Bits: free £18 with a $ prepaid Mastercard, Virgin launches NYC Pride flight, HSBC Premier gives Langham status

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News in brief:

Get £18 ‘free’ with a FairFX prepaid Dollar Mastercard

Groupon is running an interesting offer on FairFX prepaid currency cards at the moment.

Via this link you can, for £7, buy yourself a US$ prepaid Mastercard.  When you load the card with £50, £25 is deducted which means you are just charged £25. 

Netting off the £7 cost of the Groupon voucher, you are £18 ‘up’.

It’s not that simple of course, because you have a prepaid Mastercard with a US$ balance on it.  You could spend it in the UK but there will be an FX fee attached to what you buy.  If you are heading to the US soon then you could use it there without fees.

Many of you may find the deal too fussy but I know some readers will find it up their street.  It will sell out quickly – a Euro version has already sold out.  The link to buy is here.

Virgin Atlantic pride flight New York 2019

Virgin Atlantic launches special NYC World Pride flight for 2019

Virgin Atlantic is launching a unique flight to take you to the World Pride event in New York next June.

This will be a flight like no other, it’s fair to say.  Staffed entirely by LGBT+ pilots and cabin crew, it will be hosted by Tituss Burgess – a Broadway musical actor and star of the Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt – and will feature special guests and live performances.  It will include an on board DJ, ‘Drag-Queen Bingo’, a Judy Garland singalong, inter-seat speed dating and special in-flight entertainment.

A portion of ticket sales from the flight will be donated to The Attitude Magazine Foundation in the UK.  Further fundraising and raffles will take place on-board.

The flight departs from Heathrow to Newark on 28th June.  Flexible return dates are available.

Flight-only information is on the Virgin Atlantic website here.  Economy seats start at £380 so there doesn’t seem to be any surcharge for the entertainment, given that June is approaching peak season.  You can only book by telephone.

Flight plus hotel packages are available via Virgin Holidays here.

Free Langham hotel status for HSBC customers

Free Langham ‘1865’ Voyager status for HSBC Premier credit card holders (and BA Gold members)

One of the lesser known benefits of being a British Airways Gold member is that you can get free mid-tier Voyager status in the Langham Hotels ‘1865’ loyalty scheme.

I wrote about how the Langham upgrade works for BA Gold members here.  The snag is that you can’t get the status in advance.  You need to show your BA Gold credentials at check-in and the hotel will then set it up for you, which is a bit of a drag if you’ve just landed in Asia after a 12 hour flight.

Langham Hotels offers a similar deal for HSBC Premier credit card holders.  The good news is that you can sign up to Voyager status online, so your benefits will be sorted out before you check in.

‘Voyager’ level would usually require five stays or 15 nights and gives you the following benefits:

6pm check-out subject to availability – very handy for evening flights

a one category room upgrade subject to availability

free fruit and water

your choice of personalised welcome amenity

free internet

500 Avios per NIGHT (maximum 3 nights) or 250 per night at Eaton

If you have a HSBC Premier credit card, you can find out how to claim your Langham Hotels status on the HSBC website here.  Note that this is only available to new members – if you already have an active ‘1865’ account then it cannot be upgraded.

The picture above is the smart Club Lounge at the Langham London on Portland Place, opposite the BBC.

(Want to earn more Virgin Flying Club miles?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Literally everything you ever wanted to know about the BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher, in one article!
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  1. Has anyone got the FairFx to work? Have bought the coupon from Groupon. Set up a new account, went to order a new dollar card and don’t seem to have an option to enter the voucher code anywhere. Or was I supposed to do that on the sign up screen? All a bit confusing!

  2. RakishDriver says:

    Need some help please – I’m heading to Lux-Findel soon and booked a car with AVIS, but they won’t let me refuse their basic insurance cover. This means I can’t revert to using my amex plat insurance.
    Spoke to AVIS agent and he suggested this is standard across Europe, it’s only in the US one can refuse insurance.
    Is there anyway round this?

    • My understanding is that accepting the basic cover would not impact the additional cover that comes with plat.

    • You can’t refuse the basic US insurance in the US if you are a foreign customer- I assume this is so you can’t disappear owing large sums of money if you write off the car or something.

      • RakishDriver says:

        Have always done it, but then again I use a corporate awd.
        So, seems one will always end up paying for the minimum insurance costs, whether renting in the US or Europe.

    • AFAIK in Europe it’s mandatory to provide basic insurance… which you cannot refuse

    • You want insurance but not excess insurance if that’s what you meant

  3. OT
    Booked 5 night reward stay in Ritz Carlton in nyc, as you can only book basic rooms with points, is it possible to upgrade the room with either points or cash prior to arrival?

  4. Russell says:

    FairFX trick done, great tip, thanks!

  5. BluehorizonUK says:

    OT: Has anyone heard back from Diners Club after applying for the new Miles More card?

  6. I have a 5 year old Iberia Plus account. My last activity on this account was 500 miles that expired in July 2018 due to non activity – so my current balance is 0.

    Have tried transferring BA and Avios to my Iberia without any luck – all different error messages. Finally spoke to someone at Ibera, who said u cannot transfer avios into iberia if the last activity on your iberia account was an expiration of miles entry.

    So, any idea how else I can get a mile or two into my iberia account? I dont want to buy avios incase it still does not work

    • Shoestring says:

      Quickest & easiest is to transfer in 1000 MR points from your Amex. Cheapest is logging into thru the IB shopping portal and buying a £2.80 secondhand book (many booksellers offer international sales as well, so your book will be sold in UK & posted to you in UK) – same Ebay login details as your UK a/c.

      • thanks great idea!! – have gone the 1000 MR points. hope it makes it to the other end

        • Just a further complication with Iberia is that if your account has no activity it goes into dormant status and no miles can enter either.

          You need to contact them first to reactivate the account or else your 1000 miles will probably be stuck in the ether somewhere!!

    • I have just transferred erewards into IB to reactivate a previously inactive account. It does now allow transfers in, but the ability to transfer out is not working I assume it will take 90 days as with new accounts..

  7. OT

    Is it just me – or are other folks also getting bombarded with emails from KLM ? Ive had 9 emails in the last 24hrs – some duplicate, some not – all to the same exact email address ,.,,,?

  8. Stephan says:

    For the HSBC premier requirements if you meet the income requirement, do you know what needs to satisfied to meet the second requirement:

    and one of the following products with HSBC in the UK: a mortgage, investment, life insurance or protection product.

    If I have £100 investment with the HSBC platform or home insurance does that qualify me for the account?

    • Bonglim says:

      I put 100 pounds in to a Global investment centre account – and they were quite happy to count that.
      Is now worth 154!

      HSBC premier do occasional transfer bonuses, you might want to wait for that – although you might have just missed one.

      • Shoestring says:

        Our 2 Orbis ISAs are doing well, up nearly 15% since April (and that’s not counting the free £100).

        I went to cash about 7 days ago, seems I got the timing right 🙂

        For those waiting: no free matching £100 offer repeat just yet from Orbis.

      • Stephan says:

        Thanks Bonglim I will look to open up a investment with account and hopefully once the market cools it will also be a good time to start investing!

  9. O/T Just book 1st class LHR to Newark on 777 for next year. There are 4 if us including a 7 and 10 year old. Any advice on what the best seats are for a family of four? We’re booked across row 2 at the moment but someone suggested booking all window seats so we’re one behind the other. TIA.

    • Genghis says:

      Note there’s four rows and can only select 1A / F if Gold until circa t-72 hrs

    • Problem in F is that you can’t see the kids without getting up if they are lined up against the window.

      Having done this myself with a 6 and 9 year old, I would put the kids together in the middle and then either a parent on each window seat, so you are 1-2-1 across, or have the parents behind each other on the windows on the same side with the youngest kid in the centre seat nearest you so you can see it clearly at all times.

      • Good advice Rob. Think I’ll stick with four across row 2 then. BTW is there a kids area in the Concorde room? One of the reasons we chose first for this leg is that I’ve wanted to try it for a while.

    • Kevin C says:

      There is no kid’s area in the Concorde Room but the indoor/outdoor section has some big tables with sofas which are pretty private and you can look out at the rest of the terminal from there.

  10. O/T Just received e-mail from Tesco giving bonus 1k Avios for minimum £5 in vouchers. So 2,200 for £5. Up to 15th November if you have any running out. Once only it appears.

  11. Can you simply use the FairFX for online (UK vendor) purchases? Obviously it would incur an FX fee… (?)

  12. OT for anybody heading to Oz and interested in combining with Hong Kong: You might want to consider using avios, 241s, Lloyds vouchers, Virgin miles, Alaska miles etc before YQ returns in conjunction with a £720 business class return from HKG to main Oz cities with Garuda. Cost could get below £1300pp plus miles soent – miles earned via Garuda. Hat tip to LL for Garuda fare.

  13. Kevin C says:

    I have been at an event where Tituss Burgess gave a speech and he is very, very funny.

  14. OT can a holder of a personal platinum amex get the welcome bonus for the business gold (where the business card is for a company)?

  15. O/T £25 off £100 spend at Bloomingdales

    Participating locations are selected stores in 13 US states. Terms also state “Promotion is intended for UK, CMs only” – what does “CMs” mean? cardmembers?

  16. Nice deal – all sorted for USD card 🙂

  17. I take that to mean that 40 retailers give you rewards (but there are a few million others where you can just spend it).

  18. Rob, Marriott’s 29 ways to stay is finally live today. I played and won 50 points!

  19. Bloke in India says:

    OT, marriotts 29 ways to stay game often gives prizes of a few marriott points and is finally live (after a false start) at

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