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.)

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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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:

  6. So my Curve card comes up as:
    BIN 516273
    Card Brand MASTERCARD
    Card Type DEBIT
    Card Level PREPAID

    and doesn’t have debit on it anywhere. Do I need to request replacement? I thought all new cards are debit, I applied for it at the end of January.

    • Mine is the same, although I’ve had mine since it first came out.

    • If it doesn’t say Debit on the front it probably isn’t. Easiest thing is to wait until you need a debit card payment and test it out.

      • Don’t want to wait and risk it, if it’s not debit, I want to use it for HMRC payments. Will ask for replacement.

        • You need to change it. This is what my first card said. It basically has to have debit on the front even though it says debit on your BIN check. I asked Curve about this. They changed it to a debit (says it clearly on the front) this allows me to pay HMRC.

    • If it doesn’t say debit on the front then I’d get back in touch with support.

  7. Duncan Stevenson-Price says:

    As soon as I saw your previous article I asked Curve to replace my card with a debit version, and they were happy to do so. I think they’re backlogged at the moment so it wasn’t super quick, but came quickly enough to be able to put the £2k daily limit on the card (I still have the basic limits as I haven’t used Curve extensively).

  8. Mine was replaced as a Debit within a few days (and rewards carried over) – great service! Had to uninstall/reinstall to register new card.

    • Interesting, I didn’t have to uninstall/reinstall, just activated the card and all old transactions reappeared 🙂

  9. Just looking at this afresh as I have a monthly employer’s HMRC payment that could go potentially go through Curve Debit Card for a significant spend (not to mention cashflow advantages). Anyone else had any luck with this? Do you think Curve would have any problem with doing this provided transaction limit is high enough?

    • I got the card today (it’s debit card). However, the monthly daily limit is £2000 and the monthly limit is £5000. That’s not that much for HMRC payments.

      • Genghis says:

        If you’ve not used the card much, start to use it. I have £5k and £15k respectively.

      • My limit is £15k per month. Use the card for day to day spending and it will be increased.

      • Mine says the daily limit is £2000 but in reality I could only make payments of £200 at a time to HMRC. I’m hoping this will increase by the next VAT quarter.

    • I paid £4k to HMRC today for my VAT payment on the Curve debit card. It was initially blocked by MBNA, but then they called me to confirm that it was a genuine transaction, and they let it through when I retried.

      • So you make your VAT payment via your personal debit card. Then how do you transfer money to yourself, does your accountant ok with this? Just wondering.

        • Genghis says:

          If just self employed, no issue whatsoever as no separation of person and trade. If ltd co, it’s just the same as a normal expense paid by an individual on behalf of the co for taxation purposes. For accounting could just put any directors loan account into credit

        • You clearly treat your accounting far more seriously than 99% of small business owners. As long as you pay what you owe no-one will care. Potentially try to avoid having payments outstanding over your year end as that may technically trigger a directors loan, but even big PLCs in my experience abuse this by lending directors large sums which are repaid on 31st December and relent on 1st January.

          A reader once came to see me for guidance on a blog he wanted to start, and he spent the entire session discussing various legal structures for owning it (remember he hadn’t even started at this point). It was clear that this guy wasn’t going anywhere.

        • Good point Rob, many people get stuck in the planning and worrying what if, before they even start!

  10. Jonathan Pang says:

    Anyone know if the qatar discount codes will work in reverse?

  11. OT – How do I transfer my SPG points into Avios ? I can’t seem to see that option on their site ?

    • You have to transfer them to an actual SPG Hôtel account, to transfer from, not the Amex card account. Just go on line and set it up. Once you have the ac number, you can call them up and they will then accept your transfer from the card account. Takes a few days to process.

  12. OT but Curve. I’ve received my card today and when using the app to set it up been given figures for initial daily/weekly/monthly spending limits, so other new card holders shouldn’t have any issues with no knowing how much they can spend on it to start with.

    One query though – it says “Daily cash withdrawals – £200.” Does this mean I can withdraw £200 per day per MasterCard, but I would be charged fees for any withdrawals after the first free one? (I thought the limit was £200 per month free cash withdrawal?)

    • Genghis says:

      £200 across all cards daily available for withdrawal but chargeable after first £200pcm

      • Cheers Ghengis

      • If you do happen to withdraw more than the £200, is it still presented as a purchase to the underlying credit card ?
        (For points & such).

        • Yes

        • I thought it was £200 per month across all cards. I had my card suspended in Sept. I was withdrawing £400 per month on my IHG card and never got charged for the 2nd withdrawal. Received my new card today and account has been reactivated. So not sure what I can withdraw. Can you withdraw £200 on each card loaded to your account per month?

      • Wait. I thought it was £200 per month? Can you withdraw £200 per day? If so that opens up massive possibilities for me.

        • As Genghis said above – chargeable after the first £200 pcm

        • £200 per month per linked card

        • Peter K says:

          Copied and pasted from Bob below (as easier than finding the same info myself)

          Straight from the Curve website:
          You may withdraw up to £200 from your credit cards each calendar month as per our Fair Use Policy, amounts over this are subject to a 2% fee

          I’m pretty sure someone a while ago got their wrist slapped for withdrawing too much and posted about it on HfP.

  13. BA is surrendering its early AM arrival from Boston slot back to Qantas for its new service from Perth, unclear what happens to the late morning QF arrival slot though

  14. Curve for me is now the best card to have after saving on the HMRC fees I am now a converted user.

  15. OT but Curve related – I used to be able to order foreign currency at John Lewis Finance website, but failed just now. Has Curve blocked all financial institutions apart from HMRC?

    • Genghis says:

      HMRC is not a financial institution

    • I used to send money using Curve on Lebara. Curve have now stopped that too. When I asked, they said it was as a result of a compliance check.

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