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Bits: what can we learn from Vueling’s new French Avios credit card?, 35% off SPG points, Tesco Premium IS dead

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News in brief:

Vueling launches an Avios credit card in France – but is it any good?

In an interesting move, Vueling – IAG’s low cost short-haul carrier – has launched an Avios Visa credit card in France.  This is, I think, only the second airline credit card on the French market.

The benefits package is worth a look, because it gives an idea of what Avios considers to be ‘affordable’ in the new world of 0.3% interchange fees.  This is what you get:

€24 annual fee

4000 Avios sign-up bonus, plus a further 2000 Avios for spending €2000 within three months

1.6 Avios per €1 spent with IAG airlines (BA, Iberia, Vueling etc)

0.8 Avios per €1 spent elsewhere – including cash withdrawals!

Other benefits: use of premium check-in desks when flying with Vueling, 25% extra Avios on hotel bookings, 20 flight credits towards Vueling Premium status (requires 40 flight credits)

All in all this is a surprisingly impressive package.  You are getting the equivalent of 1 Avios per £1 spent, and on a Visa card.  This is even more aggressive than the recent UK launch of the Virgin Atlantic Reward credit cards, and we felt those were rich in the new environment.

Interestingly, it is a different balance of fee and reward to the Vueling card launched in Italy earlier in the year – see here.  This card has a higher annual fee of €49 but also a higher earning rate of 1 Avios per €1.  For anyone who spends less than €1000 per month on the card, the French version is better value (and vice versa).

There is no guarantee that Avios would look to replace its current UK cards with something similar, but it is clear that someone believes you can still make money with an earning rate this good.

You can learn more on the Vueling website here.

Vueling credit card in France

Save 35% on Starwood Preferred Guest points – and potentially convert to airline miles

I thought that the recent deal for buying SPG points would be the last we would see before Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest were merged – but it is back.

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 (£518).

30,000 SPG would convert into 90,000 Marriott points.  This is an excellent 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).

You need to buy via this page before 20th July.

PS.  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.

Tesco Premium credit card closed

The Tesco Premium Credit Card is finally dead!

Last week we wrote that the Tesco Premium Credit Card was about to be removed from the market.  It didn’t happen, and on Monday we gave an apology because it was still showing as available.

However, yesterday, it did finally get removed from the Tesco Bank website.  It looks like our source was right all along!

(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.)

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  1. Nigel says:

    Are Marriott rewards and Ritz Carlton rewards the same thing? I have a gold RC card which was issued in lieu of a gold Marriott card. Can i transfer spg points purchased via the 35% discount to my RC account 3 for one, and then book any spg, marriott or RC hotel at a max of 60000 points per night??

    • In August, yes. And R-C Rewards won’t exist post August anyway, in anything except name. All points across all 3 schemes are pooled with one new account number.

  2. On the Vueling card, I note the Cartes Bancaires ‘CB’ logo.

    IIRC domestic payment networks are out of scope for the interchange fee cap. While I know CB has some kind of connection to the Visa network, and I’ve not been following the interchange cap in France in any detail, I do wonder if that plays a role in making the economics of the card work – if certain fees are not capped as low for a percentage of the transactions they expect. It might also explain the position on cash withdrawals.

    But as I said, I’ve not been following French market too closely.

    • The French CB card system used by all the banks there is a bit different, so I don’t know if it is caught in the interchange fee cap. Their equivalent of our debit card is actually a deferred debit card whereby when you spend on it, the sum is immediately blocked on your bank account, but they don’t actually take the money until the end of the month, so a bit more like a charge card as there is no credit involved and it is always paid in full because the money is secured at the time of purchase.

      • Lumma says:

        That’s weird. Is there any point in them doing it like that? If your current account accrues interest would you get interest on the amount you’ve spent on your card?

        • I was never able to find a current account that offered interest in France, in fact there was a monthly fee of €14 just for having the account; no additional benefits and that is very standard there. There are now more online banks but with the inertia factor, the domestic business of the main French banks is very profitable. Cheques and cash are still used far more than in the UK.

        • Concerto says:

          I manage to get 6% interest out of La Poste, but I opened the two accounts (Livret A and PEL) 20 years ago during a special offer.

        • Current accounts do not accrue interests in France… old habit in the French market.

          Livret A and PEL are not current accounts.

          Interests on Livret A and PEL are not paid on a daily basis.
          On the Livret A, interests are paid at the end of the year.

          You need to mouve your funds between those and your current account.

          You cannot have a credit card linked to a Livret A or a PEL.

          And the interest on the Livret A is most of the time inferior of the inflation rate.

          The interest on the PEL is better but you cannot cash it before something like 4 or 5 years or more : it is meant to help you to get a reduced interest loan for buying a house.

          Then if you manage all those caveats, it may work fine.

      • I do not know if interchange fee is different for the CB cartes bancaires network.

        I believe the CB cartes bancaires was created in the 80s to reduce the cost for the shops to accept the CB cartes bancaires cards.
        So the interchange fee, and maybe all other costs related to the cards, were already lower than in any equivalent country.

        I am not really sure the new european directive changes substantially something in France.

        Economic newspapers are not writing about that and interchange fees.

        All the buzz is in the uk ;-).

      • RussellH says:

        When I had a French CB Visa, it worked in exactly the same way as my UK debit cards in terms of when debits were charged to my account. I closed the a/c in 2012, though, so things may have changed. Bank was CCF, taken over by HSBC.

    • All mastercard and visa cards (issued in France) are inside the CB Cartes Bancaires network in France.

      CB here must not be confused with Carte Bleue which is the Visa “name/brand ” in France.

  3. Lev441 says:

    Looks more encouraging than the supposed changes with Lloyd’s Avios card…. maybe they’ll be a rethink…

  4. OT

    I’m after the SPG card but was declined back in Feb . Couldn’t see any reason aside from a secondary Lloyds amex triggered a credit check. I’ve since cancelled one card leaving me with one amex issued card.

    Anyone advise on how long to wait to reapply ? 4 months too soon?


    • Lev441 says:

      You shouldn’t have been checked if you were an additional cardholder?

      • Never been checked with amex issued secondary cards but the Lloyds secondary left a mark . I wasn’t expecting it but shouldn’t have been a surprise given their disjointed IT systems.

    • Lumma says:

      Use the eligibility checker on the amex website as a guide. I cancelled the old gold charge card, waited 6 months to reapply and got turned down. I had opened a couple of other credit accounts in that time so I think that may have been why. Waited about 5 months and used the checker. It only gave me a 5/10 chance of being accepted for the new gold credit but I applied anyway and got accepted.

      Strangely, it gives you a rating for all of the cards that they offer and it doesn’t seem to have any logic to it. I had a 9/10 chance of getting Platinum, green or BA premium, 5/10 for gold and BA free and only 3/10 for nectar

  5. Marcw says:

    It’s not that surprising though: I believe this are more marketing tools other than generating a profit.
    Also, look at Spain. There are the Iberia cards, but also the Air Europa Visa card, totally free, 0.5 Miles per EUR. And you get free tier on top (Silver, which matches SkyTeam Elite), basically getting free luggage and seat selection when flying Air Europa (even on basic fares). Whatever, don’t believe these cards are there to make money, but rather as marketing tools.
    The problem with the Uk there’s really no competition in the FF schemes. Avios or Avios (Virgins one is more a niche FFP).

    • Lumma says:

      I actually think it makes sense for airlines to offer some kind of benefits to credit card holders. Take the free BA AMEX, you could fly exclusively on BA’s rivals and the only time you use BA is when you cash in your avios for almost free flights.

      Giving card holders some psuedo status benefits such as limited numbers of free seat selection, checked bags or even lounge access could push customers into favouring BA or even warrant charging a moderate annual fee on a card

  6. mark2 says:

    Has anyone had their statement for the new Virgin card and received points for purchases through Curve please?

  7. Andrew S says:

    Bits OT but relating to credit cards: My latest Amex SPG statement has a paragraph at the end stating the change in earning rate effective 1 August as being 3 points per whole GBP spent on purchases and 3 per every 2 whole pounds at warehouse retailers in the UK

    • New Card says:

      What is a warehouse retailer?

      • the_real_a says:

        Oddly there is a MCC code in the AMEX handbook for “Home Supply Warehouse – 5200″… If i were you i would call AMEX to have this defined further however.

      • the likes of Costco I presume

    • Stu N says:

      SPG-Marriott is currently 3:1 so makes sense when aligning to the new program. Not sure what a “warehouse retailer” is – do they definite that in T&Cs?

    • Sandgrounder says:

      With the Marriott merger the 3 points is to be expected, but why the half points at (presumably) Costco I wonder?

      • New Card says:

        Weird rule – presumably something to do with the Amex Costco card?

    • Mark2 says:

      So is that 3 Marriott points or 3 SPG i.e. 9 Marriott points?

      • Andrew S says:

        They’ve changed the definition from starpoints to points, so it will be the equivalent of 3 new scheme points for every £1 instead of 1 starpoint for every £1

    • I’m sure that this link will get eaten by a spam filter, but here’s a screengrab of the relevant section from my statement:

  8. Simon says:

    OT – Cancelled my Amex Plat card and there was a tiny residual amount of MR points left in there. It said they would be forfeited in 30 days…..Will this affect the 6 month wait before i can re-apply ??

    • Mark2 says:

      You can transfer small amounts to Nectar FWIW, but anecdotally it does not seem to matter.
      You should have received a letter with the cancellation date on it.

    • Peter K says:

      No, it does not affect the 6 month rule. Likewise a credit balance does not as well (eg if the card fee is refunded pro-rata).

  9. OT what is the cheapest digital download for IHG pts for the Accelerate target. I tried the one that was zero pts a few weeks ago and that didn’t work – what is the next cheapest option?

  10. rams1981 says:

    OT Hilton Be My Guest Certificates. Mine were due to expire in July and I couldn’t use them but their customer relations team have agreed to extend by a year – superb service from Hilton.

  11. Awesome ! Finally an Avios earning card other than AMEX ???? Now I can finally start earning points at places that still don’t accept American Express. And thanks to combine my Avios that means a whole lot more BA Avios in my piggy bank ????

    France is one of the worst when it comes to Rewards card offerings. Until Vueling came along you only had two choices : regular AMEX or Air France Flying Blue AMEX

    • @hamiltus

      Please let us know how goes your acceptation process for the card, the limit and how you can use it easily every day.

      That will be interesting to learn from your experience.

      • I will report back once I’ve got it ! So far not so good with the application form crashing every time I send in my details. But finally found a phone number that’ll hopefully get my issues resolved.

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