Bits: Virgin East Coast sale, IHG ‘buy points’ bonus, earn Nectar points with South Western

News in brief:

Virgin East Coast flash sale launched

Virgins Trains (East Coast) has launched a flash sale with a full 50% off Advance Standard and Advance First tickets.

You need to book by Monday 28th August for travel between 11th September and 20th December.  Note that you cannot book for weekends after 5th November.

Full details are on the East Coast website here.  Remember that you will also earn 1 Virgin Flying Club mile or 2 Nectar points per £1 spent.

Virgin East Coast

IHG Rewards Club ‘buy points’ bonus

Until 12th September, you can buy IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – points with a bonus of up to 80%.

(EDIT: some people appear to be getting 100%, which makes this more interesting.)

The offer is targetted so it may not be available to you.  The page to buy points is here – log in and see what is available.

This is not the most generous offer IHG has had, and it is also staggered which is unusual:

  • Buy 5,000-19,000 points, get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 15,000+ points, get an 80% bonus

I wouldn’t buy speculatively at this price, as I am fairly sure that a 100% bonus will be along in a few months.  If you need to top up your account in advance of a planned redemption, however, you might as well do it whilst the bonus is on.

InterContinental Times Square

Earn Nectar points with South Western Railway

The South West Trains franchise changed hands on Sunday, and services are now operated by First Group.

This means that you can now earn Nectar points when you book South Western rail tickets via their website.  The earning rate is 2 points per £1.

In fact, you can earn Nectar points on ANY train ticket booked via the South Western website irrespective of train operator.  Full details are here.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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About Head for Points

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  1. the real harry1 says:

    hat-tip M S E

    free £5 when you top up your Amazon a/c @ PayPoint – you should be able to find a PayPoint that takes Amex (try Co-Op, Texaco) – so MR points on top

    Amazon ‘free’ £5 with £20 ‘Top Up – In Store’*
    Top up your Amazon account balance at PayPoint locations
    ‘Amazon Top Up – In Store’ is a new service, where you can add funds directly to your normal Amazon account balance at ‘PayPoint’ tills at over 2,000 UK stores, incl at Co-op, Sainsbury’s and newsagents (find your nearest – there’s a decent spread nationwide). If you use the service for the first time before Tue 31 Oct, you can get a ‘free’ £5 credit when you top up £20+.

    The normal funds you add are valid for 10 years, and can be used on most items sold by Amazon (not those sold by third party sellers on Amazon) – so this is effectively £5 free credit as long as you’ll spend £20 on Amazon in the next decade.

    You need to use the free £5 by 11.59pm on Thu 30 Nov – you can redeem it by ticking the ‘Use your £5 promotional balance’ box at the payment stage. There’s no minimum spend and if your purchase is more than £5, you can use the gift card balance towards the rest.

    How do I get the ‘free’ £5?

    While you can obviously top up your balance online as normal, doing it that way will NOT get you this £5 freebie. Instead…

    1. You first need to get a barcode online to show at a PayPoint till. Log in, go via this Amazon link* and click ‘get your barcode’. Select whether you want your barcode sent via text, or to print.

    2. Go into your local PayPoint store (find your nearest), show your barcode at the till and top up by £20 or more. Amazon says you’ll get an email confirming that you’ve qualified for £5 free credit and it will be added instantly to your top up balance, along with the £20 that has been added. You’re allowed to top up by £5-£250 per transaction.

    • the real harry1 says:
      • I believe I read somewhere that you had to top up the amazon account by cash to get the £5 bonus but stand corrected. ?

        • the real harry1 says:

          they mightn try to tell you that – as do certain councils to try to avoid the credit card fees when you pay council tax @ PayPoint – but quite simply, if the PayPoint terminal is set up to take credit cards/ Amex, it’ll take them for everything

          which is not to say all PayPoints take Amex – they don’t – but if your cashier says we don’t take Amex, it’s still worth giving it a try because PayPoint will aoften ccept different cards to the (say) Co-Op’s own till system

        • Genghis says:

          You never ask “Do you take Amex?” Just whack the card in!

        • It also varies between Coop branches, of the same company ignoring that it is a federation of many companies. Two convenient branches will only accept cash for PayPoint whereas others accept Amex without question..

        • I saw this – I will ask Anika to pop down to one and try it out, and if it works OK we’ll put it on SP.

        • Used coop – amex combination and received the instant confirmation of bonus £5 .

        • the real harry1 says:

          worth getting Amazon a/cs for you. your dearly beloved & the kids

          ker-ching another £20 🙂

        • the real harry1 says:

          they might even be future kids, I guess 🙂

        • She has been to a Shell garage at Wembley (it’s not all glamour in this job) but apparently they can’t handle the bar code with their old-style scanner ….

        • the real harry1 says:

          it seems Amazon has exceedingly deep pockets this year

        • My two nearest Paypoints are Asda and a convenience store. The convenience store couldn’t work out how to do it (waving my phone randomly at the till while complaining that it wasn’t a council tax bill didn’t seem to do the trick!), and I believe Asda is confirmed as cash only. I’ll try again next time I’m near a Co-op.

          You can add your top-up barcode to Passbook on an iPhone so no need to fire up the printer.

        • the real harry1 says:

          hmm, I don’t have an iPhone! no way am I going to make myself contactable 24/7 – last time I did that my wife was on the phone every 5 minutes about this, that & the other (ie nothing important)

          so I’ve got a 10YO brick in the glove compartment

          printing will be fine and I have an inexhaustible supply of HP364s 🙂

    • Nice – have added barcode to Amazon app ready to use!

  2. OT. Looking to book a hotel via the card deal. I’ve reread the hfp article and comments. When I use the club card link I can find the hotel and a way to pay in gbp with the booking then showing a blue “apply code or discount” link at the bottom. But, there’s no non-refundable prepay option only 1. pay in local currency at the hotel or 2. prepay now in gbp (but still with the ability to cancel up until the last minute). My question is, can I still use the club card route if it’s not a non refundable booking? Thanks.

    • No.

      • Thanks for the confirmation. Glad I haven’t wasted the vouchers!

        • Andrew M says:

          Put it this way. We had no issues booking the Island Boutique Hotel, Larnaca. All prepay rates offered were GBP and refundable. Booked yesterday, using club card generated voucher code. So I’m pretty sure the only criteria is that you need to be able to prepay in full in GBP (refundable rate or otherwise!). Certainly no refund of voucher code if cancel booking though!

        • Andrew M says:

          Oh, and as far as I can see, there is zero on the current clubcard page to suggest that you would be anything other than fine to book what you are looking at!

  3. Peanutuneap says:

    OT. Want suggestions is there any good (read easy peasy) ways to hit spend targets on new credit cards. I taken out lots of new cards, all a suggested by Rob himself. I think I can buy flights and then cancel, is this correct???

    • Have you already taken out “lots” of cards? I would recommend not to do this all at once. It will impact your credit rating.

    • Genghis says:

      Go on a blow out holiday to Vegas?

    • That doesn’t actually work with Amex UNLESS the flight is not the transaction that takes you over. What happens with Gold, for eg, is that if you spend £2 in Pret and that is the spend that takes you over £2,000, it posts as ‘Pret A Manger / £2 / 20002 points’. If you refunded your sandwich, you would lose 20002 points.

      So …. you can pump up your spend with a refundable flight but for Gold / Plat the actual transaction that takes you over the limit must not be later refunded.

      • Genghis says:

        You sure? I remember a few years ago getting a few refunds and having the bonus points taken away a few times. The items refunded were not ones that took me over the threshold. Ie. It’s cumulative spend. The refundable flight trick only works really if you’re going to cancel the card. Not something I’ve ever done as I push my luck with Amex as it is.

      • If I book a refundable flight to take me over the Gold (2K) or BAPP (10K) spend target receive the bonus gold card points/BA241 on the BAPP, then transfer them to BAEC before then seeking a refund of the spend. The bonus points can not be recovered as they have already been transferred to be BAEC.

        • That works BUT a warning – if you refund the flight in the next card year, it counts against the total you need to spend to trigger your next voucher. So ….

          Your BAPP card year ends on 30 September
          You book a £5k flight on 20 September to trigger the 241 and cancel it on 5 October
          You will need to spend £15,000 and not £10,000 to trigger your next 241, because it needs to be £10k NET spend during the card year

    • ROFL

    • I can’t agree with playing the system like this. If everyone started doing refunds to get signup bonuses then I’m sure Amex would have to take some action which would detriment all of us. For example – once in a lifetime signup bonus like the US.

      If you can’t afford the spend requirements, either don’t sign up for the card or don’t expect to get the signup bonus.

      • +1.

      • This may sound rude (not intended!), but why exactly should I care that you don’t approve? I’m certainly not going to be taking orders from a stranger on the internet!

        It’s certainly not a new thing to do this. The “action” Amex will take will surely be to punish people doing that – not punish its entire customer base – anyway. That would make very little business sense.

        • Well they’ve done it in the US so they could easily do it here. If you don’t care then that’s a selfish attitude.

        • Alex did not give advice, he expressed his opinion and I doubt that he cares whether YOU care or not. There is ample evidence to support his assertion, the debate has been going on for years.

        • Agreed – sometimes it pays to take a broader view. If Amex feel too much abuse is going on (such that it makes the current system non-viable) then it may well changes things in a way that affects all customers, not just those that go OTT.

    • Play the game sensibly and don’t try and piss Amex off would be my tip…

  4. Seems a completly crazy decision to remove Stagecoach from SWT and replace them with First Group.

    Who remembers the horror show that was First Capital Connect!

    • Who remembers the horror that was Stagecoach in the first year after they took over?!

      You may not be old enough to remember, but someone in the office had sat down and worked out on a spreadsheet the minimum number of drivers needed to operate all the trains, which he decided was a few hundred less than they actually employed. Management decided this was just sloppy inefficiency and fired all the ‘excess’ drivers. They then worked out that delays, illness etc meant that …. actually …. they did actually need all those drivers after all, except they had all left and the company couldn’t now run its trains ….

      • RussellH says:

        I remember – vividly, even though I have not lived in the SWT area for nearly 50 years. Parents did live there for most of their lives.

    • I was surprised at the decision to replace South West Trains. Having lived in Richmond for 25 years and been a South West Trains customer since the company was formed, I have seen first hand the substantial investment that the company has made and the improvements to the service have been huge. People living in and to south West of London have been fortunate to have South West Trains as the franchise holder.

      The Head for Ponts article is incorrect and Rob has failed to research the details of the new franchise holder. The new franchise holder is not First Group but a company called South Western Railway which is a joint venture between First Group and MTR Corporation. MTR stands for Mass Transit Railway and the MTR Corporation is the internationally respected operator of The Hong Kong Metro and other railway systems around the world. MTR – again as part of a JV – operated the successful London Overground franchise until the autumn of last year. MTR Crossrail wil operate the new Elizabeth Libe when that opens on an 8 year franchise. MTR is considered by transport economists to be a world leader in its field. It bodes well for customers in south west franchise area that MTR holds a 30% stake in South Western Railway.

      • If you look at the Shopper Points article today on the same topic, you’ll see that I know exactly who owns the franchise and I know who MTR are. I funded light rail projects for a few years at the start of my career, including working on the Lewisham DLR extension.

        Thought I’d keep it simple here though.

        You need to remember that the HK Metro is idiot-proof. If I remember correctly there is not a single track cross-over on the entire system, and at no point do trains on different lines share the same track. IIRC.

        • RussellH says:

          What you describe for HK Metro is what you can only do when you plan a whiole system at once.

          Railways in this country are the complete opposite – organic growth with a pretty much completely free market until 1914. The three original southern railways are arguably the ultimate proof of this. My father always referred to the whole southern network (not just the south western) as “anywhere to anywhere via anywhere”. It is actually pretty impressive that at peak periods it works at all!

          Contrast this with France, where the rail system was originally centrally planned, even though it was then initially handed over to private firms to build and operate.

  5. the real harry1 says:

    O/T bit of an August news fill article

    but it does mention: ‘Prof Spence added: “Reduced air pressure, dry cabin air, and engine noise all inhibit taste perception, but umami is the only one of the basic tastes that manages to cut through these barriers, which is why so many passengers order a tomato juice or Bloody Mary on-board.’

    that sounds very true to me, nothing I used to enjoy more in the good old BBoB days than to save the cabin crew’s time when they came round with the drinks trolley by getting: a wine to go with the snack, a beer to counter de-hydration and a Bloody Mary (I now learn) for the umami – I didn’t generally risk disapprobation by asking for a coffee as well 🙂

  6. Pls can someone remind me how long it usually takes to receive the Priority Pass once you upgrade Gold to Platinum?

  7. My offer is 100% bonus after 20,000 miles, which costs $250.

  8. OT
    re Amazon offer, the T&C says ‘The promotional credit expires at 11:59 pm (GMT) November 30, 2017’ which I take to mean that you have to spend it by that date. It sounds easy but I have got a substantial balance on my account; will the promotional credit be used first or not until any exisiting credit has been used?

    • johnny_c-l says:

      On promos Amazon have done in the past this type of credit has come up as a separate ‘promotion’ on the payment page and has been the first credit to be taken.

      Amazon CS are very good I find so if you have an issue they’d probably credit you anyway.

    • Harry said above there is a tick box to use your free fiver.

  9. The Virgin sale dates work for me as we are going to London in Dec. I priced up the trains last week as we thought we would try first class as we are celebrating our anniversary and my birthday. The prices are the same as last week – so how does the 50% sale work – what am I missing?

    • Weekend?

      • No mid-week – that seems to be the price – booked regular seats down and 1st back as they were much cheaper!

    • Will Squires says:

      No advance tickets remaining for the journeys you’re looking at perhaps?

      • They don’t seem to discount every EC journey. Leeds to Doncaster or Doncaster to Peterborough EC advances don’t get any discount it seems :-s

    • Congratulations, have a nice trip. I think First is definitely worth the extra on VTEC despite stan
      dard being fine. Agree the sale pricing is odd., e.g. Edinburgh to London is advertised at 50% off at £70 return yet I usually pay about £74 return with a 33% railcard discount.

  10. OT – My wife has the Hilton CC and I hold a supp card. Does anyone know if I book a hilton in my name using the card if she will still be credited the bonus 2500 for the stay?

  11. OT: Hilton 4th quarter promotion is open for registration. Double points plus targetted Diamond offer. 5000 points per stay up to 50000 points for ten stays for mine.

    • Genghis says:

      Nice. I’m 10,000 Points for every 10 Nights 🙁

      • Yes, that’s not so good except for those staying 200+ nights a year and there will be few of those. 5000 per stay is effectively a rerun of the promo in Q1 or Q2 so I was a bit surprised they packaged it in this way.

      • Got the same 10,000 for every 10 nights. I do not think this will make me switch stays to Hilton!

        • Me too. Lucky sod who got 5000 per night!!

        • I only stayed once during the last quarter but about 7 or 8 in the previous quarter. The irony is that it will not help me at all as I’m going to be overseas for 27 nights in a town devoid of chain hotels. Unless I plan a short break I doubt I will benefit from it.

    • Is this stackable with the current Hilton offer? The T&Cs doesn’t say.

  12. OT- ish, which Hilton at Heathrow do people think has the better Exec lounge as I have to pop up this weekend? Thanks.

  13. O/T I looked at Mytaxi but fares from my house (E16) to T5 was £250 so even with 50% off v. expensive. Does anyone have any other companies they use or any promo codes?

  14. Do the IHG purchase points in the latest offer qualify as EQ?

  15. those who work for NHS. I have discovered by a chance that IHG has a promo link with up to 45% off including sale prices. Unlike Hilton promo code, as per link below, you will need a proof of ID. Some very good offers out there:

  16. OT – I have hotel status through Amex Platinum and just wondering, do I need to book directly with the hotels to take advantage of the benefits or am I ok going through Expedia, Agoda etc?

    Btw I am looking to book either Sule Shangri-La Yangon or Melia Yangon.