Bits: 10% off Blacklane for new users, 1p Avios via Groupon Spain, the underwater InterCon is really opening!

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News in brief:

10% off Blacklane transfers for new users

Airport chauffeur group Blacklane – website here – has launched a new 10% discount code for first time users.

I have just used this to book a car for Milan later this week – given how much luggage we’re going to have, plus the kids, I thought that guaranteeing an SUV was available and waiting for us made sense.  I signed up my wife so we could get the 10% first user discount …..

Blacklane also lets you earn airline miles with:

  • Asia Miles (2 per £/$/€ spent)
  • Flying Blue (2 per £/$/€ spent)
  • Miles & More (2 per £/$/€ spent)
  • Qatar Privilege Club (1 per £/$/€ spent)
  • Enrich (Malaysia Airlines) (2 per £/$/€ spent)
  • Singapore Airlines Krisflyer (2 per £/$/€ spent)

The 10% first ride discount code is SAVE10%

Blacklane has a slightly odd way of entering promotional codes.  You will be presented with a page asking for your credit card details.  After you type them in, there is an additional screen which asks if you have a voucher code.  Add SAVE10% on that page and 10% is deducted from your quote.  Your card is not charged until after the ride and you can cancel until 1 hour before pick-up.

You can book, create an account or find out more about Blacklane on their website here.

Blacklane discount code

More 1p Avios via Groupon Spain

Groupon has launched another cheap Avios promotion in Spain, with Iberia Plus.  Click here for details.

Here are the prices:

  • 4,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €54 (1.2p)
  • 8,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €99 (1.1p)
  • 15,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €189 (1.1p)
  • 20,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €249 (1.1p)
  • 35,000 Iberia Plus Avios for €439 (1.1p)

These Spanish Groupon offers – unlike the recent Irish offer – can get messy.  All of the information is in Spanish (Chrome can translate) and if you have problems you are dealing with the Iberia and Spanish Groupon contact centres.

You can buy a LOT of points though.  The limit is 5 coupons per Iberia account for the 4,000, 20,000 and 35,000 Avios packages and 10 per account for the 8,000 and 15,000 Avios packages.  These Avios can be transferred across to British Airways via ‘Combine My Avios’ without any problems.  Buyer beware though.

The Groupon Spain page you need is here.

InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland

The InterContinental in a quarry is really opening!

Back in 2013, I wrote about plans to build an InterContinental hotel in a disused quarry near Shanghai.  Not only would the majority of the hotel be below ground level, but two floors were actually going to be underwater.

I’m not sure anyone really expected it to happen, and the 2015 opening date came and went.  However, bizarrely, InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is now ready to open.

To quote:

“InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland is expected to open its doors in the fourth quarter of 2018. Developed by Shimao Group and managed by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) the luxury hotel, mostly below ground, is getting ready to welcome guests with an amazing landscape in a deep pit of a former quarry in southwestern Shanghai.

The 18-story hotel has two floors above ground, and 16 below ground, including two floors underwater. With a construction area of more than 61,000 square meters, the hotel features 336 rooms and suites that all boast balconies where guests can enjoy a spectacular view of waterfalls from the surrounding cliffs.

In contrast to the traditional architectural concept of building high-rises, InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland adopts an unconventional design of extending space beneath ground by truly reflecting the natural landscape of the quarry.

Reaching down to 88 meters below ground, the hotel reshapes the relationship between city and nature, turning an abandoned quarry into a treasure of wonder and beauty. The opening of InterContinental Shanghai Wonderland will prove to create unique and tremendous value to the city, standing out as a must-visit destination itself to welcome its growing guests.”

If you are keen to be the first to stay, you can find out more via the InterContinental website here.  Booking does not seem to be open yet.  Folly or stroke of genius?  We will find out soon enough.

(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.)

Can you claim tax relief if you pay to upgrade your flight on a business trip?
Bits: Virgin's Tesco conversion offer, more on Hilton / Lufthansa, 20% off Friends & Family Railcards
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  1. I’m in Shanghai the second two weeks of October. If it’s open, I’m booking.

    • It looks about an hour away from the city centre. I stayed in the Pudong IC recently which is fine and dead easy from the airport.

  2. Premgenius says:

    wow! would love to see a review on this

  3. OT – Can the curve card limit go beyond 3.7k/20k/50k d/m/y, and can I get 1 personal card and 1 per business ran?

    • Jonathan says:

      Not yet.

      1 card per person, but do have another one in my wife’s name.

    • No, but if you have accidentally lost your card once you hit your 50k limit, your replacement should have fresh limits (the only thing is they had to replace my card twice to get this done, not sure why)

  4. You can now book chauffeur-driven electric vehicles (Tesla) with Blacklane in certain cities. The price for a “Green Class” ride seems to be positioned between Business Class and First Class. I have used Blacklane a fair few times in the past and their service has proven to be reliable and always a pleasant experience, and while I usually go for First Class, I think I will try their Green Class the next time 🙂

  5. OT: by this time last year IHG had already announced their Autumn 2017 Accelerate promo covering stays from 1 September to 31 December

    Any crystal ball gazers able to see what (if anything) is coming up this year?

  6. “given how much luggage we’re going to have, plus the kids,”

    Luggage allowance is what lets Blacklane down.
    Looking FCO 3 Adults can book Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac XTS or similar. However only 2 pieces of luggage is allowed.

    • William says:

      How would you say Blacklane compares to Addison Lee? Anybody here who can give a comparison?

      • Very little difference I would imagine. Blacklane actually contracts jobs to local companies so you might actually get AddLee anyway in London.

  7. Just got a quote on Blacklane – blimey! A one-way trip is the same as a return using Minicabit.

  8. Genghis replied to me recently that he has daily limit of 5k. He may still have one of the original credit cards though… Curve replied to me this week that 3,750 is the daily max currently available on the debit card.

    • Sorry, intended for Harry @06.54

    • Genghis says:

      I had one of the original cards and had a £5k daily limit on that with a £15k monthly limit. My wife, however, got her card later and had £3,750 daily but a £20k monthly limit. Both overall £50k pa. These limits then ported over to the debit card version.

      • Thanks. Yes I thought I have heard of £5k daily limit on this site. Alas the monthly/yearly cap isn’t any different so it still won’t be conducive to paying off bigger bills (eg tax). Thanks for responding

  9. OT – Virgin Atlantic credit card: Where/how do you get the voucher upon reaching the £10k spend target? All I can see in my Flying Club account is in the activity view : “Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Credit Card – Reward Qualification”

    No mention of anything in my card statement.

    • Not sure we know yet, given how new the card is.

    • I think that’s all you get. I used a Reward Companion voucher this week issued by MBNA last September and the transaction line on the FC account was the only thing to say I had received it.
      I also got my VM card Reward Qualification this week and it looks on the account the same as yours.

      You have to redeem these vouchers on the phone anyway so there’s no voucher coded or anything to input online.

  10. Concerto says:

    I will transit Shanghai tomorrow. I intend to avoid going into transit as I have a long layover and was planning a quick visit to the city. But does TWOV really work there? Will immigration let me through even though I’m on a 9h layover?

    • I used it fine last when we had a 12hour layover in Dec 2017. However, since March there have been some changes apparently.

      Below taken from TWOV thread on Flyertalk:

      Update March 2018: TWOV is still operational in Shanghai however new rules are supposedly in operation – at least at PVG – limiting the ability for passengers to enter China and leave the airport. Passengers with: (1) short stays (under four hours), (2) same-day transfers (more than four hours, but with an onward flight on the same day as arriving), (3) a transit within 24 hours but without confirmed hotel accommodation, and/or (4) who do not need to collect bags and recheck for their onward flight may all be affected. Passengers in any one of these categories may be directed to the transfer line with direct air-side transfer (not allowed to enter China/leave the airport).

      I suggest reading the last few pages of that thread, see if anyone has done something similar recently.

  11. There must be a devaluation coming given how many Avios Iberia are selling off at 1.1p.

  12. New Pop-up Amex Lounge in London

    American Express Platinum House is coming to London. Platinum Cardmembers and their guests2 are invited to experience the best of Platinum during a four-day pop-up event at the Old Central St. Martins Building. Stop by Platinum House and enjoy complimentary food & beverages, live music performances, morning workout classes, beauty services and more.

    To join us for this event please check in with the American Express team in the lobby of the Old Central St. Martins Building. Please have your American Express Card available for entry. To learn more, visit: amex.co/platinumhouse.

  13. OT : any personal recommendations for HSBC premier bank account? Tempted just to be able to sign up for the premier credit card, but would probably move my whole current account across from Barclays, who I’ve actually been quite impressed with, Barclay’s banking app is actually very good (I can even deposited cheques via the app to save on a trip to the bank)

    Decisions, decisions………

    • Everyone should have current accounts with 2 or 3 different banking groups

      I have HSBC premier in several countries but not sure it’s really worth it in the UK, except for the credit card

      • Having had it for 20 years, fundamentally it just gets you the level of service that everyone would have got 30 years ago but no-one gets today.

    • Genghis says:

      I’ve been mulling this over. I’m currently with Barclays and quite like the free coffee (and cake a few times a year) and the English Heritage thing. But the queues at Barclays are long and machines useless. The segregated Premier offering at the Queen Victoria St branch is appealing.

    • 1nfrequent says:

      I made the move earlier this year and have been pretty pleased with it. If you have a local HSBC branch then I find that the staff tend to acknowledge me and say hello when I pop in and they’re genuinely very helpful if you have an issue (I had a problem making a payment and they sorted it for me within 10 minutes). The switch itself went smoothly and the only downside was that it took about 45 minutes in branch to actually set up the account (although this was due to my having moved jobs, which affected on of the things on their computerised system). The downside is that the on-line banking site isn’t particularly intuitive – the access is secure but working out how to make payments etc took me a while to get used to. There was also a bit of pressure to download their App onto my phone (which I didn’t do because I try to minimise what I keep on my phone) and I’ve had a couple of calls from their Premier team trying to sell me products, which I have politely and firmly put a stop to (thank you, GDPR). I can’t speak to their savings/investment products though because I got the account by moving my mortgage (they had the best rate for what I wanted so it was a no brainer).


    • I’ve been Premier for yonks (even had to pay for it in the beginning).

      It’s fine but I don’t have a Barclays card to compare it with.

      They made a terrible, terrible hash of my application to get the Elite MasterCard but I expect they’ve sorted out their systems by now. If you collect one of the airline currencies Premier offers then it’s well worth it. The free travel internet was good but that’s been quietly dropped from the Elite version I think.

    • the_real_a says:

      The HSBC products (even premier) IMO are terrible, and you need to consider the opportunity cost of lost interest compared to “best in market”.

      HSBC is a very bureaucratic organisation, expect to have to “go in branch” to get anything done, and also expect over zealous anti money laundering paperwork (and associated proofs) for basic transactions. How would you like your account suspended and asked to “go in branch” to prove source of funds for a £750 cash deposit for example?

      • I don’t have an HSBC UK account any more after it was closed for paying my Amex £5000 by direct debit. I feel that they got spooked because my usual DDs to that Amex were under £1000, and I transferred £3000 from my own account at another bank the day before the DD was taken. The letter specifically told me not to go in branch as they were not going to reconsider! And it was hand signed by the branch manager….

      • Totally agree. I was thinking of getting HSBC Premier or another “premium” tier bank account, but then the rates of interest on savings products are terrible compared to challenger banks. Most of the investment products from these traditional banks are also expensive. I had a HSBC account purely for the 5% regular saver and switching bonus, but the app was so poor I switched again after a year. So for me, deffo not worth it!

    • rams1981 says:

      I have it. Don’t do much with the account. Have a regular saver which I use. Not a fan of their £10k daily online limit on bank transfers.

  14. Would arriving at LGW on the train at 0527 for a 0645 departure (Norwegian) give us enough time to enjoy the Grain Store? Could also aim to arrive 0457 but not sure if worth it

  15. OT: Does anyone know if Melia Rewards bookings paid for entirely in points can be cancelled and if so if the points are also refunded? Can’t find this info anywhere on Melia website or in FAQs

    • Alistair says:

      Yes, I did that a couple of weeks ago. Took a few minutes for the points to come back through, although when trying to rebook it showed the pre-refund balance until I logged out and back in.

    • Alistair says:

      From the booking confirmation:

      Payment garanteed with points.

      Cancellation of the reservation

      If cancel within 24 Hour(s) before arrival or customers are no show, 1 Night(s) will be charged as cancellation penalty”

  16. OT/

    AMEX SPG – Anybody had any more feedback from American Express on the retention offer that seems to have been messed up in the Marriott merger?

    I’m awaiting a phone call back from Amex, but based on the previous conversations its not going to be easy…

    For others not aware, there was a retention offer of double points (2 points instead of 1 per £) for keeping the SPG AMEX instead of cancelling, however the base rate has now moved to 3 points in the new scheme, but AMEX are saying that its still only 1 extra point per £ instead of the logical double of 3!

  17. Benilyn says:

    1) My Curve limit is 10k p.a., asked for a raise, they said no… joined in circa May-18. Annoyed!
    2) Did the Gold Charge to Platinum upgrade: a) The £1k spend to hit bonus is not showing up as an offer, assume I will get bonus anyway? b) When do they charge you the annual charge?

    • Genghis says:

      1) Do you actually spend on Curve?
      2) It’s normal for a progress bar not to show. You’ll be charged the annual fee in one of:
      i) straight away
      ii) with first statement
      iii) not at all – until Gold charge anniversary.

      • Benilyn says:

        1) I spend only to pay my amex / other credit card bills (double dipping).
        2) thanks, hopefully (iii)

        • Genghis says:

          Actually do some spending on the card and they might raise your limits.

        • And if they catch on as to what you are doing they may suspend your curve rather than up your limit anyway.

    • 1.I got my Curve upgrade on limits after 4 months, so I suspect yours will upgrade shortly
      2. I cancelled my platinum card after 2 months, and didn’t get any annual fee

    • I’ve had my upgraded platinum since January and not paid any fee, which seems to be quite common judging by comments on here.

      Shame they changed the gold card to a credit card as the platinum upgrade bonus and then 5x referral bonuses whilst paying no fee was great while it lasted.

  18. A Dickinson says:

    I have just purchases the smallest amount via Groupon deal to test the water before committing to any large amounts.
    Anyone have an idea of how long it takes for your voucher to become redeemable? Also how long is it before the points hit your iberia account?

    • I have done something similar. I couldn’t find the the voucher codes on the website, I had to download the app to find them. It is supposed to credit to Iberia within 10 days. I will let you know!

    • Any luck? I’m in need of 25k urgently, I hit the min spend on the BAPP but looks like i’ll have to wait at least a month to get the 25k bonus

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