Bits: save 35% buying SPG points, Etihad changes baggage allowances, On Business changes

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News in brief:

Buy Starwood points for 35% off (= cheap airline miles)

Starwood is again offering a 35% discount when you purchase SPG Starpoints before 16th March. The link to buy is here.

The good news is that the discount is not staggered.  As long as you buy more than 5,000 points, you get the full 35% off.

At the top end, 30,000 points will cost you $682.50 (£480).  Assuming that you convert them to airline miles with the 25% uplift for moving chunks of 20,000 at a time, these can be converted to 37,500 airline miles in the majority of programmes.

This works out at 1.28p per airline mile.  This is not a great deal most of the time (you can often pick up Avios for 1.0p) but it might make sense with some other programmes.  You cannot buy Lufthansa Miles & More miles directly so being able to get them for 1.28p may well work for some people.

30,000 Starwood points would also convert into 90,000 Marriott Rewards points.  If you are working towards a Marriott Travel Package redemption – and they are great value as this article explains – then buying the full 30,000 Starwood points may well make sense.

The rules are straightforward – points post within 24 hours, maximum purchase of 30,000 points per year, your SPG account must be 14 days old to participate.  According to the comments below, you will earn 2 points per £1 instead of 1 per £1 if you pay on an SPG Amex credit card.

If you are interested, you can buy SPG points via this link.

SPG Starwood 350

Etihad announces changes in luggage allowances

In yet another move to help shore up its finances (after cutting chauffeur transfers outside the UAE, closing the London lounge spa, selling lounge access to economy passengers, cutting spend on food and drink etc), Etihad has tweaked its baggage allowances to raise cash.

These are the new rules for tickets booked from 31st January:

  • Economy Deal 23kg
  • Economy Saver 30kg
  • Economy Classic 30kg
  • Economy Flex 35kg
  • Business 40kg
  • First 50kg

Not everyone loses, but most do.  Business Class drops from 2 x 32kg to a combined total of 40kg, whilst First drops from 2 x 32kg to a combined 50kg.  Economy Classic and Flex customers see their previous 2 x 23kg allowance fall by 16kg and 11kg respectively.  Economy Saver actually goes up by 7kg whilst Economy Deal is unchanged.

Etihad Guest status members will continue to receive additional allowances based on card colour and route.

There is now no individual bag limit.  You can check in as many pieces as you like as long as the combined weight does not exceed the limits above.

How to earn Etihad Guest miles via UK credit cards

As a reminder, Etihad no longer has its own UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These are:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent, reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, reviewed here).

Changes to British Airways On Business

The British Airways ‘On Business’ programme has become an irrelevance for most small companies since it was devalued two years ago.

Cuts to the earning rate, the removal of non-VAT registered businesses from membership (which hit a lot of charities), the huge rise in Business Class redemption costs and the requirement to spend £30,000 per year to escape the basic membership tier meant many companies stopped focusing on it.

Two recent changes have been made which are a step in the right direction but don’t go anywhere near far enough:

You can now upgrade Iberia flights, as well as BA flights, using On Business points

You can now upgrade just one leg of a return ticket at the time of booking

Both of these new features require you to ring a British Airways call centre so the take-up is likely to be limited.

If you are not a member of On Business then you should read my detailed two-part analysis which is here and 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.)

Why Amex Platinum Fine Hotels & Resorts is a great choice for one night stays
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  1. Re Etihad and business / first class.

    These baggage changes are actually far worse than they appear to be, especially for the single traveller. In business, going from 2 x 32kg to 40kg essentially means losing a bag as if you fill one and are say 30kg, why would you bother with the other or you would have to fly with half empty bags at 20kg each.

    No, this is matching other mean airlines for sure but assuming they are at least as clever as me (and we’re not convinced by this 🙂 ) then they too will have worked this 2 into 1 bag issue.

    Just to recap, until last year or so, BA was allowing you 96kg at 3 x 32kg !

  2. I now have Hilton diamond. I’m checking into double tree Victoria tonight on a room only with my partner. Will we both get free breakfast?

  3. OT. My Tesco clubcard points have auto converted to Virgin miles (because I forgot to cancel it after last quarters bonus for auto convert), and to my surprise I’ve had some bonus points added too . “Award Feb bonus”. (Additional 20%) So maybe it is not such a bad idea leaving auto convert on, particularly for me as that’s all I want to do with clubcard points.

    • Some one who has never converted Tesco CC to Avios or VS FC, what should I convert to?
      Avios is more preferred.
      Have some CC points expiring at the end of the month.

      • Uber is better value if you use it or perhaps – you are paying over 1p per Avios compared to those.

        • Yup, IF you regularly use Uber it’s a no brainer to me, and, to be honest, I’m surprised that it’s still available on the same terms. For that reason I’ll max out on it as long as it’s still there. 🙂

  4. Stephan says:

    OT if you booked a reward flight using the companion voucher and you want to change the dates. Do you have to cancel and then book a new one? Or can you call and ask BA to transfer to new dates and pay the £70?

    • Afaik you can do the change on line once the availability is there. I did this for an CE once. Try it see how you go. It will give you chances to review etc before paying. Ba will charge you,the handling fee also if you call to change, but say it wouldn’t let you. Best be safe than sorry.

    • Latter, you keep the same booking reference.

  5. OT: Some will be delighted, others not, to see me post a link to a Daily Mail article…a CAA investigation ito charges for extras such as seat reservations.

  6. I think it’s too early in the year for us to buy star points. Last year there was a targeted 50% bonus so think we’re going to wait out.

  7. Looks like my missing shop small transactions have credited today. Not saying shop small though, just a credit adjustment but they’re both for £5 on the cards I used.

    CC points auto converted to avios again. How long do they take to post? I can’t remember from last time. Decent amount for someone who does not get the grocery shop from them thanks to a Tesco direct bonus points offer. Over 6000 avios this quarter.

  8. OT:

    Newbie question here but if I make an avios (Or avios + money) booking on a partner airline and subsequently decide to cancel it in the future, will I get all of my avios and money back?

    • Yes, you get all the avios and all the money back minus a £35 cancellation fee. Cancel online via manage my booking to avoid extra fees over the telephone. If for some reason the cancellation option is not available online then mention it when calling and they will not apply any further telephone fees. If you cancel a RFS that cost under £35 then you only lose what you paid. You can also cancel any flight within 24h of booking for a fulll refund, that is no £35 fee.

  9. Hi there, how long do you have to use up the 7 nights when you trigger the 270,000 Marriott rewards package incl. 120,000 Avios?

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