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Bits: Virgin card retention bonuses, win a NY holiday with, another NY start-up airline

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News in brief:

MBNA offering Virgin Black retention bonuses

I’m not sure if this is linked to the news last week that Virgin Money has signed a financial services deal, believed to include credit cards, with Virgin Atlantic.

However, two readers have contacted MBNA recently to cancel their Virgin Black credit cards and have been offered a generous retention bonus of 5,000 miles.  The only criteria was to spend £1,000 within 90 days.

One of the readers has been offered this deal twice.  He originally tried to cancel a month ago, got offered this deal, earned the extra 5,000 miles, called again to cancel and was offered it for a second time!  If you are thinking of cancelling Virgin Black – I doubt they will be offering much to keep holders of the free Virgin White – it is worth a call first.

PUBLIC New York hotel

Win a New York holiday with got in touch with details of a ‘win a holiday in New York’ competition they are running until 14th August.

Whilst the flights are economy, you will also get four nights for two people in the new high-profile PUBLIC By Ian Schrager hotel, photo above, which should be fun.

The link to enter is here.   You can also enter if you live in Norway, Denmark, Finland, France or Germany but you’ll need to find the relevant URL on your national site.

Odyssey Airlines_CS100_Bombardier

Another New York start-up …. Odyssey Airlines

Yesterday I wrote about Primera Air and its plans to launch an Economy and Premium Economy service to New York and Boston from Birmingham and Stansted …… using short-haul A321 aircraft.

There is another airline start-up out there waiting to take to the skies.

Odyssey Airlines is planning to launch ‘all business class’ services from London City Airport to New York and other long-haul destinations (Toronto is rumoured) very soon.   Their website is here if you want to learn more.

The key point about Odyssey is that it will use Bombardier’s new CS100 aircraft.  Odyssey has 10 CS100 planes on order, and the aircraft was recently certified for use at London City.  City is problematic for larger aircraft because of the need to gain height very quickly in order to avoid the towers at Canary Wharf.

SWISS is currently the only European airline operating the CS100 which – in their layout – takes 125 passengers in a two-class format.  Odyssey is planning to have just 40 seats in an ‘all business class’ format.

It is difficult to see how this will succeed, given the BA has just cut one of its two daily London City to New York flights – although Odyssey will not require the refueling stop in Shannon.  I will keep you updated with news as I hear it.

Comments (115)

  • Chris says:

    Why are HfP’rs cancelling Virgin white cards?

    Is it to get another sign-up bonus in 6 months time?

    • Genghis says:

      Yes and it’s a pretty pointless card for ongoing spend IMO

      • TGLoyalty says:

        For a free card 1 for AMEX and 0.5 for visa per £ isn’t bad

    • Alan says:

      Yes, plus it’s not one you’d particularly want to keep, just using up available credit for no real reason?

      • Clive says:

        “Using up available credit” – that isn’t how credit limits work – make sure your credit is always at least 4x your spending 🙂

        • Alan says:

          Lol my reply was simplified for brevity but you still don’t want masses of credit that you’re not using. For example just approved with 10k limit for AA card. Already have 10 other cards. I’m not going to keep getting approved for new cards with all that available credit – keeping it under control (but equally not going too far and making your credit utilisation go too high!) is part of the game.

          • Clive says:

            Yes – it must’ve been the words “using up available credit” which gave the impression you thought it would be using up available credit 😉

          • Alan says:

            When typing on a phone it’s difficult to go into immense detail, hence my simplification, but clearly based on your annual income all lenders will consider what is affordable for you to repay – if you’ve got multiple cards with massive limits you will potentially run into problems getting new cards. That’s why they will often let you transfer across some of your limit to a new card when you call them – for example MBNA put my VS White application on hold. I then called them and they were happy to transfer across some of the limit on my Black card to the new White one. They had clearly decided how much they were willing to lend based on my income and existing available credit. However as I said before, going round closing all your cards isn’t a good idea either as you then use a higher percentage of your available credit – it’s all about striking a balance.

          • Genghis says:

            MBNA refused to give me a card once but for taking some credit limit from elsewhere, so I’m sure overall credit does play a part.

          • Genghis says:

            Interesting. US focused though. But what’s Mr Cavanagh’s salary given his $1.7m credit line?

          • Clive says:

            It says he was born in 1943. Probably no salary but some pension income.

          • Andrew says:

            I’m wondering at what point Experian, Equifax or similar would max out on their record keeping for an individual – I suspect that it would be well below 1500 individual accounts.

          • Clive says:

            Anyway, it happens fairly often that there is a comment here which shows most people misunderstand how credit limits work (when they talk about cancelling a card or lowering a limit in order to apply for something else)… It might be good if Rob could get someone from one of those credit ref agencies to write a guest post and answer questions in the comments. They’d probably do it if they could plug one of their subscription services 🙂

          • Genghis says:

            Now ‘m certainly no expert but one thing to note is that the credit agencies do not know any income information. The agencies do not grant any credit but credit institutions do. Credit institutions take the information they gather from you and from the agencies and come up with their own assessment as to whether they want to lend to you or not. Now if you have an income of £50k but an existing credit line of £100k, surely questions are asked?

        • Genghis says:

          “Simple steps to help manage your credit score: …having a large overall credit limit may be viewed negatively by lenders”

          • Clive says:

            Yes ‘may be’ – I think as you said it’s how the different elements combine. We could each find different quotes which emphasise different elements – e.g. “closing a credit card account may hurt your credit score”

            But I don’t think 50k income and 100k credit line would necessarily be seen as a problem if it is longstanding and you only habitually use 20k of it. They might be happy to compete for the part you use. 🙂

          • Alex W says:

            Data point – I have 8 credit cards with limits totalling 1.5x annual salary. Carrying 8k interest free balance on Lloyds card. Just been approved for joint mortgage of 4x joint salary.

          • the_real_a says:

            Interesting discussion. The other aspect is the type of product that you are applying for. If the Credit Card is intended as a balance transfer product (including balance transfer “offer” on a points earning card) then the lender will typically allow a credit line proportionate to your exisitng UTILISED CREDIT (rather than your income). Otherwise these products would be useless as the target market (people with high existing lending) would never be approved them!

    • JamesB says:

      Note also, it is mbna-issued so you don’t need to wait 6 months to get another bonus, that only applies to amex-issued cards. I cancelled white this year, reapplied about 10 weeks later and got the bonus again.

      • Nigel says:

        Same here re cancelling and re-application.
        Though I did wait 4 months due to other comittments.
        Spent 73p and got 3K miles.

      • Chris says:

        Is this the same with the Emirates Skywards variety?

  • simmo says:

    OT/ Does anybody have any experience of using a Credit Card to purchase a car?

    It seems lots of the car dealers or car supermarkets do not take credit cards.
    However to me this seems like a wasted opportunity to stick a wedge on a card to earn points!

    Anybody have any experience of purchasing car on a credit card? or tips or tricks?

    I imagine the new government rules on surcharges will not make any difference as the dealerships will still have to pay the fee to the card company.

    • john says:

      My Second hand dealer took card although there was a %age mark up. Honda dealer takes cc but not Amex (no %age). A friend has an Audi. His local dealership wouldn’t take Amex so he switched to one further away that did. That is for maintenance though but one would guess they would for buying the car?

      • AndyGWP says:

        I paid £3k deposit at Audi (in Bolton) on my Amex with no surcharge. Was chuffed with that as had written of my BAPP 2 for 1 due to getting caught up in other spend bonuses, but it pretty much nailed it without any need for manufacturing substantial spend 🙂

    • Lumma says:

      I’m sure that some dealers take credit cards but charge a high fee for doing so, therefore would wipe out the value of any points gained.

      I’d imagine they’ll simply refuse to take credit cards when they can no longer charge for the privilege

    • Nick M says:

      I’d always try to pay at least the deposit using a credit card for S75 protection, and I’m sure most dealers would prefer to pay the additional fee for processing a credit card rather than losing the sale.

      I put our latest car on a couple of credit cards (unfortunately no Amex, but hit spending requirements on a couple of Virgin cards in one go)… I think there was technically meant to be a mark up, but this seemed to be forgotten when I pulled out a few different cards to spread the payment

      Would recommend not discussing payment options until you’ve negotiated the price to a level you’re happy with though.

      (Obviously this is assuming you have the cash ready to pay the bill in full, otherwise alternative forms of payment may be more suitable)

      • RussellH says:

        I have had no problems with putting the deposit – £500 – on a credit card. If they look unhappy at the idea I just tell them that I do not keep that sort of balance in my current a/c, which sometimes is quite true. As you say, they are not going to send you away without signing a deal for the card charge on £500.

    • Andrew says:

      Car dealers will often take a deposit by Credit Card – which varies from dealer to dealer. I maxed the deposit for my Audi at the dealer’s limit of £2,500. The rest was funded by trade-in and PCP deal.

      This is where it gets interesting, whilst my PCP deal is settled monthly by Direct Debit, I can also go into the AudiFinance website and pay my monthly instalment by Visa or Mastercard approxiately between 14 and 7 days before the DD is due. It’s either a hassle or a no-brainer depending on the value of your repayments and appetite for points.

    • Charlie says:

      Alfa Romeo take Amex with no fee added.

    • Alan says:

      Always managed to get deposit on it. They clearly incur a fee, but I know of folk who have managed to negotiate a good deal and then say if the fee wasn’t waived they’d walk away from the deal. Clearly you have to be willing to do so, but I’d imagine many dealers would prefer to absorb the fee rather than lose the sale…

    • Alex W says:

      I paid a 5k deposit on MasterCard. There was a fee, but it was worth it due to interest free period for purchases on Lloyds Avios card (currently 29 months I think).

    • mark2 says:

      We paid the £8,000 cost to change on Amex. When they asked me ‘what do we have to do for you to sign the order?’ I said pay on Amex; I could probably have had a cash discount.
      It was Amex who were the problem since the SPG card I wanted to use had a small limit and I paid £2000 at a time and paid it off. This was rejected by the computer and required conversation with security/credit.
      Apparently the credit limit is the max you can spend in a month as well as the max amount outstanding, but they relented.

      • JamesB says:

        You can call up credit card providers and make prior arrangements for them to approve very large payments. At least I managed this with mbna on a five figure sum one time but I’m sure if they can do it once they can do it again.

    • the_real_a says:

      Yes – but most will charge a 3% fee for the privalidge. If you are savvy you can use this to close the deal (walk away unless they do it), but the bigger issue these days is that the salemans commission is typically from selling finance products so you risk losing the guys interest if you bring in this aspect early in the negociaitions.

      • Mike says:

        Remember under the consumer credit act you can cancel (NOT SETTLE) credit within a cooling off period.
        So if you’re a cash buyer you might be able to pay a big deposit on credit card, and take out finance on the balance so the dealer is happy.
        You can then invoke your statutory right to CANCEL and the pay off the credit company. If you really hit the jackpot you’ll be able to do this on credit card but they might not like it!

        • johnny_c-l says:

          I’ve done this with extended warranties whenever I’ve got a new laptop or tablet. The sales guys are clearly incentivised to sell the warranty so you can get a better deal, then cancel the warranty/purchase protection or whatever they call it within 2 weeks.

          • the_real_a says:

            Haha did this with Dixon’s years ago on the extended warrenties when staff were falling over themselves to offer 20% doscounts. Never really thought of scaling it up for cars through.

          • Alan says:

            Haha yep, remember doing just this with a MiniDisc player from Dixons when I was in second year at uni (that’ll date me I know!) – got some extra freebies then cancelled the policy over the phone a week later 😛

    • Kinkell says:

      Hi Simmo,we bought an Audi Last year..split the very significant !! cost over the Amex Gold MR card( which got me the mr bonus for spending 15K in a year ( or was it 10k…can’t remember) and the amex. BAPP, which got me the companion voucher, not to mention shed loads of avios! The dealer agreed to charge a reduced % fee for using the CC, but all in all , it was well worth it.

  • Really says:


    Is there any negative effect on credit score or with Amex itself if you open a card, get the bonus and cancel say within 1 – 2 months? I referred my better half to the SPG Amex and we’re already close to hitting the £1k spend (1.5 months in), after which we have no further use for it and plan on cancelling it.

    Would Amex look ‘unfavourably’ upon this?

    • the_real_a says:

      Each AMEX card application does result in a credit search on your credit report, but thats not necesseraly a reason for NOT doing it unless you have some important lending coming in the next 6 months (mortgage, car finance etc). AMEX do not seem to have any issues with multiple card applications across its range in a short period of time – provided your credit history/income is good.

  • Rob says:

    OT/ Has anyone noticed that Expedia has been removed from

    Any further info as I have received near 100k points from that click-through over the past year so shame that it’s potentially gone?

  • Roger says:

    OT-IHG Black
    To anyone who has cancelled black card at anniversary.
    Has creation tempted with any spend bonus or fees waiver for continuing to use card?
    I am thinking of cancelling my card at anniversary date within next 2 weeks.
    I have put in close to 50K spend in one year and wondering whether creation will be keen to retain my business.

    Hopefully IHG Black card 40000 points offer or similar will be back for new customer.
    And might sign up as a new account myself of get OH this card.
    If not probably will apply MBNA AA card with £70 fees.

    • Genghis says:

      I’d be very keen to hear about the “churnability” of the IHG Creation cards in due course. There’s no mention of anything in the T&Cs.

      • JamesB says:

        With the trouble some people have reported experiencing getting one I imagibe the answer is not great. However, if there is nothing regarding it in the T&C then the opportunity to win a complaint via FOS must be high.

    • the_real_a says:

      I cancelled a couple of weeks ago. No attempt whatsoever at retention. You would be lucky if the creation staff know what an IHG credit card actually is…

  • Jonny says:

    Cancelling my Virgin cards (white) was on my to-do list – just called up today and was also offered the 5k bonus, so will hold onto it for a couple more months now myself.

    • Ben says:

      Jonny, how long have you had the card? I have had mine (black) for 8 months now so still a way off from the renewal.

  • Ammar says:

    OT – HIlton VIsa – How long after spending 10k does the Gold Status kick in? Next statement cycle or when the points show up on the HHonors Account?

    • Rob says:

      They seem to be done in waves – I got my last one quickly (10 days) but when I wrote about it others had been waiting 3 weeks and got them on the same day.

      PS. They dropped the 2nd ‘H’ 🙂

  • h1tvd says:

    O/T I have no status with BA but have a booking in 2 weeks for myself, kids and MIL. My MIL is bronze and I believe is able to reserve seats 1 week in advance. Will I be able to select the seats in MMB in my account or will she have to log on to do it? Will we be able to reserve all 4 seats or just her seat? Thanks

    • Leo says:

      Did she make the booking and are you all on the same one?

      • h1tvd says:

        I made the booking and yes we are all on one booking.

        • Leo says:

          I think the person who booked has to be the status holder and you have to be on the same booking – if I remember correctly. It’s different for golds.

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