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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 ba.com 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.

To maximise your miles when paying, your best bet is one of the two Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards.  These earn double miles (3 per £1 on the paid card or 1.5 per £1 on the free card) when you book at virginatlantic.com or via Virgin Holidays.  Another option is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers double points – 2 per £1 – when you book flight tickets directly with an airline.

PS. Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  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.

(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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Comments

  1. I have bought avios in the past, at the 50% extra rate, in order to have enough avios at the D-355 point, to make use of a 241 voucher, despite knowing I would earn enough over the coming year.

    Wasn’t there a plan (possibly a targeted trial?) to allow you to buy a redemption ticket without yet having the required avios balance – ie in the expectation that you would have enough by the time of the flight – or did I dream that?

  2. Arnold London says:

    Would love some feedback.
    As a newly setup independent consultant with a fair bit of travel (and GGL status allowing free cancellations and changes) I find Avios to be very efficient for business travel.
    As a recent example, for a mid-week trip to DC BA wanted £1500 round trip in economy and £2500 in premium. And £5000+ in club.
    While there was no club availability I was able to book either economy for 26,000 avios and ~£350 of taxes or premium for 52,000 avios and £450 of taxes. Thoughts if buying avios at 1.1p makes sense if this is the primary use? We of course also use the GGL jokers to unlock avios redemptions on popular routes during peak periods which is an excellent use for them.
    Separately anyone have experience with HMRC and business expensing of avios purchases or tickets purchased with avios?

    • If you buy them solely to redeem for business use flights there is no issue expensing that in my view.

    • £5k for CW? Is that booking the day before or something?!

      • Arnold london says:

        If you look at mid-week trips to DC (anything without a Saturday night stay) in June it’s still the same (actually £5,800 in Club).
        This is how BA make their money from captive corporate customers. As an SME these fares are punitive and I need to start looking at other indirect options. Or book using avios.

  3. OT: anticipating upcoming expenses of 10k + that will need to go on a non-amex card, likely through curve. I’m comparing to see which would give me the most value between the new virgin + an HSBC Premier Elite. Does anyone have recent experience with getting the extra 40k points for hitting the yearly spend without triggering the second year’s fee?

  4. Chris A says:

    O/T: Buying property…
    Do any you have any experience of using rewards cards for any element of buying a property? I am likely to purchase soon (with mortgage) and like any good person on here am keen to find ways of getting maximum gain!

    • I think a mortgage is the one thing you really can’t get round. Banks usually want the bank account details you will be making the repayments from as part of the application. They would probably consider you a credit risk if you wanted to make payments on credit.

      But estate agent/solicitor fees, your new furniture et.c. can probably all go on cards! I paid a deposit for a new kitchen on my BAPP a couple of years ago which came in handy.

    • Scallder says:

      Chris – doubt any bits with the mortgage, however you could probably ask your solicitors to be able to pay the Stamp Duty yourself. Haven’t done this before myself however I know it can be done – what I don’t know is whether it needs to be done in one hit or not. Curve debit card could possibly help a bit here and perhaps you can pay the amount on a credit card (perhaps?!)

      Could try paying your solicitor fees plus any others and perhaps mortgage product fee via a CC or curve debit card.

      There’s also billhop however does come with 2.95% fee…

      • Chris A says:

        Thanks Scallder-thankfully the solicitor is a good friend who is well aware of my ‘habit’!

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

  7. 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….

  8. 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?

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. 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

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