gone? Just looking in my Virgin account and I had a transaction track on the 20th at 1 mile/£, but I can’t see the deal advertised anymore. If I go to the page it was at I get a “page not found” error.

  9. Bariummeal says:

    I just got out of my Etihad Limo from Heathrow to home a few hours ago. Etihad business class is still a nice service but in my opinion Qatar is nicer (Was in Tokyo by Qatar last week) . The business lounge in Abu Dhabi last night was crowded but managed well (it was the start of Eid). Food in the lounge, particularly the biryani was really good. On board they have removed the pajamas and brought in cheaper but cuter and more useful wash bags. The seat on the A380 – outbound the air bladder in the base of the seat was too low pressure so it was uncomfortable. Inbound much better. Anyhow, the Arabic food on Qatar I prefer, their lounge in Doha is much more fancy, and I prefer the colour scheme on Qatar. They also supply Brics washbags and Jim jams on night flights. Also the Qatar on board Japanese breakfast is fabulous!

  10. the real harry1 says:

    Luton Airport is preparing to enter the 21st century with a new train station that could help the Bedfordshire terminal challenge the likes of Gatwick and Heathrow.

    Passengers arriving at London Luton by rail today must alight some two miles from the actual doors of the building and wait to catch a shuttle bus that takes 10 minutes (or far longer during rush hour). But come 2020 the irritating transfer will be no more as Luton Borough Council has approved a 1.4-mile rail link and new station on the doorstep of the terminal. It is hoped journey times from London proper will be down from as long as an hour to less than 30 minutes.

    • Lady London says:

      Did you know they’ve got the deuce to charge for that bus now from Luton Parkway to the airport?
      Was there another reason to go to Luton Parkway?? when for so many years Luton Council that owns the airport, were too cheap to extend the rail line to the airport? That bus was only needed because they didn’t build the train line far enough.

  11. the real harry1 says:

    so – he lost – a better strategy is to phone your child in sick – that’s what schools prefer, they don’t care about a day or so & it avoids unnecessary conflict

    a week or more is taking the proverbial imv (you could make a case for Primary school age kids, I guess – but definitely not Secondary)