Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Bits: IHG ‘buy points bonus’ last day, Avios ‘dynamic pricing’ job, more Plaza Premium T5 photos

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

News in brief:

IHG’s extended ‘100% buy points bonus’ ends today

IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – extended its recent ‘100% buy points bonus’ promotion but IT DEFINITELY ENDS TODAY.  It is as generous an offer as you will ever see for IHG points.

The page to buy points is here.

The offer is targetted but very widely targetted, so it is very likely you will see it on your account.  Here are the standard purchase rates which do NOT include the bonus:

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $12.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 60,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points

I receive a 100% bonus with any order of 5,000 points or more.  Some people seem to have a higher minimum, as high as 25,000. Some people also seem to have been offered a cash discount on top of double points for buying the full 60,000 points, although I did not receive that.

With a 100% bonus, you would be able to buy 120,000 IHG points for (at current exchange rates for $690) £525.  This assumes your credit card has 0% FX fees.

At the top end of the IHG Rewards Club portfolio, you have InterContinental properties which top out at 50,000 – 60,000 points per night. That’s what you would pay for InterContinental Le Grand in Paris or the InterContinental Amstel in Amsterdam.

With a 100% bonus, IHG is effectively selling you a night at a 50,000 point property for £219 all-in.  A 60,000 point hotel would be £262.  At the bottom end, the points for a 5,000 point PointBreaks night would cost just £22.

You should look at this if you have a ‘buy points’ target for your Accelerate promotion – although it makes more sense to buy 5,000 and get the bonus than buy 1,000 for no bonus.  If you are topping off your account, it is also a good deal irrespective of the exact cents per point cost.  The maximum number of points you can buy per year is 120,000 (ie 60,000 plus the 60,000 bonus).

You can buy via this link.

Some more clues about Avios ‘dynamic pricing’

British Airways is planning a move to ‘dynamic pricing’ for Avios redemptions, it was disclosed at the Investor Day presentation last week (read more here).

If you want an idea of what that may involve, aajob description appeared on the Avios website last year.  £55,000 – £60,000 was on offer.

Here is what someone, assuming they filled the vacancy, is now doing:

“The role is responsible for the dynamic pricing of rewards for members of the loyalty programmes that use Avios as their reward currency, delivering the right product at the right price and at the right time, in order to best maximise margin and the satisfaction of members to drive engagement.

The Senior Pricing Manager will work closely with the pricing team, product teams, marketing, and other members of the Avios and relevant travel partner commercial teams to manage inventory and drive ongoing pricing strategies, as well as providing critical input to the tactical promotion process. The Senior Pricing Manager will provide analysis, advice and recommendations to drive the pricing strategies, with support from the Avios management team in line with stated commercial objectives.

This is a dynamic cross-functional role that requires excellent organisational and analytical skills, commercial awareness and a passion for delivering results.

What we are looking for…

  • Deliver the budgeted margin on redemption for the Avios currency (cost per avios)
  • Deliver Avios redeemed and cash on redemption targets
  • Use price to drive volumes back to suppliers at optimal levels to drive value through the chain
  • Directly responsible for the “dynamic pricing portfolio” and strategies to deliver the above
  • Support the development and implementation of “Pay with Avios” with partners
  • Work closely with Customer Insight & Analytics to determine the impact of price or inventory changes on customer satisfaction and long term loyalty
  • The role will be key in managing the transition to new dynamic pricing system capability, ensuring processes are robust and accountabilities between internal stakeholders are clear
  • Ownership of the maintenance and development of dynamic pricing systems and rules engines
  • Support, manage or own (as appropriate) CAPEX / OPEX projects involving customer price
  • Work with the Head of Pricing to develop integrated pricing strategies across existing products
  • Support continuous improvement and consistency of the reward pricing propositions across products, markets and schemes”

Plaza Premium LHR T5

Some reader pictures from inside Plaza Premium Terminal 5

Yesterday we ran some PR pictures of the new Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5, which opened on Monday.

At present the only way to get in for free is via Dragonpass or by showing an American Express Platinum charge card.

Plaza Premium LHR T5

It looks similar to the Aspire lounge in terms of scale (not surprising, as they are in identical spots in the terminal, but on opposite sides):

Plaza Premium LHR T5

…. but with a better use of space:

Plaza Premium LHR T5


Plaza Premium LHR T5


Plaza Premium LHR T5

You can find out more on the Plaza Premium website here.

Getting airport lounge access for free from a credit card

How to get FREE airport lounge access via UK credit cards (August 2022)

As a reminder, here are the four options to get FREE airport lounge access via a credit card:

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with two free Priority Pass cards, one for you and one for a supplementary cardholder. Each card admits two so a family of four gets in free. You get access to all 1,300 lounges in the Priority Pass network – search it here.

You also get access to Plaza Premium, Delta and Eurostar lounges.  Our American Express Platinum review is here. You can apply here.

EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.

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

If you have a small business, consider American Express Business Platinum instead.

American Express Amex Gold

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 Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for the first year. It comes with a Priority Pass card loaded with two free visits to any Priority Pass lounge – see the list here

Additional lounge visits are charged at £20.  You get two more free visits for every year you keep the card.  

There is no annual fee for Amex Gold in Year 1 and you get a 20,000 points sign-up bonus.  Full details are in our American Express Preferred Rewards Gold review here.

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard

A huge bonus, but only available to HSBC Premier clients Read our full review

HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard gets you get a free LoungeKey card, allowing you access to the LoungeKey network.  Guests are charged at £20 although it may be cheaper to pay £60 for a supplementary credit card for your partner.

The card has a fee of £195 and there are strict financial requirements to become a HSBC Premier customer.  Full details are in my HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard review.

PS. You can find all of HfP’s UK airport lounge reviews – and we’ve been to most of them – indexed here.

Comments (114)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • JacobG says:

    OT: A while back we were able to “force” a Tesco 500 Avios promotion to our Gold card. However, almost two weeks after qualifying and getting a confirmation e-mail, I still have not received them.

    Has anyone received these forced 500 points?

    • Rob says:

      I did the same. It clearly doesn’t work when the reward is in a different reward currency, which is not exactly surprising!

      • Alan says:

        Although one of the previous ones did work, giving equivalent in currency of that card. All gone now anyway with the new crappy Amex website though!

    • MarkH says:

      I did the same on my partner’s Platinum main and supp cards and the points never showed either. Oh well

  • Mikeact says:

    My turn for a bit of ‘bits’. Last Sept 14th, Rob wrote a piece about ‘rip off fees’ and ‘Dual Inventory Fares ‘. While this appeared to refer to cash sales between Premium Economy and Club, I wanted to ask about about the use of the Lloyds voucher in this respect. My wife and I are going to West Coast US next year….Business out and using the voucher back to ‘upgrade’ to Business from PE. The charges are over £1000. My question is …is there a way of minimising these charges in the light of Rob’s comments ? Thanks.

    • Genghis says:

      No mention of OT? “Urgent information ? Go to FT with a far wider and world wide audience , with answers available almost immediately.”

      All said in jest 🙂

      • Mikeact says:

        I obviously thought of FT, but a difficult one to explain, without reference to Rob’s article. More likely on here me thinks.

    • JamesB says:

      Mikeact, a couple of months ago I was £814 tax and fees for us two CW from SFO to EDI. It would not surprise me at all if they have gone up but do a dummy cash booking for same flight to check that tgere are no errors.

    • mark2 says:

      I believe that that is correct for CW/First to US and Canada (APD depends on the location of the capital of the country IIRC). In June we paid about £504 each to fly to Seattle and back from Vancouver (in F). It has been at that level for a few years now.

      • Mikeact says:

        Just checked, Club on BA, round trip, London to Seattle, charges per passenger £577.51.

        • mark2 says:

          The amount actually paid (for F) was £553.57 each. This was booking the outbound at t-355 and inbound when available (241)

        • mark2 says:

          Sorry, that’s Boston next year; the airport charges must vary.

    • Anna says:

      I think it was the “fare” element Rob was referring to, i.e. if you want to use avios to upgrade from WTP to CW, you have to purchase an expensive WTP ticket to start with. The taxes and fees will be the same.

      • JamesB says:

        Yes, this is correct. Just book the cash ticket, upgrade within 24h and cancel if upgrade no longer possible. However, I ran into another problem in that agent I got to do the upgrade insisted only the longhaul sectors could be upgraded and not the domestic connections as they were in Y not WTP and it was a different fare class. At the time I was ceratin this was incorrect but I did not want to lose the longhaul CW seats for our dates do I went ahead. After ticketing I checked the tax and fees and as I expected they were applicable to CE on the domestic sectors. I called BA back again, explained this and the agent I got this time upgraded domestic sectors to CE without a problem.

  • Adam says:

    OT: Is it possible to redeem the BC HH free night past the expiry date?

  • Alistair Todd says:

    I’m in the plaza lounge now. Service is excellent, it’s quiet, and plenty of privacy. It’s 10 times better than the BA galleries lounge which was so busy I gave up looking for a seat. Being on the calm of the plaza lounge is making me feel smug, so thanks for the info!

  • h1tvd says:

    Anyone tried buying IHG points today? I keep getting a credit card error message. Tried a couple of different cards, none working…can’t see how any of the credit card information could be incorrect, assuming its an IHG issue??

  • mark2 says:

    The disappeared Virgin miles from Tesco have now returned to the fold. I have also received 20% bonus although they were auto-converted.

  • pointsarb says:

    To add to the string of Amex rejections mentioned above, I too was rejected for the BAPP around a month ago. Never been rejected for any Amex in 15 years! Me thinks they have got wise to churners? Hope not, but doesn’t look good?

    • Funtime says:

      Me too, rejected for the Nectar card with 30000 points. First time in my life I’ve been rejected ever.

      Same rejection letter about checking Experian etc. Shredded it. First time application for Nectar although have recently cancelled a BA card. Currently hold Gold.

      • the real harry1 says:

        I guess shredding it vents a bit of anger lol

        no point getting angry or hurt over a credit card application

        get even 🙂

        • Genghis says:

          So many rejections going on here. Last card I applied for was late Aug and no problems but that was a while ago. Also had c.£30k limit on two cards and a charge card so they can’t have been too worried about overall credit exposure. Mrs G almost the same. Perhaps times are changing…

        • JamesB says:

          Just took your advice, successfully applied for Lloyds avios so I will save 72k avios via the voucher, run up my balance during the interest free period and stick the cash in a savings account until it ends. All depends on the card surviving though.

    • Alan says:

      Doubt it – had SPG and Nectar applications through fine in the past couple of months – have had both cards multiple times before!

  • Moktar says:

    Looking at all these rejections got me worried. I am sure to apply for spg this week. Is there any precautionary action i should take to reduce my chances of getting rejected? Thinking of calling first and reducing my limit in my bapp.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.