Bits: Expedia drops Nectar, two new ‘buy Avios’ deals from 0.84p, Virgin gains a Heathrow slot from Cobalt

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News in brief:

Expedia drops Nectar as an earning and spending partner

Expedia and Nectar have announced that they are ending their partnership on 15th December.

At present, you can earn Nectar points on all Expedia bookings at the following rates:

Package bookings: 1,000 Nectar points 
Hotel-only bookings: 200 Nectar points 
Flight-only bookings: 200 Nectar points 
Car-only bookings: 200 Nectar points

With such paltry earn rates, it is hardly surprising that few people were choosing to use Expedia purely because of the carrot of Nectar points.  Remember that, in 99% of cases, Nectar points are worth exactly 0.5p when redeemed.

You will continue to earn points on bookings made up to 15th December, irrespective of when you travel.

From the same date, it will no longer be possible to redeem Nectar points for Expedia vouchers.   To be honest, since they were worth the same 0.5p per point of value as redeeming them in Sainsbury’s, this is not a great loss.  You can always use your points to pay for your groceries and use the money saved to book travel!

Sainsbury’s bought Nectar earlier this year, and I’m not sure if they will consider this a loss or if they are happy to see the scheme shrink down to a pure Sainsbury’s ‘earn and burn’ scheme.

Expedia Rewards, the lacklustre Expedia loyalty scheme which we covered here, will continue.

Expedia drops Nectar

Two ‘buy Avios’ deals – from 0.84p per point!

There are two deals running this week if you want to top up your Avios balance via a purchase.

The first deal offers a bonus of up to 45% when you buy Avios between now and 25th November.  It is staggered:

• 20% bonus when you purchase or gift 1,000 – 15,000 Avios
• 30% bonus when you purchase or gift 20,000 – 35,000 Avios
• 35% bonus when you purchase or gift 40,000 – 90,000 Avios
• 45% bonus when you purchase or gift 100,000 – 200,000 Avios

 At the top end, you are paying 1.13p.  The ‘buy Avios’ page is here.

Groupon Spain is also running a ‘buy Avios’ deal this week with Iberia Plus. 

This is a better deal as it lets you pay 1.11p for smaller quantities.  For a very small purchase you pay just 0.84p.  Click here for details.

The cheapest – and best value – package is for 2,000 Avios.  You are only paying €19 for 2,000 points, which is 0.84p each.

Here are the other 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 Avios will be deposited in an Iberia Plus account, from where you can use ‘Combine My Avios’ to move them to British Airways.  Remember that your Iberia Plus account must be 90 days old before you can transfer to British Airways Executive Club.

The offer is in Spanish so you need to use a browser which can translate.  The redemption process can be a bit fiddly, and if there are issues you will be chasing the Spanish Groupon contact centre, so you need to decide if the saving over the UK ‘buy Avios’ deal is worth the potential frustration.  The Groupon Spain page you need is here.

Groupon Spain Avios deal

Virgin Atlantic gains a Heathrow slot pair from Cobalt Air

We have covered the rise and fall of Cyprus-based Cobalt Air on Head for Points, since they offered an impressive business class product on routes from the UK to Larnaca and Athens.

When Cobalt fell into administration a couple of weeks, I assumed that was the end of the story.  It seems not.

At Heathrow, Cobalt Air was using a slot pair owned by Virgin Atlantic.  These are slots which Virgin Atlantic purchased from Cyprus Air back in 2012 but had yet to start using.

With the record price paid for a pair of Heathrow slots now over $100m, this is clearly a very valuable asset.  However, the ‘use them or lose them’ rules imposed by the airport meant they were at risk.

According to Business Travel News – read the story here – Virgin Atlantic went to court in Cyprus to get an injunction to stop the Government revoking Cobalt’s operating licences.  With the injunction successfully granted, Cobalt was able to legally transfer the slot back to Virgin Atlantic instead of it becoming part of the administration process.  Once this was done, Virgin Atlantic dropped its injunction and the airline was again effectively dead.

PS. Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Virgin Flying Club miles.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(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.)

Credit & Charge Card Reviews (14): Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard
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  1. OT: Anybody know if we can still refund legacy marriott TP hotel certificates to points? I am considering doing this to transfer the points to Lufthansa for a First redemption.

    • ankomonkey says:

      A lot of Marriott CS were saying the surrender points given when refunding TP hotel certs would no longer be available after the August merger. I can’t recall seeing any data points of anyone trying this to see if it is correct or if the points are still being given. You may have to call and ask.

      • I recalled something like that too but wasn’t sure. I called the London number about an hour ago. The CSA said I could do it but she seemed so far from certain that I don’t know if I can take her word for it.

  2. Hi
    I’m as far from an EC261 expert as you could get and don’t really know. Think I may be entitled to 75% back. EC261/2004 Article 5 covers cancellations and has a 2 week time window but Article 10 which covers upgrades and downgrades doesn’t?
    There may be some debate on the value of the 241 voucher (after all my wife has been downgraded too) but I hope 75% of the Avios fare will be refundable. There’s a confusing mass of differing opinions on places like Flyertalk and a few articles I found on HFP re EC261 but, it’s not easy to find a definitive answer. I’ll post the outcome here whatever it is.
    In any case even if we just get the F->J difference refunded we’ll still get a CW return to St Lucia which isn’t bad!

  3. I’ve heard the slot will be used by VS to fly an extra rotation to NYC in December.

    • Could be. The ex airberlin planes will be flying from the end of November – I have my launch invite!

      • The ex air Berlin Planes are already flying and have been for months.

        You mean one of the refurbished ones.

  4. OT/ Curve Card

    I have a Black Curve card (brand new) – It’s been setup to use my Lloyds Avios Mastercard (just to test), and tried to purchase a tour for $275 online. (first ever transaction)

    The transaction was declined? any ideas why? not sure if I’m doing anything wrong? Can it only be used in person?

    I purchased the tour fine using my Loyds card directly.

    • Recently picked up Curve card and somewhere it mentioned the 1st transaction had to be a PIN transaction.

    • You often need to build limits on using curve. A few smaller transactions are often needed before larger (!) ones like £200 plus. Basically it seems your underlying card wants to know if it can trust curve or not.

      • Not necessarily the case. I paid 3 transactions straight off on curve of £2000 x 2 and £1000.00.. no issues

    • First Curve use needs to be chip and pin I recall.

  5. Hi, flights needs to be bought and cheaper on BA website (oneway cmb-ncl) 2 legs on QR metal one on Ba metal. Do you need to pay for seats as per bronze as booked through

  6. How can I move iberia avios to ba now that does not allow it?
    I tried doing it from iberia, but it only allows ba to iberia, accidentally moved 20,000 like this. ba combine my avios is down.

    • Its a glitchy system. You need to try from both BA and Iberia and ensure your details match exactly. I found this immensely frustrating for quite a long period of time, and then suddenly, it just worked the next day.

  7. Mine now go to my BAEC account and seem to take a day or two longer than before

  8. Shoestring says:

    open Aer Club a/c and use that as middleman

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