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Bits: has Starwood given up its suite at the O2?, new Amex cashback deals inc Emirates and Avis

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News in brief:

Has Starwood Preferred Guest given up its O2 suite?

Regular readers will know that there have been some great points opportunities over the past three years to see top musical acts at the O2 Arena in London via SPG Moments.

Starwood Preferred Guest took a VIP suite in the arena and made tickets available as a points redemption, usually around 15,000 points for two people.  The suite was fully catered with a hot and cold buffet and a free, unlimited bar.

Anika reviewed a Muse concert here and I have been numerous times, generally to see acts too uncool to publicly name.

The game might be up, unfortunately.  The O2 suite was a three year deal and the three years is now over.  There have not been any concerts listed on the SPG Moments site for a while.

Other venues controlled by AEG (Mercedes Arena, Staples Center) also seem to have disappeared from SPG Moments.

If the suite has gone, this may be a sign of things to come with the Marriott-isation of Starwood.  SPG will have lost a lot of money on these events – the value of the points redeemed won’t even have covered the cost of the food and drink, yet alone the cost of the box itself – but it didn’t care because it was all about relationship building with its core guests.  I have never seen any signs that Marriott thinks the same way.

I wish Virgin Atlantic would do more with its suite at the O2.  I have no idea who gets the seats – once a year we get an invite, this year we get ’30 Seconds To Mars’, last year it was world darts – but there would be real value in Virgin Atlantic offering up seats for miles.

Virgin Flying Club is desperately in need of valuable low value redemptions as it doesn’t have any short-haul flights to offer.  With the credit card due for a major relaunch soon it would be a good way of driving sign-ups.

SPG Moments O2 Arena London suite

New Amex / Emirates cashback deal launched

Emirates has launched a decent cashback deal with American Express although not many people appear to have it.

There seem to be a few variants so you will need to look through the ‘Offers’ section on each card, via the statement page on the app or website, to see what you have, if anything.

The options seems to be £150 back on £800 spend and £100 back on £500 spend.

The offer expires on 30th April and the £150 version (not sure about the £100 version) is limited to the first 2,500 people to save it.

You need to book via the Emirates website here.  Thanks to Din.

PS.  There are also new offers for Q-Park, Firmdale Hotels, Heathrow Express (£10 back on £35), Avis (£25 back on £125), Gordon Ramsay Plane Food at Heathrow T5 (£10 back on £50) and Pride of Britain Hotels widely available.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. Slightly OT, but Amex seem to have run a survey with Plat customers regarding how they rank the value of many perks of the card. Off the top of my head, there was 5x MR points when booking through Amex Travel or directly with airlines, getting mid-tier status with either a consortium or a single airline (with and without lounge access, with or without a status challenge to get to top tier), discounts when using MR points when booking through Amex Travel etc.

    Basically, it sounds like an upgrade to the card is coming, but they’re not sure which yet, and are testing the waters. Sounds exciting 🙂

    • Harry says:

      Staying OT, the points/status benefits of Amex Plat is well document/valued on this site. How does everyone value the “other perks”? Eg: Are the concierge useful at all? Any events invites and the odd “lifestyle enhancement” vouchers here and there?
      I’m wondering as I’m trying to decide between Amex Plat and HSBC Premier World Elite (not churning). From a points accumulation they’re of similar benefit to me (I use it for non-BA reward accumulation), but I’m a sucker for the little bells and whistles….(eg FHR for Amex and LHW for HSBC…)

      • Memesweeper says:

        The hotels booking perks for Gold and Platinum are handy if you’re heading to the right places.

        Other than that excellent insurance, lounge access and status at hotels are the only other features I use. I have the World Elite too and Platinum’s lounge coverage is much better.

    • Cate ⛱️ says:

      ‘there was 5x MR points when booking through Amex Travel or directly with airlines’

      This sounds interesting as long as there wasn’t a hefty mark up on travel which would negate the benefits and not just one airline.

    • Pangolin says:

      Well if anyone from Amex is reading this, 5x for airlines and Amex Travel bookings would be enough to keep me holding it (assuming they didn’t jack up the price or remove other benefits, eg. HH Gold).

  2. OT: Best non-Amex card for a student with (basically) no ‘income’? I’m looking for a Visa/ Mastercard credit card with some added bonus, earning some points, however, I need it to be available to students and without income limits. Currently, I’m using BA Amex, and I spend around 1-1.5k a month on it.

  3. OT (with apologies): I have two SPG hotel bookings coming up, but both were booked indirectly via on OTA. I called SPG and apparently this means I can’t add the bookings to my SPG account, however when I’m there can I still get my account number added to any hotel expenses like food, drink etc?

    • Chris Palmer says:

      Yes. You can still have your SPG account added for food and drink. Sometimes, you might even get lucky at the property. I was at the Westin Langkawi last year. I had booked through Hotels.com, but the receptionist added my SPG number to the book so I received free breakfast for a week (which would have been expensive otherwise).

    • OTA works with BA, by adding avios via the BA app when checking in

  4. mark2 says:

    Could you book a trip of some kind at your destination?

  5. Yes, you can book a multi-stop flight for example
    LHR to DXB to KUL (instead of a stopover which has a max stopover of 22-35 hours, book 1 or 2 days in DXB for an extra £50 to your journey) or look to book on weekends?

  6. You could choose a Flex or Flex plus fare on either sector if you already. It sometimes costs £50+-

  7. Eugene says:

    You could reserve a seat. Some of them are quite pricy- economy with a little extra legroom.

  8. Cate ⛱️ says:

    They have a hold your fare facility so could you buy your seats after paying a reservation fee – or two 🙂 ?

  9. Kevin says:

    OT and apologies if someone’s said it elsewhere but Qatar Airways is launching two direct flights a day from Gatwick to Doha from 22nd May.

  10. Mark LLL says:

    Peter,
    I had exact same situation: twenty pounds short of spend threshold and Amex terms say hotels/car hire spend do not count.
    Didn’t see an option for a charity donation.

    If all else fails, you might consider adding Emirates travel insurance at the booking stage – covering you against loss due to denied airspace (whatever that is) – 33 pounds for my itinerary. The risk would be if Amex excludes insurance spend, though I did not see that specifically excluded in offer T and Cs.

    Best of luck.

  11. Simon says:

    Rob, when you talk to Amex, could you ask them why they don’t make more of their sponsorship of the Stadium in Brighton? They could presumably have a box in the Emirates vein and allow people to redeem MRs to use it. Now that Brighton are a premiership club this might be of broader interest, ie not just Brighton fans. Would certainly guarantee my loyalty!
    More broadly they could at least offer normal seats as per Emirates. I’ve seen one offer for concert tickets, and the stadium outlets in shop small, but that’s it. It’s otherwise a pretty successful naming deal – the stadium is now known as just “the Amex”…
    (I realise that maybe they are actually using the box, but just to entertain/thank higher spenders than me.)

    • New Card says:

      They did a give away for Platinum cardholders of free tickets to every match this season – all tickets were snapped up within minutes (before many people even got the email about it).
      Agreed they could do more with this!

  12. What is the offer that people are seeing for Firmdale hotels?
    It’s not appeared in either my BA or Platinum cards yet.
    Would be handy since I have a £1.5k spend coming up this weekend.

  13. Chris says:

    Extremely disappointing if SPG have lost their AEG (O2 Arena) contract. This is one of the few genuinely unique redemption offers that distinguishes the SPG scheme from other hotel loyalty programs. Plus it was fantastic advertising for the brand if you took a guest.

    I’m not convinced SPG are “losing a lot of money on these events”. You can buy tickets in the “amazon lounge” boxes which are £100 – £150 per ticket at the o2, and they include a meal and a drink with waiter service (admittedly no free bar).

    15,000 starwood points would cost you $525 (£378) to buy outright, which leaves £40 for drinks per person. At least in theory, their box was priced accurately. Any saving from earning SPG points freely from stays or point offers were genuine discounts on this redemption – which made it ideal.

    The website doesn’t appear to have been altered to remove all references to AEG properties and still lists them on the partners page. Hopefully SPG come to their senses and renew this partnership!

    • SPG might sell you points for that price but if their internal valuation will be far less. If you assume they are paying out 1p per mile when you transfer to an airline then assume they are happy to swallow 1p per point. That is £150 for two tickets in a suite. AEG would ask at least £100 per head just for the catering and drink and that is before you factor in the ticket cost and the amortisation of the suite itself – £500 per couple would not surprise me.

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