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Bits: earn Amex points with FX payments, funky new Novotel at Heathrow, topbonus insolvency

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More news in brief:

Earn Membership Rewards points with American Express FX International Payments

This is only relevant to a small part of readership, but it will be valuable if it does apply.

Reader Graeme got in touch to recommend American Express FX International Payments (full details here).  You can make payments (minimum £1000) in 80+ currencies to 100+ countries.

You also earn Membership Rewards points – 1 point per £20 transferred up to a maximum of 5,000 points per payment.  Payments over £100,000 can be split to avoid the cap.

You may be expecting that this service is poor value for money.  However, as Graeme wrote:

“We send money to suppliers in China, paying in $.  We buy our currency on spot rates as and when required with the odd forward contract. AMEX offered me both options.

I assumed, since they rang me and were giving away Membership Reward points, that the rates would be poor, but amazingly they are the best I have received off any company since starting to work with with Chinese suppliers 5 years ago. They have agreed to a spot rate of just 35 bips below live market rate fixed for the life of my agreement with them.  All of this is trackable on an online platform.

We send about £2,000,000 a year to China so that will be 100,000 Membership Rewards points and a cheaper way to transfer funds (approx £9000 a year from our current supplier).  This seems to be a ‘win win’ for anyone moving money around the world. There is a £5 transaction fee per payment but that’s it.”

You can find out more on the American Express website here.

Novotel London Heathrow T1 T2 T3 lobby

Novotel opens a funky new hotel at Heathrow

After a stay at the Pullman London St Pancras last week which was so depressing that we can’t even bring ourselves to review it, it is good to see that Accor has not completely lost its way.

The Novotel London Heathrow Airport T1 T2 and T3 Hotel (catchy name …..) opened at the end of February.  It is a £30m conversion of the former HQ of the British Airports Authority on Bath Road and has 166 rooms.  There are plans to extend this to 274 rooms, although as the hotel presumably faces demolition for the third runway I wouldn’t put money on that seeing the light of day.

As you can see from the pictures, this is not the dull Novotel style you may have been used to.   Novotel is part of Accor and stays will earn points, convertible to Avios if you wish, in Le Club AccorHotels.

The hotel website is here if you want to find out more.  Hat-tip to Business Traveller.

Novotel London Heathrow T1 T2 T3 lobby

Make a claim during the topbonus insolvency period

If you had any airberlin topbonus miles, you may be able to get a small amount of cash from their insolvency proceedings.  But not for a while ….

You need to file an insolvency claim by 24th April for the balance of your topbonus account as of 1st April 2018.  You should give your miles a valuation of 0.36 cents each, although you should certainly not expect to receive that.

Payments will be “at the earliest by the end of 2020” …..

Further details are on the topbonus website.  The site claims that talks are underway with possible investors who may rescue the business, although whether any goodwill remains in the brand is doubtful.

Whilst most loyalty schemes are cash cows, Etihad – which owned 70% of the loyalty scheme – had been running topbonus differently.  In an attempt to keep airberlin from going bust, topbonus was not charging the airline for miles until they were redeemed.  When the airline filed for insolvency, topbonus was left with liabilities for large mileage balances for which it had not been paid.

(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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  1. We make more frequent, lower value international payments using Amex & another payment provider. I’d love to put them all through Amex for the membership points, but find them poor value, so they do not receive that much business. Typically things tighten after I request a rate review, then slowly downward spiral. Ensure that you’re constantly checking rates with them, otherwise you could be paying over the odds.

    • Hi Sam,
      I work in the International Payments team at American Express and it’s important for us take feedback like this on and we’re keen to speak with you to find out how we can win all the business and provide an outstanding service to you without the need to consistently check price. We want to be your provider of choice and one that is trusted with the intent to work together for many years to come.

      Please do get in touch on [email protected]

      All the best

      • Thanks Ian, will do, it’s being looked into.

        And to be fair, there is never any issue with Customer Service at AMEX, consistently excellent in all parts of the business we use, so I know you’ll take it seriously.

  2. Scottydoggiom says:

    Looking for some advice , i have a few more thousand to spend on my BAPP to bank a 2 for 1 before i cancel , my plan is to get a Platinum card for an upcoming holiday at the start of june to make use of the priority pass .
    My question is , if i apply for and get the platinum card in say middle of May , can i not ‘activate’ the card , so i don’t start the clock on the ‘spend 2000 in 3 months’ on the platinum ? is that how it works . Could i keep it in a draw for a few weeks but make use of the priority passes ??

    • Peter K says:

      The 3 months seem to start from when issued, so just before you receive the card, in my experience.

      • Scottydoggiom says:

        Thanks , i did think that might be the case , might mean i have 2 card on the go at the same time trying to hit spend limits !

        • Scallder says:

          Might be worth looking at Billhop for any invoices you have Scottygodiom. You can get £250 of fee free spending by being referred (my referral is here: – believe Rob has said in the past ok to share these).

          2.95% charge on payments otherwise but might be worth it to make sure you hit the bonuses. Always have the buying gift cards route to bring forward spend too…

        • @scallder
          Just used you referral link to pay new amex card £250 quick and easy. Thanks

          Here is my referral link if anyone interested.

          You get £250 fee free transfer Disclosure I receive fee free £500 fee free transfer.

  3. OT
    can anyone tell me please how to send a support query in the Curve app?

    • Genghis says:

      Open Curve app. Click on “Support” at bottom RHS. Just above the bottom bar in faded text there’s “My support tickets”. Click that. Click “New” at top RHS. Type your message then send.

      • Thanks Genghis. My phone was similar to that, but the whole thing is v. klunky. Glad I am only using it for one specific purpose .

  4. Peter K says:

    How do you apply for this? I have a look on the NUS website and through google but I’m drawing a blank… Thanks in advance.

    • You apply on the website – I get a pretty in-your-face button to join when I go on the main page. Then enter your email address and away you go.

      Also good point on the co-op discount! My local convenience store has just become more appealing

      • Peter K says:

        Ah, okay. I thought I had to enter my representative body first and couldn’t see how to do that. Thank you.

  5. Lucinda says:

    O\T-Well nearly

    AMEX companion Credit cards.

    Is it possible to have BOTH the Gold and PLAT ones?

    Going through a churning cycle and have Gold credit card.
    Will close the Gold Charge card.
    OH will then recommend me for the PLAT Charge card
    I will then apply for PLAT credit card.


    • I recommend that you cancel the gold credit and upgrade to Platinum then apply for plat companion credit.
      If you cancel the gold you will have to wait six months to get sign up bonus.

      • Lucinda says:

        My OH will refer me for the PLAT so he gets 18,000 and I get 35,000

        He then closes his PLAT

        If I upgrade I alone only get 20K

        So can I have a Gold credit card AND a Platinum one?


        • If you have had a gold card less than six months ago (you say that you will have just cancelled) you will not get the 35,000.

        • If you have had any card giving MR points.

  6. Lucinda says:

    Of course

    need more coffee 🙂

    However the point still stands

    Can I have BOTH Gold and PLAT credit cards (after I upgrade to Plat :0 )

    • Hard to say. There is a danger that if you upgrade gold charge while holding gold credit the credit will be upgraded to platinum (as supplementaries are) so you lose 5,000. I personally would not take the risk.

      • Lucinda says:

        You may be correct there.

        Think I’ll close the credit card (like supps) before upgrading

        Thanks for the replies

        • I upgraded a Gold Charge Card to a Platinum one while I was holding a Gold Credit Card. The Gold credit card did not get automatically upgraded.

          I will in due course cancel the Gold Credit Card and get the Platinum version and should get the 5,000MR

    • johnny_c-l says:

      Yes you can, I have held both companion cards simulaneously before. There is also the benefit of retaining access to the Plat/Gold specific offers (e.g. Amex Travel) by doing this.

  7. Are all first supplementary cards getting a 3k/5k bonus these days? (Amex Plat etc?)

  8. I’ve stayed in the Pullman St Pancras, and can confirm that it was dull and uninspiring in every way. Not exactly bad – it was clean and there was no reason not to get a decent night’s sleep there, but just meh. Boring architecture, layout, bland food option, just-good-enough breakfast. It’s not particularly cheap for what it offers either so I’ve never been back.

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