Bits: Avios invests in Monese, No 1 Lounges / Virgin Atlantic deal, new O2 concerts for Marriott points

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News in brief:

Avios invests in Monese

On Monday I published a mini-rant about the bloated state of the UK credit card industry.  As part of that, I asked why investors were pouring vast sums into online current account start-ups (Monzo, Revolut, Starling etc) when such products have never made money even for legacy banks.  On the other hand, few start-ups are pushing into UK credit cards which have historically been hugely profitable.

A reader pointed out to me that Avios Group recently invested in Monese as part of a $60m funding round – see here.

If you’ve never heard of Monese, it is like Revolut, Starling or Monzo but aimed at people who are new to a country and would otherwise struggle to meet the checks required to open a traditional bank account.  You can open a Monese account in various European countries, including the UK, simply by uploading a scan of your passport.  Monese is, of course, also happy to open an account for you if you are living and working in your home country.

I am assuming that Avios has a plan for Monese – we need to see what develops over the next few months.

Avios and Monese

New No 1 Lounges / Virgin Atlantic offer – big savings on new My Lounge Gatwick South

No 1 Lounges has launched a new ‘double miles’ deal with Virgin Atlantic see here.  This leads to an exceptionally good deal for the new My Lounge at Gatwick’s South Terminal.

My Lounge, the ‘hipster’ offshoot of No 1 Lounges, opened at London Gatwick’s South Terminal this week as we wrote here.  Reader reports so far are that it is refusing Priority Pass and Lounge Club guests, even though the lounge website here clearly states that they are accepted (EDIT: the website has now been upgraded to confirm that only DragonPass is accepted).

If you are heading to Gatwick South over Christmas, this new Virgin Atlantic deal is a good value way of getting in.  For bookings made by 31st January, you will earn double Virgin Flying Club miles and get a discount on the list price.

The Virgin Flying Club member prices are:

  • £35 – The House (Heathrow T4)
  • £35 – Clubrooms
  • £25 – No1 Lounges
  • £15 – My Lounge

…. and the miles you currently earn are:

  • 800 miles at The House (usually 400)
  • 800 miles at Clubrooms (usually 400)
  • 700 miles at No1 Lounges (usually 350)
  • 400 miles at My Lounge (usually 200)

This is very good value for the new My Lounge.  As the website shows, My Lounge Gatwick South costs £30 on the door and £24 if you book in advance, which includes Fast Track Security.  Via this link, you would only pay £15 per person and you would get 400 Virgin Flying Club miles.

You can book the Virgin offer via this link.  As the miles are earned per booking, you should make separate bookings for each adult in your group.

How to earn Virgin Atlantic miles from UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Flying Club miles from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

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.

No 1 Lounges Virgin Atlantic deal

New O2 concerts available for Marriott Rewards points

Marriott Rewards has added a new batch of O2 concert tickets to its website.  These are for the Starwood Preferred Guest suite, which comes with full catering and free drinks all night.  Here is a review of a Muse concert from the suite, and I am there myself on Sunday to see Paul McCartney.

These concerts are now bookable.  The first few have been available for a while but the remainder are new:

  • Davido, 27th January, 45000 points
  • Disney on Ice, various dates, 45000 points
  • The 1975, various dates, 45000 points
  • Boyzone, 7th February, 45000 points
  • Ozzy Osbourne, 11th February, 45000 points
  • Massive Attack, 22nd February, 45000 points
  • George Ezra, 19th March, 45000 points
  • Nicki Minaj & Future, 11th March, 45000 points
  • Country to Country, various dates, 45000 points
  • Post Malone, 14th March, 45000 points

All pricing is for two tickets.  Availability has been split between the Marriott Moments site here and the SPG Moments site here.

(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.)

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  1. O/T – anyone know how a Curve online purchase of foreign currency (eg Travelex) is treated? No info in Curve FAQs.

    Am I right in thinking that most currency purchases are treated as a cash advance on a credit card?

    • Sammyjlb says:

      Hi Geoff
      Curve didn’t charge me for a recent currency purchase but the card that the transaction was processed through (Virgin) charged me a cash advance fee. Hope this helps.

  2. I don’t buy that analysis. They’re trying to become fully fledged banks, not just current amount providers – that’s their first step. Banks obviously make vast sums of money (more than credit card providers I’d wager), it doesn’t matter if the current accounts themselves do.

    I didn’t comment on the credit card rant as I’m not too familiar with the French/Italian markets, but allowing for differences in exchange rate/wealth etc. between the three countries, I can’t say the cards you highlighted seem vastly superior to what’s available here.

    • Oddly most of the ways that traditional retail banks make money are not available to start-ups. Cash handling, fees for running ATM networks etc. It is going to be harder than most people think.

      • Oh it’s definitely going to be difficult, and I’m sure most of them will fail. I just don’t think it’s accurate to say that their entire future is only based on current accounts. No doubt over time they’ll expand into overdrafts, loans, mortgages and credit cards.

        Not to mention you’ve missed entirely their major business model – big data. It’s not yet proven in the financial sector but you’ve seen what it has done in the tech industry. They could potentially generate large sums from this.

        • Charlie T. says:

          +1 on data being the buzzword to open the invetors’ wallets.
          although i’d Imagine this would apply equally well to a card company that issues cards for spending on (rather than balance transfers) – Amex have a rather better idea of where I spend my money compared to my current account provider.

        • But do Amex have the systems to analyse it into a form that could be sold? Or to link with other financial institutions and get commissions from referrals? It wouldn’t surprise me if the more successful start ups eventually get bought out by an established bank.

          I agree credit card data would be useful too (and is surely coming), but starting with debit cards is easier given you need far less capital, and they are used for the majority of spending (a quick Google suggests it’s around 75% of card payments and rising).

  3. Amusing text from Iberia about my (ahem) flight today

    “For your comfort and due to the high occupancy of your flight, you can check-in your hand luggage free of charge at check-in counter 799. Thank you.

  4. Hello, OT sorry and I think I know the answer but can’t find a categorical answer…
    If I have BA 2-4-1 and cancel card do I lose the voucher.
    I can see that I wouldn’t lose the flights if I’ve booked using it but not if I just have the voucher lying around waiting to be used.
    Is it safer just to downgrade to the free card?
    Thanks all!

    • Amex will say you lose it, but once it’s in your BAEC account it is safe to cancel the card. I, plus many others here, have done this.

  5. OT. Can I refer someone for the Costco AMEX from my Gold MR card and still get 9K bonus? Is there any bonus for the referee?

  6. Perhaps we should set up our own loyalty scheme. All it needs is money and the right connections. Failing that we could always give Heathrow Rewards a not so subtle hint about expanding into this area.

    • I think Heathrow Rewards should do a credit card. The opportunity for redeeming for shopping vouchers or a mix of airlines, with transfer bonuses too, would be very attractive. HR is also less sensitive to ‘value’ because their core goal is not making profit from the programme but encouraging traffic to Heathrow and to the retailers.

  7. Optimus Prime says:

    OT – not sure if this has been mentioned here but looks like there will be new benefits for IHG Ambassador such as one free breakfast per night and guaranteed Platinum status.

    • Optimus Prime says:

      BTW free breakfast only when statying in a InterContinental hotel.

    • Yep, I mentioned it in another page – Rob is going to be covering tomorrow.

    • I used my first Ambassador voucher last month in Ljubljana and was very impressed. These changes will improve the offering, even for ‘normal’ Ambassador membership so highly likely to renew next year.

  8. O/T re bonus Heathrow Reward points for Heathrow Express tickets booked before 31 December.

    I made 4 separate bookings for HEX on the same day: 3 were for the £5.50 90-day advance purchase weekend fares, and 1 for £12.10 90-day advance purchase weekday fare. Only the £12.10 fare attracted the 250 bonus points and not for the other 3. Has this happened to anyone else?

    I probably won’t chase up on the remaining bonus points but nowhere on the T&C says the cheapest fare is not eligible for bonus points.

    • The same thing happened to me – the two £5.50 fares didn’t get the bonus. The higher priced ones did. Very annoying!
      This is the email I got from them…
      Enjoy 250 extra Heathrow Rewards points on all Heathrow Express bookings made in December
      Hello Catherine,
      Travel from London Paddington to Heathrow Central (Terminals 2 & 3) in 15‑minutes† on Heathrow Express and enjoy 250 extra Heathrow Rewards points* on all bookings made between 1‑31 December 2018.
      *250 extra points available on all Heathrow Express bookings made between 1‑31 December 2018. Offer not applicable when using HAL employee discount. Participating fares may vary during the promotional period. Heathrow Rewards card must be presented at time of transaction. Points will be allocated to your account within 30 days of making a qualifying purchase. If the points do not appear in your account after 30 days please contact us. Only one offer per transaction. Points will be deducted from accounts if items are subsequently returned. Full Heathrow Rewards form terms and conditions apply. Click here to see the full terms and conditions.

  9. the_real_a says:

    As i understand it the major growth strategy is the upcoming open banking rules, that the “platform” with the greatest interactions will be best placed to plug-in other financial institutions products into the dashboard. So you would view your AMEX statement or buy your insurance inside of your – say – monese app. The race is on to get the most daily interactions, which the fintechs are best placed. So rather than seeing these things as products, we should actually view them as platforms.

  10. O/T but linked to the article on partner avios redemptions yesterday, can anyone point me in the direction of where I can check the avios required for non BA flights please?

  11. O/T – If anyone is flying next week (December the 21st) I can guest 2 people in to the Concorde lounge at T5 around 9am!

    • I thought you couldn’t guest people into Concorde Room unless they had F tickets? (As opposed to F lounge)?

    • That would be brilliant – we expect to arrive at that exactly that time. How do we make contact – wear a red carnation, carry a copy of the Times etc?

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