Hilton

Bits: ignore Iberia’s Amex transfer bonus, Avios payment for seats selection

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News in brief:

Ignore Iberia’s email about an Amex to Avios transfer bonus

Iberia Plus sent out an email last week offering a 20% bonus if you convert your American Express Membership Rewards points into Avios before 31st March.

This was a big mistake.

In teeny tiny small print at the bottom, it says:

Promotion valid for American Express Cardholders registered for the Membership Rewards® programme, with cards issued by American Express Card España S.A.U

This means that transfers from UK issued American Express cards will not count.  You will not receive a 20% bonus if you transfer Membership Rewards points to Iberia.

Iberia should have been substantially more careful in how it worded the English language version of this email, given that many will have gone to people living outside Spain.  I fear that the UK Amex call centre is going to be busy.

PS.  Of course, there is an outside chance that Iberia’s IT is not up to speed (hard to believe, I know), that it fails to spot that a transfer has come from the UK Membership Rewards scheme and awards the bonus anyway.  The problem is that the bonus will be added 14 days in arrears, not alongside the base points, and by the time we find out whether or not it works the offer will nearly be over.

Avios payment for seat selection coming soon

‘The Club’, the British Airways Executive Club online magazine, is – bizarrely – very rarely the source of any useful information about British Airways Executive Club.

(Typical article from ‘The Club’ – ‘Singer Celine Dion on her favourite holiday, where she’s visiting next and her packing essential’ ……)

However, the March 2018 edition does have some genuine newsAs you can read here (click, select country, then click this link again):

Later this year, Executive Club Members will be able to use their Avios to pay for and reserve seats in advance via Manage My Booking. This additional benefit is one of a number of new initiatives which will give members more ways to use their Avios. 

The same page includes a reminder of the new Run Gatwick fun run on Sunday 13th May, which we have covered on Head for Points before, which will raise money for BA’s Flying Start charity.

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Comments

  1. Alex W says:

    I can’t wait to find out more about the “initiatives” for wasting thousands of Avios on stuff which either used to be or should be free. First food and drink, now seat selection, what next?

    • Charlie says:

      Lounge access, fast track security….

      • Alex W says:

        Next you’ll need to swipe you BAEC card to go to the loo!

        • There is ‘chatter’ about lounge access changes. It would not surprise me if access was tightened (either stripping it from HBO fares or raising tier point thresholds) with paid access – cash or Avios – introduced at the same time.

          There is also talk of moving to a Qantas / AA model where you will need to pay a few hundred pounds for a lounge access card IRRESPECTIVE of your status or your class of travel. Remember that AA elite members cannot access AA lounges on some tickets, even though BA elites can access AA lounges on the same ticket.

        • JamesB says:

          It would not surprise me, I suspect we will see seat selection fees increased at the same time as avios can be used. If talk about the lounge access proves to be correct then holding the amex platinum card long term becomes even more appealling. Personally, I would likely never fly BA premium again if lounge access was not included. I suspect we may see them start to drop benefits like lounge access on reward tickets before they do so on revenue tickets.

        • guesswho2000 says:

          Quick point re Qantas (and Virgin Australia for that matter, although the Oneworld parts don’t apply) – they don’t operate like AA (or the other US airlines) in terms of lounge access. Yes, they (and VA) sell access to their lounges, but status pax can access Qantas Clubs (and all other Oneworld lounges) even on domestics. This is not the case for AA status pax on US domestic flights, which is the point Rob was getting at.

          So access for QF pax is not a paid/membership requirement irrespective of status/class of travel.

        • Hanna says:

          So it might be worth waiting before doing next point tier run to extend status. Priority Pass will be cheaper and you don’t have to fly on dirty planes any more.

        • RIccatti says:

          Those would be excellent initiatives for BA/IAG, accountants rejoyce and bonanza for C-suite will be imminent. There is no doubt we will see more chargeable – everything BA thinks they can get away with. This is not about service or brand anymore.

          Unfortunately, that will mess things too. There simply be less travel. Rather than suffering on a flight with no bells and service to look forward to — one would run several videoconferences to get the same thing achieved. Leisure travel will be cut down as well. Otherwise, one-off lunch at a decent airside cafe will do just as good. The smarter FT cohort will find some way as Aegean in Star Alliance or minor OW airline, such as buying monthly status with S7. But that erodes the idea of an airlines alliance, particularly with giants like Emirates or BA-AA-IB-.. trans-Atlantic cartel. What is next, IATA?

    • the_real_a says:

      huh – you can now pay for seat selection with avios?

    • James B says:

      The thing I most detest about BA is seat selection fees in their ‘premium’ cabins. Their fares are a joke even before the fees. Not thrilled about paying avios for them either, I imagine it could be as high as 10000 avios per longhaul CW seat. The question is how popular will it be and therefore the impact on availability of seats at check in.

      • Lady London says:

        Especially as these don’t seem to apply to corporates. Corporates I have worked for have always had free seat selection from time of booking for their travellers.

        • Lady London says:

          Let them unbundle Business and First tickets too, and then we’ll see what people are prepared to pay for.

      • James says:

        Absolutely agree.

      • Doug M says:

        I like them. Keep the good seats free for status holders.

    • If you’re prepared to pay money for seats then you should be prepared to pay avios

      Obviously BA is hoping that people who aren’t prepared to pay money may not mind paying avios so much

      Since the Uturn on status seat selection on HBO doubt this means anything for status holders

      • JamesB says:

        I am not prepared to pay either, even on a redemption flight. Maybe if BA prices were consistent with their products and services but they are already way overpriced.

    • Seat selection on CW should be free you would think but sadly not!

    • Thomas Howard says:

      I’m not convinced BA understand the damage they’re doing to their brand with all of this nonsense. It has the potential to be perceived as a premium brand but everything they do pushes it closer to Ryanair. They should have followed the Qantas lead and created a budget short haul brand (Jetstar) to compete with the budget carriers and retained the BA (and maybe Iberia) as a high quality product.

      As it is, IAG have a complete dogs dinner of brands frequent flyer schemes and everything they do make it worse.

      • Catalan says:

        They did. It was called GO. A very successful low cost carrier from British Airways. So successful that Willie Walsh panicked and sold it to easyJet (would you believe).

        • Not quite right, it went to 3i who kept it for, ooh, perhaps 2 weeks before selling it on to easyJet and making millions (literally) for the investment team.

          Slightly sore point because I looked at this myself – this was at the start of my private equity career – and we decided not to pursue it.

        • Lady London says:

          Haha Rob that’s a very interesting thing to know.

        • Thomas Howard says:

          From memory GO was fairly successful for an airline that only lasted 3 years and was cut by Rod Eddington as soon as he took over because it was cannibalising the short haul market – selling it to easyJet didn’t stop that it just meant BA had no offer at that price point. Anyway, Walsh is the current ring master and its a shambles, the trend on YouGov brand index is clear.

      • simon says:

        £2.6bn operating profit last year, with better predicted for 2018. While their brand image may be changing for the worse, their bottom line is benefiting.

        • Thomas Howard says:

          Carillion produced a profit every year for the last four, and increased it year on year for 3 out of 4, but short term decisions have a nasty habit of coming back to bite you in the ass. I’m not saying IAG is about to collapse but it doesn’t seem to have a long term vision.

          BAs strength is in its airport slots at the UKs hub airport, if that ever changes its screwed because people won’t be using it for its high quality service or good value fares. There is a lot of quality competition out there travelling east, and better value travelling west.

        • simon says:

          Fair point. But i cant think of many company executives with a long term view….. Pump up the share price, get paid, leave a mess…. and repeat…..

  2. Richard says:

    Wrt amex points. Does anyone on here have the strategy of near solely using them by transfers to pay for hotels and then fly to the places on cash in economy/very good business fares? Does it work? Do you feel you get good value for the points?
    Just thinking about what my personal strategy should be. seems much less effort than furiously hunting for availability on rewards tickets and with “surcharges” only going one way… If the ratios were 1MR gets 0.67 star/2 marriott or 3 hiltons it would be obvious but with the less good ratios perhaps it throws too much value away?

    • Genghis says:

      You need to run the numbers for your travel goals. I don’t feel bad about transferring to SPG.

      • Roger says:

        Yes to SPG.
        Amex to SPG 2:1 ratio is not bad at all, particularly if you can justify 1p vale for Amex MR and 2p for SPG.

        In my experience I have always managed to get more than 2p value out of SPG Points.

        At the moment there is a 8% bonus if you transfer Amex MR to SPG and from there to Avios if you follo my example below.
        180000 MR transfers to 90000 SPG points which is then converted to 270000 Marriott points
        Which you can then use for Travel Package with Avios earned as 162000 Avios plus Category 1 to 5

        If you do not use hotel, just return the certificate straight away for 45000 Marriott or 15000 SPG points, so net cost is only 75000 SPG points for 162000 Avios, or in other words 150000 MR points for 162000 Avios or 8% bonus

        • The best use of Amex points on my valuations is hotel stays via Radisson Rewards / Club Carlson. 2nd best use is redeeming for a Melia hotel voucher. Miles come further down the list.

        • Alex W says:

          Amex to SPG to Marriott travel package gets 1.5p per MR I reckon. 7 nights in a hotel plus 168,000 Avios, think how many seats you could reserve with those!

        • Nah. Hotel is Cat 5 max so 7 nights is likely to be worth £500-£700. £1700 for 1p per Avios. You are still well under 1p per Marriott and that assumes you can use 7 nights in a Cat 1-5 Marriott.

        • Alex W says:

          That’s still 1.3p per MR which I’m happy with. Now to find a Marriott I’m happy to stay for a week in!

    • I don’t redeem long-haul because I find BA Gold to be worthwhile for me, but I can’t make the cut unless I pay for my long-haul flights (on cheap / convoluted deals). So I don’t want my Avios balance to get too high as it only gets used for short-hauls.

      Yes, I feel I get good value from hotel transfers because I tend not to worry about what the actual prices are, I just set a value for the points and if that is a price I would pay, I just go for it Obviously if the paid rates are ridiculously low that changes things.

      I don’t worry about “throwing away value”, otherwise I would be permanently depressed after deleting my Bitcoin wallet in 2009. I could have sold that for 10x the maximum value of every point I’ve ever earned.

      • Pangolin says:

        There were only a handful of people in the world (Satoshi included) who owned Bitcoin in 2009. The value then was a fraction of a cent. I’d certainly be depressed as even a tiny amount in 2009 would be enough to make you a multimillionaire at today’s values (the famous case of the guy who spent 10K BTC on a pizza didn’t even happen until 2010).

    • Peter K says:

      As said above, it depends on what you want. I would never pay for long haul business class flights so the Avios scheme has value for me to get what I want in that direction.
      I am happy to swap MR for hotel points however if it allows a good redemption. Remember that some hotel brands (eg Hilton) only charge you for 4 nights when you book for 5, so you are getting more value there.
      Basically forget to a certain extent about “best value” and concentrate on getting what you want.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I always transfer for hotel points, in my case Hilton. I find Avios increasingly difficult to use (live near MAN: RFS dont make sense, better LCC flying direct, numerous options long haul. Need to travel as a family. Must consider school dates etc etc).

      Hotels give me significantly more freedom. They do not require booking at midnight 355 days in advance. I can cancel for free if plans change. I value the perks because I do eat breakfast and more than once the Exec Lounges have saved me a dinner out.

      Fundamentally I attach greater value to a nice hotel than a nice plane experience. Even at the back of the plane I can while away a few hours knowing that it is merely the conduit to my holiday. But a bad hotel I could be stuck in for days. I’d rather secure the hotel and back fill the travel.

    • Lady London says:

      Yes Richard it can be very good if you decide to just fly whichever airline gets you there in enough (dis)comfort that you’re prepared to have.

  3. On the plus side, the more people using avios for BOB and seat selection, the more reward seats will be left for the rest of us!

    • Mikeact says:

      You wish !

    • Hmmm might be a bit of a jump in reaching that conclusion.

      More likely is that those that can afford to waste Avios on seat selection have a very good stash for redeeming on future flights…?

      Of course there’s always those that are clueless about their value, take the guy wanting to fly BA business to Iceland from Scotland the other week.. 😀

      • guesswho2000 says:

        I flew BA J between Iceland and Heathrow once (actually it was LHR-KEF)…but only because I needed to fly then and there was no Y availability. I was slightly annoyed when Y availability showed up a couple of weeks later, but hey ho! I had BA Silver, so didn’t benefit from flying J on the ground at LHR either.

        I was in the Avios rich category though, so wasn’t bothered about it too much, just didn’t want to pay cash.

        The other way round there was no lounge at the time, at least you can use the Saga club in KEF now if you’re flying from there in J (I assume).

        • mark2 says:

          Presumably that is Icelandic Saga rather than over 50 Saga, although the latter would be fine for me.

      • Harkirat says:

        We are flying KEF is J next week because we had 2-4-1 to burn. SAGA lounge looks good which is benefit we didn’t expect when we did the booking.

  4. Rich01924 says:

    OT – just tried logging into my Club Carlson account, redirected to a radissonrewards.com url that isn’t yet live….wondering if this could be more than just a rebrand…anyone know?

  5. OT – NH Hotels. I have an Amex Plat (and the various statuses that come with it), is there anything of note that I can do for an upcoming stay that I need to book at an NH hotel in France?

  6. very O/T – Anyone recommend Prague hotels, travelling with friends who’d like to pay less than approx £80 a night

    I’ve stayed at the Hilton before (bigger conference sized one further out) thought it was v good, but prices seem to be > £150 for the dates I’m after in the summer. Got a few Club Carlson/Radisson Rewards points I might splurge on the Park Inn there for us and friends, anyone stayed there, seems to be decent value at 5000pts + ~£35

    • Jurys inn is decent hotel, Park inn is a bit off town centre, nothing exciting about HI and IC neither…Novotel is OK, good location (should fit the budget). Usually when I stay in Prague I rather book room using sites like agoda, expedia etc – expecially in low season you can get 5* centrally located hotel for 50-60£ (my record was 19,5£ for 5* Hotel President down the river bank 🙂

      • although not a chain we stayed hotel uniq and would say it easily beats any Hilton I’ve stayed ins recently. Walking distance to old quarter, breakfast was really good and rooms were modern and comfy.

    • thanks for the tips, will have a look, cheers!

      ps Mark, which Hiltons have you stayed in recently, I’ll put them on my blacklist… 😉

      • Gatwick, Glasgow, Brighton, London Met. Hotel UNIC was nicer than them all and the customer service was better. cheaper too!

        • thanks, bit surprised at Glasgow, had many good stays there, staff always friendly

          Been a year since I’ve been at the rabbit warren that is Gatwick, was part of our delay coming back from the Maldives so BA were paying, hence didnt really care about for value for money

    • David says:

      Prague Haultin Old Town is decent, with a nice lounge. I got a huge suite and a free bottle of (almost) drinkable Czech fizz. (as diamond) Well located too…

  7. Steve says:

    O/T – does anyone know what the refund T&C’s are likely to be on an Avios redemption booking? Think I may have been a little hasty over the weekend with a booking to SF, assume I will get the Avios back will BA hit me on the taxes/fees etc?

    Probably being thick but a dummy cancellation isn’t that clear…..

  8. Cuchlainn says:

    OT – PRG Amex Offer : Spend £500 on Etihad booking using Amex card get £100 statement credit – bagged but only available to first 2,500 cardholders.

    • Sadly not on my Amex Gold – I have rather useless 100£ off 800£ spent on Emirates bookings…

  9. OT Curve – is there any difference between personal/corporate versions with respect to receiving a debit card? As well as tax also useful for tax-free childcare via HMRC. I qualify for the corporate version so was planning to do that unless it came with the old business mastercard.

    • Genghis says:

      There is both a personal and a corporate debit card

      • Thanks

        • Hanna says:

          When I asked to replace my new Curve which came as pre-paid, they asked me if it’s going to be personal or business. I said business and wasn’t asked anything else. So not sure if they gave me debit business or personal. Limit was £2000 per day but when paying to HMRC it was blocked and had to ask support to check it. They must have allowed bigger transaction and it went through ok. Unfortunately there’s £5K limit per month and £10K limit per annum when you start but I hope to increase it later.

  10. James says:

    I very, very, very rarely pay for seat selection.
    If the price in Avios was very good I would be tempted to do so regularly.

    However I strongly suspect the price will be unfavourable given BA’s usual ‘enhancements’ of late 🙁

    • mark2 says:

      I would expect it to be the current price divided by the same rate as hotels i.e. about 0.5p.

  11. Craig Strickland says:

    OT: I was going to cancel my BA Premium and reapply in six months. My wife and I both have one but with renewal dates only three months apart, hers is 2 months in and mine is due next month. My gut feeling now is to downgrade for now and upgrade again when they are separated by six months. We have no problem using both 241s each year, does this sound like the best option?

    • simon says:

      Just cancel yours to reset the 6 month clock asap. Then get a subsidary one on her account for you to use over the next 6 months…. Then in 6 months, have her refer you for your new one, cancel hers and get her a subsidary one on your account……

      • Craig Strickland says:

        Thanks, I was considering churning but am worried the rules will change. We both have supp cards on each others account so there is no problem in that regard.

        • Polly says:

          And l would be getting a gold card too every 6/12 for each other, so you are getting both sets of referral points and bonus points with that card too..ie twice in each year. One lot each. That would give you another 62k a year without even counting the spend on those cards too.

  12. O/T but my Curve card arrived today. Anyone have any thoughts on whether I’d be able to pay off a student loan with it? I’ve heard paying off a credit card can get you banned, and I’m not sure if this would be treated the same.

    The plan is to try and switch the several hundred pounds a month coming directly out of my salary, and pay it directly to the student loans company with the Curve, earning essentially free points! Unfortunately at 1.5% APR, I’ve no interest to pay it any faster than I need to (pardon the pun)

    • The Urbanite says:

      There are a list of merchant types they block in the T&Cs – Gambling, Dating and escort services, Massage parlours, Inbound teleservices, Automated fuel dispensers, Investment services and Prepaid/ cash services. The SLC might count under cash so definitely worth asking them to be on the safe side. They say they carry out a risk review based on your activity – if you use the card normally I suspect they’d be fine with it, but if it’s a barrage of failed prepaid card loads, credit card payments and gambling transactions mixed with huge cash withdrawals, I think they’d bar the account.

      Will your plan work? Had a look on the SLC website under “Plan 1 – How to repay more quickly” and it does say that any additional payments made through the website will have no impact at all on the amount that is deducted from your salary. I think it’d only work for free points if you paid the lot as quickly as the Curve allows. I’m with you on the disincentive to make additional payments. If you’re sitting on 5 figures cash, surely it’s pretty easy to use it to generate several times the interest the loan is costing you.

      • Thanks for the advice both! Firstly I’ll see if I can indeed pay it direct and not via my employer (otherwise, like you said, paying extra isn’t actually a financially sound decision). And then I’ll test the waters with a small additional payment and cash thereafter

        • Gavin says:

          You would need to switch to a direct debit method I believe, this is usually only allowed when in the last year of your payments.
          A one-off payment could be done to pay off the loan.

    • I don’t know if you can pay cash into your student loan account (they only introduced them in my final year so mine was paid off about 20 years ago!) but you can withdraw £200 per calendar month on each card you have linked to Curve.

    • FlyingChris says:

      You can pay SLC fixed lump sum additional amounts via Credit Card no problem (no Amex, but Visa/Mastercard fine). I’ve just paid the final balance off mine this way. There’s no fees or no need to use Curve.

      However, almost certain SLC won’t let you replace PAYE with monthly card payments – the card payments would be in addition to payroll deductions. When you get within 2 years of finishing payments they will let you come off the payroll system and move to direct debit so you don’t overpay – but even then needs to be a DD.

    • Alex W says:

      Yes I paid off my student loan at the 2 year point with my IHG premium Credit Card. Seem to recall I had to do it directly on the IHG Card as Curve wouldn’t work. That may change now if you have the curve debit card version.

      • Scallder says:

        Be slightly warned as I tried doing it with my Creation IHG Premium card a little while back and they treated it as a cash advance so as was above the daily limit it didn’t go through (And would of course charge you at the cash advance rate)

  13. Brian says:

    Hi, IT but do BA still offer complimentary food on the cityflyer flights to London city?

    The below link not totally clear for info. Thanks

    https://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/food-and-drink/short-haul-economy-dining

  14. Londonsteve says:

    Drat, I read the Iberia Amex offer e-mail (without reading the small print word for word) and transferred MR points to Iberia Plus. I’ll let the community here know how I get in. The takeaway is always, always, always read the small print.

    • ColinJE says:

      Likewise, 80k MR points transferred. Also, a bit worried that I’d got a message my Iberia points were about to expire, though account was empty. Does a transfer in reset the account or is there a danger I could lose the points I’ve just transferred in? If so, I’d better move them to BA pronto. Otherwise I was going to leave them there in the hope that the IT system might assume it’s a Spanish Amex account and give me an extra 20%. Didn’t see anything in T&Cs to say whether the points had to stay or remain to get it (and now I’ve deleted the Iberia email!)

  15. Iberia Plus avios expire after 3 years lack of activity. transfers don’t count. Do we just move avios over to an active BA account and then move back if we wish to redeem via iberia or does that actual account export at iberia plus?

  16. Jose María says:

    AMR Avios points transferred to an IBP account, makes a reset to the expiration date. Your Avios won’t be expire.

    The transfers that does not count are the ones btwn IBP accounts

    regards

  17. Edward Noel says:

    (First time poster.) Will I be able to use Avios to pay for reserved seats when booking, but pay for the rest of the cost normally? And, if so, would I still earn Avios on that flight, or would the whole flight be treated as a reward purchase? Many thanks in advance – greatly enjoying HfP!

    • No, cannot (yet) use Avios to pay for seats.

      • Edward Noel says:

        Many thanks, Rob. Just wondering, when the time comes later this year, is it your understanding that one could use Avios just for booking the seats, pay for the rest of the cost normally, and still qualify to collect points for the flight?

  18. ColinJE says:

    Just noticed that my transfer of 80k Amex Rewards points from a UK card to my Iberia account earned an additional 20% bonus. 16,000 extra avios! It took 3 days for the bonus to be added. If you’re thinking of moving some into an Avios account it might be worth a try.

    • Be very careful. My test transfer did NOT get a bonus (7 days ago now). I did not get the original email though.

      If you were NOT emailed about this then I wouldn’t risk it. If you were, you will probably be OK.

    • After someone one here said they tried with 1,000 MR points and got the bonus, I transferred my stash (I would have converted into Avios anyway, so no risk for me) on 12th Mar, and just checked and a 20% bonus was added on 15th Mar, so pleased with that.
      I did receive the offer email.

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