This is the second part of the updated article I began two weeks ago, discussing the best ways to ‘zero out’ loyalty card accounts which you want to abandon. You need to remember that you may first need to ‘top off’ an account by earning a few more points before you can reach the smallest redemption level.
Part 1 looked at the hotel schemes. Today I look at some of the major European airline schemes and Tesco Clubcard. I have not covered Avios as Head for Points readers are generally keener to build those up!
Tesco Clubcard (points convert to Avios or Virgin Flying Club)
If you have multiple cards in your name, try to get them up to 150 points using extra points coupons or offers. 150 points is the trigger to receive vouchers. You can then chuck the card.
The easiest options are bonus Clubcard points for giving Tesco Bank your insurance renewal dates and 25 Clubcard points with Tesco Views (the latter is repeatable monthly).
Tesco can also merge accounts together if you contact them, although you may be wary of doing this if you have been putting aggressive multiple purchases through it.
American Express Membership Rewards
If you are closing your Amex card and emptying your Membership Rewards account, you will discover that transfers to Avios are in multiples of 1,000. If this leaves you with 1-999 spare points, get a Nectar account and transfer the exact balance there. Each point is worth 0.5p at Sainsburys or another partner.
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
- SPEND – You can now use a small amount of miles as part-payment towards a cash flight on Virgin. You will get £18 per 3,000 miles used.
- SPEND – Virgin miles (10,000+) can be transferred into Hilton Honors (1:1.5) and IHG Rewards Club (1:1). Transfers to IHG count towards status.
- SPEND – 12,500 miles gets you a £50 Virgin Voucher, good for Virgin Trains and other Virgin Group businesses
- SPEND – 6,250 miles gets you a £25 Virgin East Coast rail voucher
- SPEND – you can redeem Virgin Atlantic miles for hotel rooms booked via the Kaligo.com site
- SPEND – Remember that one-way redemptions are available, so you may need fewer miles than you think for a flight (use Avios to come back). Note that you cannot do a ‘miles and money’ one-way redemption.
- TOP-UP – You can top-up your account from various hotel schemes, Tesco Clubcard, Heathrow Rewards, the Virgin Atlantic credit cards and Amex Membership Rewards, or via a car rental.
- TOP-UP – Some hotel chains give Virgin miles even when they do not give Avios points
- TOP-UP – You can get 6,000 Virgin miles – albeit with some risk of capital – by opening a Virgin Money ISA
- TOP-UP – Receive 3,000 miles with your first Virgin Wines purchase
- TOP-UP – Receive 3,000 miles with a Virgin International Money Transfer of £1000+
Lufthansa Miles & More
- SPEND – You can cash out small amounts into Heathrow Airport shopping vouchers via Heathrow Rewards
- SPEND – There are hotel redemptions available via the new M&M hotel booking portal
- SPEND – Remember that one-way redemptions are allowed on Lufthansa and all its partners, so you need fewer miles than you think
- SPEND – Keep an eye on the regular list of destinations which are on mileage sale
- TOP-UP – Whist Lufthansa is not an Amex partner, you can get the dedicated Miles & More credit card to top off an account. Getting the M&M credit card also stops your miles expiring, so you may not have to rush to spend them after all.
- TOP-UP – You can indirectly earn Miles & More miles via Amex Membership Rewards by transferring them to Starwood Preferred Guest at 2:1 and then on to Lufthansa at 1:1, with a 25% bonus for moving 20,000 points at once
- TOP-UP – You can transfer in from Heathrow Rewards (and out, see the first point) and of course the usual hotel programmes, or credit a car rental (there is a 50% bonus until 31st August 2017)
- TOP-UP – You can also earn Miles & More miles from shopping at Bicester Village!
- SPEND – You can redeem Skywards miles for Arsenal football tickets, both general seats and the Emirates Skybox
- SPEND – You can transfer miles INTO Heathrow Rewards. The minimum is 6,000 miles which gets you a £20 Heathrow shopping voucher. You can also top-up your account with Heathrow Rewards points.
- SPEND – You can redeem Skywards miles for easyJet travel credit
- SPEND – If you are travelling to Dubai, Skywards miles can be used for gift vouchers for various Dubai shops and tourist attractions, as well as a selection of Marriott hotels across the Middle East and South Africa
- TOP-UP – As well as the usual mix of hotel and car hire partners, Emirates has two UK credit cards.
- TOP-UP – Emirates Skywards is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner. Miles transfer INSTANTLY as long as your accounts are already linked.
Etihad is a partner with Amex Membership Rewards which lets you top up your account to a suitable level.
You can also cash out via the Etihad Guest Rewards Card / PointsPay. This is an impressive scheme for small balances which I have used – you get 0.55p per point, delivered as a ‘virtual Visa’ card number. There is no excuse for having an unused Etihad balance. I wrote more about Points Pay here.
SAS used to let you redeem small amounts of miles for iTunes and Amazon vouchers but these seem to be permanently out of stock recently. You can redeem for Radisson and Park Inn hotels, Scandic Hotels, First Hotels, Best Western (selected countries only) amongst other hotel offers. You can also redeem points for lounge access. Expiring points, from just 1000, can be donated to charity.
Apologies for the lack of Flying Blue coverage, but this scheme is really not my strong point! Please leave any further suggestions or ideas I have missed in the Comments below.