Bits: 50% ‘buy Avios’ bonus – good deal?, Marriott points with London house rentals, £264 Virgin fares to Dubai

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News in brief:

50% bonus when you buy Avios

British Airways has launched a generous ‘buy Avios’ bonus promotion.

Until 8th May you get 50% bonus Avios when you buy points.

As well as being the highest bonus we have seen for quite a while, there is also no minimum purchase.  The bonus kicks in with the smallest 1,000 Avios transaction.  You need to visit via this page in order to buy.

British Airways has increased the number of Avios you can buy under this deal – the cap is now 200,000 points per year!  This means that, with the bonus, you will receive 300,000 Avios for a whopping £3,215.

This is not necessarily a great idea as the best value is generally obtained by buying a small number of Avios to top off your account.  If you saw me on BBC1’s Rip Off Britain recently (you can watch the segment here, it is only 3 minutes long) you will know that one of the members of the public I tried to help had bought 100,000 Avios for £1600 without fully understand the restrictions behind them.

What does it cost?

In general, you will pay around 1.1p per Avios under this offer.  Based on my spreadsheet of the last 6.5 million Avios I redeemed, I got 1.14p of value.  This is using very conservative valuations for the flights booked, eg I value a Business Class flight to Dubai at £1500 because even if BA isn’t charging that there is usually a deal with a secondary airline.

I am clearly not a buyer at 1.14p.  However, as my core article on ‘What is an Avios worth?’ shows, it is easy to get a lot more than 1.14p.  My valuation is low because I do a lot of Gold Priority Rewards (using double Avios to force open a seat) and don’t always have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher to use.  I also tend to use Avios irrespective of the value, because I am sitting on so many.  If you are strategic you should do better than me.

The link to buy is here .

Is it worth buying Avios

New – earn Marriott Rewards points and stay credit with London house rentals

Marriott is dipping a toe into the ‘homes for rent’ market, and it has chosen London as its test bed.  The new venture is called Tribute Portfolio Homes.

The interesting quirk is that you earn Marriott Rewards points and status night credits on every booking.

The home page is here.    The service is put together by Hostmaker.  Hostmaker is a company which offers management services to people listing property for daily rent, and oversees listings on Airbnb, HomeAway etc.  This is a bit of a coup for them as it can offer an exclusive marketing channel to homeowners who sign up with it.

There are lots of interesting London flats and houses to rent.  What you won’t find – in case you were thinking of doing a cheap mattress run for status purposes – are any bargains.  I couldn’t find anything available for under £100 per night.

£264 Virgin Atlantic deal to Dubai

Virgin Atlantic is offering a surprisingly decent £264 fare to Dubai.

The fare runs from May to July although, to avoid the worst of the heat, I would go sooner rather than later.  £264 dates are few and far between in early May but there are other days at £274 – use the ‘5 week’ search option to find the best option.  That price is for the ‘hand baggage only’ fare but you don’t need a lot of clothing for the Middle East at this time of year.

The Virgin Atlantic booking site is here and you can learn more about their new Economy ticket types here.

A review of ‘Economy Delight’ – or, more accurately, a review of what happens on a press trip to try out ‘Economy Delight’ – will follow in a couple of weeks.

(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.)

Shock BA announcements - some priority baggage WILL now receive priority, and a First Class bus!
An exceptional new Middle East beach redemption using Marriott Rewards or SPG points
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  1. Scallder says:

    OT some Amex data points:

    1) Cancelled a Platinum card last night and the person I spoke to actively told me to wait 6 months before applying again for the card to get the sign up bonus – so hopefully that’s a sign that that rule isn’t changing anytime soon?!

    2) Just tried adding a supplementary card to my online account (wife is card holder), and couldn’t do it. Having been on the phone to them for a combined total of over 30 mins this morning, apparently Amex changed their rules a couple of months ago which means that you can no longer add a supplementary card to your online account for which you have cards where you’re the main cardholder, and instead need to have a second log in for any supplementary cards you may have. Seems like a huge step backwards in terms of functionality to me…

    3) The adviser who confirmed about point 2 to me, also said that there’s no customer services email address to send a complaint to, either I have to write to them, or go through the document centre. Again just seems a bit backwards to me.

    4) Everytime I’ve spoken to someone from Amex (probably 5/6 occasions over the last week and a half), I’ve been speaking to an American. Have they shut the Brighton call centre and now all calls are routed to the US?

    • On point 4 I have had the same, the ‘American’ call centre have been very poor in my experience of understanding any issues or we have serious communication issues. The last time I called I did get through to Brighton and the agent informed me that next time I could ask to be put through to Brighton if it was answered by another location….

      • I spoke to a CS person in Manila the other day. She had an American accent like many people in Philippines.

      • Lev441 says:

        Also been sent to different call centres aside from Brighton – some very foreign sounding people did not understand my queries and had to escalate up to a manager after speaking to two incompetent staff members before getting issue sorted. Was not what I’ve come to expect from amex. No clue where the call was routed to…

    • Darren says:

      I’d recommend getting in touch with Amex via Twitter and then a DM to raise your issue

    • I think on point 2 there might be a name check or something. I tried to add a supp card to my wife’s account a few months ago. Old account and cards were in her maiden name and new card was married name, and it wouldn’t allow it to be added to the old account, had to set up a new one.

    • I had this a couple of weeks ago. Their system is a little behind and was told by the call centre to wait a few days and try again. It worked. I also received the approval and card on way email (was originally deferred) two days after receiving the card!

  2. Off-topic: I’ve only been on the points and miles game for a few months, so when I started, the SPG/Marriott merger was already in motion. This held me back from getting the SPG Amex, as with the uncertainty about whether the mileage transfers would continue, I didn’t think I’d be able to build a large enough balance (especially since I never stay at either Marriott or SPG hotels) to get any worthwhile amount of miles if they were shut down.

    I’ve been thinking of getting the Amex Gold Companion credit card, for the MR bonus, and I’ve already have the BAPP, but now I’m wondering if there’s any change of the earning rate on the Amex SPG being grandfathered in, and maybe I should get that one instead? Any advice?

  3. Tom Cook says:

    OT Re Plat travel insurance benefits.

    Do you have to book everything on the Plat card to benefit or can you use another AMEX, say BAPP and still benefit from the cover?

    I think that PLAT rental car insurance covers irrespective of card used….

  4. Rob, on the back of the Amex Gold changes – I’m planning to upgrade my Gold charge card to Platinum within the next couple of days. Is it worth doing it now, or hold back until the dust settles?

  5. Just a quick OT – I want to refer my OH from my Plat for the Amex Rewards credit card (no fee, 10k MR sign up bonus). It doesn’t show as an option on the referral link although all the other cards (BA, SPG, Nectar etc) do. Has it ever been possible to refer for this card? Thanks

  6. FlightDoctor says:

    Another OT – I was pleasantly surprised to see earlier this week in MMB that I had received a complementary upgrade outbound for a short European team I was taking in 36 hours. This was the first time I have ever received a complementary upgrade outside of the 24hr window (normally it’s at check in at the airport, or at the gate). What was interesting is that I appear to have also received the increased TPs and Avios commensurate with business class outbound. I am aware the flight was very full so maybe this was just a very unusual one off, or could this possibly be a new occasional perk they are offering regular customers?

    • You may get lucky, but probably only the original Avios and TPs will post.

  7. OT re: Curve card.
    Does anyone know their policy for increasing your annual spend limit? £10k to start with, and I read they might increase it ‘later’. Is it best to spend as much as poss as soon as poss, and hope it is upped when you hit the limit?
    The reason being, I hope to use it for this year’s ISA investments…
    TIA, Mark

  8. Andrew says:

    Trying to keep up my Curve expenditure to keep withdrawing cash… anyone have any idea if paying Amex bills via it will help my cause?

  9. Andrew M says:

    Not possible. Sorry!

    • Andrew says:

      I just gave it a try (linked to a debit card) and it went through fine… Whether or not it counts toward my spend/cash ratio I guess we’ll wait and see. My ratio is about 1:1 right now as I put everything on my Amex, so if they are looking for a 5:1 ratio as I seem to remember reading here, I will almost certainly be declined at my next withdrawal! If not… can surely only be the Amex bill or an oversight.

      • I’ve just found out that loading up on a pre-paid foreign currency card via the Lloyds Mastercard (0% FX) is classed as “General” spending on Curve.

  10. Graham Walsh says:

    OT Looking to use the T5 Plaza lounge and use my Amex plat to get in. Anyone know if I can guest my g/f in? Can’t see it on the Amex site when it talks about it. I’ve got a supplementary card in my name, would if they would work if I can’t guest her in.

  11. @mkcol says:

    OT: got this email from Curve today.

    Initially I thought it was a phishing scam…

    “We need to send you a new Curve card

    Dear Colin,

    I am getting in touch to let you know that we will need to reissue your card by Monday, 30th of April.

    We have received information regarding increased amounts of fraud on cards that have been used at a specific online retailer, suggesting that this retailer has been compromised. As you have used this retailer in the past, as a safety precaution, we will need to send you a new Curve card to ensure your money is protected.
    What do I need to do?

    Please reply to this email confirming your shipping address for a new card by Monday 30th April. Once you have replied, we will block your card and issue a replacement. It can take up to 5 working days for your replacement card to reach you, so please ensure you have a backup card with you from the time you reply to this email until you receive and activate your new card.

    You can continue using your existing card until you reach out to us. If you want to take additional precautions, you can lock your card in-app and only unlock it when you’re about to make a purchase. Rest assured that you will not be out of pocket in the event of any fraudulent transactions.
    What happens if I don’t reply?

    If we have not heard from you by Monday 30th April, we will automatically place a block on your card to protect you from any potential unauthorised transactions on your account. Once you confirm your shipping address, we will be able to reissue your card.
    You may need to update your details

    Once we reissue your card, you will need to update your payment details for subscriptions and recurring card payments made through Curve (for example, Netflix, bill payments, etc.)”

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