Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

British Airways adds new routes whilst Virgin Atlantic expands at Manchester

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British Airways has added two new services for the Summer 2020 timetable, which starts at the end of March.

These services are now available for Avios redemption, so if you previously struggled to find seats to these destinations you may want to take another look.

New Orleans – a new Tuesday flight has been added, taking the service to six per week

Nassau and Grand Cayman (the same flight serves both destinations) – a new Tuesday flight has been added, taking the service to five per week

British Airways adds additional New Orleans flight

Virgin Atlantic adds more flights from Manchester and Gatwick

Virgin Atlantic has added more services from Manchester and London Gatwick for Summer 2020.  This is in response to the failure of Thomas Cook which served many of the same routes.

Here are the changes:

An additional flight from Manchester to Barbados will run for the entire Summer season (late March to late October), taking the service from two per week to three per week

An additional two flights per week will be added between Manchester and Las Vegas over the peak Summer period

An additional one to two flights per week will be added between Manchester and Orlando over the peak Summer period (Virgin will be running 14 weekly flights between Manchester and Orlando at times!)

An additional two flights per week will be added between London Gatwick and Orlando over the peak Summer period, meaning that Virgin will be running 18 weekly flights at times

These flights do not go on sale until tomorrow, Saturday 9th.  Virgin Atlantic does not have a policy over releasing guaranteed reward seats at the same time as booking opens, although it is certainly worth checking tomorrow to see if anything is available.

You can book via the Virgin Atlantic site here.

HFP Virgin Atlantic Rewards credit card

How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (November 2020)

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points 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 Points

As well as the two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (see here, one has a bonus of 15,000 Points), you can also earn from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.

(Want to earn more Virgin Points?  Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)

Comments (228)

  • MattB says:

    OT – question regarding AAA discounts on US hotels. We have booked our flights for next summer and Ive been looking at hotel prices….not pretty they seem way higher than our trip last year…..more than just the change in x-rates. Anyway I noticed a few offered AAA discount which was quite a nice saving in one hotel in particular, is it still the case that having a UK AA account would enable me to get these rates? I googled it and one of the first results was of course from HFP from last year!

    • Lyn says:

      I think so. The UK AA is one of the US AAA’s international affiliates – so you’d get reciprocal benefits. You could search for “AAA international relations” or try this link and scroll down to hotels

      • Lyn says:

        Just noticed that it even says you can download and print a temporary AAA card to be used along with your normal AA card while you are in the US.

      • Lyn says:

        It might be useful for local maps and advice and even roadside assistance if you were unlucky enough to need it. Or reduced rates for rental cars.

    • Lady London says:

      In practice I have found it accepted at IHG and Marriott hotels in the US. Was asked a couple of times to produce the card on checking and was told accepted as same. Unsure if would be the same everywhere.

      One thing I always do is check the local rates on offer first without using any special discounts. Often seasonal local discounts mean the standard price is lower for a particular night, than using any special code or membership. This works quite well in the UK IME at some times of year.

      Of course some special rate codes may also get you free breakfast or early checkin or late checkout or better cancellation terms so I check both. Standard rate first whilst logged in, then trying the special rates I have. This sequence is just in case using the special rate might stop me seeing a better standard rate on a later search even if ibdont insert the special rate. But that’s probably me being overcautious.

      • Lady London says:

        PS Have also had RAC card accepted in US a couple of times on same basis.

        BTW my US work colleagues used to tell me the AAA codes also work well to get better car hire prices there. AA card defo accepted as equivalent apparently.

        • RussellH says:

          Does the AA card have to be valid?
          I have a yellow one and a silver one; neither has an expiry date, both just turned up in the post some years back when I had home insurance through the AA.
          I got some useful discounts at some motorway services, usually they just looked at the card, but once they did swipe it – still got the discount though…

  • Ian says:

    Amazing. Just done 3 course meal with a glass of wine for 2 at Prezzo. Works out at a total cost of £12.74. Madness.

  • Harry T says:

    My Waitrose offers on my Platinum is spend £35£, get 5% back. On my BAPP, it’s spend £65 get 4%.

    Once again, my partner’s Gold wins – spend 20£, get 5% back.

    • mark2 says:

      Check whether you get 10% off Morrisons on any of your cards (currently on most of my SPG/Gold).
      They sell John Lewis/Waitrose gift cards and many others including Amazon.

      • Harry T says:

        Thanks! Looks like the best Morrison’s offer is on my partner’s gold card (10% off). Might buy a load of John Lewis gift cards for the Black Friday sales!

        • Alan says:

          The paper vouchers at Morrison’s (for Morrison’s themselves) also trigger the 10% on Amex – others on here flagged that to me last time out and I’ve been working through about £1500’s worth since…

          Good for spending in the petrol station for a 10% discount on fuel. 😉

  • BJ says:

    O/T: Just topped up Monese via card at the Post Office for the first time 30 minutes ago. So far the top up is not reflected in my Monese balance or transactions. Does it take some time to come through or is this indicative of a problem?

    • mark2 says:

      usually at 0636 next day. Paypoint is immediate!

      • BJ says:

        Thanks Mark, to date I’d only used paypoint so that’s what had me a little concerned.

    • jum says:

      PO wont appear until next day….usually 6.36 or 7.36. My latest arrived at 11.36.

      • BJ says:

        Cheers, you folks are all very precise with your time; I’d probably have missed the detail 🙂

        • rams1981 says:

          How much are people topping up Monese by in a week/month? £1500 a month “breaks even” as you are paying 1p per point. I got asked a lot of questions for topping up £10k in one month. I was away month after so binned the premium membership and have re-activated it again just now.

          Any other experiences from heavy users?

          • Nick M says:

            Does the PO have similar restrictions to PayPoint (ie £150?)

            And are all cards accepted?

            I have had an account since they first launched but haven’t used it since they started charging…

          • mark2 says:

            Max for Paypoint is £250 per load (maybe £500 per day). PO is £500 per day in one load.

    • Harry T says:

      If you look at the Monese FAQs, it does take up to 24 hours for PO top ups to appear.

      What’s your plan with Monese, BJ?

      I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle of topping up at PO as I have been rejected before at multiple POs – they would only take cash. Seems hit and miss depending on which staff are working.

      • BJ says:

        No serious plan, just another collection opportunity, will not go mad. I only use avios for 1 x 1 person return trip per year, and 1 x 2 person return trip at Xmas/NY with a 241 each year. With that as my goal I then try to maintain a two year buffer on my avios balance to finance it. Despite the increasing difficulty of collecting avios I am still managing to do that. However, for the first fine I am contemplating paying over 0.5ppa to sustain my balance going forward, the flexibility and opportunity to redeem over the Christmas peak are hugely valuable to me.

        • Harry T says:

          Thought you were favoured by the Amex God’s and could continue to get bonuses though?

          I topped up at PO when I had three months free but I didn’t push the boat out as I am wary of being caught. Probably won’t bother paying the 14.99 a month Cos I’m not sure I’d be able to visit the PO more than three times without attracting attention.

          • BJ says:

            Yes, so far so good; that, referrals and tesco mobile have maintained my balance this year. I do not expect amex bonuses to last, whatever the issue I am sure it will be fixed.

          • Harry T says:

            Wish I’d gone as hard on the Tesco mobile offer as you did! I’ve got a fair few referrals from Amex this year but I’m not optimistic about next year. There’s only so many times you can refer your friends, especially with no regular sign up bonuses for most.

        • Jtz says:

          Is the monesse thing only worthwhile to hit sign up bonuses or just for ongoing points too?
          I’m also running lower than last year on avios and MR and thinking if ways to increase them.
          Thanks to OP who mentioned direct debit from revolut to monzo, that should hopefully be another 1000 hilton points a month

  • Chrisd says:

    No LNER offer on my standard Amex rewards card or my wifes Gold, so it’s not universal. Could be that a spend a fair bit with LNER on my Amex already??

  • Sandra says:

    My Waitrose offer is spend £20 get 5% back – seldom shop there unless I’m passing as too far away. No LNER offer despite me regularly paying with my BAPP card (4 advance tickets alone last week). I also have about 20 useless offers as they are all London centric (another Northener here) which are for places that I would probably not use even when I do go to London. Surely with the spend logging algorithms Amex can use these days they ought to be better able to target offers?!

    • aDifferentSimon says:

      Sounds like it is working. I have a Waitrose opposite my home rail station on my commute so I use it often. No offer. Never used lner and do have it. You would expect it that way around to encourage new spend.

      • Harry T says:

        If I spend heavily at Morrison’s on one card, then the next time I get a Morrison’s offer, it will be a worse one on that card, and a better one on the Amex I haven’t used at Morrison’s. They definitely target the offers to try and influence spend towards retailers you don’t normally use. You can be tactical about offer utilisation if you have more than one Amex.

        I agree a lot of offers are London centric. However I do have one for the Hawksmoor in edinburgh, which is handy as I visit Edinburgh semi regularly (Scottish partner from there).

    • Simonbr says:

      Worth pointing out the small print contains numerous exclusions including wine, flowers…

      • EwanG says:

        Wine (and beer, spirits etc) instore will be fine, but purchases from the *Waitrose Cellar* business are excluded.

  • Russell Gowers says:

    Absolute win! That’s my Friday night sorted – cheers Shoestring!

  • MJ says:

    OTT: I have an odd case where, online, my Amex Gold Card has been changed to a BA Amex (Blue card) without any approvals or notification. I still hold my physical Gold card and it is still active. Amex has not sent me a Blue BA replacement card. The change happened overnight and without any warning. The welcome screen now shows earned Avios points rather than MR points and they have remained on the account for months rather than transfer to my BA account as would be normal for a BA Amex card. Obviously, I no longer have the option to convert them to the airline/hotel of my choice. I’ve also had the card for longer than 12 months so I’m due the 10k bonus points. I’ve called Amex multiple times, and recently escalated it to a manager but unfortunately this issue really confuses them and nothing has happened over the course of 3-4 months!
    Has anyone ever encountered anything similar and can please share their experience? I’ve sat on hold waiting for Amex try to resolve this for way too long now and it’s doing my head in!!