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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.

Your best option to maximise your miles when paying is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold.  This offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.  Our review of Amex Gold is here.

(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. 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 🙂

  2. 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!

  3. Jonathan Pang says:

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

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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

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

  8. 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.

  9. Just thought I’d give a v brief overview on recent trip. BA club world return from BKK. No ice cream on inbound! No grey blankets. V last minute aircraft change to one with F which meant F cabin empty. Elsewhere, Malindo business v comfortable and cheap and lounge access will use this airline again. Recommend Millennium Hilton in BKK great lounge. No recognition of diamond but no need really.

  10. OT – Curve related. Dose currency exchange in ASDA count as financial institution? Thanks!

  11. Northern Lad says:

    My experience, questions and answers in respect of Curve: –

    I’ve held paid version since c.Sep 16
    Used ‘frequently’ to get higher limits in May 17:
    £5000 per single transaction and per day
    £15,000 per rolling 30 days
    £500 cash withdrawal per day
    £50,000 per rolling 365 days

    Swapped to Debit Card business recently.

    New limits:
    £3,750 spend per day
    £20,000 spend per month (rolling 30 days)
    £1,000 cash withdrawal per day
    £50,000 yearly (rolling 365 days)

    Managed to spend £20K to HMRC in 5 consecutive days (day one was an ‘error’ and £5K went through; £3.75K per day for next 4 days. All on HSBC Premier. No issues with Curve, HSBC or HMRC.

    No limit available now for c.25 days until transactions ‘drop off’ except ATM withdrawals.

    Question to Curve: “I’m assuming the ‘fair use’ policy of £200 ‘free’ ATM withdrawal per month is no longer applicable, as I’ve now got the debit card version?”
    Reply: “You will not be charged any fees when withdrawing cash from an ATM in the UK. Overseas withdrawals are subject to a £2 flat fee. ”

    My experience of Curve has been pretty much exemplary. Couple of billing issues, which were resolved almost immediately; queries answered within a couple of hours; acceptance levels very high.
    Loss of Amex and M&S rewards only real negatives bar limits, which I’ve requested to be increased. Report below:

    “Unfortunately we are unable to increase your limits any further at this time. You’re are still within your ATM limits which can be utilised.
    We are in discussions with MasterCard to be in a position to increase these limits further and we’ll be sure to update you when this is the case.”

    • 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

      • Northern Lad says:

        Below is taken from their ‘fair use policy’. Somewhat ambiguous IMO as it states “This limit does not apply to ATM debit card withdrawals.”. I have a Curve Debit Card but does it mean Debit Card Funding Source, if you read next paragraph? My question to Curve was clear. I have asked again in as thorough, non-ambiguous way as I can! I will paste the reply.

        “ATM credit card withdrawal fair use
        You can withdraw up to £200 (or currency equivalent) for free using your credit cards per calendar month after which there is a 2% charge. This limit does not apply to ATM debit card withdrawals.

        Our platform uses third party systems to identify whether the Funding Source is a debit or credit card. If you believe your card has been incorrectly defined you should contact us at: [email protected] where you will be required to provide evidence as such in order for your case to be investigated.”

        • TGLoyalty says:

          “This limit does not apply to ATM debit card withdrawals.”.

          pretty sure they mean if your underlying card is a debit and not credit card.

        • Northern Lad says:

          Reply below, which corrects previous incorrectly supplied info.

          “I am sorry for the confusion caused – the ATM fair usage policy refers to the underlying card. If you withdraw using your Curve card with an underlying credit card attached, you can withdraw up to £200 per calendar month after which there is a %2 fee. When withdrawing with a debit card attached you can make up to 10 free withdrawals per calendar month after which you may be charged 50p.

          The new Curve debit card does not change this and the fair usage policy will still apply.”

        • Hmm doesn’t seem worth it to withdraw £1800 on Tesco debit card to earn 225 clubcard points.

    • Ah better be careful if there is a limit of 240k per year if your a high spender as that looks like their max.

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