Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The new HFP chat thread – Sunday 26th April

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

We have decided to run this new daily chat thread on Head for Points.

Historically, the daily ‘Bits’ articles were the defacto repository for random comments and questions.  It is unlikely that the news flow will be so big over the next few weeks that we will need many ‘Bits’ articles, however.

The comments under this article are where you should post questions about travel and, indeed, anything else on your mind.  At this tricky time, and given that many of you are stuck at home self-isolating, we want the HFP community to have a place to chat.

Please only comment under the main articles on the site if your comment is directly related to the topic of the article.  This has long-term benefits as its keeps the commentary relevant for people who read those articles in the future.

By default, HFP shows the last page of comments under the article.  If you want to see the first page of comments and read them all from beginning to end in order, click here: https://www.headforpoints.com/2020/04/26/the-new-hfp-chat-thread-sunday-26th-april/comment-page-1 The page will refresh with this article but the comments will now show the first page and not the last page.

We will continue to monitor how this is working.  Let’s see how it goes.  Take care!

Comments (175)

  • Rob says:

    Anybody using award wallet find that some accounts are randomly disabled when running a daily update?

    Quite often some timeout too?

    Any thoughts / solutions guys?

    • Chris says:

      Yes I have. I had a big issue just over two months ago with my Accor account where it was locked out. When I contacted Accor they said that there had been numerous attempts to access the account over the past few weeks and they had locked the account for security. I then had to jump through hoops to get the account unlocked and the process took almost a week to sort. The account then locked again a few days later and I then had all the same issues again. It ended with Accor setting me up an entirely new account with a different email address and the points were transferred. I asked them for a list of the IP numbers and dates/times of the attempted access. They never gave me the IP addresses but did give me the dates and times and the only link I could come up with were that each questionable attempt listed was roughly at the time I was on the train going to work and this is when I normally check my accounts on Award Wallet. The days I didn’t have to go into the office weren’t listed on the report from Accor and the only difference is on those days the accounts would be checked over wifi. I replied to Accor and advised them of my findings but haven’t received a reply but obviously COVID was just kicking off by that point and there were probably more important things to worry about for them. I’ve never added the new account to Award Wallet though and have never had an issue.

      • Lady London says:

        Accor locked a load of accounts around last October on spurious security grounds.

        This is why they told me I had been able to log in and out etc, make bookings and so on, but for months and months was told I was not eligible for any promotion I tried to register for. Even though most of them were promos that come up regularly that I had always registered for just in case of any unplanned stays.

        Accor gave no warning of this, no contact and access to log in was not blocked . Just kept getting ‘you are not eligible for this promotion,’ on everything. Defo no abuse of promos in my history with them.

        A customer support person did – exceptionally for Accor – follow up, taking several weeks, on my question as to why suddenly I was continously ineligible for any promo for months, with the above answer. Apparently it’s fixed and I now have to reset my password or something. Clearly they’ve fixed something at the back end now because I had already tried that.

        But you know what? I just can’t be arsched to go in and follow up their fix now. That blockage by Accor cost me access to promos covering 8 months or so of bookings. By this time in the year I would normally have done 12-15 nights with Accor. Corona would have stopped 4 of those by the rest were booked elsewhere. More than ever now, Accor has to offer me something special to plan further bookings with them.

  • Mike P says:

    Entirely off topic but interested in peoples’ opinions. In the current climate, is it better to fix a mortgage rate for two years or five? Both are historically super cheap so it’s really down to whether remortgaging again in 2022 or 2025 is likely to be the better option.

    • Gareth says:

      Depends if after two years your ltv may have fallen to another bracket.,eg 80% now but with overpayments etc and rising house prices/home improvements may get down to 60 at that point.

      • Gareth says:

        Then add up the monthly difference between 2 and 5 year options- £5 a month over 60 months let’s say. The difference is effectively an insurance policy against rates rising- then it’s just personal opinion if you would be prepared to pay it

      • Mike P says:

        Thanks Gareth, loan to value already <50% so that is not a consideration. For clarity it's 2 years at 1.29% vs 5 years at 1.44% that I'm considering.

        • NS says:

          Rates are already historically low and that 5 year rate looks great. Depending on the £ difference I would go for the 5 year due to my general risk aversion and preference for certainty on these things. Plus you only pay one arrangement fee should the products attract one

          • Anna says:

            +1 – arrangement fees can wipe out any saving you might make on a shorter term deal, so you need to factor this into your calculations.

          • Gareth says:

            Yeah I broadly agree here- rates shouldn’t generally be getting much lower. Remember to do the cost calc for the booking or product fee versus the equivalent non fee paying 5 year to make sure you at least get your money back. Based on those two I would guess it’s Hsbc so you can always cancel it pre drawdown(if you are kicking in a roll off fix for example rather moving from svr immediately) if rates were to fall and get a refund of booking fee.

        • Mike P says:

          Thanks again all. Yes, they are the HSBC rates. It’s well worth paying the product fee but not quite worth the slightly lower Premier 5 year rate of 1.41% as the slightly lower rate doesn’t quite cover the additional £500 fee. Interesting that one can lock in and then cancel before draw down, I didn’t know that.

          As to my point about whether it’s better coming out of this fix into the next in either 2022 or 2025, none of us has a crystal ball I suppose!

    • Lady London says:

      5 if you can get it. 8 if you can. Dependent on avoiding nasty exit penalties.

      2 year fix not even worth bothering with IMO. Unless you only had 2 years left.

      • Nick says:

        I have much the same question, but I won’t take the 5 year one as there’s a chance I might move and have to pay an exit fee in that time. A consideration I haven’t seen mentioned above.

        • LST says:

          If you exit early, the fee is refunded if you arrange another mortgage within 6 months, it’s designed to move with you.
          LST

        • Lady London says:

          Isn’t it possible to move and keep same mortgage on with some providers,?

          • Peter K says:

            You need to make sure your mortgage is portable. I’ve kept the same mortgage when moving.

  • John says:

    What’s the best thing in the current climate to do with Virgin miles? I have travel insurance, just wondering if it’s best to just make a booking to get the miles covered under insurance.

    • Mike says:

      Travel insurance won’t provide you with a flight if Virgin go bust.

      • Travel Strong says:

        But S75 might, right?

        • Mike says:

          S75 might provide you replacement flights. The taxes/fees element need to be >£100 per ticket, and it needs to be on a credit, not a charge, card. You may need to go to the Ombudsman to get the credit card co to pay up.

          But, where do you want to fly, will they let you in without 14 days quarantine, how do you fly safely, and what airline do you pick that might still be in business in 9-12 months time?

          Reward tickets on AF might be safest. Macron will never let them go bust. But still are you feeling lucky about the destination, and also not actually getting bat flu on the flight?

          • Charlieface says:

            No the notional total value of the ticket needs to factor in, so the taxes can be less than £100

    • MattB says:

      If VS go bust the miles are worthless, so your insurance will happily send you a cheque for £0.00

    • Matty says:

      I have scheduled airline failure cover on my policy but, I imagine, that would only apply to existing bookings and certainly only apply flights booked before any talk of bankruptcy. Even then, the policy only provides cover for expenses paid as part of the trip that can’t be covered elsewhere, so hotel deposits, the cost of the flight tickets etc. It wouldn’t provide tickets for alternative flights.

      I thought I saw something mentioned on here about s75 providing cover, so long as the fees / surcharges were over £100?

  • jil says:

    What credit card can still top up revolut without interest charge?

    • Anna says:

      I don’t think any of them, now. It’s the Revolut code that determines it. The only way to avoid the charges is to pay off the cc balance ASAP after topping up.

    • Jon says:

      You can top up with Visa (any MasterCard will be a cash advance). Most Visa cards treat as a purchase, although some do not. Try with a test transaction first.

  • Etk says:

    I saw mentioned on another day’s chat the d that someone posted the WhatsApp number and a template for requesting Hilton transfer from VS. Could someone repost it as I can’t find the actual information now, just mention of it. I think it was @Nick that posted the original?

    • Wally1976 says:

      This is what I sent and it worked fine without request for further info:

      Please transfer xx,000 of my Virgin Flying club miles to Hilton Honors. Flying Club Number: 106xxxxxxx, Name: xxxxxxx, DOB: xxxxxxx, Address: xxxxxxx, Hilton Honors account number: xxxxxxx. Many thanks

      The number to send it to is 07481339184. I sent mine via text rather rather than WhatsApp but believe it’s the same.

      • Kevin C says:

        I did this early last week. I got a text from them late on Friday night and then got an email yesterday asking for more info. They then said my request has been sent for processing.

  • Michael C says:

    Well, you’ll all be “pleased” to know the absolutely ridiculous hotel prices in Boston haven’t been affected so far…
    For late Oct., I’m sitting on 3 nights x Aloft for 120,000 Bonvoy points. I’ve been offered 3 nights at the Westin opposite for $300+tax per night: stick with the points, right?! My only hesitation is because my (own) company would be paying, so a bit annoying having to use points!

    • Anna says:

      Further ahead, the bargains seem to be appearing. I’ve been looking to re-book my (now extended) Ambassador bogof nights for next Easter – a couple of days ago the Intercontinental NYC Times Square was hovering around $700 per night, it’s now under $400 per night which has got to be a steal for a decent hotel in NY at peak period.

      • Kev 85 says:

        Searches for December are up 30% yoy apparently. This despite some people saying that the economy has fallen apart and nobody has any money

        • Kev 85 says:

          On the other hand…

          From The Telegraph (I assume this is accurate given the newspaper’s connections to Boris Johnson).

          It didn’t say how long it would apply for but there’s no realistic prospect of holidays for anyone with a job under this as something similar could apply to the country being visited.

          “ Passengers arriving at British airports and ports will be placed in quarantine for up to a fortnight, under plans for the “second phase” of the Government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
          Officials are drawing up a scheme that mirrors the 14-day “stay home” notices currently issued to Singaporean citizens returning to their country from abroad. It could be rolled out as early as next month, and include large fines for those who fail to remain at the address given to authorities as their place of isolation.”

          • Nick_C says:

            Doesn’t go far enough. People will break the rules and there will be no enforcement.

            Quarantine should be at an approved facility at the travelers’ expense.

          • Kev 85 says:

            “ People will break the rules and there will be no enforcement.”

            Seems likely, but at the very least someone wouldn’t be able to go back to work for two weeks, which rules out holidays for them until this is lifted.

          • meta says:

            Unless you work from home or your employer has a work from home policy.

          • Kev 85 says:

            “ Unless you work from home or your employer has a work from home policy.”

            What are you going to at the other side though when you’re quarantined for two weeks? Work from home there too?

          • meta says:

            Why not? Some people have different types of jobs that would allow them that.

          • Kev 85 says:

            “ Some people have different types of jobs that would allow them that.”

            So a relatively small proportion of the workforce then?

            I’m sure employers will say “we’re happy for you to work from home for a month because you want a week’s holiday in Ibiza”.

          • Lady London says:

            Is anyone else thinking “too little, too late”?

      • Michael C says:

        That’s a great (NYC!) price, Anna.
        A brand new Hyatt was slated to open in Boston in July. It was on at almost $700 for the most basic rooms (…) – now pricing/reservations have disappeared. Dreaming of a soft opening the week I arrive (if/when) – oink! oink!

    • Andrew says:

      Boston tends to be a touch eye-watering.

      One hotel to look out for is the Boston Park Plaza, it’s an independent so most of the Expedia and Hotels coupons or promotions work with it. Checking a Coupon Code I have, it takes a 5 night stay in late October down to £946.16. (£829.95 paid now and $143.70 due at check in).

      • Andrew says:

        Another one to look out for, if you don’t mind a 10 minute commute to Downtown on the red line, is the Doubletree by Hilton Boston Bayside. It’s within sight of JFK/UMASS station.

        • Michael C says:

          Thanks for the tips, Andrew – was sort of looking around Seaport due to a conference, but it’s not a dealbreaker.
          Last time went to Sheraton – central, pool + louge for the family, but that was one year in Aug. and about half the price!

    • Steve says:

      Boston seems like one of those cities where you might be better off staying out of town and paying for all day parking?

      • Lady London says:

        Every time I’ve looked at Boston prices have been eyewatering in town or at the airport. Would be interested to know if there are any commutable places that don’t cost a king’s ransom.

        Other than that does this mean Boston is somewhere you should aim to use points instead?

  • Rolty says:

    What are people’s views on Amex US revamping their Platinum card. Do you think we will see something similar happen here?

    • Harry T says:

      Everytime they “revamp” Amex cards here they make them worse and/or more expensive.

  • Anna says:

    It’s being reported that Wizz Air are resuming flights from May 1st from Luton, despite borders still being likely to be closed in some of the destinations, e.g. Spain.

    • RussellH says:

      Sunday Times quotes Which? as saying that if they operate your flight you will not be entitled to any refund, even though govt. travel bans are in place. Implication – it is a sneaky ploy to avoid refunds?

      • Anna says:

        Can’t be cheap flying an empty plane! And no-one’s going to be doing tier point runs on Wizz Air…

        • Kev 85 says:

          They didn’t even check my passport properly on one leg of my journey on the one occasion I flew with them so I wouldn’t bank on their hygiene processes being the most stringent

    • Matty says:

      1st May is this Friday. Let’s say you can find a Wizz Air flight to a country that will allow you to enter (I’ve not looked, so I’ve no idea how how easy or difficult this is), how is it going to look to the
      police when you’re travelling 50 / 100 / 200 miles along the M1 to get to Luton for a flight?

      I’m sure the police are not stopping every vehicle but if you are stopped then surely you would have to justify it as essential travel?