Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

More thoughts on whether air miles should be banned to reduce climate change

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There was a big reaction to my piece on Tuesday about whether frequent flyer schemes should be banned because they encourage additional flying which exacerbates climate change.

Here are four interesting asides – three of which you should NOT take too seriously – from the last 24 hours:

I apologise to any HfP readers who live in Continental Europe and who watch Sky News.  As was posted in our comments yesterday:

“Sky News don’t fill the ad breaks with ads out here in Europe – you get some ads but also filler pieces and snips of ‘international’ news interest.  Twice an hour I’m getting Rob’s 5 second analysis of Frequent Flyer programs, it’s unrelenting.”

We can only hope that the reader who posted:

“You really need to work on your delivery when speaking. You sound like a chav. And surely your office is big enough for the camera to actually be in it?!?!”

…. isn’t in Continental Europe …. (and, no, our office is not big enough to take a full size TV camera, a lighting rig and leave the required gap between the lens and my face.)

I moderated a panel discussion at the Flybe leadership conference in Exeter on Tuesday.  During the Q&A, one member of the audience – who introduced herself as a 23-year old graduate trainee – asked myself and Flybe’s head of loyalty, who was on stage with me, whether we thought a loyalty scheme was the right thing to do given the environmental concerns.  The genie is out of the bottle.

The best comment I saw on this topic, which I repeated on stage at Flybe, came in an email from a reader.  He claimed that Avios and BAEC were a force for good against climate change.  British Airways business class is so dreadful that everyone would be taking more harmful indirect flights on Emirates, Etihad etc if it wasn’t for the lure of the tier points …..

The report that kicked off this debate was written by academics at Imperial College.  A comment posted on HfP on Tuesday said that Imperial College staff are not allowed to collect frequent flyer miles or hotel points when travelling on university business.  I have absolutely no confirmation if this is true or not, or whether it may have influenced their report 🙂  (EDIT: we now have the actual policy in the comments below. Miles collected whilst travelling on Imperial College business are “not for personal use” and should therefore be redeemed for future business travel.)

Comments (168)

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  • Aston100 says:

    Off Topic:
    Can anyone please confirm if the following statements are true when booking a QR flight ex EU costing 3500 Euros?
    1. Using a BAPP via the QR site, you will incur a 2.99% foreign currency fee. You will earn *1.5 avios on the converted Sterling value of the cost.
    2. Using a BAPP via Amex Travel Services, the price will be in Sterling. You will earn *1.5 avios.
    3. Using a Preferred Rewards Gold credit card via the QR site, you will incur a 2.99% foreign currency fee. You will earn 4 MR per pound once converted to Sterling. 2 MR for foreign currency and 2 MR for an airline purchase. These should stack.
    4. Using a Preferred Rewards Gold credit card via Amex Travel Services, the price will be in Sterling. You will earn 3 MR per pound spent.

    Amex customer services live chat wasn’t clear about point 3. Seeming unsure whether the 2 bonuses would stack.

    Thanks.

    • Waddle says:

      On point number three yes the bonuses stack but not in the way you think. It is one extra point per bonus. So one MR for spend, one extra MR for foreign spend and one extra MR for airline spend. So you get 3 MR per £ not 4. If you haven’t hit the 10k MR annual bonus on £15k spend you can also factor in 0.66 MR but this would apply to points 3 & 4.

      • Aston100 says:

        Thank you.
        So would you say the best reward is booking the flight via Amex Travel using the preferred rewards gold card?
        Assuming both give out 3 MR per pound, but there is no foreign usage fee with Amex Travel as it’s already priced in pounds?
        That said, I am fairly sure the price of the flights was a bit higher than going directly to Qatar site (and converting to pounds). In other words, I wonder if they both work out the same price and rewards in the end (Amex Travel possibly bumping the price up vs foreign fee with QR euros purchase)?

        • Waddle says:

          You’re right. If the Amex travel price is within 2.99% of the price directly then going it’s a no brainer. However the pound has been doing well in the recent days and in my experience it takes a while for Amex travel to reflect the change in its prices. You should make a rough currency conversion on the price if going direct on a site like xe.com and see. If the difference is negligible then I would go Amex travel.

      • Doug M says:

        Regarding point 3. I sent Rob the screenshot yesterday. I got my 3MR on an Euro AA booking, but only got 2MR on a US$ Alaska booking. I did a chat with Amex and the agents position was that the AA one was an error, and the Alaska one was correct, the rewards don’t stack to be 3MR per airline in foreign currency. The small amount involved and the effort of the chat means I’ll not be returning to it. But the 3MR maybe currency or airline dependant as a result of an Amex IT error, or it maybe a different error on Alaska and the agent just went with whatever got rid of me. I have 2 different AA Euro bookings that have resulted in 3MR. But be be aware, it may on occasion be 2MR not 3.

        • meta says:

          This might have changed then, but when I had Gold card last year I used to get 4MR points per £1 (both airline and foreign spend) when booking in foreign currency on Air France, Turkish Airlines, AA and a few others. I can’t remember exactly. Don’t have the card anymore, but can try to dig up old statements to check if of interest.

          • Aston100 says:

            Right, and given the conversation I had with Amex, they just weren’t clear enough if the 2 sets of ‘bonuses’ stack or not.
            The agent seeming to err on the side of “it’s one or the other, and probably not both together”.

            Anyway, I think I will just book through Amex Travel services for the guaranteed 3 MR, rather than take a risk of only getting 2 MR if booking directly with the airline (in Euros) AND getting hit for a 2.99% conversion fee.

            Thanks.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            It “stacks” but you only get 3 not 4.

            You get

            1 per £1 for any qualifying spend on Gold
            1 per £1 for any airline spend on Gold
            1 per £1 for any foreign spend on Gold

          • Doug M says:

            @TGLoyalty. I agree it may stack, but did you read my post? I can’t find anything published by Amex that makes their position clear on it.

          • Genghis says:

            I’ve had 3MR/£ recently on BA and EasyJet, both one ways priced in CHF from ZRH and GVA respectively.

  • TripRep says:

    Sounds like the action at Canning Town tube was “rogue rebels” ie not sanctioned by the XR high command.

    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/oct/17/extinction-rebellion-activists-london-underground

    Also mentions the 83yr old Christian bagging his 13th arrest, sounds like he had a bucket list item to tick off. Anyone else wondering why “God” hasn’t saved us?

    • Anna says:

      Hmm, think back to the last time torrential rain and rising waters got out of hand – that only ended well for Noah!

      • Cat says:

        Well, one pair from each species fared alright too, but the population bottleneck would have wreaked havoc on the genetic diversity of each species (were it true).

  • BJ says:

    O/T: New Brexit deal agreed…let’s all move to Northern Ireland!

    • Lady London says:

      It occurred to me that perhaps after Brexit thé EU light invite Nthn Ireland and Scotland to joint in their own right? Current solution makes Ireland an ongoing problem.

      • Paul Pogba says:

        They might, but then the French and Spanish might not like the idea of the Basques, Catalans and Corsicans using the precedent. Nor the Czechs and the Moravians, the Belgians and the Flemish, Germans and the Bavarians,.. you get the idea.

      • BJ says:

        No chance. EU, like every Westminster government, sees and wants Scotland to stay part of the UK and will do their utmost to maintain the status quo as that is in their interests. However, the UK is unsustainable, at least in its current form, as is the continuing refusal of Westminster to allow another referendum. That should be a devolved matter for the Scottish, Welsh and NI authorities alone. Personally, I would prefer to see a Federal UK with HoC becoming England’s assembly and the HoL being abolished and replaced with a Federal assembly dealing with Federal issues. The problem at the moment as I see it is that, despite having devolved administrations, we still have a one size fits all approach to governing many key aspects of the UK. This does not reflect the different needs and aspirations of the four constituent Nations, and even less so the different English regions who arguably have the worst deal of all under current approaches. However, I believe it is already to late to go down the Federal route as a demographic majority for Scottish independence now appears to be locked down so it is only a matterof time. Indeed, were it not for loyalty to the Labour Party and movement here, Scotland would probably be independent already. The divisions over Brexit both illustrated and presented an opportunity to address many of the problems facing the Union but May was too hung up with keeping the Conservative Party together at all costs, and BoJo with his own personal aspirations to seize the opportunity. The problems in Ireland could have been avoided by allowing both NI and Scotland to remain in the CM and CU as they voted for, and having the customs border between Scotland and England as opposed to in Ireland. However, with only 1 in 11 needing to change their minds on Scottish independence, I doubt the SNP would have agreed to support any dolution that might have made people in Scotland happier with the Union. For the SNP and those supporting Scottish independence, no deal or any hard Brexit in combination with BoJo is a gift from heaven.

        • memesweeper says:

          Lot of good sense in one post there BJ. +1 for the UK to morph into a more loose federation, looking at Foreign Affairs, Citizenship, Defence and such like. Most of everything else devolved.

    • Anna says:

      There will definitely be a deal as I have just paid £75 to get a new passport 6 months early, which would only be necessary in the event of no deal.

      • pauldb says:

        What potential benefit do you think your early passport might get you.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Think this has to do with the having more than 10 years life on your passport and needing 6 months of life left before expiry

          So if you were 9 year 7 months into a 10 year and 6 months long passport it would be invalid for travel

          • Shoestring says:

            yep under EU passport rules (ie which will apply to UK passport holders when trying to enter the EU)
            – no passport may have more than 10 years’ validity/ they expire 10 months after ‘valid from’ date – so the final few months on a UK passport, if you got a few extra months added onto your 10 years, are not valid
            – you must have 6 *valid* months left on your UK passport when entering the EU

          • Shoestring says:

            * they expire 10 YEARS after issue date

      • Lady London says:

        I did exactly the same in March.
        Turned out it does not seem to have been necessary.

    • Shoestring says:

      Don’t forget the Maybot *also* agreed a Brexit deal

      Boris could get the EU to agree to umpteen different Brexit deals providing he gives away enough – getting a Brexit deal ratified by Parliament is a completely different matter

      • BJ says:

        I thought DUP had caved so I posted, only to learn they hadn’t (for the time being at least).

  • Jon says:

    O/T I think I read others mentioning this recently but my new recently created Amex online account is not displaying my spend target progress (for a new Platinum card) I have spent £2500 but there is no mention anywhere of progress towards my expected spend bonus (spend £4000 in x months to earn xxxxx MR points)

    is this normal or should I be concerned ?

    • BJ says:

      It is not normal but is now common. You should not be worried though, you will get your bonus.

    • Aston100 says:

      I logged a ticket through the live chat. It was finally fixed for me after a month of waiting and chasing.

  • Alan says:

    Anyone else add the Marriott offer to their Amex card only to find it has disappeared?

  • BlueHorizonuk says:

    OT – Do we think the Car Hire insurance from Amex Platinum is better/worse/same as Questor Insurance?

    Anyone had any experience of both/either?

    Thanks

    • Charlieface says:

      Only got experience with Questor and it wasn’t much bother. I think Amex is less paperwork, but Questor isn’t too bad as they go. Both will pay no problem I think.
      MSE have a 25% off for Questor.

    • Rob says:

      Plat is fully comprehensive, pays up, no questions asked in my experience – not sure what could top it.

    • BigSi says:

      I’ve had excellent experience with AMEX plat.

    • Lady London says:

      I have used Questor and several other competitors (I particularly like Bettersafe, but Questor does sell cover for vehicles that are not cars etc.). However the Amex Platinum car hire cover is probably the only reason I regret not having an Amex Plat. (Priority Pass isn’t a reason for having Amex anymore if you need to use lounges at major UK airports. )Amex Plat coverage a lot better and people have reported over and over again claiming without problem. It also covers you close to worldwide. Any coverage involving hires in North America is steeply priced with all the providers.

      My advice is go with Amex Plat coverage.
      Keep an eye on this feature, though, as Amex have withdrawn it from cards in some other countries.

  • Waddle says:

    OT Hotel in Paris recommendation
    Weekend away in November. Friday + Saturday night. No specific area preference. Picking up Ms Waddle from a business trip in the Opera area. Have Hilton Diamond and Marriott Gold (plus £50 back from £200 Amex offer). Happy to go boutique/independent/non-chain. Any readers have good recommendations?

    • Michael C says:

      Hi Chris (Waddle!):
      We’re doing something similar in Dec. for Xmas markets/shopping.
      Not stayed there yet, but after a fair bit of mooching around, I went for the Hilton Opera. Reviews a bit mixed, but inside looks gorgeous, has a lounge, and of course for a short city trip, it’s the locations. Near the big shops and metro to everywhere, and not far from CDG coach.
      Have a goodie!

      • BJ says:

        I already suggested Hilton Opera or Renaissance Republique to Waddle but because I posted links it is being moderated. If you search here, you will find both have been reviewed by Rob on HfP before and he is planning to update the latter as I believe he said he is there this week.

    • Aston100 says:

      I would recommend the area around Montparnasse.
      Mostly because of ease of access to everywhere / metro / straight forward connection to CDG.
      Some decent looking hotels in the area.

    • Lyn says:

      The Opera area is walking distance to quite a lot of places and is very well-served with bus routes to almost anywhere in Paris if, like us, you prefer to stay above ground and see your surroundings. The Roissy bus to CDG from Rue Scribe is really useful too.

      Although your wife may want to stay somewhere else if she has already spent some time there on business! Hope you both enjoy your Paris weekend.

    • MarkH says:

      Stayed at the Renaissance Republique (with points) based pretty much on the reviews in here and wasn’t disappointed.

      Comfortable hotel and great connections to the rest of the city, inc walking distance to Le Marais, Canal St Martin and some lovely bakeries and restaurants.

    • Waddle says:

      Thanks everyone for all the responses! Will check out Hilton Paris Opera and the Renaissance mentioned.

  • Young L says:

    OT, any Billhop promos at the moment? Thanks.

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