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Bits: BA Club to Cape Town for £1250, good Oz and NZ deals on Singapore Airlines, IHG credit card competition

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News in brief:

Good Australia and New Zealand deals on Singapore Airlines – and a BA Cape Town deal

To be frank, the best flight deals in Europe at the moment are out of Scandinavia.  I’m not sure who started it – potentially Qatar Airways – but other airlines have been forced to join in.

Here, for example, is Oslo to Cape Town on British Airways in Club World in May.  The fare is the equivalent of £1,250 return:

BA Oslo Cape Town deal

If you look at IDENTICAL flights for just Heathrow to Cape Town, on the same dates, you will pay £701 in Economy ….

Anyway, back to Australia and New Zealand.  Whilst there are plenty of Australia deals out of Scandinavia, Singapore Airlines has an excellent reputation for food and service.  If you book by tomorrow night (23rd) there are some attractive fares available.  In May, for example, I found last night:

Stockholm to Sydney – SEK 23,372 return (£1,881)

Stockholm to Auckland – SEK 23,145 return (£1,863)

Stockholm to Perth – SEK 21,873 return (£1,760)

Stockholm to Brisbane – SEK 23,336 return (£1,877)

Stockholm to Canberra – SEK 22,396 return (£1,802)

Stockholm to Melbourne – SEK 23,201 return (£1,867)

Stockholm to Christchurch – SEK 23,122 return (£1,860)

There is a ‘7 day’ option for search results so you can easily find days with the best fares.

If you don’t have a credit card with 0% foreign exchange fees, your best option for paying is American Express Preferred Rewards Gold which offers triple points – 3 per £1 – when you book flight tickets in a foreign currency.  This is because the transaction triggers the ‘double points for airline spend’ and the ‘double points for foreign spend’ bonuses.  Our review of Amex Gold is here.

Singapore Airlines is in Star Alliance so you can’t earn Avios or BA tier points.  You can credit the flights to Singapore’s KrisFlyer scheme (learn more about KrisFlyer here) and top them up with American Express Membership Rewards points at 1:1, or to any other Star Alliance scheme such as Lufthansa Miles & More.

You can also credit Singapore Airlines flights to Virgin Flying Club – details are on the Virgin Atlantic site here.

You can book on the Singapore Airlines website here.

Singapore Airlines flights from Sweden

Win a trip to The BRIT Awards if you’re an IHG credit card holder

You need to act on this TODAY if you want to take part.

IHG Rewards Club has an attractive competition running which will allow THREE holders of the IHG credit card to win a VIP trip to The BRIT Awards on 18th February.

The winners will get:

  • 2 x VIP tickets to enjoy The BRIT Awards in a hospitality suite at The O2 Arena including pre-show drinks and a fully-catered buffet
  • A one night stay for two at the InterContinental London – The O2
  • 2 x tickets to The Official BRITs After Show Party
  • Travel allowance up to £300

You need to enter by TONIGHT, 22nd January, by clicking here.

Note that “[Credit card] Holders will not be eligible to win if they are over their Credit Limit or in arrears at the end of the Promotional Period”!

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Comments

  1. Michael C says:

    OT Boston hotels: is there any remote chance of any offers at all to combat the absolutely insane prices for all Boston hotels in Oct. 2020?!!

    • RedEyeDonkey says:

      Check out H0tw1re – I’ve been lucky with that in Vegas a bunch of times when a big conference has been on and my usual go to hotels have been crazy direct. Saved $100/night this year on an upcoming trip. You want to use one of the ‘hot rate’ supposedly secret deals. You can usually work out which hotel it is going to be from the clues they give you:

      * 2x lists of guaranteed 3 hotels (one on the search and one when you click for more details) – often these don’t fully overlap revealing the only one that’s possible or two of the three on the list AREN’T in the section of the city it guarantees the hotel will be in.
      * the ‘last person got’ clue
      * sometimes the location gives it away/you can search again with the exact hotel address and make sure the one you think it is gets super close.

      I looked at a random week and on average the hot deals are saving $60 but you do need to be somewhat careful as there are HW fees so double check the final prices vs the best options you can find direct with hotels – some hotels you have to call in and speak to bookings to get their best prices. In the past I’ve had them come in lower sometimes but this time in LV they were still more/wouldn’t throw in enough extras to even it out.

    • Have you tried Air B n B or similar? I think BOS hotels are expensive generally and especially in the autumn when lots of people visit to see the leaves in full Fall colours.

      • Jonathan says:

        Always exorbitant in Boston I’m afraid, generally a brilliant use of hotel points/Creation IHG voucher. If it’s October you’ve got time to generate some points but I wouldn’t expect cash prices to drop below £150-£200 for a grotty holiday inn or £350+ for an Intercontinental etc.

        • Definitely look at redemption options, we found it ridiculously expensive in May of last year too so suspect it’s a year-round thing. Great city though.

          • In May I think they have student graduation ceremonies so they have families rocking up from all over the country driving the prices even higher! It’s always a good ides to check those articles with names like “When is the most expensive time to visit…?”

        • +1 to this. I used an IHG free night voucher @ the Intercontinental and also had enough points to book 4 extra nights straight away. I then bought more points when IHG ran a 100% bonus offer to pay for the last two nights (I seem to think cash prices were $400+ per night in October half term 2018)

    • Sussex Bantam says:

      Have a look a bit further out – I’ve had some success in Cambridge for instance and the T line is pretty good for getting back and forth..

      • Seconded I stay at the end of the greenline in Newton Riverside, (Indigo Hotel is fine), its usually about half the price of the city centre and usually slightly nicer (stayed in the DoubleTree downtown on rewards last year and thought it was a bit grotty).

        I think the T runs quite late, but was about $80+Tip back in a cab from downtown which was about half the nightly saving (and probably cheaper in an Uber).

        • Also the airport is very close to the city and a very pleasant boat ride across the harbour. Though hotel prices still not cheap as I recall!

  2. OT:

    A friend of mine booked me a flight to Bali. It was EDI – DOH – DPS and same on the way back Qatar.

    Friend didn’t enter any Frequent Flyer numbers when they booked.

    I think I am correct in saying that crediting this flight to Iberia rather than BA would have been more lucrative points-wise, so after the trip I created an Iberia account, then made a request for missing miles. The request was refused though – possibly because the Iberia account wasn’t live at the time of the flight? They didn’t give a reason.

    I do have a BA Executive Club account that was open at the time of the flight. Should I be able to request the missing miles be attributed to that account, albeit for fewer points than I would have got by crediting to Iberia?

    Thanks

  3. OT: virgin atlantic have started charging me cash advance fees on revolut top ups, just to warn others. No charges until 20th Jan, then they started.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Sporadically happening to others also. Use other mile cards to load R for the present & stay away from VA.

      • If the problem is being caused by the MCC code and transaction type that is being passed through, then the problem may not be limited to Virgin.

        Has anyone topped up Revolut this week from a different rewards card and not been charged a cash advance fee?

        • I topped up on my IHG card on Monday, transaction has cleared today and no sign of any fees.

          • Pangolin says:

            Same here. Topped up with the IHG White card on MON and no fees appeared so far.
            I’m going to stay away from the VS card for topups for now.

          • I think that Creation show the charges at billing time and not online through the month. Somebody with more experience may be able to confirm.

          • @Isolde – that’s a concern for me then, as have been monitoring my IHG top-ups and given that they haven’t shown any cash advance fee have been proceeding with them as normal. Can anyone confirm please?

    • It has been discussed extensively over the past few days in the comments. Happening to a lot of people.

      It is actually Revolut who have changed the MCC for the top-up transactions which means that Virgin are treating them as a cash advance. The problem is at Revolut’s end and they are now doing something which they expressly said would not happen.

      See https://www.revolut.com/help/getting-started/adding-money-to-revolut/with-card/what-cards-and-currencies-are-supported

      • Charged on HH Barclaycard. I am afraid it’s not just Virgin.
        Chat say they are aware of issue and are working hard to fix. Apologised but didn’t offer anything for charge. Can we ask them for refund of fee? Or what else?

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Revolut have now updated the page:

        ‘Please note, credit card deposits might be recognised as a cash advance transaction.’

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Oh, so terms are open to charges on any top ups now to attract cash advance fees.
          Not looking good!

          • Who could we complain to- those of us who were affected prior to them changing their terms? I just got an apology and said she hopes I will continue using it

          • Shoestring says:

            Financial Ombudsman? but I think it would be better to threaten going to the Ombudsman first and see if you can get a gesture/ compo first – as they’ll know the FO referral will cost them plenty

          • re Financial Ombudsman.
            They will only take a case on if you have complained to the org first and it has reached a final decision, or timed out if they have not resolved it in time.

        • They have changed the page since this morning. I have a screenshot of the old version.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Can they just change the T&C’s for existing customers on a financial product with no warning ? I didn’t think so

          • My guess is they will say that it is a ‘help’ section of the website and doesn’t form part of the T&Cs

        • Lady London says:

          Should a change in the wording like that become effective only when the appropriate number of days notice has been given? Would normally require 30/60 days

    • does anyone know if Revolut top ups are being treated as cash advances for the HSBC Premier credit card?

  4. Secret Squirrel says:

    Always best to call up as well as cancel DD. I’ve been stung in the past.

  5. To be safe, send an email saying that you want to cancel effectively immediately, and that you’ll also cancel the direct debit. With this, if they come back to you about “missed payments” you can direct them to the email.

  6. Heathrow Flyer says:

    OT: Much Better updating their T&Cs to add a 1% fee for card top-ups? Am I right in thinking this is illegal?

  7. That was supposed to be a reply to @Crafty re. Aviva

  8. I took advantage of the OSL-CPT deal. I’ve never been to SA so this seemed a good time to give it a try.
    OSL-LHR-JNB-CPT and return. 440 tier points, 36k Avios and good metal. 2hr connections in SA both ways, 5hrs in LHR. Took the JNB service for the A380 and used a GUF2 to upgrade to F so that also means the 5hrs at LHR will be in the Concorde room. All for under £1300.
    Any hotel recommendations that I should try?

    • I really liked the Hippo Boutique Hotel when I was there, it felt a bit more ‘in’ Cape Town. Many people prefer to be at The Waterfront though. The Silo Hotel is very nice, with a beautiful rooftop pool / bar. However, when ever I am in South Africa I always do Bonvoy redemptions with Marriott as South Africa is a bit of a sweet spot for them. Really nice hotels in Cape Town start at 10,000 Bonvoy Points (7,000 ish Membership Reward Points)

      • Also, if you like wine, be sure to do the Francheok wine tram.

      • Aston100 says:

        Seems to be a lack of decent IHG options in Cape Town.
        Or am I doing it wrong?

        • Think there are just a couple of Holiday Inn’s – but both pretty well located. Get your reservation in at La Colombe now!

          • Genghis says:

            La Colombe is excellent. In my top 5 of places globally and for the standard of food an absolute bargain. Shame we can’t go this time, no kids.

          • 2nd and 3rd La Colombe. We went 5 years ago and the meal was still one of the best and most memorable meals I’ve ever had in my life.

    • Radiata says:

      At the high end and at the Waterfront, Cape Grace usually raved about. For colonial era chic, if that desired, the Mount Nelson.

      The formerly SPG hotel attached to the International Convention Centre treated me well as an SPG Gold a couple of years ago. Lounge lovely and staff attentive. Breakfast food and views worthwhile.

      On the value but good end, beside the value found in the Protea chain (Marriott Bonvoy) redemptions, have a look at the Doubletree Hilton in Observatory. Close to the city, excellent value, free breakfast as Hilton Gold and parking for ZAR60 (just over £3) a day. The former SPG was ZAR100 so nil to complain about either.

      Cape Town well worth a car rental. Much to do in the region. I was there a couple of weeks ago and even as a non drinker found the so called wine country beautiful. Took a hike in the Jonkershoek nature reserve in Stellenbosch. If more adventurous, sky diving in the Citrusdal valley breathtaking.

      Not sure when visiting but remember a Mediterranean climate so winter (i.e. mid year as Southern Hemisphere) cold, windy and rainy. The tourist board calls it the “Secret Season”..

  9. OT (as Bits) • advice politely sought: I’ve been reading HFP for seven years now, and the expertise within the articles’ comments section has always struck me as remarkable, so I hope you don’t mind me trying to draw on some of this today!

    Basically, my wife is about to move to the USA for a year to work for a well-known TV studio over there and she will get a US social security number in the process while out there. She will also receive a decent remuneration package and will be paid in dollars. My two questions really are:

    (1) Airmiles and Hotel CCs — would any HFPers be able to recommend any cards which have decent sign-up bonuses? We’re collectors mainly of AAdv miles and Marriott points, but would also be keen on taking out cards which afford you worthwhile perks for as long as you hold the card for, and perhaps in programmes relatively underrepresented in the UK by equivalent means (Hyatt?) I just wondered if any HFPers had experience of this and, indeed, the 5/24 rule? (I would look on OMAAT, VFTW, GSTP, MillionMileSecrets, etc., but would prefer the expertise of UK-based HFPers, to be honest).

    (2) The other question I had, if I may, is repatriating dollars back to the UK. Would any HFPer have any suggestions for this? I have a small amount of experience doing this inasmuch as, when my father died in 2012, I had to sort out the resulting intestacy, which included selling a Spanish holiday home and then repatriating the € proceeds to a UK bank account: I recall many of the pitfalls of repatriating foreign currency to the UK, especially how you can potentially lose thousands in the transfer unless you choose the right conduit (at that time, I ended up using Moneycorp over HIFX as the spot rate was excellent and fees fairly palatable, but seven-and-a-half years have elapsed since then and I’ll admit to being back at pretty much the novice level again when it comes to these kinds of international transfers).

    Anyway, I do apologise for droning on here with all this, but should anyone have any thoughts on the above or any advice, I’d be ever so grateful. Many thanks in advance.

    • Shoestring says:

      Moneycorp still going strong; HIFX now part of XE – both still offer very safe easy transfer with excellent rates.

      But compare the rates to Transferwise and WorldRemit, which have been shaking up the market with low fees and even sharper rates.

      The money transfer bit of your question is easy…you just need a US bank a/c set up – not sure which ones offer best deal but google it.

      • Many thanks for this, Shoestring 😉

      • Lady London says:

        Chase card is it Sapphire? has been getting some coverage recently as apparently it has retained some benefits no longer provided by other cards. I think Priority Pass dining credit is an example (no longer provided by Amex PP’s except for one that happens to be in the UK).

    • For money transfers I’ve used WorldFirst and Transferwise but these days I think there are even comparison sites that let you find the best rates based on currency and amount etc.

      For (1) remember that as far as American banks and credit cards are concerned your wife does not exist and even with a SSN she will have no history.
      Her employer may be able to help with a bank account and maybe a corporate credit card which will help and assume they are also helping with tax returns and the visas needed etc.
      Can even help to get a driving license even if she never intends to drive or have a car – the test is not usually that difficult to pass

    • Peter K says:

      I’ve read on here that Amex can port your credit history with them to other countries. Maybe worth looking at that?

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      I’ve used CurrencyFair for a lot of movements. You can choose to put your offer on the exchange system – I just put just to my side of the middle of the spot rate and it always gets filled (as its presumably close to the best offer on Earth at that second in a hugely liquid market.) so I lose literally nothing to fX spread. Also lets you have a de facto bank account in pretty much any common currency from which to transfer out as you wish. For moving significant sums I can’t find anything to beat it

    • Newbie A says:

      Hi,

      I took a job in the US a few of years ago and have recently moved back. Here is my experience:
      – Chase will not give you a credit card without one year of credit history, I wasted so many dings on my credit report on this.
      – Citi – i think wanted even longer history, I got a card with them i think 2 years in
      – Amex has something call global transfer??? When I did this, I had to be a primary holder of a UK amex, you call the US help desk they will use your UK credit history to open an amex for you. once i did that i closed my Uk amex (so i would be eligible for bonus when i was back in the uk). once i got a us amex i can easily open other us amex. i don’t recall needing my social security number to open it. but i remember giving it to my bank asap so my credit history can start.

      i was there for several years, given the chase 5/24 rule, i opened 3 amex and waited out the year so i can get chase cards. the us have extra bonus offers all the time, i wished i opened my first card when there was a higher bonus but then i would miss out all the spend.

      hope this helps, i spent soooo much time googling before i went to the us, there is very little info on points strategy for people moving from UK to US. i pieced it all together and wasted some dings on my credit report. i tried to suggest to rob to write an article about it but i guess it won’t apply to most people.

      i’m so excited to get to share my knowledge 😉

      • Thanks so much for this, Newbie A — that is massively insightful and much appreciated. Thank you

    • I moved from the UK to the US last year so have a little recent experience of this. My advice is for your wife to use the Amex Global Transfer service and sign up for a US Amex. She’ll be able to open one card and lack of credit history won’t matter. Importantly, you can still keep any UK Amex cards open while you hold a US one. The earning partners are largely the same, although the US cards (that earn MR points) also transfer to Aeroplan, which can open up some good-value redemptions on United and other Star Alliance carriers. You can move MR points from a UK account to the US at the current exchange rate (I moved ~100,000 points to the US where they became ~130,000) but you can only transfer once a year.

      There are also a number of co-brand options with Hilton, Marriott, and Delta that are worth exploring. The most expensive cards tend to have some good perks and if you can make use of them they bring down the cost of the card considerably. I have an Amex Platinum here which cost $550 but comes with $200 of Uber credit and $200 off incidental airline fees (the latter is done on a calendar-year basis so you effectively get it twice during your first year of holding the card). $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit and Global Entry credit are also useful, particularly if that’s money you would have spent anyway. Marriott/Hilton status included like the UK card. The other high-end Amex cards will have similar perks so take a look at them all and decide which will be most useful.

      Lack of credit history may put paid to the idea of getting it, but the Hyatt card is interesting because each $5,000 spent on it counts as two qualifying nights towards status.

    • Charlieface says:

      From what I heard, Amex Global Transfer will even pass on your UK Amex history to the agencies in the US. Contrary to popular opinion, you do not need an SSN to get credit history, but some banks require it to open an account. Others are ok with an ITIN and some don’t even require that. Amex do require a checking account. Don’t forget to ask for the signup bonus to be honoured.

      • This has given me some food for thought. Moving to Canada in the summer? Am I right in thinking I am better off holding to my MR to benefit on exchange rate?

      • Charlieface, thanks a million for this. Good to know.

    • !) Credit cards – I would second the suggestions above to start with Amex if your wife already has an Amex card in the UK and can build on that relationship. Amex has a Hilton card (called Surpass I think) which gives Hilton Gold and a reasonable sign-up bonus and ongoing earning rates for a $95 annual fee. I think it includes 10 Priority Pass lounge visits as well. They also have a free card with a decent sign-up bonus and slightly different earnings rate. The basic Amex Marriott card suffers from the same poor earning rate that is being introduced in the UK, but does at least give an annual free night up to 35K points in exchange for the annual fee. One of the important things to note about the US Amex cards is that their sign-up bonuses are once per lifetime per type of card. So for instance you could earn a sign-up bonus for both the Hilton Surpass card and the free Hilton card, but only once in each case, with no churning.

      Barclaycard is one of two issuers of the American Airlines cards, so perhaps if she has a Barclays account in the UK that might help as well, although this is probably a stretch.

      Someone mentioned that the Chase cards could be harder to get, which I could easily believe. Their Hyatt card gives a good sign-up bonus and the lowest level elite status. Their Chase Sapphire Preferred card has a similar annual fee and sign up bonus with travel insurance and points that can be transferred 1:1 to Hyatt as well as some airlines and other hotels. The airlines include BA but not American, and the other hotel points are worth less than Hyatt, especially since Hyatt points are so hard to earn in the UK.

      In my experience, albeit very limited, there are no US web-sites that are a patch on HfP for editorial integrity and useful content, both in the articles and in the comments.

      2) Transfers. Again this is from limited experience, but based on comments here on HfP I recommended Transferwise to my sister when she had to transfer money recently from Australia to Canada and she found them very helpful, competitive and easy to use. It is easy to see the conversion rates on their web-site. The thing is though that Transerwise provide bank accounts, as I understand it, in Australia but not in the US, so it may be harder to do transfer from the US.

      • Another thought re (2). A lot of the US travel cards have no foreign transaction fees so perhaps they could be used to pay some expenses in the UK and while travelling and reduce the amount you have to actually transfer. This includes even some cards without an annual fee, such as the basic free Hilton card.

        • Lyn, thanks so much for such in-depth information — that is really good to know and food for thought for sure! All the best

        • If contemplating using a US card to pay expenses in the UK after returning, be certain to check first with your UK tax advisor about the impact of remittances of non-UK earnings.

      • Newbie A says:

        On Barclaycard, I did apply for one in the US in my second year. I recall getting rejected and called them up telling them I had a account in the UK for years. Althought pretty sure they were all closed at that point and I didn’t give them any details. They reconsidered and opened it for me, I have no idea what was the driver for the change.

      • Newbie A says:

        I disagree re some of the comments on the US sites. Agree in my experience the comments sections are nowhere as good, but the contents can be pretty good. Given HFP doesn’t cover US cards, you don’t really have a choice. I suggest finding a few sites where the blogger travels or think in a similar way to you. Otherwise how else are you going to learn all about the cards?

        Agree with Lyn re the FX fee free as a way to keep using your cards in the UK. Amex let me keep the card when I moved back (I eventually closed it, still wondering if that was a good idea), so I could have kept getting points. (I kept all my Chases cards!) I did find that the rate is always a bit worst than spot rate on the XE app, but I’m happy with getting the points in exchange. Curve works with the non amex cards.

    • For FX transfers, CurrencyFair (same model as TransferWise but better rates), Azimo, Moneycorp, XE and RIA (same owner for both).

  10. OT: Speculation a week or two ago regarding the closure of Tesco Bank seems to be wrong. Just heard they are recruiting loads of new posts in Edinburgh.

    • Probably to cover people who are quitting because they see no future in the business!

      • The story was hundreds though. Not my area at all but if the story was true that sounds too much to be replacement to me.

  11. Shoestring says:

    Check junk mail (Nectar)
    [Don’t forget to pack your points Mr Shoestring
    Not off just yet?
    Let us know your travel plans with this quick survey, and we’ll send a bunch of offers tailored to you, plus we’ll give 25 bonus points as a little thank you.]

    —> not so much the 25 points but I think there’ll be a string of other offers

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