Bits: last chance for a discount on SPG and IHG points, £20 Best Western gift card on your next stay

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News in brief:

Last chance to get a 35% discount buying Starwood points

Tomorrow, 31st May, is your last chance to pick up Starwood Preferred Guest points at a discount.

You can currently buy Starwood Preferred Guest points at 35% off in a new offer – the link is here.  30,000 SPG points will cost you $682.50 (£516).

30,000 SPG would convert into 90,000 Marriott points.  This could be a good deal when you remember that NO Marriott or Starwood hotel will cost more than 60,000 points per night if booked between August and December (stay whenever in 2019).

This is also a way of buying airline miles in schemes that do not sell miles directly, such as Lufthansa Miles & More.  Starpoints transfer at 1:1 to most airlines and you receive a 5,000 mile bonus when converting 20,000.  You need to do the maths but buying SPG points at 35% off could work out.

You need to do that via this page before 31st May.

Buy Starwood Preferred Guest points at a discount

…. and your last chance for an 80% IHG Rewards Club bonus

You can also, until 31st May, buy IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – points with a bonus of up to 80%.

The page to buy points is here – log in and see what is available.

This is not the most generous offer IHG has had, and it is also staggered which is unusual:

  • Buy 5,000-19,000 points, get a 40% bonus
  • Buy 20,000+ points, get an 80% bonus

The annual cap for buying points has been raised to 100,000 points which equates to 180,000 points with the bonus.  The cost is $1,000 (£700).

We have seen 100% bonuses recently, but if you need to top up your account in advance of a planned redemption, you might as well do it whilst the bonus is on. It is also worth buying if your IHG Accelerate promotion has a ‘buy points’ target you need to hit.

InterContinental Times Square

Get a £20 Best Western gift card with your next stay

Best Western has launched a promotion giving guests a £20 Best Western gift card if they stay at a Best Western property this Summer.

You must register on this special promotion page before booking which means existing bookings are excluded from this promotion.

The £20 Best Western gift card will be awarded for stays between now and 3rd September 2018 and is limited to one per person.

(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.)

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Comments

  1. Alex W says:

    Shame the £ has tanked Vs the $ in the last month. Wish I’d bought SPG points earlier.

  2. Craig says:

    OT: If anyone is looking for a Hilton status match/mattress run hotel and the location works I can highly recommend the Doubletree Sheffield Park. For the price I paid I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality, there is no lounge but on a Mon, Wed and Fri from 1900-2030 they have a drinks reception with complimentary beer, wine, soft drinks and nibbles. As Diamond I was invited and I think some of the others were Gold. We tied this in with a couple of days walking in the Peak District and enjoyed it so much we are back next week, which along with my other plans through June and July makes up the 8 stays needed.

    • Mark2 says:

      +1

    • Crafty says:

      We were there Monday night. Good hotel, has a decent pool too, and very friendly staff. Our stay was to finish off an Amex offer, so was effectively free too! Only incongruous aspect was the very obvious prostitute with the guy next door..

    • Thanks, It’s on my list for a visit down the Midlands later this summer, that’s the hotel, not the temporary guest….

  3. More bits. I don’t think it’s been mentioned here (but I’ve been so busy I might have missed it) but from 24 June Virgin Trains East Coast will be replaced with (initially) government operated LNER. Generally I think it’ll be a good thing as VTEC seem to cut costs on the important things (like train maintenance and staffing) and waste it on the gimmicks.

    Even if LNER decide to launch a proper loyalty scheme I don’t see it being ready from day one. So if you collect Flying Club miles it might be worth booking your tickets before the 24 June. Remember tickets booked through the VTEC site only earn miles if the journey includes at least part of the route on a VTEC (or LNER) service. As the booking system still lists train journeys from 24 June as VTEC even though they’ll be operated by LNER then we expect you’ll get the miles if you book before LNER take over. If you don’t then you have a good reason to claim.

    When a new operator takes over your tickets will continue to be valid and timetables will stay the same. You’ll have the same staff on-board and at stations. There’s no risk in booking your tickets now.

    • Perkypat says:

      Wanting to book with them in October, but the cheapest tickets theyve released NCL to LKX are £46. Looks like theyre trying to gouge as much as they can before they leave. If the prices dont come down Ill forgo the rewards and give the money to the new operators

      • I don’t blame you! It’s only worth collecting the Flying Club miles if the fare is one you’re willing to pay. Can’t guarantee fares will go down with LNER but it does seem VTEC release very few of their cheapest fares these days.

      • Jonathan says:

        Do they release Advance tickets that far ahead? With Virgin West Coast it’s 12 weeks so beyond that only options are standard peak/off-peak prices.

  4. Lumma says:

    OT my Ryanair flight to London from Berlin got cancelled last night, they couldn’t offer me suitable alternatives and I couldn’t find anything on the airlines they partner with in these situations.

    I did manage to book an avios flight on BA to city airport, does anyone know if I’ve got any chance of claiming back the cost of this from Ryanair? The cancellation email claimed it was due to bad weather l, so I’m already expecting them to try and not pay any compensation

    • @alastairtravel says:

      I’d try for compensation anyway, but you may struggle to get back more the cost of your flight with Ryanair (assuming this is greater than the tax on your Avios booking)

    • the real harry1 says:

      There WAS bad weather so you’ll be unlikely to get anything more than a refund, definitely no cancellation compensation is payable. Unless…see below:

      So – they couldn’t find you any suitable alternatives and I guess you accepted the refund. Case closed.

      What you COULD have done is not accept the refund and demand to be re-routed (which is one of your EU261 rights). If they couldn’t find you anything suitable, you could have found something yourself (sounds like you did this), and taken the following steps: 1. put it to Ryanair that they must under EU261 re-ticket you on your convenient alternative flight even if it’s on a competitor carrier; 2. if they refused to do this, inform them that you would be booking yourself under EU261 and claiming back the cost from Ryanair, if necessary taking your claim to MCOL. You’d win, simple cancellation—> re-routing case. Document the steps you took when you contacted Ryanair.

      But once you willingly accept a refund, it’s case closed, Ryanair have fulfilled their EU261 obligations. Just don’t accept the refund as I described in the steps above, and you’d have been entitled to a refund of your new ticket cost (and duty of care until you departed, ie food, drink (not alcohol), hotel and communications all refunded with receipts).

      • Lumma says:

        I haven’t accepted any refund yet (the flight was only €14) as I read that accepting that would release them from any obligations. So it’s worth trying to see if I can claim anything back. Although to be fair, I had a friend’s house to stay at last night and a day flight TXL-LCY is better than SXF-STN arriving around midnight. I’ve just lost 4500 avios really as it would’ve cost me around the £17.50 to get home from Stansted

        • the real harry1 says:

          You could have used the cancelled Ryanair flight to claim back a paid re-route ticket & duty of care costs, if you got things in the right order (no blame intended).

          They are much less likely to agree to refunding self re-routing unless you go thru due process (ie ask Ryanair first to re-ticket you etc as above).

        • Lumma says:

          They told me to book my own flights but BA weren’t one of the options. Tried booking easyJet to either lgw or lut but both flights showed up as full when trying to pay for them. Ended up being only 1 later flight today which would’ve gotten me to London too late.

          Only other option other than BA would’ve been eurowings with a stopover somewhere in Germany but their flights were significantly more than the cash price on BA.

          I’m gonna try and make a claim and see what happens. If they pay for my dinner and Berlin public transport that would be fine by me

        • the real harry1 says:

          That’s just Ryanair BS trying to get you to use their preferred partners = Ryanair has a cheaper deal with them.

          Reality is, you can choose any reasonable & appropriate new re-route & charge it to Ryanair.

          Sure – I’d look at possibilities on their list of preferred partners first, but if nothing showing, just choose whatever I wanted.

    • I did the same on the sunday flights that were cancelled from SXF-STN. No alternative flights were offered and they said they only refund easyjet flights, NOT BA. I took my chances as others have outlined above and am awaiting the response. Their “quickest” alternative travel was a BUS, or standby the next day. I think
      In the end I booked the waldorf to trigger the amex hilton offer and have sent the claim into Ryan air for the £500 BA flights expecting to be kicked back to sort with insurance.

      Since when has “refreshments” not included alcohol?!? Nothing more refreshing.

      • the real harry1 says:

        Ryanair were told quite clearly by the CAA in September 2017 that they must re-route passengers on any competitor airline if that is more convenient for the passenger. Threat of sanctions if Ryanair didn’t immediately comply.

        Ryanair immediately complied.

        But you do need to put a bit of work in & go thru the Ryanair process. Just have to give them the details of your preferred re-routed ticket – when Ryanair say not possible on our preferred re-routing partners, you just say oh yes it is, whether you (Ryanair) prefer this airline or not, you’re paying for my new ticket, Mr O’Leary.

        It’s at that point that they accept re-ticketing you on your suggested new route – or deny it, in which case you’d document the exchange, take it to MCOL, win.

        • Harry yes that’s true, they did rule that. But it WASN’T the case that you could claim for ‘anything’, only if Ryanair couldn’t reroute you the next day or two. This is important and it is not the case that passengers can claim for absolutely anything, they do have to allow Ryanair a chance to sort it out first, which CAN include the next day.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Sure, as I said, reasonable & appropriate. But if Ryanair are allowing you to re-route yourself same day/ next day as long as you choose from their list of preferred partners (and they are allowing precisely that, giving cancelled people a list of preferred airlines and telling them to book themselves another flight & claim it back), then if there’s nothing available from those partners (or if it’s inconvenient, eg wrong airport far from original destination or timing is bad for you), you have a perfect right under EC261 to get re-routed (which here means re-route yourself as Ryanair often won’t do it for you) same day/ next day on (say) BA. As per CAA interpretation of EC261, which Ryanair was forced to accept.

    • It really depends what you consider ‘reasonable’ and whether a court would agree. If they offered a flight the same or next day but you insisted on one within a small number of hours, then almost certainly not. If they couldn’t offer a flight for (say) 2 or 3 days then you’d probably be ok. If the original issue was weather then its unreasonable to expect them to pay over the odds as it was genuinely outwith their control.

  5. Hey all, OT, I just wanted to check – if I book a Raffles or Fairmont hotel now for a date after the July merge date, the stay will earn rewards points on Accor won’t it?
    Thanks!

  6. OT re Curve: How do I know if a transaction is for “financial services”? Would I be blocked instantly or would it go through first (it did in my case) and then I get told off later? How do I know if my credit card sees it as cash advance?

    Thanks!

    • the real harry1 says:

      it’s suck it & see/ learn by example/ ask here if anybody has done the transaction you wish to perform

    • Mark2 says:

      Mine have come through as ‘Business Services’

      • Yea same – it’s buying Premium Bonds from NS&I in my case. Went through just fine as “Business Services”, does that mean I’m safe now or is there another potential hurdle on the credit card side of things?

    • It just fails to go through.

    • the_real_a says:

      Its best to do a test transaction of £1 on something, and let it settle on your credit card account and see if a fee is applied. Having said that, curve purchases are charged to a generic “dump” merchant code for Business Services which includes a huge number of legit non-financial merchants. So it would be impractical for credit card providers to block on this alone. Of course nothing to stop them coding curve on a black list, but financial institutes loathe to make one off exceptions.

  7. Wivus says:

    OT. Can anyone please tell me how can you check the reward seat availability on BA if you want to book more than one 2-4-1 rewards on the same flight?

    • Darren says:

      I assume you want 4 seats, just alter the search number of pax to 4, it doesn’t matter if it’s a 241, if there are 4 seats then you can book them with 2 x 241’s.

      • Wivus says:

        Thanks Darren.

        • Darren says:

          One thing I should add, if you’re only searching don’t select the use voucher option on BA.com, it’s irrelevant at that stage. Only select that option when making a booking as it has no relevance to the number of seats available.

  8. More OT VTEC stuff. They launched a sale yesterday but it’s by invitation only so it just means word of mouth ends up annoying people who aren’t eligible. The fares are decent though so it’s worth checking to see if you got an email.

    Acting all innocent I called web support 03457 225 111 (option 3) and asked about the sale. They took my email address and said they’d pass it to marketing to see if I can be enrolled. There’s only a small chance but the way I see it is it’s worth a shot.

    • Perkypat says:

      Just checked their website again, tickets are now down to £28.50 for our dates in October. Havent been notified of a ‘sale’, but Ill probably buy at that price.

  9. OT: I signed up to the new Amex Gold. Tried ordering a supplementary many times once the card had arrived and it kept giving an error. Chatted with them and they said it might not be eligible for a supplementary! Also said some cards don’t allow a supplementary unless the card is 1 month old. That’s so strange. Anyone else in the same boat? Also, any success with getting the MR3,000 if you request one via the phone?

    • Alex W says:

      I have had issues too. When I try to add a supp the application defaults to the SPG Card instead of the Gold credit card. I’m waiting to cancel the SPG card next week before trying again.

      • Leigh says:

        I had this issue before and phoned CS. I was told to remove the Gold (charge) card from my online account (this was done by the CS agent), then register it to a new account. I was then able to add a supplementary card.

    • +1 re success stories with Gold CC supp card apps?

      • Robman says:

        My wife recently got a BA Amex premium card, but did not request me as a Supplementary card holder on the application. She is in the process of meeting the required spend to trigger her Avios reward.

        Will she be likely to receive an email offer to sign up a Supplementary Member to the card. Has anyone any experience of getting bonus Avios points on this card for adding a Supplementary card holder.

  10. RIccatti says:

    On Topic: GBP dropped somewhat since April, making things less attractive (again).

  11. Graeme says:

    VERY OT – apologies. I need some help from you knowledgeable lot as I’m not sure where to go from here. hotels.com are being incredibly unhelpful. I booked an apartment in Tbilisi for two nights at the start of May.

    – Arrived at apartment at 8pm, as arranged, to find it was double-booked
    – Called hotels.com multiple times, cut off repeatedly, all staff promised to call back but never did – spent over two hours on the street with our luggage, calling and on hold
    – A car exploded nearby and there was a (verifiable) mini-riot – we were genuinely worried
    – Sometime after 9pm, we found the nearest hotel on hotels.com, suggested it to CS who went off to book it (and promised we’d have rooms as there was availability)
    – Got cut off, they didn’t call back – and the hotel wasn’t booked
    – Called back, but gave up at 22:30 after being cut off, so we booked the last two rooms at the hotel ourselves (through hotels.com)
    – Never heard back from them despite numerous promises and phone number checks
    – Hotel cost £642, calls cost £112 – I’d like this back. If they’d done their job, it wouldn’t have taken more than a few minutes and they’d have sorted us a room

    They now won’t help me at all. They’ve refunded my original booking (£82) and given me a £20 voucher. Their best suggestion for what I should have done is – without irony – to contact CS. They promised to get back to me after a week while trying to recover the cost from the apartment owner, but haven’t – it’s now 12 days. I’ve chased and basically been told to get lost. Don’t they have a duty of care to me that they’ve failed in completely? What does their “Guaranteed booking” tagline mean?

    Any suggestions? Sorry about the length…..

    • Alex W says:

      Would your travel insurance cover it? The insurance company might have more luck pursuing hotels.con (pun intended) for the losses.

      • Graeme says:

        I think/hope so, but I want hotels.com to do the right thing before I resort to that.

        • Last year I had an issue with hotels.com where we were charged a hotel tax which wasn’t advertised. Initially they tried to wriggle out of refunding it by saying that they couldn’t be expected to know about every single tax a country levies, but this was a long standing tax requirement so I pointed out they were in breach of EU law and insisted on submitting a formal complaint. This then eventually got investigated by someone higher up and they offered to refund the tax in the form of a credit. It was only $40 so I accepted this and used it towards another booking. I also reported hotels.com to the ASA who were quite helpful and kept my case open until the “refund” was sorted. If I were you I would keep on at them until you get your money back.

        • Sam G says:

          Observation from my experiences as a customer and as a hotelier – booking.com are a lot better in these situations. A shame hotels.com offers a more lucrative reward program but worth bearing in mind if booking anything “iffy”

    • Doug M says:

      Complete counter to my only problem experience with hotels.com, albeit that was Florida and not very stressful at all. But they were excellent and offered to find an alternative that met the hotel specification they published, or if I wanted to stay where I was they’d credit the stay in full. I just stayed where I was, my memory if £350-£400 involved. The credit took maybe 5 days.

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