Bits: Hilton competition winner, Kimpton De Witt exclusive offer reminder, 35% off SPG points

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News in brief:

Hilton California Road Trip competition winner

Last month we ran an exclusive competition with Hilton to promote their California Road Trip package.

We were giving away two Be My Guest certificates to one lucky winner who could use the certificates at any Hilton property – including those included in the California Road Trip offer.

We can now confirm the winner:

Dave F.

Congratulations and have a fantastic stay!  We hope you stay somewhere reassuringly expensive, before handing over the certificates at check-out and getting the room cost wiped off the bill …..

Exclusive Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam offer for HFP readers

If you are heading to Amsterdam this year, please don’t forget the exclusive bonus points offer that IHG Rewards Club is currently running with us.

Until 31st July Head For Points readers will get 5,000 bonus IHG Rewards Club points when booking a stay at the Kimpton De Witt in Amsterdam for check-in dates between now and 31st December 2018.  Kimpton De Witt is the first European outpost of the very well regarded American chain that IHG acquired a few years ago, famous for its nightly free wine receptions and other quirks.

The 5,000 points are worth £20 based on our current valuation of 0.4p which makes this a lucrative deal especially for one night stays.

Importantly, this does NOT impact any other promotion.  You will also get your points for the current Accelerate promotion on top of the 5,000 bonus points.

Here is the Kimpton De Witt homepage if you want to take a look at the hotel, but remember that you must book on the Head For Points special offer page here.

For clarity, the bonus points do not count towards elite status.

The special booking link you need is here. Our original article about the promotion is here and, more importantly, my recent review is here.

Kimpton De witt Amsterdam special offer

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

We thought that the recent deal for buying SPG points would be the last before Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest were merged – but it is back.  This time it MUST be the last time, as the two schemes merge in August!

This is a reminder that you can currently buy Starwood Preferred Guest points at 35% off – the link is here.  30,000 SPG points will cost you $682.50 (£514).

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.

(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.)

My review of the Renaissance Paris Republique hotel
Important dates for your diary - offers about to close which you shouldn't miss
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  1. OT further to my comments yesterday our Canberra to Doha via Sydney today does have Qsuites. Thanks Rob for highlighting the great Oslo to Canberra fares on Qatar, silver status and a fantastic experience to round off our trip.

  2. OT:
    Anyone having issues finding cathay availability for avios redemptions to HKG?

  3. TGLoyalty says:

    Kind of OT but has anyone stayed at the Hilton Syon Park this year? Still a great hotel? Has the food in the restaurant improved?

  4. Chelseafi says:

    Slightly O/T Marriott TP, I have a cert 1-5 that I want to use in 2019 had been looking at the 2 Hotels in Crete, my plan was to upgrade the cert and then book, I know with the merger from Aug things have changed. Would I be better off upgrading the cert now to a cat 9, or wait until August and see what is needed for the Crete Hotels? Any advice please

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Are they not on the published list? Thought all new categories had been decided

      • Genghis says:

        Question is really what happens to existing unused MTP certificates and how (if applicable) they map across.Re Domes, there’s currently no availability for next year. So if OP upgrades to Cat 9 now, what will that map to when availability comes again? I don’t think we know that yet…

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I understand now. Wishful thinking that it would map to the new cat 9?

          What’s the cost of an upgrade? Worth the risk? For example if the 1-5 maps to new cat 1-3 would upgrading to 9 get you 1-7 and is the points difference between 3 & 7 for 5/7 nights worth upgrading for now

        • xcalx says:

          I am still undecided about the MTP I have it in my head that the 1-5 pack would become 1-4 on that basis I am thinking of booking a cat 6 or 7 and hopefully this would produce a cat 5 or 6 The hotel I have in mind in Koh Samui is dropping from an 8 to a 5.
          Is my logic way off. I know nobody knows but would like some thoughts.


        • Chelseafi says:

          Genghis in your experience/opinion what would you do upgrade cert now or just wait? Or is it just a who knows….

        • Genghis says:

          I don’t know. I’m erring in the side of caution with MTP and not having found a use for one, don’t want to have an unused certificate on time of transition.

  5. the real harry1 says:

    O/T Ready for… rip-off: Claims firms are swooping on delayed passengers at airports – and flying off with a fat fee for a service available FREE

    • Whilst I would agree that, with BA, it isn’t worth it, I WOULD actually pay someone to deal with my claim with a more troublesome airline, especially a non-EU one.

      • Dave Barron says:

        Thanks to those who recently responded to my query re BA flight cancellation for my mother in law who flew from ORD to LHR. Upon arrival in UK I lodged claim online with BA and within 48 hours she had received notification of 600 Euro compensation equating to $698. Very easy to claim with BA so no claim company needed for them as per Robs advice. Thanks again folks ????

  6. the real harry1 says:

    10% off at

    Until July 22

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Considering you no longer get rewards and cash back is reduced are these 10% off codes ever worth it?

      • Brian says:

        No. Which is why they are constantly throwing them around. Surprised Harry took the bait – I thought he was more savvy than that!

        • Yorkieflyer says:

          Maybe, but if like me you would rather book direct with smaller hotels when possible and use chains in cities, I wouldn’t accrue a free night in the foreseeable future. 10% off in the hand now is clearly better value to me. If you book direct you save the owner circa 20% commission and often get a small discount and in my experience a much better chance of a better room at check or at least not overlooking the kitchen and bins

        • the real harry1 says:

          Wd stop you getting the 1/10 free night but would probs double up with the c/b, sometimes double up works fine so that’s be 20%. Not everybody sees 10/10 free night as a good deal.

        • the real harry1 says:

          and hey! I’m perfectly happy with 10% ex VAT – I booked 3 nights in Rome in August in the historic centre for my wife + 2 kids in a charismatic family-owned hotel – location unbeatable – very happy with the price + the 10% c/b makes it on the cheap side I reckon 🙂

          what don’t you guys like about 10% off? by the way

  7. Andrew says:

    Anyone else having trouble accessing the account they set up through AerClub? It says the membership number isn’t in their records (copied directly from email) – had accessed many times before.

    • Delbert says:

      Hi Andrew. You need to log in with your username and not the AerClub Frequent Flyer number. I had forgot mine and went on live chat on and the very helpful lady reminded me of my username.

  8. OT
    I’ve been looking at ways of redeeming my Lufty M&M miles, and I have a choice between flying via Frankfurt or Munich. I know everyone always goes on about the Frankfurt first class terminal, but the Munich first class lounge (the newer one in the satellite terminal) is supposed to be pretty awesome too. Has anyone out there been lucky enough to go to both?
    My question is this – if you had a choice between flights which gave you 2 hours in the Frankfurt first class terminal, or flights that give you 5 hours in the new Munich first class lounge, which would you choose?
    Thanks all!

    • Brian says:

      Surely 5 hours is too long, regardless of how good the lounge is. So I would personally go for Frankfurt.

    • There is a review of MUC on here too albeit a few years old (perhaps the other terminal). 2 hours would do me. Remember in FRA they expect transfer pax to use the main lounges – you may need to walk down to the FCT.

      • I’m honestly quite happy to have a day of decadence, eating schnitzel and drinking champagne served from an ice bucket by the bathtub! I only do this sort of travel once a year, so a good airport lounge at the start of the trip is something I actively enjoy and savour, rather than something to dull the pain of being at the airport again! If only it had a spa though…

        I think the new first lounge at Munich was built in 2016, the review on this website was done in 2014 I think.

    • Lady London says:

      FRA but only for the First Class terminal. Otherwise MUC every time for any departure or connection. Frankfurt also has excellent access to rail for the rest of Germany but otherwise MUC is a much nicer airport and a better lounge that is not First Class exclusive can only be good in a still mass-produced way. Flights from or via MUC always seem to be booked out sooner than routings via FRA too. Just empirically.

  9. OT: re the Lloyds Avios Credit Card. My total spend has been about £4,000. If I continue to spend on it till I reach £7k, will they still honour the upgrade voucher? Have they given a deadline date as I know it’s was sometime in the summer.
    Also, I opened the BA Premium Amex and gave my Executive Club number during sign up but they seem to have created a new account and pin! Is that the norm? Shall I call and get them to delere the new account? Are the avios transferred per month like SPG or can we move them ourselves as with Amex Platinum and PRG? Thanks.

    • David says:

      Avios move automatically.

      Get the second account closed and the avios going to the correct (oriignal) BAEC account.

    • Do you mean will you receive the upgrade voucher or honour one you already have? I got a letter with their new Ts & Cs yesterday (with effect from Sep 21st) and there was no mention of avios or the voucher. I have sent them an online form asking for clarification. I should be able to trigger another voucher before September and woe betide them if they don’t honour that one plus the one I already hold!

      • Thanks all. Yes, I meant that if I continued to spend and go past £7k, will they provide the voucher.

  10. Unable to make HfP summer party tomorrow, have 2 tickets available should anyone be interested.

    • the real harry1 says:

      ***2 tickets going / available for HFP Party!*** 🙂

    • Jeremy I says:

      Hi will … I’d love to buy both off you if that’s okay and they are still available ? I wonder whether rob will help us connect ? Thanks Jeremy

  11. Genghis says:

    I may be wrong but isn’t all cash back paid at end of year? Useful for your 18k MRs from Plat though

    • Mark2 says:

      Yes, it is only paid at the year end as I found to my cost when I cancelled it because I had too many cards.
      So really only useful for 18,000 as Genghis says, but that is pretty useful.

    • Roger says:

      one might as well get a nectar card instead!

  12. OT: Does the amex limit of 5 referred friends per calendar year apply to the overall amex account, or to each card you refer from?

    For example, if you have referred 5 friends from a platinum card, and then you refer an additional friend from an SPG card, does that mean you would receive no bonus for the SPG referral?

    • Roger says:

      I think it is per card type, but I would rather wait for confirmation from Rob or Genghis.

    • Per card family you refer from, so you can do 90k SPG, 90k BA and 90k MR if you have 3 cards.

      • Thanks very much Rob, appreciate it. Do you happen to know if the “per calendar year limit” refreshes if you close all cards of a certain family, then reopen six months later?

  13. Lady London says:

    FRA but only for the First Class terminal. Otherwise MUC every time for any departure or connection. Frankfurt also has excellent access to rail for the rest of Germany but otherwise MUC is a much nicer airport and a better lounge that is not First Class exclusive can only be good in a still mass-produced way. Flights from or via MUC always seem to be booked out sooner than routings via FRA too. Just empirically.

  14. OT:Etihad Guest members might want to check their email, I just received a double miles offer for my next booking.

  15. Roger says:

    OT- Where / How to book a fully refundable flight(s)
    Ref M**A

    • Not sure if this is what your asking but when you book a flight with BA there’s a drop down box where you can tick flexible etc.

    • AndyGWP says:

      Better to do a hotel?

  16. Stefan says:

    Any help would be welcome? – I purchased 30,000 SPG points earlier this year with the last offer, and I understand 30k points is the max you can buy in one year. To take advantage of the current offer, can my wife set up an SPG account, purchase the points and gift them to my account to pay for our next hotel stay?

    • If your wife hasn’t set up her account, it’s too late for the promotion as you would have to wait for 14 days to purchase

      • Choons says:

        Correct me if I am wrong but can you gift the points as well?
        I’m considering the points purchase method to get to 60k but I don’t know what availability will be like at the top properties at the suite level, like W Maldives, as I’d need to accomodate a family of 4 and don’t really fancy shelling out two lots of points for two rooms.

        • Roger says:

          Interesting, does that mean you can have 60K per SPG account via buy and gift option?

        • Roger says:

          Spoke too soon!

          How many Starpoints may I buy for others?
          30,000 Starpoints per account per calendar year, whether purchased by the member him/herself or received as a gift from another member. If your purchase for another account exceeds that account’s 30,000 Starpoint purchase/gift maximum, the recipient will not be able to receive any Starpoints until the next calendar year. There are no refunds in these instances.

        • Genghis says:

          The household transfers option is not really gifting though? Mrs G and I each bought 30k and she transferred hers to me

        • the real harry1 says:

          does she have any say in this? 🙂

        • Genghis says:

          @TRH1 of course not. She just enjoys the benefits

  17. Chris L says:

    My wife and I have our first baby coming in November. I’m just trying to plan some trips and working out the best way to make the whole thing bearable with a little one in tow! One place we are planning on going is Cyprus, but the thought of having a little one in a sling for a 5-hour flight does not appeal. BA say you can book a seat for an infant and have them in a car seat (if they’re over 12 months I think?) but I’m wondering whether anyone has experience taking an infant on Club Europe – can the ’empty’ middle seat be de-tabled and used for a car seat instead? Would appreciate anyone sharing their experience of this. Thanks.

    • New Card says:

      No experience of the specific Q but it’s not just sling v car seat – you don’t really need either on-board… we’ve always just held our infant on our lap (and passed between us).

      However taking a sling can help with carrying the baby when getting on/off the plane and when waiting around for your stroller to reappear with luggage (or at the plane door).

      As an aside I recommend buying a Doona for travelling – switches from lightweight stroller to car seat, so can easily jump in a taxi/uber when travelling.

      All the best between now and Nov!

      • the real harry1 says:

        more like 4hrs and a bit

        no the CE middle seat has no table these days but may not be available to a car seat (ie no belts) try asking on FT

        baby that young would rather be in parent’s arms in any case, it’s not exactly long haul 🙂

        • As I recall you’ve got to hold them for take off and landing anyway, then you spend a big chunk of the rest of the time soothing them because the pressure change hurts their ear (feed through take off and landing is the best way of minimising this), Then they get hungry/bored/annoyed at being strapped in and you do NOT want them shattering the ear drums of your fellow travellers. When they get a bit older, entertainment is the name of the game. Stickers, Lego and their favourite programs on an iPad (with headphones!) is the way to go. And when you get to your destination, accept that activities like lying on the beach/strolling round art galleries/romantic evening meals are on hold for the next few years! Have fun ????

        • I would go long haul, Caribbean or Middle East. They will sleep through most of the flight anyway.

    • Crafty says:

      Do longer flights than that where possible – maximise sleep. The worst flights with ours were to and from Malta.

    • Louise says:

      We have travelled lots since baby was born last May. Easiest trips were in the first 9 months, baby happy to sleep/stay still! Just done florida at a year old and was more of a challenge.
      We did a trip in Club Europe and just got them to stagger meals whilst one of us had baby

    • Jonathan says:

      A sling was fine on the plane, young babies can’t sit or anything and need to be held or lay down. But what is a god send around the airport was our baby bjorn . It’s unlikely the buggy will be available at the door in Cyprus or back in the UK so you need all the spare hands you can get.

  18. Charlie says:

    OT – I’ve decided to look at the Virgin Money 1 year savings account. Initially put off as i’m a higher rate tax payer, and didn’t fancy paying 40% income tax on the value of the interest, however the miles are credited in one go (on 05/08/2019) but you work out the tax for each tax year as normal.

    If you put away £85K, at 1.19%…
    Income in the current tax year (8 months): £85K x 1.19% x 8/12 = £675
    Income in the next tax year (4 months): £85K x 1.19% x 4/12 = £337

    Personal Tax Allowance for higher rate tax payer is £500.
    In the current tax year, tax to pay is 40% x (£675 – £500) = £70
    In the next tax year, no tax to pay.

    Total miles earned would be 119,000.

    As I have no other tax to pay on savings, I think this is a pretty good deal.
    Can anyone pick any holes in the above?

    • Yes. The way I read the rules is that Virgin physically, actually credits you with the cash interest and then deducts it from your account. This would mean that for HMRC purposes it would treat the interest as received in one go on 5/8/19 and not received over two tax years. I could be wrong though.

      • Genghis says:

        Correct. Interest income is earned when interest is made “available” (ie have access to it, not locked up etc). No accruals concept.

        • the real harry1 says:

          Pick holes? 1.19% is OK by you?

        • Charlie says:

          Thank you both!

        • Charlie says:

          The Real Harry1, on its own no as 2% cash interest is easily available. But yes when it’s part of a strategy of Virgin Money life insurance (10K), the new credit card (33K), and a small existing balance.

          Individually not much use, but the 1.19% helps get my Upper Class redemption plans over the line.

    • The gaping hole has nothing to do with tax, it is all to do with the 1.19% as Harry points out, and income in a restrictive currency that is subject to the risk of substantial devaluation, and which requires additional taxes and fees to be paid to redeem a flight which I am guessing is your plan. All of that is simply horrendous. With over £80k to save you would be better looking to take up to 80% more interest in cash which can be spent on a miles- and status-earning premium flight with ANY airline, possibly in conjunction with codes, £ back or amex offers, and additional miles or points from using a new credit card with sign up bonus. The virgin savings offer only makes sense for those who know they will come up a few thousand miles short of a redemption in a years time and have no better way of getting them.

      • The 1.19% is a red herring though. Better to focus on your personal value of the miles. As I said originally Virgin should have set the notional interest at 0.5% to minimise tax bills but kept the same mileage.

        • Even so I believe Charlie’s strategy is unlikely to pay off but it does depend where and when he plans on flying. Most Virgin destinations can often be had for less than the sum of his interest and the tax and fees paid on his award flight, and certainly when the miles earned, discounts etc are factored in. I’m not saying it could not work in some cases, just that it seems a lot more hassle, a lot less certain, and a lot less flexible than the strategy I suggested.

        • Charlie says:

          Hi BJ / Harry1 you have given me a lot to think about thank you.

          My current plan is changed now to use both mine and my wife’s personal savings allowance. That is £500 each, so we’ll cap the amounts to about £41K per person to ensure no income tax to be paid. Achieves about 57.4K miles per person.

          In terms of redemption, we often did LHR to HKG on the old MBNA credit card PE upgrade route, off peak at a cost of about 12500 miles in Economy, then upgraded to PE, taxes about £250 (probably higher now).

          Then separately HKG to LHR as a full miles redemption in UC, off peak 57500 miles one way, about £10 in tax. The cost of this can probably be met from the savings account miles. I value this financially at about £1000 which is probably a little conservative. This works out as a 2.4% return, which to me looks OK.

  19. OT: Has anyone had any problems having Lloyds Avios Upgrade vouchers issued since the Avios scheme shutdown was mentioned? I crossed my spend threshold on my Lloyds card about 4 weeks back, but no voucher has appeared in Lloyds are denying all knowledge of the vouchers even existing, and Avios just keep bouncing me back to Lloyds!

    • Mzungu says:

      I guess this might be a little too early to really help, but my wife and I each triggered a voucher a few weeks ago – one at the end of April, one at the end of May. Both appeared in our respective Avios accounts long before we were notified that they had been issued!

      …and yes, I have taken screenshots 😉

      • Walty says:

        +1……Voucher showing on my account over the weekend. That’s 2 now to use. Hopefully moved to BAEC soon and I can use household account avios with them.

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