Bits: new 50% ‘buy Avios’ bonus, update on Flybe’s loyalty plans, new Mastercard / Visa fee caps

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News in brief:

50% bonus when you buy Avios

British Airways has launched another ‘buy Avios’ bonus promotion.

Until 21st May you will receive 50% bonus Avios when you buy or gift points.

This is as high a bonus as we see these days and there is no minimum purchase.  The bonus kicks in with the smallest 1,000 Avios transaction.  You need to visit via this page in order to buy.

British Airways has increased the number of Avios you can buy under this deal – the cap is now 200,000 points per year!  This means that, with the bonus, you will receive 300,000 Avios for a whopping £3,215.

This is not necessarily a great idea as the best value is generally obtained by buying a small number of Avios to top off your account.  If you saw me on BBC1’s Rip Off Britain last year (you can watch the segment here, it is only 3 minutes long) you will know that one of the members of the public I tried to help had bought 100,000 Avios for £1,600 without fully understand the restrictions behind them.

What does it cost?

In general, you will pay around 1.1p per Avios under this offer.  Based on my spreadsheet of the last 7 million Avios I redeemed, I got 1.15p of value.  This is using very conservative valuations for the flights booked, eg I value a Business Class flight to Dubai at £1,500 because even if BA isn’t charging that there is usually a deal with a secondary airline.

I am not a buyer at 1.1p.  However, as my core article on ‘What is an Avios worth?’ shows, it is easy to get a lot more than 1.1p.  My valuation is low because I do a lot of Gold Priority Rewards (using double Avios to force open a seat, mainly due to school holiday restrictions) and don’t always have a BA Amex 2-4-1 voucher to use.  I also tend to use Avios irrespective of the value, because I am sitting on a lot of them.  If you are strategic you should do far better than me.

The link to buy is here.

50% buy Avios bonus

Flybe is not launching a new loyalty scheme imminently

Flybe‘s partnership with Avios came to an end on 30th April. 

It is no longer possible to earn or spend Avios with Flybe, although existing redemptions will be honoured.  For clarity, even if you booked a Flybe cash flight before 30th April, whilst the Avios deal was still running, you will not be earning any points.

I checked in with Flybe to see if there were any plans to launch a new scheme.  They said:

We are currently working on an exciting new loyalty programme, designed to better suit the needs of our regional customer base.  Customer loyalty is very important to us here at Flybe and our aim is to deliver a loyalty programme that recognises and rewards all our customers.  We will be communicating further details in due course.

As Virgin Atlantic is now a core investor in Flybe, it wouldn’t be surprising to see some element of earning and spending Virgin Flying Club miles in the future.

Virgin Atlantic does not seem to be in a rush to rebrand the airline, although the Virgin Atlantic CEO has confirmed that it will, in time, be renamed “Virgin Something”.  I would imagine that they are keen to ensure that Flybe’s fleet and punctuality issues are fixed before they start putting their name on the fuselage.  We may need to wait until a rebranding to start earning and spending Flying Club miles.

Virgin rebranding of Flybe

Mastercard and Visa cutting fees for foreign credit card holders in the EU

In case you missed it in the mainstream press last week, Mastercard and Visa have made a further concession to the EU over their demands for lower interchange fees.

Both companies have agreed to cut the fees they charge retailers when they process debit or credit cards issued outside the EU.

Mastercard and Visa are already obliged to cap interchange fees at 0.2% for debit cards and 0.3% for credit cards on transactions made in the EU on EU-issued cards.  From 19th October, this cap is now voluntarily extended to all Mastercard and Visa cards issued globally.

Online purchases made from EU retailers with non-EU credit cards are excluded.  Mastercard and Visa have voluntarily agreed a separate cap for online transactions of 1.15% for debit cards and 1.5% for credit cards.  The justification for this is that there is greater fraud risk with online spending – the cost of which is pushed back to the card issuer – and that PayPal, Alipay etc provide greater competition in online payment processing.

This will have no impact on UK cardholders, but it will start to tighten the screws on the profits of foreign-issued credit cards.  In time, this is likely to lead to the end of the high sign-up and spend incentives seen in, say, the United States.

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Bits: £50 off Virgin Atlantic Premium to the US, Hilton India sale, Norwegian aircraft swaps
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  1. Russ says:

    OT and even though this is a very worthy discussion, with comments from arguably the best point’s collectors in the business, it’s the Bank Holiday and time and flights wait for no one. Have a good one folks!

  2. Rash says:

    OT: Does anyone have a link to the Car hire excess insurance terms and conditions provided by Amex Platinum (AXA)? I cannot seem to find it

  3. rams1981 says:

    OT IHG rewards nights. Can these be booked for someone else at Staybridge Suites?

    • Yes. Put a note in the comments saying ‘reward night, guest will be XXXXX’. Book for 2 people, and also add the name of the other person as 2nd guest.

  4. OT do the referral points for Amex count as card year or actual year? I used mine up already in Jan referring family, most of who still want to keep their cards.
    I cancelled the card last month and might be taking it out soon from green, will I still get referral points if I refer?

    • Calendar.

      • MoJack says:

        I know thats true. And when an amex rep just told me on the phone that it works per card anniversary i was quick to correct him. Then we had a small argument. He was sure he was right, i knew i was. Some of these reps are so clueless.

        • Mark2 says:

          On the Platinum that I held Apr 18 to Apr 19 I did five referrals in 18 and five in 19 (and was not charged £450 because it was an upgrade from Gold).

          • Anna says:

            +1 – what a year that was!

          • I had to cancel mine in early November to avoid a fee so missed out on XXk this year. It was a tough call to ditch or hold. Given what has happened I am quite happy as it means I can apply and get bonus again in about 18m not 24m and that will coincide quite well with my need for Hilton status if it’s still a benefit. Only downside is I’m now stuck without MR card and missing the Amazon bandwagon amongst others yet to come. Referring off my BAPP at the moment so there are still reasonable pickings. Amex may no longer be what it was but it’s still the best game in town.

        • Lady London says:

          Erm………..I thought you were in business, BJ?

  5. Henry Hesketh says:

    I have an Wild account with over 23000 points in it back have emailed me but the message has been lost would be please call me back as l wish to redeem .many thanks Henry Hesketh

  6. Colin says:


    I have a BAPP with monthly Avios balance waiting to be swept across, probably in about 10 days. Is there anyway to get them sooner? (I wish to use them urgently)


  7. Isaac Bermejo says:

    I just don’t get the FlyBE FFFiasco… FlyBE is to become (someday ok) a regional franchise of Virgin Atlantic. We all know how that works: using the BE AOC to trade as VS instead of its own code. Fine with the branding concerns about recent “operational issues”.
    But, what exactly would be the risk on adding FlyBE as a Flying Club partner? Just like Singapore, Delta, Hawaiian and the others…

    • Chris L says:

      I think it’s partly the operational issues – I can vouch for these. I think there’s also an issue with service. For those of us who live and work outside London, Flybe is a bus service. We rely on it to get us places – which is sometimes successful. As an experience, t’s certainly not glamorous, not especially comfortable and doesn’t currently chime with the Virgin brand.

      • JamesLHR says:

        Which is why in the industry they’re referred to as FlyMayBe!

        First time on them at Easter, nothing of the onboard product match’s the Virgin image. Does A to B and that’s it.

    • Yawn says:

      I’ve tried their direct Cardiff to Rome flight and it was just too terrible, especially the absence of online check in in Italy, which meant you had to queue for a boarding pass even when traveling with hand luggage only. I’ve gone back to flying via Amsterdam with KLM!

  8. Why bother buying Avios when you can hardly make use of your existing ones? I tried to upgrade my flights several times with points but not allowed unless I pay in money. And if you think you can pay partly in points when booking a flight, BA makes sure you get very low value for it, for eg 6700 points for a reduction of fifty pounds. Its a joke really

    • Waddle says:

      Did you check availability before you upgraded? You can only upgrade if there is reward/redemption availability in the next cabin.

      • Anna says:

        Quite – you will get very frustrated if you can’t accept the “rules” of redemption. But for me that makes it more of a game!

      • Yes I did but to no avail either but what difference does that make? I’m not sure I followed?

  9. Qwerty Bertie says:

    Any recent data points on how long a business platinum application takes please?

  10. Stella64 says:

    Have VS announced which routes will have the new A350s? I have a couple of premium upgrade tickets that expire in June. Thanks.

  11. D. T. says:

    Hi all

    I am looking for some advice regarding buying avios.

    We just flew a return from Glasgow to JFK via Heathrow in first class (business from Glasgow) This was a return flight, it cost us 148000 avios and £580 each in taxes. We used a BA 2 4 1 voucher.

    We currently have another voucher ready to use and a second is forthcoming. However neither my wife or myself fly for work and so we collected the avios over a couple of year via credit card bonuses and tesco vouchers.

    So apart from the usual credit card spend, and the friends referral what other options is there for collecting avios to use these vouchers, I want to redeem a long haul and europe flight, I am expecting to need over 150000 more avios.

    Thanks in advance.

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