Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: want a job redeeming miles?, airberlin adds cheap US Avios routes, Curve raises $10m

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News in brief:

Want a job redeeming miles?

John from the Nightly.travel hotel booking site sent me an interesting job ad that came across his desk.

Seedstars World, an established start-up investor, is looking for a remote working ‘travel hacker’ to book travel for its staff using the frequent flyer miles they collected on previous work trips.

Not sure I like the sound of that as a company policy, and no idea what the job pays, although by definition they seem like they are a bit tight ……

airberlin und oneworld auf der Baustelle des Flughafens Berlin B

airberlin adds new Avios routes to the US

If you don’t like paying the high level of taxes and charges on British Airways Avios redemptions, airberlin is your answer as this HfP article explains.

(Aer Lingus – read here – and Iberia – read here – may also be your answer, but airberlin has the biggest low-taxes network.)

How low?  When Anika did her review of airberlin business class from New York to Berlin last year, she paid £4 in taxes and charges.

airberlin has just announced the following new routes which will be served during the winter season for the first time.  These flights should be available for Avios redemption at ba.com:

Orlando, from Dusseldorf – five flights per week

Boston, from Dusseldorf – four flights per week

San Francisco, from Dusseldorf – four flights per week

San Francisco, from Berlin – four flights per week

Other US destinations served from Dusseldorf are Fort Myers, Los Angeles, Miami and New York JFK.  Other winter US routes from Berlin are New York, Chicago and Miami.

airberlin also serves a number of ‘winter sun’ destinations.  Curacao from Dusseldorf is possibly the most interesting, as this Caribbean island is not well served from the UK.  Most people fly with KLM, given the close links that the island has with the Netherlands.

The airberlin website is here if you want to know more.

Curve prepaid MasterCard

Curve confirms $10m in Series A funding

TechCrunch has reported that London fintech startup Curve has raised $10m in Series A funding.

We cover the Curve Card quite a bit on HFP because it allows you to spend abroad with just a 1% transaction fee AND have the purchase recharged to any other points-earning Visa or Mastercard you own.  You can also withdraw £200 per month from an ATM and have it recharged to another credit card as a points-earning purchase.  I wrote more about how it work here – the card is free to apply.

The list of investors in impressive and, given that Santander is on the list, raises questions over whether Curve is about to partner directly with major banks.

New investers include TransferWise founder Taavet Hinrikus, Azimo founder Michael Kent, Ed Wray of Betfair, former members of the Google Wallet team, Santander InnoVentures, Investec, Connect Ventures, Speedinvest, Oxford Capital, Breega Capital, Henry Ritchotte (ex Deutsche Bank COO), Gael de Boissard (ex Credit Suisse board member), Alessandro Hatami (The Pacemakers; ex Lloyds, Paypal, GE Capital) and Paul Townsend (Vitesse PSP, Barclays, WorldPay).


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – July 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our July 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the other top current deals:

British Airways American Express card

British Airways American Express

5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review

BA Premium Plus American Express card BAPP

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

American Express Business Gold

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

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (100)

  • Simon Schus says:

    I took AirBerlin’s flight from BOS->DUS recently It was a decent enough flight in economy, and we managed to self-connect onto a BA flight to LHR quite easily with quite minimal hassle (though I was concerned we’d get bumped because we were flying at the start of the BA strike period, and when the Tour de France was in Dusseldorf). We got into the BA lounge in BOS, even though the AirBerlin contract AirFrance as their lounge.

    The main annoyance was that OneWorld Sapphire members can’t select seats in advance without paying, unless they have their frequent flyer status with AirBerlin (I don’t; I collect with BAEC). Usually, the seating doesn’t matter too much but I wanted to sit next to somebody who was also on the flight but on a separate booking. We just had to check-in immediately once the 24 hour check-in window to choose seats next to each other.

    I took AirBerlin’s TXL-ORD flight too, and had a similarly decent experience on that flight too (albeit the ex-Schengen area of TXL wasn’t the most comfortable place to wait for a delay. The lounge is located in the Schengen area). All-in-all, I’d take AirBerlin again on miles or on a decent-enough cash fare… especially if the Avios route was during a peak summer date (as my travel was).

    When booking the AirBerlin routes with BA Avios, one can reduce the number of miles used for the redemption whilst increasing the cash component. This was fine with me, as it brought it to near-enough similar price to the old Aer Lingus DUB-BOS pricing (i.e. when it was 12,500 Avios one-way). Some might find some value in that, some might think it is terrible value.

    • Klaus-Peter Dudas says:

      Are you sure about the seating? We flew on the TXL-AUH service recently and just had to call them for free seat selection as BA Gold

    • Amit says:

      I’m trying to use my Etihad miles/ AA miles to book Air Berlin. BA is showing 2 seats, but they say there are no seats available despite me calling back many times. Should this be the case or do I just need to keep persisting?

  • Simon Schus says:

    Yes, I called them up as BA Silver – and they refused to budge from their fees. I called a couple of times, and similar experiences are documented on the Flyertalk forums. I think seating is free for OneWorld Emerald irrespective of FFP, which seems to chime with your experience. For anything less though, one has to have to be part of the AirBerlin FFP.

    I was on hold for about 45 minutes waiting for AirBerlin to answer, though I was calling the USA number somewhere around 11pm-1am Berlin time.

    • Klaus-Peter Dudas says:

      That’s annoying but really good to know as I’ll probably drop down to Silver at the end of March.

    • Brian says:

      Strange – I had no problems selecting seats for free as a Silver member a couple of years back, so maybe they’ve changed their policy. Did it online.

      • Simon Schus says:

        Yes, I believe that the policy changed a year or two ago (at least, according to reports on Flyertalk). Saying that, my experience is only with advance seating on multiple AB transatlantic flights. I was able to select a seat during check-in and the ‘preferred’ seats were accessible at that time to me for free, but not in advance of check-in though.

        • Oli says:

          I might have just been lucky, but calling up their Topbonus support as a BA Silver I’ve always got the emergency exit row seats I wanted. I’m German which might have helped, but I would hope it’s not down to that!

  • Catalan says:

    “given the close links that the island has with the Netherlands”
    In fact, even closer than people think. Despite its geographic location Curaçao is actually part of the Kingdom of The Netherlands.

    • Alex says:

      Good point! Even closer than West Berlin used to be to the FRG

  • Ben says:

    Hi,

    I am trying to go to the Maldives early in the new year. I was wondering if anyone can reccomend any hotels, preferably with a water villa but with out being too expensive. (maybe up to £300-£400 a night max)
    Or alternatively I have around 100k MR points that I could utilize if anyone knows of a good way to stay for 2-3 nights.

    Thanks

    Ben

    • william merrett says:

      I’m not sure how helpful this is but “the entertainer” app (I’v got the dubai version) comes with “hotels worldwide” and that is currently showing a lot of maldives properties on a buy one night get one free basis (or buy two get two free etc). I’ve never used it so don’t know if the offers are genuinely good or not but certainly worth a go.

      • Rob says:

        Maldives is a weekend break destination from Dubai so it is possible resorts would quietly dump unsold rooms via that market.

    • l curry says:

      I booked with Destination2, prices changes on a daily basis, staying at Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi – ocean villas, happy with price.

      Be aware transfer times and if you need a seaplane then I would transfer in Dubai as timings better otherwise if you arrive BA you may have to overnight in Doha, to catch plane to MLE, which i didn’t know before i booked.

  • Hingeless says:

    That job ad has to be a joke

    Good command of English

    Excellent organisational skills and attention to detail (at the question “please describe who you are in a tweet” start your answer with the word “kiskil”)

    I know that kiskil stands for “keep it simple keep it lean”, but this is worse the the company policy on points

    • Rob says:

      No, as someone tangentially involved in the start up community via our WeWork base it sounds totally standard!

    • Genghis says:

      I am motivated to “travel hack” for myself as I get the benefits from it. Joining a penny pinching organisation and doing that as my job does not appeal. Surely the best travel hackers would never dream of working for a few quid?

      • Alex W says:

        Yes I much rather collecting points from my job than spending them for my job!
        Also “startup salary” sounds suspiciously like “low salary”. You’d want to add on a commission like say you get 20% of the saving you make on the company’s travel bill.
        Besides – how many “startups” have 5 offices in 3 different continents? Sounds like they are past the startup stage!

    • RussellH says:

      Apply in a tweet?!!!!

      OMG I think

  • RTS says:

    O/T – Anyone aware of any Gold to Platinum upgrade offers available?

    • Ben says:

      I contacted Amex through the secure messaging and they told me to upgrade via phone and then message them back to collect the 20,000 MR. They were credited straight away

      • Allan says:

        I tried last month and was told there was no offer!

        • Leo says:

          Same here

          • Ben says:

            To be fair it may be as they told me I could do it a couple of months ago and gave me the link that has been passed around. The link stopped working so maybe thats why they honored it.

      • Talay says:

        How long had you had the gold before upgrading to platinum ?

        Did you total more points than going straight to platinum ?

    • Scottydogg says:

      I done the same as Ben , I messaged them through the online message system , I said that I was looking to upgrade and noticed the deal they had going was no longer working , they agreed to the 20,000 points , there was no spend target either . When I got the platinum card I messaged them again and they credited the account with them that day

      • RTS says:

        Guess I will give this a whirl!

      • Mzungu says:

        Following comments on a similar thread on here a couple of weeks ago, I messaged them, and was offered 10,000 with no spend target. Seems that the offers are a little random…

  • Carl says:

    Does Curve allow free unlimited withdrawals at foreign ATMs?

    • Rob says:

      No, £2 fee once you get past £200 (that said, it isn’t clear that they are actually imposing the fee yet)

      • AVM says:

        As far as I remember £200 allowance does not apply to foreign withdrawals -2£ fee applies to each withdrawal (therefore supercard’s 3% fee was better for withdrawing small amounts).

      • Genghis says:

        It was imposed on me a few months ago after I ran some calcs and realised.

        • AVM says:

          Yes, they mix the fee with the amount you withdraw, so you won’t know about that fee unless you do the math.

          • Mr Dee says:

            That is if you are using a card not in the currency that you are withdrawing in. Using the Lloyds card you can see if they add anything to it

          • Roger says:

            So if you have LLoyds Card and set us one of the underlying currency and withdraw from ATM while you are in that currency (e.g. Germany with Euro) would that still count as purchase on LLoyds?

          • Mr Dee says:

            Roger, set it to euros then you can have 200 worth of the currency a month (assume its based on the currency not 200gbp)

  • AVM says:

    OT, but since it’s a Bits section: my wife had a flight to the States recently: LHR-> ORD-> BNA and then BNA->JFK-> LHR(return not taken yet). The flights were bought through TA, economy, BA ticket number, but only the first leg is on BA metal, others are on AA.

    Her ORD->BNA flight was cancelled (AA customer service rep I talked to on the phone said “due to operational reasons”; my wife said there were lots of cancellations in ORD, so could be weather, although she didn’t notice any problems with it and lots of other flights took off and landed OK).

    There were 2 flights to BNA same evening, but they were all full and my wife was rebooked for a flight next morning (via CLT; as a result arrived to BNA 16 hrs later). When she asked about overnight accommodation she was told to call some 1-800 number which was useless (they basically told her they had nothing available).

    So, the questions are:
    1.Should I assume the cancellation was weather related or should I challenge AA?
    2. If it’s not weather related are passengers entitled to some sort of compensation in the circumstances similar to my wife’s?
    3. As I understand there is basically no duty of care from the US airlines in case of weather related cancellations, but since it was a BA ticket should not be there similar duty of care to what we have here in EU?
    Thx!

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