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Bits: Date for IHG’s increased reward prices; free private jet flight for Amex Centurion cardholders

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News in brief:

Date for IHG Rewards Club devaluation

As we discussed last week, IHG Rewards Club is planning a big increase in the cost of redemptions at its most popular hotels.

Even though members have not yet been told of the changes, the list is available on the IHG Rewards Club website via this link.

It is true that only 10% of the IHG portfolio is increasing is price, with the remaining 90% staying the same or dropping 5,000 points.  However, in terms of aspirational hotels where you want to redeem your points, the number going up is substantially higher.  The most noticeable change is a new category of 70,000 points per night for the main InterContinental properties.

Whilst we still await official confirmation from IHG, there are reports in the US that the changes will kick in from Tuesday 16th January.  This is not yet certain but it should focus your mind on booking potential reward nights (which you can cancel without penalty at any point) before next week.

Free private jet flight for American Express Centurion cardholders

EDIT: this offer has now expired

We don’t discuss the ‘high net worth’ American Express Centurion card much on Head for Points, even though a fair few of our readers have one.  My personal view is that, unlike Amex Platinum, the Centurion card offers terrible value for money however you look at it.  The members I know are generally people who got it when it launched and have a grandfathered annual fee which is a lot less than you would pay today.

(As with Amex Platinum, very few of them even use the card much.  1 Membership Rewards point per £1 is a poor return compared to other cards.  You don’t even get double points on airline spend or foreign spend, as you would with Amex Gold.  The value is in the top-tier hotel status cards, eg Hilton Diamond, and the member events programme.)

Anyway, Surf Air – the new membership based private jet service operating from London City, run by ex-BA executive Simon Talling-Smith, has a new offer for Amex Centurion cardholders.

It is willing to offer you a free one-way flight from London City Airport to Zurich, or vice versa, to try out its service.  Anika has already given it a go and you can read her review here.

If this sounds like something you want to try, Amex Centurion cardholders should visit this page of the Surf Air website (link removed as offer has expired).

You need to book by the end of January to fly by the end of March.  You can take a friend for a 50% discount on the standard rate.

(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.)

Bits: Luxury Travel Diary auctions, BA New York JFK Galleries First closed, my Accor status finally drops
British Airways starts to cut the new Club World meal service - before it even gets rolled out
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  1. What is the annual fee for the Amex Centurion card

  2. Not sure about the “terrible value” for Centurion. I have the International Dollar Card programme (USD and EUR) and while you are right in terms of not using it as much as my other card, some of the benefits which have justified the annual fee are;

    1. the travel insurance (for my family and my parents who are in their mid 70’s. Haven’t been refused yet including when cancelling points-based travel),

    2. hotel offers (marginally better in some cases than what the fellow that Rob has a deal with…but significantly better on a couple occasions),

    3. Car rental top tier: huge price difference with A is and Hertz (not all the time but frequently). Save d over $1000 for 2 week hire of a large SUV compared to any other provider including local companies.

    4. Concierge: it is a different department than Platinum. My current relationship manager is. It great but my previous was absolutely excellent. Changing the current one. Getting very hard to secure tickets for concerts at face value was positive.

  3. Centurion is by invitation only….as was Platinum when it was the top tier. The annual fee is £2200 compared to £1800 when it launched. You get Platinum benefits and some…..
    The travel insurance is second to none and is underwritten by AXA, with no silly excesses at all and prompt payout with stress free claims – essential after an MI !!
    The top tier loyalty status of all kinds of partners is worth having.
    The Concierge service books tables / tickets when they are released, thereby relieving you of having to leap to the phone at 10AM 3 months before wanting to dine somewhere. They also have “same day” or same week tables at “trending” venues.
    Fine Hotels and Resorts programme via Centurion does indeed give a service that is as good as and often better than Bon Vivant.
    I use the card for everything, where AmEx is accepted. I have NEVER paid for any points in any programme and I simply accumulate the AmEx reward points and shift them to a programme when there is a significant (30% or more) bonus being offered. This is more often than not Virgin or BA – I am happy to wait as the points do not expire.
    Other tiers that I have achieved significant status with, are through loyalty to the brand (as yet you cannot get BAEC tier points via your Lloyds AmEx card or HSBC credit card!!).
    Is the AmEx Centurion worth £2200 a year? That depends on your own desires and activities I suppose.
    However, there is a new sub tier of AmEx Centurion which I haven’t seen mentioned :- )) You have to be on target to spend £250,000 a year on the card. The benefits are rather specialised like personal dining with opera singers and private wine tastings with “listed” celebs. I have found the experiences thusfar not especially rewarding. We shall see if it lasts.

  4. The demographic spread of readers on this blog never ceases to amaze me.

    Well done Rob on having such a widespread appeal for your blog’s content.

    • Quantcast, who track our stats, tells me that a HFP reader is 412% more likely than the average Brit to earn over £70k.

      • Genghis says:

        How do they know that?

        • Genghis says:

          I can understand potentially tracking IP addresses to locations, to salary bands in certain areas where accessed (assuming from home or work). But what about mobile access?

          • If you run Facebook or similar via your mobile and a desktop, 3rd parties can use the cookies to link the devices. Facebook is the main driver. I can tell you what percentage of HFP readers (or readers of any other website) claim to have a degree for example.

  5. Lady London says:

    There’s also the Amex Centurion lounges at US airports in a land where otherwise many lounges are quite lacklustre whereas I gather the Amex Centurion lounges have a better offering. Can only Platinum access those, or just Amex Centurion?

    • Platinum gets in, we’ve done a couple of articles on these.

    • Imbruce1 says:

      Hong Kong airport also has a Centurion Lounge, I do not have my
      Platinum card with me on this trip as I am mainly using my Aussie cards.
      The Priority pass lounge was average.

  6. RussellH says:

    Thanks for the IHG reminder. Just booked HI Corby (again) for 10 000 before it goes up to 15 000. Executive rooms selling for £153 (it is the day after the May Bank Holiday).

  7. BlueHorizonUK says:

    OT – Have the spend £600 and get £200 back on Amex Travel but annoyingly the flight I want is £599.18. Is there any way of getting it bumped up to £600?

    • Spend is PROBABLY cumulative so booking a £10 pre-paid hostel in India afterwards will hopefully do the trick.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      You can book a hotel for only part of your stay. Select one night and select the cheapest. Depending upon where you go this will eat into your £200 by varying degrees but better to pay a few pound over £600 to knowingly secure £200. Bird in the hand and all that.

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