Bits: BA takes SAA’s 2nd Heathrow slot, using Curve to earn miles from HMRC, Qatar Airways discounts

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News in brief:

British Airways reportedly leasing SAA’s 2nd Heathrow slot for five years

We wrote on Sunday about how South African Airways is dropping one of its two daily flights from Heathrow to Johannesburg with the upside of a new Airbus A330-300 with SAA’s newest business class seat operating the remaining flight.

The rumour is that British Airways has leased the 2nd set of South African Airways landing and take-off slots for five years.  SAA is believed to be hopeful that it will be in a better financial position to resume the 2nd daily service after that time.

There is no guarantee that BA will use the slots to operate an additional service to South Africa.  The early morning Heathrow landing slot is particularly useful and is more likely to be used to add a new service to North America or Asia.

An update on using Curve Card to pay HMRC

We wrote recently about how Curve Card looks like it could be a replacement way of earning miles and points from HMRC now that HMRC refuses to take credit cards.  The article is here.

Curve Card is a debit card which recharges your transactions to a linked Visa or Mastercard credit card, with no fees in the UK.  This has a lot of potential for earning miles and points at places where only debit cards are accepted, like HMRC.

When I wrote our latest article on Curve I didn’t expect cards to arrive in time for the January tax bill deadline.  Quite a few did, however, but some readers found that Curve did not want to process their transactions.

This is what the Curve team told me last week, which to be fair is also what they say on their site:

“When new users sign up and try to make a first payment of multiple thousand pounds (e.g. we’ve had well over £10k as a first attempt), it triggers our fraud engine. Understandable, I hope. This results in declined payments and that’s not the experience we want to provide. We have limits that increase over time (ie. with regular spending activity) in line with user risk profiles, so for some existing cardholders the payment has worked.”

As I wrote in the article, I paid £1750 in one transaction with no problems.  Your Curve usage limits also increase with use – a new cardholder may get a £15000 annual cap, whilst I have £50000 for example, having had a card for a year or so.

If you do pay self assessment, the best thing to do is to use your Curve Card for some general Visa and Mastercard spending over the next few months to build up your profile.  You will then be in a good position to use Curve to settle your 31st July tax bill.

One other thing to note – some people are still receiving the pre-paid Mastercard version of Curve.  If it doesn’t say ‘Debit’ on the front and you specifically want to use yours at places like HMRC, contact Curve via the app and they will replace your card with a debit version.

If you want to give Curve a try – and they will pay you £5 for trying it out if you use my referral code – full details are in this HFP article.  You will need a smartphone to use it.

Qatar Airways discount code

Qatar Airways discount code

Qatar Airways has launched a 15% discount code on the base fare, valid in Economy and Business, for flights from the UK on four new routes:

  • Canberra
  • Chiang Mai
  • Pattaya
  • Penang

The promo code to use on the Qatar Airways website here is FLYQRUK.  You need to book by 17th February for travel by any point until 1st February 2019.  “Peak black out travel dates apply.”

Meanwhile, if you can connect to Dublin easily, you can save 15% on Chiang Mai, Penang, Canberra, Bangkok, Sydney, Bali, Perth, Kuala Lumpur, Melbourne, Auckland, Cape Town, Singapore, Johannesburg, Lahore and Hong Kong.

The code you need for Dublin departures is IEFLYQR.  The same travel dates apply as for the UK offer.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

Last chance for Business Class sale bargains with Air France, Etihad, South African and Virgin Atlantic
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  1. When using the Curve card for IHG hotel stays, the accelerate programme does not appear to recognise the purchase as spending on my IHG credit card. The purchases show as Curve purchases on the statement, does this mean they do not attract the same points compared to using my IHG credit?

    • You will not get additional points just regular points as it is the same as any other payment.

    • The_real_a says:

      Creation sees the payment merchent as curve, and not the hotel so you dont recieve the bonus points as technically you are not using the carf at the hotel.

      • Is this the same for foreign exchange charges if you use Curve. Will you only get 2pts on the Premium IHG card instead of 4.

        • Unless you change the card currency to be that of the country you are in. Ie adding the Post office or Halifax card as a euro card means no fees for using curve in Europe etc.

          However unless on expenses you will be getting less that 2% back in IHG points but they are probably charging close to 3% in foreign exchange fees.

        • Pangolin says:

          It’s only 2pts.

          IME the effective charge for use abroad is never above 1%, so if I’m earning points at around 1p or above it’s essentially free to use.

    • Only standard ihg credit card points as your using Curve not the ihg card direct

    • RussellH says:

      I just got credited last week for spending on my IHG M’Card – only I have not spent anything at IHG this year. I have made three redemption bookings, which are guaranteed by my IHG card, but the stays are in April and May. The only actual payment on the card is a couple of months water bills.

      • I have had that with Hilton BC with redemptions before, just the guarantee was enough to get the extra 2500 for one of my first four bookings.

    • Same as if you pay via PayPal, etc. – for any of these direct card benefits you have to pay on the card itself, not via Curve.

  2. When I put the first few numbers of my curve card into a checker it comes back as a debit card and not aa a prepaid credit card. Although mine was an early one so doesn’t say debit on it. So not sure

    How long does it take to get a replacement card?

  3. The availability of a debit card version had completely passes me by !
    That will be more useful.
    I will switch over. Thanks for the heads-up.

    Are the points you recieve exactly the same value as the original credit card version ?

    • You mean Curve Rewards? Seems so, yes, as long as they don’t switch you to the consumer version by mistake.

      • Genghis says:

        I now have the consumer debit card and still have Curve rewards (switched from the business pre-paid card).

  4. Are there any really good biz prices on those Qatar routes mentioned which then attract the additional 15% off ?
    Thinking of sub £900 flights 😉

  5. Earning miles with Curve?? I thought those days were looong gone??

  6. I just got my self-employed Curve and it was the Debit version. Shame you can’t add the Curve card to Apple Pay though!

  7. O/T: If I book a flight+hotel using BA holidays to get the flight cheaper (I’m seing more than £1000 difference) do I need to checkin in the hotel? Can I just pick the cheapest thing and don’t show up there at all?

    Thanks in advance

  8. Memesweeper says:

    +1 to Robs advice to use Curve everywhere to build up your history and risk profile with them.

    I use it most days, at home and abroad, they upped my limits six months ago and I’ve pushed £3k through HMRC self assessment recently on the new debit card.

    Holding this card just for big ticket tax payments is not going to work out well for you or them I don’t think.

    • Yeah but I prefer to use Amex everywhere.

    • What’s your definition of “use it most days”? I’ve had my Curve for well over a year now, and generally make small, but frequent purchases – a few £100s a month. My limits are still £2k/day, £5k/month, £10k/year, and haven’t increased. That doesn’t come remotely close to either my VAT or corporation tax bills, which historically I paid for by personal credit card… Has anyone had any joy asking Curve for credit limit increases? My various normal credit card companies fell over themselves to give me higher credit limits when I discovered I could pay my tax bill though them…

  9. Typo alert. I think you mean to say ‘referral code’ not ‘referral card’.

  10. Not sure if this is know, but I have used my Curve Debit Card linked to my Tesco Debit Card to pay off my Amex balance and managed to get clubcard points on Tesco Debit Card. When paying directly with the Tesco Debit Card this would not be the case

  11. Dean Selway says:

    I managed to put through £400 on self assessment in £200 transactions but now trying to pay corporation tax, I managed to put through £75 but no joy on anything more, just a payment declined notice, I’ve spoken to curve, HMRC and ihg no blocks on my card.

    Any advice?

    • Go and use the card in some shops for offline transactions for a few weeks then try again.

      • Dean Selway says:

        It wouldn’t let me do a transaction higher than £200 initially then it would only let me do £75, tried on my partners curve today and no issues.

    • Why only £75 and was this the only payment you have made to your corporation tax?

  12. OT – Anyone found a decent replacement for the now switched off MyFlights app?

    • Checkmytrip is the best replacement i have found for MyFlights – would also be interested to know if anyone has found anything better.

      • BlueHorizonUK says:

        I use Kayak, not a single email has tripped up the system yet whereas I find with TripIt it just goes into unfilled and you have to manually input everything. With Kayak if they don’t recognise what you’ve sent it comes back a little later all done and imported correctly with no interaction from me.

  13. IF BA decide to use these slots for RSA what time periods are we talking about?
    Here’s to hoping new redemption slots will become available soon….

    • Slot becomes free from 20th April and under ‘use it or lose it’ rules it needs to be used for 80% of the season (which starts end of March). BA has little choice but to get a plane in the slot – any plane, any route – pretty soon after that. It simply does not have a spare long-haul aircraft though, in fact BA is short due to 787s out for engineering which is why the Doha flight is pretty much permanently cancelled these days.

      • Some of the 747’s have ‘missed’ their retirement dates and look to still be going until the end of the year now, presumably to offer cover for some of the 787s. There are 8x new 787’s due this year but they may already be planned in to services.

  14. rams1981 says:

    OT asked late yesterday but in case missed – has anyone had luck booking the 5 night Marriott travel package? If so how did you do it?

    7 nights is too long for a trip I have coming up so be good to do 5 nights and save the points.

    • It seems that, after an initial burst on publicity last year about the call centre allowing this, there was a clampdown. It isn’t meant to be possible unless you own a Marriott timeshare.

      • rams1981 says:

        For 7 Day certificate, at 330k Marriott points (110k SPG) plus 120k Avios and given the hotel cost of roughly £1050….. got to pull the trigger. That’s decent value isn’t it?

  15. Quick dumb question on Curve.

    If I put my debit card on there, I won’t pay anything for atm fees? I take it the pay ones at 7/11s are a different ball game but normal banks fine?

    • Correct.

    • Genghis says:

      There are still limits though aren’t there?

      From the FUP
      “ATM usage is free for up to 10 domestic (withdrawals in the same currency as your Funding Source) withdrawals per calendar month after which time you may be charged £0.50 (or currency equivalent) per usage for each additional ATM withdrawal.”

  16. OT (but this is the bits section) you may have heard yesterday that Virgin Trains East Coast has got into more trouble and may be giving up the franchise within months.

    I’ve written about the consequences here:

    Most important thing to remember (if you can’t remember the previous east coast failures) is that for the passenger it’s business as usual. If the operator of the franchise changes tickets will still be valid and the current timetable will operate. Vouchers issued by VTEC will continue to be valid until expiry. So don’t worry about buying VTEC only tickets, whoever is running the line at the time of your trip is obliged to accept them.

    • Oh yeah and a bunch of people have already asked on Twitter if that means we’ll not be getting the Azuma trains. They’re still going ahead as planned. They were ordered and specified by the government, whoever operates the ECML has to use them. However, they may not be called Azuma as Virgin own the brand, their official name is class 800 (or GWR call them InterCity Express Train).

      Trains aren’t usually owned by the operator directly, they are leased so when a franchise changes hands the trains remain.

    • When you were talking about the Virgin red discounts yesterday I’ve noticed another thing that’s changed, I can no longer get the discount on trains to Sunderland unless it’s the one train per day that goes there. Now have to book to Newcastle and pay for the metro separately.

      • Did this change happen recently or when they changed the booking engine in August? Officially the rule was the journey had to be 100% operated by VTEC, but often there’s been bugs where the discount has also worked for tickets that include connections. The old booking engine had some bugs like that and I’m not sure about the new one but it did have its fair share of bugs so it wouldn’t surprise me that it allowed the discount with a connection in the past.

        • The last booking that I got the connection on was booked back in July last year. It really confused me last night as to why the discounts weren’t showing as the booking I was trying to make wasn’t in the exclusion dates.

          Probably just going to push me more to booking with Grand Central instead. Especially as they seem to always send a 20% off my next journey code when booking direct. Their 1st class is not worth the money though

  17. Briandt says:

    And another dumb question…what really are the Curve benefits of getting my card changed to Debit ?

    • You can use it as places that accept debit cards but not credit cards.

      The older Curve Cards are technically pre-paid Mastercards and will be rejected at places which only accept debit cards.

      • Pangolin says:

        But are the fees abroad (i.e. for the self-employed version) exactly the same? I only pay 1% for FX transactions on the current (non-debit) card, so it’s worthwhile for me.

        If the debit card version had higher FX costs I definitely wouldn’t switch.

  18. elguiri says:

    I wrote a support ticket to change to debit branded curve card after your first post, and 2 days later it arrived. However, when entering the card number online to buy giftcard through company scheme, sagepay says the card number is out of range and rejects it.
    Wrote to curve and they say the bin database needs updating and thry are not sure when this will happen.
    Is this a general issue with sagepay/other sites/just mine?

    • Actually this is interesting, I have often wanted to buy through company discount but annoyed I couldn’t use my cc

    • Andrew M says:

      SagePay issue. They update their bin ranges every couple of weeks – so here’s hoping it will not be long!

  19. OT
    I have received the Marriott points for the Super Bowl trivia thingy for the first question which I answered just after midnight, but not yet the other two answered next morning.

  20. Frankie says:

    OT. Has anyone had trouble selling their Sky NOW TV boxes? Ebay took mine down and said I can’t sell something that has a voucher, and that they’ve been removed for not following ebay voucher and coupon policy. Apparently I was reported by Sky, and this item is not allowed on the site. The coupon is a month’s free sky that come with the box. However I can see plenty being sold everyday on ebay..

    • Wierd, I sold 8 just before Christmas without issue. Maybe sky periodically just send in some auction IDs and you got unlucky. I had no idea it wasn’t allowed. Having said that I’m still not sure it’s worth it. I sold mine at £12 inc postage. Probably lowered the cost per avios down to just less than 0.5p but what a hassle!

      • Frankie says:

        There are lots of people selling them but saying ‘NO PASS’ maybe that’s the way around it so I can get rid of them.

      • +1 I had big trouble flogging them, 2 left out of 10.

    • I managed to get rid of 2 as “secret santa” presents so that saved me £10 quid for each. Got 2 left but I usually wait until I have a batch load of eBay stuff then it’s only 1 trip to the PO. Weird that sky don’t want the vouchers being sold as you would have thought that it’s a hook to entice new customers to buy their services.
      People who are selling them with “no pass” have probably just used it as a cheap way to get sky for a month. You’d have thought that’s exactly what Sky doesn’t want.

    • AndyGWP says:

      I’ve also had some taken off ebay (not vouchers from these boxes – I received the vouchers via. another way). I don’t see any issue with reselling the vouchers (I can’t see anything saying they can’t be resold), and the VeRO program seems unclear to me (could Superdry stop me selling a used hoody??) – anyways, the last few times, I’ve been told the following, if its of use?:

      Your listing has been removed: Trademark Violation – Unauthorised Listing Content – After reviewing your eBay account, we’ve taken the following action:
      – Listings have been removed. A list of items that were removed can be viewed at the bottom of this message.
      – We have credited all associated fees except for the final value fee for your listing(s).

      Your listing was reviewed after receiving a report from the rights owner that your listing used their trademark without their permission. We urge you to contact the rights owner directly for more information about why they requested the review of your listing and whether you can relist the item.

      For more information on our VeRO program, please visit:

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