News in brief:
Meridiana to add new US routes to New York and Miami
Meridiana is a slightly odd Italian airline which used to be controlled by the Aga Khan. The route network is focused around Sardinia, Sicily and Naples with occasional long-haul flights thrown into the mix. It has a grand total of 12 aircraft.
The only reason we cover it on Head for Points is that Meridiana Club, its loyalty scheme, uses Avios as its currency. Even this is not straightforward, because you cannot move Avios to or from Meridiana Club – they must be earned and spent entirely within the scheme. This makes it next to useless for UK Avios members.
The airline may be getting more relevant. Qatar Airways acquired a 49% stake last year and has committed to an overhaul of the Meridiana fleet. 20 Boeing 737 aircraft will arrive from 2018, and the long haul fleet is being boosted by Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 aircraft.
The first change is the launch of regular flights from Milan Milpensa to New York and Miami in June 2018.
The New York service will operate daily, the Miami flight will operate four times per week. It will use A330 aircraft supplied by Qatar Airways.
Milan to New York is a very competitive route – even Emirates flies it under a ‘fifth freedom’ agreement! It will be interesting to see what Qatar Airways is bringing to the table to make Meridiana into a serious contender.
Whilst Meridiana is not joining the oneworld alliance, you will be able to book these flights via ba.com using Avios. Taxes have historically been very high on Meridiana redemptions so we need to see if Qatar Airways can do something about that too.
Generous Amex Travel cashback deal launched
American Express has launched some new cashback deals with Amex Travel.
You need to take a look at the ‘offers’ tab on your online statement page to see what you have, if anything. Remember to check for every card as the offers vary.
On my American Express Platinum, I got ‘£200 cashback when you spend £600 at Amex Travel by 28th February’.
Check to see if there are any specific dates involved. My £200 offer appears to be ‘clean’ – I can travel whenever I want. Another reader sent me a screenshot of his offer which insists he travel between April and June to get his £200 refund.
You need to be careful here. Only travel products which are prepaid will trigger the cashback – you can’t book a ‘pay at check-out’ hotel for example. This limits the usefulness and means that you can’t use it with Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings which are never prepaid. £600 is also quite a high threshold although some people have ‘£50 cashback when you spend £200’.
The £200 cashback deal is limited to the first 7,000 people to register. Even if you don’t plan to book any expensive travel until February you should opt in to the offer now before it hits the threshold.
Avis one-way rental deal
Between 27th December and 5th January, Avis is running a special deal to help it reposition cars around the country after Christmas.
Via this special link, Avis is dropping the one-way surcharge on rentals from London or Manchester to just £1. This is a saving of up to £109, apparently.
You still need to pay the standard rental charge. With only a £1 surcharge for the one-way rental, however, it could well be cheaper than taking the train.
Pick-up can be made from:
Gatwick, Heathrow, London City and Manchester Airports, and in London: Battersea, Euston, St Pancras, Victoria, Waterloo and Westfield Shepherds Bush.
Drop-offs can be made at:
Airports: Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Humberside, Luton, Norwich, Nottingham East Midlands, Southampton and Stansted
City centres: Ashford, Aylesbury, Basingstoke, Birmingham, Birmingham Hodge Hill, Bournemouth, Bracknell, Brighton, Bristol Central, Bristol North, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chesterfield, Coventry, Crawley, Croydon, Dartford, Dover, Enfield, Gloucester, Harlow, Hull, Ipswich, Leicester, Liverpool, Llandudno, Maidstone, Manchester, Milton Keynes, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Peterborough, Portsmouth, Reading, Sheffield, Southampton, Southend, Staines, Swansea, Swindon, Taunton, Truro, Watford and Worcester.
Full details are on this special page of the Avis website. Bookings cannot be made until 27th December according to the rules, and when I checked last night this was true as one-way fees were still being added.
Remember that, unless there is some small print regarding one way rentals, you will earn 500 Avios with your booking plus a further 250 Avios if you pay on your British Airways American Express card.
How to get FREE car rental status and other benefits via UK credit cards (December 2023)
If you hire a car in the UK, you can get special benefits (discounts, upgrades, free additional drivers etc) if you have elite status with a car rental programme. You can get elite status for free via certain American Express cards.
The Platinum Card and American Express Business Platinum
The Platinum Card from American Express and American Express Business Platinum come with two free car hire status cards. Your supplementary Platinum cardholder can also receive status in their own right.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive a huge 100,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 100,000 Avios) with The Platinum Card. You receive 75,000 points if you spend £10,000 in six months and a further 25,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
From Avis, you receive President’s Club status in Avis Preferred. This gets you up to 25% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a guaranteed one class upgrade. For weekend rentals you will receive a two class upgrade, subject to availability.
From Hertz, you receive ‘Five Star’ status in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. This gets you up to 15% off standard rates, a free additional driver and a one class upgrade, subject to availability.
Hertz also offers Platinum cardholders a 4 hour grace period on rentals. Your final day is treated as 28 hours, so a 1pm pick up with a 5pm return the following day is only charged as one day, not two days. We wrote about the Hertz / Platinum 4 hour grace period here.
The Platinum Card also comes with full car hire insurance with no obligation to pay for the rental via American Express. You can refuse any attempts to sell you additional insurance at pick up. This benefit has substantial value if you rent on a regular basis.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is an excellent card in its own right. You receive 20,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up (convert to 20,000 Avios amongst other things), four airport lounge passes and £120 of Deliveroo credit. Even better, your first year is free.
SPECIAL OFFER: Until 9th January 2024, you will receive 30,000 Membership Rewards points (convertible to 30,000 Avios) with American Express Preferred Rewards Gold. You receive 25,000 points if you spend £3,000 in three months and a further 5,000 points if you hold the card for 15 months. You can apply here.
There are two car rental benefits:
- you receive Preferred Plus status in Avis Preferred
- you receive a special package with Hertz – 10% off best available rates at participating locations, a one class upgrade for rentals of 5 days or more, subject to availability, and no additional driver fees
Find out more about the benefits of American Express Preferred Rewards Gold in our review. You can apply here.