Bits: Finnair launches Sapporo (bookable on Avios), 100% bonus buying Hilton points, SPG Amex interest

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News in brief:

Finnair launches Sapporo

Finnair, a British Airways partner in the oneworld alliance, will launch flights to Sapporo in Japan this Winter.  It becomes the first European airline to fly to the city since KLM dropped the route back in 2002.

The service will only operate for a short period between 15th December and 27th March 2020.  Flights will depart from Helsinki on Thursdays and Sundays.

Sapporo will be the 5th Finnair destination in Japan following Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and Fukuoka.  The direct route from the UK to Japan takes you over Scandinavia which is why the flight time from Helsinki to Sapporo is only 8hr 55 min.

Booked with Avios, Economy seats are 50,000 points + £254.  Business Class is 150,000 Avios + £362.

Finnair appears to have released two Economy and two Business Class seats per flight, and availability was good when I looked yesterday.

100% bonus when you buy Hilton Honors points

Hilton Honors is (again) offering a 100% bonus when you purchase 10,000+ points.

The Hilton ‘buy points’ page is here.

Regular readers of Head for Points will know that I tend to value Hilton points at 0.33p each.  You are paying 0.39p ($1,600 / £1,250 for 320,000 with a 100% bonus) here if you buy the maximum so the maths in general doesn’t work.

HOWEVER ….. there ARE real bargains to be had at peak periods.  At the top end, the Conrad Maldives is usually 95,000 points per night.  Via this offer you would be paying under $500 per night which is a great deal.  We did a big review of Conrad Maldives here.  Remember that you can pool points between Hilton members for free so it is now easier for different people to buy points and merge them together.

Hilton also does ‘five for four’ if you have Hilton Honors status.  As Hilton will status match you from any other hotel scheme where you may have status, most HFP readers should qualify for this.  Taking 10th – 15th February as an example, five nights would cost you (95,000 x 4) 380,000 points which would cost $1,900 with this deal.  A non-refundable cash rate would cost $5,260.  

Similar deals are available at peak times in other major cities.  Conrad New York, for example, costs $3,100 for a five-night stay from 3rd to 8th May.  Buying 320,000 points via this deal would cost just $1,600.   Conrad New York is an ‘all suite’ hotel which I recommend.

If you are just buying a handful of points to top off your account, the price per point doesn’t matter anyway.  If you a few thousand short of a redemption then this is a decent opportunity to buy them.

You can buy points via this link.  The offer ends on 26th February.

Starwood American Express card interest rate

Amex increases the interest rate on the Starwood Amex

American Express increased the interest rate on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card and the little-known Costco American Express card (reviewed here) yesterday.

Both cards saw the interest rate on purchases increase from 19.9% to 22.9%.  The overall interest rate on the SPG card, including the £75 annual fee and assuming a £1200 credit limit, is now 39.7%.  This brings it in line with the British Airways and Nectar Amex cards.

This should hopefully be of no relevance whatsoever to HFP readers, because anyone who pays interest on their credit card should not have a miles and points card!  I recently published this article on reward credit cards which also have low interest rates.

The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express comes with a sign-up bonus of 30,000 points.  This is worth around £150 of free hotel rooms via the Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest scheme, or it can be converted into 10,000 Avios or other airline miles.  There are many airlines where the SPG Amex is now the best way of earning miles in the UK from a credit card – Air Canada Aeroplan, American Airline AAdvantage, United MileagePlus, Qatar Airways Privilege Club etc.

My full review of the Starwood Amex is here.  The application form is 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.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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  1. Ot
    just received an email from IHG saying I have earnth my free night voucher for staying two nights at the selected hotels.. Although I have only stayed one night at one of the hotels. Can’t see the free night on my account so assume they have sent the emails out in error. Anyone else got one?

    • Not had that email myself.

    • Me to. I think it means everyone who is registered with IHG (that’s the earned bit covered) will get a free night cert if they spend two successive nights at select properties. That’s how I read it but perhaps someone else has another view.

      • You’ve earned it. We hope you enjoyed two nights at our new UK hotels. Now you can stay anywhere, on us!

        As our gift to you, your next night is on us (*room rate only), redeemable until 31 October 2019. With over 5,000 IHG® hotels around the world to choose from, the possibilities are endless. Where will you go?

        • Sounds good – perhaps their IT has worked in your favour? Would expect it to show on your account though (like a credit card free night cert), not sure you can do much to chase it if you’ve only stayed one night tho!

    • Lady London says:

      IIRC the total required was 2 nights. which could actually have been consecutive, on the same booking in the same hotel. not 2 stays (unusually).

      sounds like you’ve qualified for it.

      • I thought Rob mc said he’d only stayed at one hotel for one night though?

        • I only did one night…

        • Lady London says:

          Thought he might have done a 2 night stay at another and not realised that this time, that was enough to qualify rather than 2 2 night stays

      • Do we know if the “Mastercard Partner Rate up to 30% Off” would qualify as the T&Cs state “Members must book (Qualifying rates only)”?
        A Sunday night at Wotton House would bring the rate down to £79.

        • According to InsideFlyerUK it does.

        • I googled it before, and a “qualifying rate” is one that is up to 30% off.
          So yes, should be ok, as was the Avis preferred discount.

  2. Anyone know how long VA point transfers to Hilton are taking at the moment to credit?

  3. OT//

    Booked 2 First Class (oneway) tickets to the US this morning to secure the seats using my 2-4-1.

    I’m awaiting for 20k Amex MR points to transfer to my BA account, Am I right to believe take it I can add the return at any point in the future It doesn’t need to be in the 24hr period? (As long as they are still there?)

    Tried to call and ask BA this morning and the guy I had wouldn’t even entertain the idea and wouldn’t let me book a oneway (so I booked online).

    • Numerous people on this site have added return segments on a 2 4 1 booking by phone after booking the outbound when the required return seats were released, the only potential issue being that the seats might be taken by someone else before the booking can be made.

    • I’ve had no problems adding a return after booking outbound when released at T-355 and waiting for the return date to become available. Significance of 24h is that this is the window you can amend a booking free of charge; after that you might be charged a change fee of £35pp.

      For info I did an Amex to BAEC transfer last week and points took 48 hours to hit my BAEC account; initiated late morning on Monday and the points were there Wednesday morning.

  4. rams1981 says:

    Curve pay model free for first 6 months for Amex beta users. Not bad

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