Bits: IHG devaluation delayed from Monday 14th, buy cheap Avios via Groupon (again), Garuda starts UK-Bali

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News in brief:

The IHG Rewards Club devaluation seems to be delayed

I dropped this article in on Sunday rather than Monday to save readers from any unnecessary booking panic on Sunday night!

IHG Rewards Club was due to change the reward pricing of almost 700 hotels on Monday.  80% of the changes are increases.

The good news is that only about 15% of IHG’s hotels are impacted, and so only about 12% are going up.  The 70,000 point cap remains, and no additional hotels are moving into the 70,000 point category.

The implementation date now seems to be 25th January.  The date on the list of impacted properties has changed and no longer says 14th January.

The list of hotels changing category can be found here.  Examples of hotels changing category can be found in my original article here – the Holiday Inn Express in Wigan, pictured below, is dropping by 5,000 points.

IHG Rewards Club 2019 devaluation category changes

Buy cheap Avios via Groupon Spain

The Groupon ‘cheap Avios’ promotion in Spain, with Iberia Plus, is back again.  Click here for details.

The cheapest – and best value – 2,000 Avios package has already sold out despite the offer only just launching.  You were only paying €19 for 2,000 points, which is 0.84p each.

Here are the other prices, which are less of a steal – although substantially cheaper than buying Avios directly via ba.com:

  • 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)

Whilst these deals were administratively messy when they first appeared, I get fewer complaints these days.  The IT seems to be working better now.  Of course, all of the information is in Spanish but Chrome can translate the page for you.

The Groupon Spain page you need is here.

Groupon Avios

Garuda launching direct flights from Heathrow to Bali

Garuda Indonesia is changing its Heathrow to Jakarta service in late January to include a stop in Bali.

This is good news for anyone considering a trip to Bali, but bad news for anyone who has already booked a flight to Jakarta and who will now see their travel time extended.

Operating on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, this will be a triangular service operating London – Bali – Jakarta – London.  Whilst you will have a direct flight TO Bali, your trip home will involve a change of plane in Jakarta.

The flight is operated by a two-class Boeing 777-300ER.  I reviewed Business Class on Garuda’s Boeing 777-300ER aircraft back in 2015 – click here – when Garuda was flying London – Amsterdam – Jakarta and you could buy the European leg separately.

Garuda Indonesia is a member of the SkyTeam alliance which means that this flight should be redeemable with Delta SkyMiles, Flying Blue miles etc.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Comments

  1. Almost read as Groupon launching flight to Bali

  2. KBuffett says:

    OT – Does anyone know if front loading/topping up a Barclaycard in advance (thereby spending more than your credit
    limit in any given month) affects your credit rating? My Experian score on Barclaycard/Experian seems to be dropping and I haven’t been doing anything other than this.

    • the_real_a says:

      There is a “velocity” effect, in that spending significantly higher amounts than your personal average does appear to reflect in my score, however your average catches up after a few months.

      You also need to remember that the reporting period to the agencies is not your statement date, its typically the 28th of each month… so if you are in debt at that snapshot then you will appear to have a debt for the next 30 days – regardless if you are clearing your statement balance each month. So ensuring a zero balance on the reporting date is useful, if you are making applications in the subsequent 30 day period.

      In my experience the only thing that materially effects my live credit score is “High % utlisation of available credit”. When taking out credit applications then “% of income Vs usable credit” is also a big factor, but this is not reflected in the experian/credit expert scoring.

      This was a topic that interested me as in my previous employment had significant business expense on personal cards, that was several multiples my salary at the time… and i wanted to maximise my points position.

      • KBuffett says:

        Very useful. Thank you very much for such a detailed response. I don’t actually need the credit, it’s more for accumulating points. But I usually leave it for the whole month before paying it off. So I think I will just pay it off immediately.
        Do you think there is a downside to cycling through my credit limit three or four times in a month paying it off in quick succession to accumulate points?

        • the_real_a says:

          I dont think its the cycling of the credit limit in isolation thats an issue – there are many legitimate reasons for that – its more the type of transactions. If you are making multiple large transactions at a single merchant or making large amounts of “cash-like” transactions to manufacture miles then you will be referred to the compliance department quick as a flash to explain your actions.

    • Lady London says:

      Some cards apparently don;t like you front loading or won’t even let you if you ask them.

      • the_real_a says:

        Whilst true (and you technically lose S75 whilst in credit) – i have never had a proactive issue from the CC company when doing this. I have had an agent notice it and take issue when calling on an unrelated matter however. Its also worth noting that many CC dont allow you to spend more than your credit limit in a single transaction even if in credit.

    • Front loading isn’t going to affect it directly as the credit report doesn’t say that you did this. However it would show the balance at the time and some also show the payments you have made to the account, the payments would be more likely to have an effect.

    • Are you front loading for one massive transaction? If not, why not spend, wait for it to clear and empty the balance?

      There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this (can confirm I have done it on a Barclaycard and easily spent 5x my credit limit in a month), it doesn’t load your statement balance unduly (I actually pay down to zero the day before my statement is generated) and you don’t run the risk of suspending S75 or breaking the card terms?

      • Clearscore said I’d been flagged by AMEX after something like this. I needed to book £6k worth of flights, already had £4k which I’d be clearing in about a week. Paid down £2k, put the £6k through, paid down another £2k so never incurred interest but I got a message about overly high utilisation of the credit limit.

        I expected my clearscore rating to fall, but it didn’t which was also interesting.

      • Genghis says:

        Some credit institutions report total spend in a month whereas others don’t.

        • So if total spend in a month > credit limit it flags up, although won’t necessarily impact the rating???

        • Genghis says:

          Remember, what the agencies say your “score” is doesn’t matter. The facts are, however, that some credit institutions report total spend and others don’t. What a credit granting institution would then do with that information when they assess your credit report when applying for new credit, who knows.

          FWIW, I’ve spent 3 or 4 times my monthly limit on occasion without any cause for alarm on the supposed “scores”.

        • the_real_a says:

          @Tony – there are no flags as such. There is no red mark, or nasty comment from an AMEX representative, its simply a mathematical algorithm. You can have an excellent score in January, an awful score in February and then back to excellent in March. Its a very liquid measure of affordability but on an averaged basis based on your own history. Technically its recalculated on a daily basis, but it makes more practical sense to consider it on a monthly basis since CC report a snapshot on the 28th usually.

          What i mean by this is that if you have a history of carrying a debt of £5k a month on a £50k credit line and paying this off, a new debt of £10k in a given month will not particularly hit your credit score. However if you have a history of only carrying a debt of £300 a month on a £5k credit line, then a new £5k debt will obliterate your credit score UNTIL the day you pay it off… Note i’m calling debt rather than spend.

          So if you clear your balance before the credit agency reporting date, you never actually record a debt. Yes spend is recorded, but that has never impacted my score nor ability to apply for credit.

          Apologies for commenting so many times.

        • the_real_a says:

          To expand on Genghis comment.

          Credit reference scores via agencies – do not typically look at income. They simply estimate your ability to pay off debt based on your history of paying off debt.

          New applications at financial institutions – Absolutely assess affordability and will consider your income Vs your current debt and open credit lines + any commercial / profitability criteria.

          So a high experian credit score does not necessarily mean acceptance on new applications.

  3. Slightly OT: Does anyone have experience of the Indigo Manchester, particularly Spire on rewards stays?

    • Trickster says:

      It’s only been open for a few weeks, so probably not many people on here who can feed back. I walk past it regularly and the bar/restaurant looks nice.

  4. OT_ AM Error fare from last year

    Did anyone who booked AM error fare last September to various South American destination made the trip successfully?
    I have just been made aware that AM also offers the Chauffeur service to/from Heathrow Airport.
    Any other perks.
    Of course there will be SKY Team lounge access (though I will use Plaza Premium with my Amex Platinum card).

    • I just few black with AM last week (paid full price unfortunately) and I can say it was a good experience, comfertable seats, nice service/food and all on time.
      The only thing I will say is the lounge in Mexico City was pretty boring, a couple of yogurtsin the fridge and thats it, hardly any food or reading material.
      But if you have the Amex Plat there is a great Centurian Lounge right next door that you can access, great bar, showers, massage room (15mins free) and a lesser selection of food for UK plat cardholders.
      (I didnt know about the car service so thats a pain)

    • BlueHorizonUK says:

      My trip is scheduled for May. Couldn’t check the trip online last week (was working ok before) and started to panic that something had gone wrong but it turns out there was a time change and they needed to reconfirm on their side again (I think it was a plane change issue as they went from a 787-8 on the return to a 787-9 so the seats needed to be changed). New emails sent to me and working again online.

      As far as I know the only extra perk is the car service and I have successfully booked it. They use Tristar and send a E-Class for 1 or 2 passengers or a S-Class/V-Class for 3 or more people.

  5. Brighton Belle says:

    Looks like the London hotels have been awarded a 20 to 25% points increase. Which if you value the points at X pence is a swingeing price increase. Not much point in my IHG black card now.

    Shan’t be using IHG anymore. Cash prices at Hotels.com seems far more transparent if IHG choose to devalue points this rate. > 20%

    • Lady London says:

      My feelings exactly. Anything worth staying at in an urban centre seems to have gone up by 25%.

      Only hotels that would appear to likely be struggling, have gone down. Not that that’s unreasonable. It’s just that without any particular announcement 80% of those that have moved, have gone up the 25% or so.

      It will be interesting to see how IHG spin this.

      • A lot of Chinese hotels have dropped by 5k. I don’t think these changes can be considered a 20% devaluation…

        • Brighton Belle says:

          I am not likely to have a gallery weekend in China, London hotels are probably more likely where IHG require 20% more miles but won’t be charging 20% more cash booked through third party agents.

          Points holders are captured clients do why not rip them off?

        • You answered your own question.

  6. I bought 3 Groupon avios packages at the start of December; the 3rd lot have never posted despite the voucher being flagged as redeemed.

  7. OT_ IHG Reward Stay

    I have a booking for three consecutive nights as reward stay.
    I want to cancel one night but looks like I cannot change and drop it by one night.
    What is my best option, there is no availability for rewards night anymore, so unable to make use of split nights.

    Any thoughts!

    • Genghis says:

      Every time I’ve needed to do something similar the nights have gone back into reward inventory. Not sure if I was just lucky. I now book single nights for flexibility (so can swap in AMB nights, mine and wife’s Creation nights etc).

    • Might be worth chatting to hotel or IHG to see if they could amend booking to shorter stay? No personal experience I’m afraid. As Genghis says will likely drop back into reward pool although I’ve always worried that if totally full they might have switched over to make it only fall back into cash – not sure that’s technically feasible for them to do though anyway!

  8. Yawvaar says:

    OT: Just completed an overnight trip to Santander. The outgoing flight on Saturday was light, but on the way back on Sunday, it was full with no empty seats. Iberia must have done some aggressive overbooking to counter the no-shows.
    Those who are in doubt of visiting Santander, it is a nice little spanish town with a beach and promenade. Lots of eating and drinking places, I would recommend Bodega del Riojano (reservation
    recommended)

  9. Jill (Kinkell) says:

    Just did a few bookings for our Sept. road trip 4 places on our route are going up, so pleased to have booked. Thanks for heads up.

  10. Qwerty Bertie says:

    OT: Would be grateful to hear of past experiences please. My wife has just transferred some SPG points to BA – her/our first such transfer – and the email says “allow approximately six weeks”.

    How long did your first such transfer take please, if you recall?

    • The Urbanite says:

      I’ve transferred from SPG to Krisflyer and BAEC. In both cases, the points posted on the same day that the points from Amex dropped into the SPG account.

  11. Rob, you’ve got the Garuda flight going from both Heathrow (in the body text) and Gatwick (in the sub head)? Or is it switching airport here too?

  12. OT: Anyone have recommendations for holiday destinations for a 60 something mum in Asia to tag alongside the ARN to SIN Qatar fare? She has seen Hong Kong and Singapore before…loved them…but she was thinking of a different place to see too. I’m thinking Bangkok might be too spread out for her with not as much to see as Singapore or Hong Kong?

    • I found myself sitting next an 80 year old Australian woman on a MAS flight to London. She had been in Bangkok for a week sidetrip en route to visiting family in Europe. She loved every minute and was sorry to leave. Such a star, made me think getting old need not be so bad after all. I would argue Bangkok has more to see and do than HK and Singapore combined, certainly so if she is prepared to do day tours.If she enjoys shopping Bangkok cannot be beat. And another plus is that taxi travel is cheap, comfortable and practical.

      • As with many places around the world, if going Bangkok (which I deffo recommend), make sure that before your mum gets into the taxi, that they will be using the meter. So many taxis didn’t want to use it, or said it had mysteriously broken. The taxi associations should probably tender for a different meter model, if that were really the case 😉

        • The when and where they want to use the meter is poorly understood by most customers. If you just want to make a short hop near one of the CBD and/or in rush hour the taxi drivers are reluctant to use the meter as they can lose out big time. This is especially true of late where their ability to pick up and drop off at malls etc has become more restricted. In these scenarios I have not found the fares quoted ludicrous but you can always negotiate it down or try another taxi. Nevrr underdtood the reluctance to pay 100 for a taci ride that they would pay 150-200 on a tuktuk. From the centre they will also often try their luck with no meter to the airport but if pressed they will accept meter if they really want the custom. Last time I went from Nana to the airport first taxi wanted 600B? waved her on, taxi immediately behind asked 500, shook my head. Next taxi pulled up and probably having seen me decline two, suggested 400 which I’m happy to pay.

        • The taxi fare thing really annoys me about BKK – more should be done to iron out the flagrantly unfair practices.

          Got ripped off the first time I got there although I didn’t realise what the prices should have been.

          If you are taking a taxi from the airport, do not give over the receipt to the driver that they give you. If the driver asks for it there is a very good chance by the end of the journey he will ask for a stupid amount of money…. if you’re going into a decent hotel just tell the concierge what has happened before coughing up.

        • Genghis says:

          Only time a taxi driver has tried it on with me was going from the high speed station to the Bund in Shanghai. The driver refused to pull into the WA grounds but pulled up around the corner. He wanted nearly £45. I just laughed in his face and he then got his boss on the phone who said that was the price. I told the driver then to open the boot and my wife got our cases out. I was ready to head lock the driver. Once outside with our cases, I then said that we’ll go to the hotel to sort it out but he then started crying. I gave him about £3 for his trouble and walked off into the hotel. The price for the journey I was told should have been £8-10…

    • If she is active Borobodur in Indonesia or Ankor in Cambodia are don’t miss in your lifetime wonders of asia; you can fly direct-ish (whats a couple of hours in a car) to both from Singapore.

      If it’s to see the city sights primarily; Hoi An is flat and beautiful and far more compact than BKK; and has beaches near by if you want a rest. If your budget stretched to it (or you can get on points) the IC in Danang is spectacular and a good base to see Hoi an and a number of other landmarkplaces. Though there are lots of hotels in the city; possibly including a crown plaza.

      KL is pretty spectacular has some colonial places left (and a nice train station); but its Singapore on a lower budget/ quality standard. The big cities in Vietnam are a bit like Bangkok only more manic. Vientiane in Laos is old asia if that is something you want; has the Temples but isnt quite as manic as Bangkok.

      My top recommendation would be to Hoi An as its quaint and historic and flat (https://www.flickr.com/photos/u07ch/sets/72157657835743188 );
      Borobodur would come second (https://www.flickr.com/photos/u07ch/sets/72157674207396147)

    • Lady London says:

      Vietnam seems to be very popular these days. Apparently Laos and Cambodia also beautiful, also with nice food.

    • Thanks for the ideas everyone! She is quite active but she doesn’t like walking a lot. I will be there with her too but she likes everything to be walkable rather than needing transport to get around which is probably what appealed to her about HK and Singapore. I hadn’t thought about Vietnam though…I did suggest maybe see a few other places in Asia around the SIngapore area but she said she would prefer just to travel to one other city / area…lots of thinking/planning haha

      Very impressed that the 80 something Australian lady got around BKK so well!

      • Why not Bali then? Or even Jakarta – if she doesn’t mind dynamic urban places.
        Malacca/Melaka in Malaysia is great and so is Pinang – they have a great HI Resort there where may partner and I stayed in 2017 and many other hotels

  13. 10k Virgin Atlantic Miles for life insurance have posted for me.

  14. Kelly Temple says:

    I am really interested in the Bali direct flight from the U.K. however having just searched early Feb on the days you suggest I am unable to locate the flight. Do you know specific dates when this change comes into play and when it will be available on their website to book.

    • It may have slipped – I saw it for 12th Feb onwards yesterday, not sure how far back it goes. I was told 31st January.

  15. Daftboy says:

    Just a datapoint on Groupon – I purchased and redeemed in the last batch on 3rd Jan and they appeared in my account on 9th Jan

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