Bits: LAST CALL for Avios / Groupon 1p deal, new Gatwick North lounge open, 100% IHG ‘buy points’ bonus

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News in brief:

LAST CALL for Avios / Groupon Ireland deal 

If you were thinking of picking up some cheap Avios (around 1p) via the new Groupon Ireland offer, the website is now saying that the deal ends tomorrow, 14th June.  It isn’t clear when on the 14th.

There are five packages still available and you can buy up to 82,000 points at an average of 1.0p.  These individual packages (you can buy one of each) are priced at:

4,000 Avios = €59 (£51.91) – 15% with HELLO15 = 1.10p  

8,000 Avios = €99 (£87.10) – 15% with HELLO15 = 0.93p

15,000 Avios = €189 (£166.28) – €20 with HELLO15 = 0.99p 

20,000 Avios = €249 (£219.12) – €20 with HELLO15 = 1.00p 

35,000 Avios = €439 (£386.32) – €20 with HELLO15 = 1.05p 

HELLO15 is a discount code which is valid if you are using a new Groupon account.

My original article on the deal is here.  The relevant Groupon Ireland page is here.

Club Aspire lounge now open in Gatwick North

The Aspire Lounge in Gatwick’s North (easyJet) terminal has now reopened following a refurbishment.  It is now a Club Aspire lounge.

For those who care about the business side of things, ownership is now split between Swissport (which owns the Aspire brand) and Collinson Latitude, which owns Priority Pass and is moving into direct lounge ownership.

The good news is that free prosecco is being served for the first two months!

We will be reviewing the lounge in a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

Access is via Priority Pass (free with Amex Platinum or buy one here), Lounge Club (two free passes with the free Amex Gold) or Mastercard World Elite’s LoungeKey.  You can also pre-book entry via the Aspire website here for £24.99.  Walk-up entry is £28.

100% IHG Rewards Club ‘buy points’ bonus – three days only

IHG Rewards Club – the InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza etc scheme – has brought back its ‘100% buy points bonus’ promotion.  It is as generous an offer as you will ever see for IHG points.

The page to buy points is here.  The deal runs until midnight New York-time on the 15th June.

Remember that IHG has also reduced the standard cost of its points recently – it used to be $12.50 per 1000 between 11,000 – 25,000 points (now $11.50) and $11.50 per 1000 between 26,000 and 100,000 (now $10).  Here are the standard purchase rates which do NOT include the bonus.

  • 1,000 – 10,000 points for $13.50 per 1,000 points
  • 11,000 – 25,000 points for $11.50 per 1,000 points
  • 26,000 – 100,000 points for $10 per 1,000 points

You receive a 100% bonus with any order of 5,000 points or more.  With a 100% bonus, you would be able to buy 200,000 IHG points for (at current exchange rates) £748.  This assumes your credit card has 0% FX fees.

Here are a few examples of how this deal may work.

At the top end of the IHG Rewards Club portfolio, you have InterContinental properties which top out at 60,000 – 70,000 points per night. That’s what you would pay for InterContinental Le Grand in Paris or the InterContinental Amstel in Amsterdam.

With a 100% bonus, IHG is effectively selling you a night at a 60,000 point property for £224 all-in.  A 70,000 point hotel would be £262.  At the bottom end, the points for a 5,000 point PointBreaks night – not that there are many of those – would cost just £18.

The reduction in the price of points has offset the devaluation of some top IHG properties into the 60,000 and 70,000 points categories.  The fall in the value of the £ does make this deal worse than it would have been two years ago – although if you are redeeming for hotels in the USA or a ‘pegged’ country like the UAE it nets off.

The maximum number of points you can buy per year is 200,000 (ie 100,000 plus the 100,000 bonus).

You can buy via this link.

(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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  1. The old Aspire was great, a little haven of tranquillity, walking past the check-in and around to the left to the quiet zone. Food in the mornings recently went from bacon rolls to hot buffet breakfast and the few staff there was got on with the job at hand.We were there on Saturday morning and felt it had lost its charm to the extent we moved to the No1 lounge. The food was unimpressive though the sausages were enjoyable, and I’ve never seen so many staff though what the majority of them did I couldn’t say. It’s personal choice I know. Some might live the change.

  2. Does anybody know if I book two rooms on le Accor hotels for Novotel if I get the points and status for both rooms or just the one I sleep in?

  3. oonagh cacioppo says:

    Can I take a guest flying with me into Aspire North Gatwick ? (Amex Plat therefore PP holder)

  4. Frankie says:

    Is anyone having any issues with the BA website in making avios bookings? I’ve been having issues for days. I keep trying to book a reward flight and I keep getting messages saying there is a technical issue on the site and to try later. Or if it’s not that error, I keep getting asked if I want a stopover (no matter where I am trying to fly to. Even GLA to LON is asking if I want a stopover!) and when I select NO it then just throws an error and asks me again if I want a stopover and this just repeats again and again until I give up. I’ve tried 3 different browers and the BA app on my phone is throwing the same errors.

    • +1

      • the real harry1 says:

        It was OK for me yesterday, though yes: the stopovers pop up was making an appearance. There are a couple of different pathways into making reward bookings on the BA site, so if one is throwing a wobbly, try going in another way, the page where you can choose left or right search box, try rhs/ clear cookies might help.

        • Frankie says:

          Harry where is ‘the page where you can choose left or right search box’? and what do you mean by rhs? I’m stuck in the stopover loop again this morning having cleared cookies

        • the real harry1 says:

          log in
          Home Executive Club
          Avios – our Club currency
          Spending Avios
          Reward availability tools

          You get to a page with:
          lhs Reward Flight Finder (search box #1),
          rhs Search and Book – check all availability and prices, including partners, for specific dates (search box #2)

          I’m suggesting you can different results whether you opt for lhs or rhs

    • Nick_C says:

      I’m having the same problem on the BA Web Site and the app.

      Although the Avios app works fine!

    • You need to clear that particular page from your history. Are you using a Mac?

    • Pareet Shah says:

      Yes. Had this for 2-3 weeks. Sometimes it eventually goes through to the page where it shows availability. I tweeted BA but all I got in response was to call them!

  5. OT – as far as I understand, the Amex Platinum does not cover van rentals (no commercial vehicles per their T&C). Could someone recommend a good insurance for a van hire in the UK?

    • Lev441 says:

      If you’re talking about the excess insurance for a van, we used to use – had to make a couple of claims and never had any issues.

      • Do you declare these claims when purchasing insurance for you own car? I read that any claims on car/van hire insurance is logged on the same data base as what normal vehicle insurance claims are but not sure if this is true.

        • George says:

          The law is that if you have an accident (RTC) you have to report it when you apply for insurance – it is part of the same data that insurers share and they will use it to invalidate or refuse your policy if they can. Once that has happened life gets tough.

          However, excess insurance is most often used for non-RTC damage (I can’t think of a better way to put it but there is one) like a scratch or stone chip damage. This you wouldn’t traditionally report. I don’t know the exact distinction but claiming on excess insurance when you caught your door on a wall is not something that would require reporting when you are purchasing insurance IMO

  6. Bits O/T:. Sorted my peak season Florida Car Hire…

    Top Tips, if you use an intermediary like Holiday Autos but don’t book immediately you may get a sponsored advertising on webpages you visit for 15% off. But beware using Europcar in Florida, looks like they subcontract to a local company called Advantage that are based off airport via shuttle bus and get terrible reviews.

    In the end for only a few $$$ more I went with Alamo via Virgin Atlantic website, prepaided to get a voucher. For a small SUV (eg RAV4, etc), fully insured, works out at less than £30 /day.

    Also earn 2x VS miles. They also do extremely good one-way deals, that I’ve travel hacked in the past. Email me for details if interested 😀

    Thanks again to all those that responded to my original question

    Rob if you reading is it worth filing stuff like this away for future reference?

    • Nice work, have dropped you an email re one way deals!

      • thehornets says:

        Harry.. am definitely interested in your one way hacks. Am looking to book SFO to LAX and LAX to LAS as one way trips soon…

    • David says:

      I used Advantage through Europcar last year in Las Vegas. Seemed fine, although every car hire operator was in the off-airport car hire centre, accessed by shuttle bus. Booking via Europcar means you get CDW and SLI by default (like in Europe), rather than the standard US scheme of having them separately.

      • Though in Europe there tends to be a horrendous excess attached to any car hire insurance policy (1400 euros for our recent hire car in Nice, fortunately we have an excess cover policy).

    • the_real_a says:

      I had a weeks car hire for £130 via europacar/advantage last year for a road trip. The service is appalling – the staff REALLY do not care, its so bad that its quite funny if you can connect with them a little. The great was new and in good condition. Watch out for the toll transmitter if fitted, mine was “working” even in the off position which despite declining the use, charged $30 a day for the full length of the rental. I needed to do a charge-back via AMEX.

      • the_real_a says:

        great = car!

      • pauldb says:

        I don’t think there’s much point trying to create a reference for this type of thing as price is the most important thing and fluctuates so much. I can see Advantage as the cheapest for a 2 week SUV at MCO in August – £316, and that’s what I’d take, regardless of the reviews (I believe they are on-airport, not shuttle). I just ensure I know how not to get ripped off.
        We hired from Hertz there at Easter, £364 for 2 weeks full size SUV. We got a rather tired Toyota Highlander (as a Presidents Circle member) and the staff were equally disinterested. The only emotion shown was incredulity that I wouldn’t take a “special discounted upgrade” that cost more than the rental to a newer Chevy Tahoe.
        Incidentally if you have Hertz status (through Amex Plat) and book a mid-size at the main US stations, they will typically offer a good choice of cars, called Ultimate Choice, which should dependably include 5 seater SUVs as well as premium cars – it just didn’t work out for me as we needed 7 seats.

        • Paul,

          Europcar claim Advantage have a desk at MCO but I have been informed cars are based off site via shuttle. It’s also not uncommon to have to wait upto 3 hours to get the car type you’d booked, particulary at peak US hols, eg Thanksgiving/Xmas. A shuttle and a long wait is not my idea of starting a holiday after a long flight.

          Good luck with using them, sounds like you’ll need it.. 1.5/5*

          “I wish I could give them 0*”

          Virgin/Alamo also allows online check-in and “skip the counter”, means you walk to the parking lot get in the car type of your choice and drive off. According to the very helpful staff at TripWheels Alamo are currently the best for customer service. They also advised steering clear of Europcar/Advantage.

  7. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – I’ll be flying MSY-LHR in February. Looks like doesn’t have any OneWorld or PP lounges. Is that correct?

    • Roberto says:

      Correct.. you may get a voucher for some fast food or booze. I flew AA outta NOLA and got neither

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Thanks, have just seen that’s what others have reported in both TA and FT.

  8. Does the priority pass card arrive automatically with the platinum card or do you have to apply? Thinking of upgrading to plat before next holiday and want to make sure I time it to arrive before we go so that we can use the lounge!

  9. Neil Donoghue says:

    O/T – I was rejected for the Virgin Atlantic Rewards + card. After taking Rob’s advice and writing an appeal letter, I can confirm that the card arrived this morning (28 days after the letter was sent). The card arrived with a £12k credit limit despite being rejected online! Thanks Rob….very happy with the 1.5 earning rate after all the recent cut backs!

    • Mark2 says:

      Thanks Neil.
      I was about to ask how long this took.

    • Catalan says:

      Neil, were there any specific points you brought to their attention in your appeal?
      Just wondering in case I have to go through the same process.

      • Neil Donoghue says:

        Catalan – I informed them that I have held the Virgin White & Black cards for the past 2 years. I also told them my current salary and that I have a near perfect credit score. I didn’t receive any word back until the card turned up in my letter box! It’s a very strange process and appealing was a pain in the ass but I’m glad it was all worth it. Just to confirm, I sent the appeal letter by signed for mail. The credit card arrived 28 days after Virgin had signed for my appeal letter.

    • Mark2 says:

      If anyone has been refused again, how long did that take?

  10. The IHG points look interesting as we’ve got a stay coming up where even bog standard hotels are going for £200 a night.

    I’ve had a IHG account for a while but never stayed or accumulated points – would I have any issue buying and redeeming?

    • It would be so nice if there was a legit grey market to trade points. We’ve got a boat-load of IHG points and no sensible way to spend the damn things… 🙁

      • Andrew M says:

        If there was, I think redemption prices would go up for the rest of us!

    • No, no odd rules with IHG on active accounts.

  11. OT – Gold and priority pass

    I have recently taken out the Amex gold, having last had it over a year ago.

    Can someone please remind me how I can get lunge access through priority pass? I have not yet received a priority pass card.

    Do I need the physical card to get access? I am travelling tomorrow and it would be great to be able to use one of the two passes then, but I don’t know if/how this is possible without the priority pass card.

    Is it possible I would still be in the priority pass system from when I last had my Amex gold?


    • palcsaky says:

      Gold card comes with the lounge club card, not priority pass. The lounge club card arrives a couple of weeks after the gold card. Without the lounge club card you won’t be able to use your 2 complimentary lounge passes. You could buy lounge passes for £18 through using discount code TELEDP17

    • Lev441 says:

      It’s a lounge club card and not priority pass. You can try and ring them up to get your details and use those at the lounge instead? (I think I they typed it into the handheld device) I’ve done that once when I forgot my card m..

  12. FlyingChris says:

    Re: IHG Points & NYC.

    Got a 5x night trip to NYC next April. Looking at IHG as will have a free night certificate and approx 70k points to cover Night 2. Have my eye on either Kimpton (Ink48/Eventi) or the IC Barclay. Flex rates for the other 3 nights currently averaging £280-£370+taxes. Is this typical of NYC in mid-April? Presumably buying points for an average of ~ £240ish would then make sense for the remaining 3 nights? (despite obviously locking up money in IHG points for months…)

    …also the appeal of locking in a flexible points booking is quite appealing as would no longer be exposed to further USD:GBP fluctuations, a particular concern as travelling a couple of weeks after brexit d-day. Though who knows if the dollar will equally slump further this year.

    • Those sort of rates are about right for midweek stays outside of holiday periods, yes.

      If you are there over a weekend, think about InterCon Ambassador to get the ‘buy one get one free’ free night certificate which could be used at the Barclay.

      Remember that IC Times Square is currently in Court trying to break its management agreement with IHG so I certainly wouldn’t book anything there for 10 months time which involved points, certificates or the potential receipt of any IHG benefits.

      • FlyingChris says:

        Thanks Rob. Really useful. Frustratingly dates don’t involve two subsequent weekend nights otherwise the IC Amp Buy One Get One Free voucher would have been great. Good shout on the IC Times Square. Will avoid points booking there until the dust settles.

        • Genghis says:

          Another idea might just be to switch hotels – could easily be built into your itinerary – if you don’t like the look of the IHG options, and I didn’t, despite having a stack of IHG points. Stayed at the Conrad last month and rate it rather highly. You could run the numbers to see if it works for you.

          Another tip: for some outstanding flavour combinations, diarise to get booked into Momofuku Ko. Expensive but worth it.

        • the real harry1 says:

          I don’t like their attitude 🙂

  13. Scottydogg says:

    If you want to get your car upgraded from your small SUV to a full size (or better) , just slip the guy $20 . Works for me , just google the $20 sandwich trick
    Done it in fort lauderdale the other year and the guy took me out to the lot and let me choose my own car.
    I think the hourly rate these guys get in Florida is pretty low , so $20 is a big deal , and when you have a car for 2 weeks , $20 is nothing really to get it upgraded

  14. OT but does anyone know a quicker way to get the gold credit card spend points. I really want to upgrade to plat and refer OH as I have some spends coming up. Called Amex about 3 times and was told to wait 60 days…

    • The sign-up bonus? It is automatic when you hit the £2k, it posts alongside the transaction that takes you over the £2k. If it doesn’t then there is an IT issue somewhere.

      You cannot upgrade Gold Credit to Platinum Charge and get the upgrade bonus. Only possible if you have the older Gold Charge version.

      • palcsaky says:

        I think Jtz meant the companion gold credit card. My 5k took approx. 2 weeks to post.

      • Genghis says:

        Is Jtz not referring to the old Gold Credit card? Spend £500 IIRC?

        • Ah, in that case, dunno!

        • Thanks for replies…yes, sorry if I was not clear; gold companion. Something seems a bit odd then that I have been told to wait 60 days.
          Really want to time the gold charge card upgrade to platinum well.

    • AndyR says:

      You can go ahead and upgrade to Platinum you’ll still get the points as it is the same MR account. I have recent experience of this. It took 60 days from hitting the £500 spend for the points to post by the way.

      • Louie says:

        I’ve recently had the same – as with AndyR the points did arrive eventually even though the Gold card had been upgraded to Platinum in the interim.

  15. Charlie says:

    OT on the premium IHG credit card from Creation, I spent just under £10,000 and didn’t get the free reward night, as I wrongly assumed the £99 card fee was included. I did eventually get Creation to issue the free reward night, but it took a few hours of telephone calls to both IHG/Creation to persuade them. Don’t make the same mistake as me and make sure the spend target is on purchases! Now really looking forward to using the free night.

    • Mark2 says:

      So did you carefully spend £9,901?

      • Charlie says:

        It was not much higher than that!

        • Genghis says:

          Is the £99 fee included on the £10k counter on the Creation website?

      • Charlie says:

        I’m adamant that in my case it was included, but I didn’t take a screenshot, I do remember seeing it.

        When I put this to Creation they said it does not get included, and when I sum up my spend in my current year then they are right, the £99 fee is not being included.

        To their credit they made good my situation but I guess we’ll never know if they changed their systems recently.

    • That’s so weird. I’ve *just* finished reading an article on another points website about this exact issue, although he was not as lucky!

    • Genghis says:

      Always important to read the terms on any offer. It does clearly say “purchases”.
      Like the Amex £450 fee for Plat doesn’t count towards any spend targets as it’s not a purchase.

  16. Dougie Forde says:

    OT About a week and a half ago I added by telephone the second leg of a 2 for 1 flight with BA. The flight is appearing on my account but no Avios have so far been deducted and no payment for taxes and charges has appeared on the credit card. Is this normal? How long should I wait. Concerned that the flight may disappear!

    • Dougie Forde says:

      Also noticed there is no ticket number allocated for the return flight but there is one for the outgoing flight

    • Genghis says:

      The flight won’t disappear. It needs to be manually processed by the back office team and should be in due course closer to when you fly (most likely not yet ticketed, though I have seen it both ways). If you’re in a rush to cancel the credit card, last time I contacted BA by Twitter and got a call back with payment taken. If not, I would’t worry now but make sure it’s ticketed closer to the time.

    • I got same problem, I called after two weeks then been told the first agent forgot to add £35 change fee to the booking so the tickets couldn’t be issued. Tickets was issued 3 days after I give BA the credit card authorise for extra £70.

      • Louie says:

        Was this adding on return flights that you couldn’t book when you booked the outbound because the return date was beyond T-355? If so, you shouldn’t have been charged a change fee in any case.

  17. james says:

    OT- I’m flying LHR-JFK with BA, then after a few days JFK-CUN with AA , then CUN-LGW-LHR-MAN again all with BA.

    I have AMEX Gold with 2 long passes, any idea which of the airports lounges above would be best to use the 2 lounge passes?

  18. Darren says:

    OT, I referred a friend for SPG from Platinum last week, how long would it take for them to be accepted? They got the normal “we will get back to you” online response but have not had a letter or email yet.


  19. No Ads for me says:

    o/t Is it just me or is anyone else seeing the HFP page fail to load completely (just left with blank page) if an ad blocker is turned on? (safari on mac)

    Turn the ad blocker off and the page loads.

    • the real harry1 says:

      Haven’t you basically solved your little conundrum already? 🙂

      • No Ads for me says:

        No, as I refuse to have ad’s forced on me. If this is an attempt to block those making a free choice to avoid ad’s, it’s a really bad choice.

    • That shouldn’t happen. We have set up a banner at the top which tells you that some articles will not render properly if you have an adblocker (which is true, as you have seen from the many moans on here in recent weeks). You can dismiss the banner and it will not return. It should not stop the page loading and you are welcome to keep reading regardless.

      Not a single other person has reported this happening today and we have done – at 7pm – 14,000 page views today via Safari.

      The % using Safari is also unchanged – 39% today vs 40% yesterday before the banner went up. Our Safari for the last month is 38% so we’re actually above trend today.

  20. No Ads for me says:

    Only seems to be in Safari. Chrome has the little red banner pop up (easily closed) but loads without ad’s

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