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? – August 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our August 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)

  • Tom H says:

    OT: My Amex PRG 12 months is up at the start of August. I intend on waiting until the 10k MR bonus hits, and then cancelling. I also have the Gold Credit Card alongside it. Can I keep the credit card open (although to be honest, having hit the sign-up bonus on that, I don’t use it) and start the clock on my 6 month churn period on the PRG, or should I cancel both? Thanks!

    • Genghis says:

      To “start the clock” you’ll need to have not held a MR account in last six months (so need to cancel both).

      • Genghis says:

        Should actually read

        To “start the clock” you’ll need to not hold an MR account at all (so need to cancel both).

        Or to get another sign up bonus you’ll need to have not held a MR account in previous six months (so need to cancel both).

        • Tom H says:

          Thanks Genghis. I’ll cancel both then.

          Any recommendations for dealing with orphan points in the respective MR accounts (e.g. <500 balances)?

          • Genghis says:

            I do HH and then Nectar.
            Club Carlson also an option but I don’t collect them.

      • James A says:

        For what it’s worth when I cancelled my previous Amex gold my credit card stayed live and didn’t prevent me from opening a new gold charge card and getting the sign up bonus.

        • the real harry1 says:

          plenty of people have reported this but you are adding a significant risk that you won’t get the sign up bonus

          I guess you could do 1 a month if you felt like it, nothing ventured, nothing gained

          • Genghis says:

            It’d be a six months though wouldn’t it? Ie. You apply for Amex Gold, they say no points as you have the credit card. Cancel everything and wait 6 months. I push the rules but play within them. They’d have every right to refuse points if you don’t play by the rules.

    • mark2 says:

      does anyone know please whether the Platinum companion credit card is still available?

      • David says:

        I have one in my wallet right now. Had it for years though, so no guarantee it’s available to get for new.

    • Mzungu says:

      I asked this when I was on the phone recently – they (Amex) said that you can keep the Gold CC for £36pa and cancel the PRGC. I didn’t think to ask if that would prevent a future sign-up bonus, but I guess that it would.

  • Mr Dee says:

    How about an update on how Curve is doing in numbers i.e. Members signed up and transaction processed if you have this information just out of curiosity 🙂

    Like curve for the free cash withdrawal, need more incentives to spend on the card in gbp though. Especially as many of us initially thought their reward program would be based on all spend not selected partners where there are already established ways to get better value than using curve. They are making be fee difference so if they had a kickback of even 0.5% uptake would be good.

    Currently though be only benefit is to save space on the wallet for visa and master cards which isn’t really that useful. Yes there is the foreign spend but at a 1% fee, there are better options.

    • Rob says:

      I don’t think it’s where they would have hoped, but the real driver will be the ‘official’ consumer version of the card which is getting ever nearer (and is why they came in to see us recently).

      Rather like Bink, whether it is ultimately ‘a solution in search of a problem’ remains to be seen.

      • JamesB says:

        I’ve not got curve yet but now thinking it’s £2400 a year to Lloyds amex or 2x £600 on virgin white churns via ATM so might give it a go. Any thoughts on whether best to jump now or wait for consumer card? Any idea how long I need to wait before reapplying for Lloyds amex? Thanks.

      • the real harry1 says:

        ha ha Bink that rings a bell lol

        they/ their market makers were certainly pretty good at rigging the market

        just reading (ie the book, guys) the Wolf of Wall St and very funny indeed plus illuminating

        I recommend it

        • Rob says:

          Bink has just raised a big pile of cash too …. they’re not going anywhere.

      • Mr Dee says:

        Good insight, will wait for the consumer card before I make a judgement on their long term success then.

        It is a pity that these companies don’t do research into what hfp readers would like before creating product. Yes I know the audience maybe limited but I am sure the type of product we would like would also appeal to the masses.

        • Rob says:

          The Henry Ford view – ‘if you’d asked people what they wanted, we would have got a faster horse’ – is the general maxim …..

      • Steve says:

        I’ve never managed to have a transaction accepted with my Curve card, even with a variety of ‘source’ credit and debit cards! Never had that problem with the original Supercard trial (but do have more acceptance issues with the new supercard). It’s quite frustrating, but because I can just revert to the normal card I don’t have much incentive to contact support to find out what the problem is… I suspect that sort of thing will cause them to lose customers (or fail to secure them in the first place) without them getting the feedback they need to address the issues.

      • Aeronaut says:

        “A solution in search of a problem” is ultimately what Curve sounds like to me… but the investors listed in the article evidently seem to think otherwise

        • Mr Dee says:

          They could be hedging bets incase Curve is a success, so not to disrupt their other investments…

          • Rob says:

            You invest in 20 of these things, hopefully one goes well. And, if you’re trade, even the failures teach you a lot about things you can use in your own company.

            PSD2 is the big thing. If I go to another HFP meeting where this comes up I will scream. From January, all of your financial data is freely available once you tick a box. One app will show you all your balances in EVERY bank, your pension, your credit card bills, EVERYTHING. This is massively powerful and there are some well-funded start-ups ready to pounce.

            Curve has the background in manipulating spend data. What about if it merged with a PSD2 company which could, for example, go through ALL of your statements and tell you exactly how much you spend on food, coffee etc? That is pretty powerful stuff.

            These PSD2 companies will also become the new comparison sites. They know when your interest rates are out of line, and with one click they can open a new account for you at a different bank and move your money over.

            The company that really cracks this in terms of usability – and that is the deciding factor – will be worth billions because of all the payments it will get for account and card switching.

            Or Curve merges with Bink? There is a lot of commonality if they want to become a loyalty play.

            If you’re a young kid these days there is lots of cool stuff to be working on, although only a very small % ever make it. In general, staff turnover at these things is high, hours long and conditions rubbish. The Curve guys were shocked by the luxuriousness of our WeWork building and we’re not exactly living it up, at least compared to my City days.

          • Alan says:

            Very interesting. This article – https://www.evry.com/en/news/articles/psd2-the-directive-that-will-change-banking-as-we-know-it/ – provides some added info, esp interesting cross-border stuff. Really hope we’ll have a way of remaining part of this post-Brexit, esp given the number of Fintech businesses in the UK.

          • Mr Dee says:

            Very good insight there, now if only I had some idea how to get a piece of the pie 🙂

  • mark2 says:

    OT
    I have just received the final 872 Virgin miles at 4 per £ on a Waitrose spend on the last day of the offer.

  • Cate says:

    Slightly OT but as there’s a picture of Mastercard…..

    I have to do a few Intercontinentals and would like to take advantage of the 20% off for booking with Mastercard – but I don’t have one. So is the best way to get a prepaid Mastercard and use it for the bookings? If so which one as there’s a lot of prepaid cards.

    • johnny_c-l says:

      You could use Curve to charge back to an existing Visa, if you hold one?

      • Cate says:

        Thanks johnny_c_I but curve won’t let me open an account because I no longer have a smart phone.

    • the real harry1 says:

      sounds like you don’t have a Tesco M/C, I’d get that though I appreciate you want a quick solution ie prepaid

      anything on the supermarket card racks would be fine (if they do MC)

      • Cate says:

        True, we don’t have a Tesco M/C and given we a about to remortgage I don’t want anything stomping over our credit file. The avios prepaid card looks interesting as I could get a trickle of avios coming in but I don’t want a credit check as we are remortgaging. I’d be happy with just the card for bookings though as it will pay for itself soon enough.

        • the real harry1 says:

          RIP 3V 🙂

          though that was Visa

        • JamesB says:

          Have a look at CaxtonFX card. Used it as fall back prepaid for years, decent rates and good CS.

          • Cate says:

            Thanks for the tip JamesB, but it says in the T&C’s it does checks electronically which leaves it wide open to doing a credit search.

          • Rob says:

            Legally there has to be an electronic ID check I think, same as Amex has to do ID checks on supplementary cards.

  • Charlie says:

    A quick O/T – how long does the priority pass take to arrive after Amex Platinum acceptance? Can I speed it up by applying online in any way?

    • Rob says:

      Don’t worry – the PP normally arrives BEFORE your Amex Plat card arrives!

      It comes automatically, unlike the hotel status cards which you need to manually order via americanexpress.co.uk/platinum

    • Lawro says:

      Often arrives before the card itself. Usually within a few days of acceptance.

      • Charlie says:

        Thank you both – I got the supplementary card for my dad as he and mum are off on travels in a couple of weeks, but haven’t been ready to apply for the Plat until now.

        • JamesB says:

          I thought I was in trouble when mine didn’t arrive in time for three weeks travels in Europe. Following advice from Alan and others I called up PP got my number and used that to register on the app and produce a digital card. I used this successfully eight times in three weeks at different locations and wasn’t once asked for the plastic card.

          • Alan says:

            Excellent 😀 Must say I never use the physical card now, the digital one works really well!

  • Jonathan says:

    Genghis you asked that I report back on the D&D statement credit for a gift voucher. To confirm I have received the “You redeeemed your D&D London” generic email from Amex so it looks like it’ll go through.

    • Harry Angstrom says:

      Yes, would be nice. Assume it’s US only?

      • Alan says:

        Yep 🙁 along with the massive sign-up bonuses there too. Thankfully most US customers are put off redeeming on BA due to the YQ surcharges – they have alternative options that are lower cost. Obviously not great for us having to pay these fake fees, but at least there’s a bit more availability as a result!

  • Chris says:

    Anyone used a Lloyds upgrade voucher for open jaw, e.g. LHR – SFO, then JFK- LHR?

    • Alan says:

      Yep, not a problem at all – you just need to call. I had to call anyway as flying from EDI they can’t handle anything except straightforward London returns online (typical!), but at least their staff are pretty good. Fees go out straight away then points a few days later once voucher manually processed. I did EDI-LHR-ORD/YYZ-LHR-EDI without an issue.

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