Bits: Good Etihad fare to Oz for Christmas, 100% bonus buying Hilton points, F1 and tennis with SPG/Marriott

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News in brief:

Good Etihad fare to Australia for Christmas

I’ve had a few emails recently asking about cheap cash flights to Australia over Christmas.   As this is a non-starter for Avios – and anyway is terrible value given the taxes – you need to look for good cash deals.

The fall-back is China Eastern out of Amsterdam.  Last year I checked this in early December and they were still selling seats for £1900 for Christmas and New Year travel.

You can do better, in terms of price and quality of carrier.

Etihad has launched an excellent deal from Stockholm to Sydney, Melbourne or Perth for around SEK 20,000 (£1700).  Availability is excellent all year, including Christmas and New Year.

The one pain is that Etihad does not fly to Stockholm.  You are looking at three flights each way – Stockholm to somewhere in Europe on another airline, somewhere in Europe to Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi to Australia.

Here is a typical routing for SEK 20970 (£1770):

Out 8th December – Stockholm to Heathrow (SAS), Heathrow to Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380), Abu Dhabi to Sydney (Eithad A380)

Back 8th January – Sydney to Abu Dhabi (Etihad A380), Abu Dhabi to  Brussels (Etihad A330), Brussels to Stockholm (SAS)

Is this a messy routing?  Yes.  Is it EXCELLENT value for money for the peak Christmas and New Year period?  Yes.  Is the Etihad A380 Business Class seats very very nice?  Yes – here is my review of Etihad A380 Business.

Check out the special Etihad A380 page here showing the Business Class Studio too.

The best thing to do is have a  play with dates on the Etihad site here and see what routings come up.  You can credit the flights to Etihad Guest or American Airlines amongst others.  AA would give you the opportunity to redeeem on BA or another oneworld carrier.

In addition, if you are not already an Etihad Guest member, you can sign up here and receive 500 bonus miles.

How to earn Etihad Guest miles via UK credit cards

As a reminder, Etihad no longer has its own UK credit card.  However, you can earn Etihad Guest miles by converting Membership Rewards points earned from selected UK American Express cards.  These are:

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold – 10,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

The Platinum Card from American Express – 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

American Express Rewards credit card – up to 5,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus

Membership Rewards points convert at 1:1 into Etihad Guest miles.  The cards above all earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on your card, which converts to 1 Etihad Guest mile.

Etihad Guest is also a partner with the HSBC Premier Mastercard (0.5 miles per £1 spent, reviewed here) and HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard (1 mile per £1 spent, reviewed here).

Etihad Sydney fares

100% bonus for buying Hilton Honors points

Hilton Honors is offering a 100% bonus when you purchase 5,000+ points.  This is the highest bonus we have seen for quite a while.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.3p each.  You are paying 0.35p here (the maximum is $800 / £570 for 160,000 – although some people have been offered a higher annual cap) so it isn’t a slam dunk.

Five star Hilton, Conrad and Waldorf-Astoria hotels typically run to 80,000 points per night.  In this sale you would be paying $400 for 80,000 points.  You will rarely find a cash room higher than that but it does happen.

However, Hilton Honors IS a decent deal at cheaper point levels.   To dig out my ‘usual suspect’ examples, the Hampton by Hilton in Sheffield, for example, is 10,000 points per night on most nights.  At 0.35p per point you would be paying roughly £35 per night if you bought the points.  That is a 65% discount on the typical nightly rate of £100.  Hampton properties include free breakfast as well.

On the other hand, the Hilton Sheffield is 30,000 points per night.  You would be paying around £105 for those points which is close to the typical £125 cash cost when you offset the points and miles back on the cash rate.

If you just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

How to earn Hilton Honors points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

More Formula 1 and tennis tickets via Starwood

SPG Moments has added some more Formula 1 packages for points.  The Silverstone packages are all auctions, but if you want a trip to Hockenheim then there are ‘buy it now’ packages for the Qualifying Day on 21st July.  These are 10,000 SPG points (30,000 Marriott points) for two tickets.

There are also LOTS of VIP packages – as a ‘buy it now’ – for the Mutua Madrid Tennis Open in May.  AC Hotels, a Marriott brand, is a core sponsor.  When I was with Marriott last week, one of the staffers told me that she had been to this and the quality of the hospitality in the private box and VIP area is excellent.  Tickets start at 10,000 SPG points (30,000 Marriott points) for two tickets.

It is important to note that Marriott Moments and SPG Moments now appear to be showing the same events and may be using the same availability.  Previously there were separate allocations and occasionally different pricing across both sites.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Why NO-ONE should spend £20,000 for a 2-4-1 on the free British Airways American Express card
My review of the new(ish) INNSIDE Hamburg Hafen
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  1. Cristian rivera says:

    HI ! One question.. I have 50k Amex points and I want to move them any good airline to do this ? Thank you

    • sunguy says:


      It all depends on what you want to do and where you want to go…..

      There is no need to move your Amex points to any partner until you are ready to make a purchase – infact, you are better off not to due to devaluations.

      The only reason to move from AMEX is if you are closing the account completely.

      So, what is it you are looking to do ?

      • Cristian rivera says:

        Thanks for answering my question. I would like to travel to Middle East using Ethihad or emirates airline but I’m looking to do it with my wife so just planing to get two one way ticket and it looks like is between 45-50k Miles one way . So I’m looking to apply for the Amex Platinum to get the 30k bonus point so I need to move the ones a have to cancelled my current gold Amex . Any suggestions thank you

        • Cheapest option to Dubai using Amex points is Singapore Airlines Krisflyer. They charge 25,000 miles (25,000 Amex points) for a one-way business class ticket from London on Lufthansa or SWISS (for preference) or Turkish or Egyptian (if you are not in a hurry). Krisflyer now lets you check availability for partners and book online, no need to call.

        • American Airlines? Europe to Dubai?

  2. Alistair says:

    OT: I used my BAPP to pay for a flight booked on The transaction on my statement shows it as FRANCE and has a non-sterling transaction fee.

    What’s going on there?

  3. WilliamPH says:

    O/T – I will be in Seattle for the weekend in 2 weeks time, just received an email from the Hampton by Hilton saying that my reservation (made in December) is now cancelled. They say:

    “Since we have more rooms that will be going out of service than we originally anticipated, we will not be able to accommodate your current reservations for this summer of 2018. I’m truly sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. I have found other accommodations with other hotels very close to our location, Please contact them to make your new reservation’s with that hotel.”

    I’m Hilton Diamond (if that matters at all).

    2 Questions

    1. I’ve noticed that IHG have an EVEN hotel nearby – that’s a new brand to me – anyone here ever tried an EVEN?

    2. Should I complain to Hilton Honors about the short notice of the cancellation?


    • Yes, I would complain to Hilton. Argue that you will now have to pay more than necessary because it is a short notice booking.

      We are reviewing an EVEN in New York this week so we should have something up in a couple of weeks.

    • Same thing happened to us last year. We booked 3 nights in the HIX at Santa Monica after driving Route 66 for a month. No explanation was given or compensation offered given the short notice of the cancellation having booked it a year out. When I called IHG they didn’t know either and they couldn’t get an answer from the hotel. We ended up booking a Crowne Plaza further down the coast which cost us an extra 15k. When we told them we had just finished the route and had our previous booking cancelled we were upgraded to a huge suite, given free breakfast for 3 days, free drinks, welcome pts, reduced parking rate and ended up meeting their lovely Food and Beverage Director. He wanted to talk about Scottish whisky and so invited us both down to the bar for more free drinks and an invite to his home in Santa Barbara. He is hoping to visit Scotland next year so hope to see him again. So ended up being a very positive experience in the end. Best ever value of points!

    • I would recommend against Hilton Seattle if you have the choice.

  4. MattyS says:

    Apologies if covered elsewhere but Marriott have released a sneak preview of the first 100 new SPG and Marriott categories

  5. I opened an Amex Platinum two months after cancelling the previous. I know I am not entitled to the 30,000 sign up bonus but the tracker keep showing my progress. I still need to spend £1k on it.So tempted to go ahead and see if I get it! Just checking if other have also seen the tracker and got/not got the points.

    • I had this when I mis-timed a BAPP application at the beginning of the year. The tracker showed for the whole 3 months but stayed at zero (the 10k tracker moved along fine)

  6. OT:
    I am struggling to get the 5000 for gold companion credit card. I called Amex and they say I am not eligible coz I already had an MR account. However the MR account they are talking about is the PRG that I added PRG to. Called twice and both agents read the same note. How else would anyone get this bonus without already having an MR account? It’s a companion credit card. How have people got it?
    PRG applied for in feb, companion cc in early March.
    Ps help.

    • Alex W says:

      I got rejected for the plat version. They said I had to write to them and they couldn’t do anything over the phone.

  7. I was wondering if lon-hkg-mel would be good value using flying club miles….. Virgin atlantic to hkg and then virgin aus for hkg to MEL.

    Other route I was looking at was Singapore Airlines using flying club miles…

    Anyone know if the above is feasible?

  8. Did I miss it or it was widely publicised that Amex replaced its product offering for its Gold card from charge to credit card? At least i dont see a charge card offer anymore – only the Gold credit card.
    Besides the fundamental difference between charge and credit cards, bonus/points offers seem to be unchanged.

    • Happened last night with no notice. Even the press office and the marketing agency did not have any notice.

      • i was about to cancel my Gold charge card today (or considering of upgrading to Plat) – any reason why I should hold on to the charge card? Is it gone for good? Will the Gold credit card be the only option from now on?

  9. David says:

    We went to book the Etihad fare this morning, however it has disappeared. Instead we picked up a companion fare on Malaysia Airlines at £2225 each LHR to Sydney departing on the 10th December. An excellent fare, none of the agents could match it or get close and it’s only available on their website. I’m not sure if this is a system error as the sale says it only runs for travel upto 30th November.

    • Garuda had a £1600 offer running which I was planning to cover although of course may not cover Christmas.

      • David says:

        That’s a pretty good deal. My parents are happy as they enjoy flying Malaysian and will earn some Avios back!

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