The new HFP chat thread – Thursday 21st May

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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:  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!

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  1. Mike P says:

    For those people looking at fixed rate HSBC mortgages (there have been a few people commenting on these on here) the rates appear to have dropped overnight. 60% LTV 5 year rate has dropped from 1.44% to 1.39%. Question is do we lock in now or wait to see if it falls further?

    • The financial markets are betting we get negative interest rates shortly – the BofE just need to ensure that all institutions can cope – not all can as lots of documentation doesn’t allow for it.

      As I said the other day – can only see mortgage rates going 1 way for low ltv mortgages.

    • For existing RBS mortgage customers, RBS offer a 60%LTV 5 year rate of 1.87% at a cost of £995. This same rate was available when BBR was 0.75% thus RBS have chosen not to factor in the current BBR being 0.10% for EXISTING customers.

      Meanwhile RBS have factored the latest BBR in for NEW customers.

      • Fred

        Actual Base Rate makes little difference to the price of mortgages – it is the forward expectations of rates that matter. If on the product you quoted the market already expected a future drop then Bank Rate changing wont necessarily affect the price. Always horrible and no excuse here to see new and existing customers treated differently.

        • You say that, but once BBR changed substantially in March, the RBS mortgage rates for NEW customers improved dramatically yet the rates for EXISTING customers remained the same.

    • Grant says:

      Thanks for the heads up, Mike. I can’t see it going the other way, can you? In which case I might just run it up to the wire to see if it drops any further. Got another 30 days or so before we revert to the SVR.

      I naively assumed any rate changes would occur at the end / beginning of the month.

      • Mike P says:

        No problem at all. I think we are fairly safe waiting at this point as rates are only likely to drop further. I’ve got until the end of July before my existing rate finishes so not in any hurry.

        • Lady London says:

          personally on mortgages just like investment then good advice would be not to try to time the market. I’d suggest comparing the rate to the best case you’d estimate for the average over the period then if it fits your expected ability to pay for it for the period and you dont think you’ll be divesting the property within the period then grab something reasonable. IMV any move in the other direction could be explosively fast when it starts.

        • SimonW says:

          Bear in mind, any offer is limited by the tranche they have available. Be it £5m or £10m etc. Once that is gone, the rate is gone. Natwest 5yr 1.35% fixed was too good for me not to lock in now, 3 months ahead of needing it….

    • Jonathan says:

      At those sort of rates I’m pretty tempted to extend my mortgage, should be pretty easy over a 5 year time frame to generate annual returns of more than the 2.31% a higher rate taxpayer would need to be quids in (Even lower if you aren’t already maxing out ISA subscriptions).

    • Joseph Heenan says:

      If it’s one of HSBC’s zero fee ones then you can lock in the rate, but hold off finalising application for as long as the offer is valid for. If rate drops, just start again. I did this last year and saved 0.2% or so.

  2. da trader says:

    Will topping up my Trading 212 or Nutmeg account with the Virgin credit card incur a cash advance fee?

  3. Doog1000 says:

    Just tried to top up Revolut with my virgin master card – never any problems before and earning points on previous topups including a couple of weeks ago
    This morning though transactions declined – called virgin and they said that Revolut is no longer a merchant at the moment they are transacting with due to fraud issues
    Just an FYI to see if others have some experience now

    • Michael says:

      I’m pretty sure someone mentioned a couple of days ago being unable to top up Rev from Virgin. Thankfully it still works with IHG but I’m taking a break from the boys in Vilnius for a spell to keep my account open.

    • Lady London says:

      Fraud? I’d love to see what documented examples of ‘fraud’ happening to Virgin through Revolut, Virgin could provide.

    • The Urbanite says:

      Topping up Revolut with a credit card has been risky for a while due to the MCC situation and is no doubt causing the credit card issuers headaches for many reasons. Some people will be raising fraudulent chargebacks, others will be adding to demand for customer services by requesting cash advance fees and interest are waived and others will probably complain to them because Revolut have blocked their accounts with the funds still inside.

      I know in theory it’s an easy way to generate spend/get a cash advance but are people aware of the risks, including receiving no points for topping it up and paying fees + interest for that “free” cash advance? The amount of negative posts springing up on here and several of the financial/fintech communities from people topping it up with a credit card would suggest a lot of people are being caught out.

  4. I Am awaiting the taxes and fees refund from a Virgin Atlantic reward flight cancelled in March.

    Got an email 4 weeks later to say we have “received your claim”

    Now end of May- nothing. Has anyone received their virgin taxes refund yet?

  5. Booked LHR-HND in the new ANA F with 120k VS miles for March 2021 last night.

    Called VS call centre, waited 40 minutes and got disconnected whilst on hold, called again and got through to someone after 40 minutes this time. Super friendly representative, I used United Award Search to find availability and then she was able to confirm and reserve the flights straight away.

    I have tickets in Qatar J for Tokyo in September but I doubt that will happen now. Hopefully by March 2021 things will look a bit better! And hopefully VS hasn’t gone bust!

    • Brilliant. Did you manage to get 2 seats or just the 1?

      • I’m flying solo so just the 1.

        The United Award Search seems to only show 1 reward seat available for the LHR-HND route on any date. When selecting my seat everything was available (apart from the customary blocked 1A – EF confirms this is blocked not booked) so looks like only 1 reward seat available per flight.

    • Andrew says:

      And hopefully first class service will be back to normal by then and not the limited F&B service on a tray and no blankets as it is at the moment. I wonder how long it will be before premium flying gets back to being a premium experience. BA offering a packet sandwich and bottled water in First at the moment, doesn’t really seem worth it just for a larger seat.

      • I am meant to be flying BA F in July to SCL. As much as I want to go, I hope it gets cancelled because, as you said, doesn’t seem worth flying in F if I don’t get to enjoy the CCR and proper F service.

        I am basically delaying all of my travel plans for a year. Might even ask for a mini-sabbatical from work to make up for lost travel time – here’s to hoping for a return to normality in 2021!

        • Andrew says:

          Likewise, I was supposed to be going to JFK in First in July and have already decided I’m going to cancel as it won’t be even close to a premium experience. I booked with BA holidays, so I can just take a £300 voucher for the deposit I paid if they don’t cancel the flight. I think it’s wise not to plan any trips until next Easter if you are wanting the premium travel experience we know and love.

      • Blenz101 says:

        Emirates are back to hot food now on 9 routes, hopefully not long!

  6. John carribean says:

    Laithwaites 15% off offer on Amex didn’t come through , as seemingly Laithwaites are changing to Berkshire and not the website. Did anyone else have this problem?

  7. Anyone got bookings for later in the year and decided what they’re going to do?
    I’ve got Vegas booked for early October flying from Paris with BA that I don’t think I want to go on now. Thankfully just booked flights so far. Booked on 3rd March I think. Not sure what to do yet.

    • If you’re not sure yet I would give it some time. A lot can change in 5 months.

      • My worry is things change enough that I can go but not enough that Vegas is open fully and I can’t get the full experience.

        If I could take a cash refund now then I would but I know that’s not possible.

    • October is a long time away. However, assuming this is a cash booking, you might get lucky as there is a good chance your flight gets retimed or cancelled as BA plays with its schedules, giving you an excuse to claim a refund.

      We have two weeks in the Middle East over October which I expect to happen. Varies by location though – currently weighing up South Africa for Christmas but that seems riskier than the Middle East in October.

      Vegas would be fine as long as you didn’t go into any of the casinos.

      • Yes it was a cash booking, I guess wait and hope for a schedule changes or advice doesn’t change. Fortunately don’t need the money but would be nice to change the time booked off with work to another time.

        Anyways thanks both for your quick opinions.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        I’m no gambler but would count popping into the casinos as part of the Vegas experience…

        • MattB says:

          Exactly…we were booked for August, but I cancelled it a while back. Managed to move flight to Easter 2021 but i’m not confident of going then either. Whats the point in going somewhere like Vegas with these restrictions…..coupled with the fact the US is one of the few countries doing worse than the UK?

          • Andrew says:

            Agree – even if we can travel in the coming months (and years) it will be such an enjoyable experience getting there and when you’re there, what’s the point? Time to pay down the mortgage a bit over the next couple of years with the travel money saved and retire a little earlier than planned maybe.

          • I could change my flight to February 2021 for no cost which is more likely to go ahead but still unlikely to get the full experience.

            I could move it to July 2020 which is much more likely to get cancelled but it would cost me nearly €8000 to do it. Not sure that’s worth the gamble.

          • Chrish says:

            [email protected] What makes you think U.S. is doing worse than U.K.
            Looking at the charts yes it looks like U.S.doing a lot worse than U.K.
            But is it actually if you examine it more closely per % population they are a lot below U.K
            Depends on your perspective

        • I’ve been 3 times and my total casino expenditure was under $10 in total!

      • Andrew says:

        Depends if Trump opens the borders – currently anyone who isn’t a US citizen or green card holder (or diplomat etc) isn’t able to travel to USA.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          But if your flight is scheduled and flys that’s your problem not BA’s.

          Vegas isn’t one of the “gateway” airports but I can’t see a ban until October based upon Trump forever talking about getting back to business.

          I can see why you wouldn’t want to go to Vegas if everything is closed especially bars/clubs/restaurants.

  8. The Caribbean Times and other media reporting that St Lucia, Antigua and other islands are opening up to tourists from June (though hurricane season is imminent and predicted to be a bad one). St Lucia is an odd one, it’s ONLY opening to Americans, and they will have to have a COVID-negative certificate, wear masks at the most times, observe social distancing and have their temperatures taken before every meal. I am assuming St Lucia must be utterly desperate for tourist $ just now, but are the Americans that desperate to go abroad just now?!

  9. Isobel Brown says:

    Have a 2-4-1 Rewards flight booked with BA. Out August to Vancouver, return Sept from Calgary.
    Just heard that the return flight has been cancelled.
    Should BA wave any cancellation fees for the outward flight when I call them cancel it?

    • If it’s one booking you should get a full refund for both legs.

    • AndyGWP says:

      Also just got notification that our outbound flight to Calgary is cancelled for August (but return from another airport is fine)

      • AndyGWP says:

        Will have to put some thought now into:
        a) finding another way to get to Calgary (ie. change outbound to Vancouver, and get internal flight)
        b) abandon Canada and change outbound flight to the US to travel onwards from there (which is where return airport is)
        c) abandon everything and rent a caravan in Slough

        Ignoring (for now) the unknown issue of access to particular countries – and I know this information has been previously shared (and I will re-read the articles) but for cancelled (avios booked) flights, is there any kind of timescale I need to operate within to get the best result?

        Or do I have time to dwell on it (ie. for “a” and “b”, Avios availability on flights to Vancouver might not exist) – suggestions welcome (again, ignoring Covid as a factor for destinations, but not ignoring it in terms of flexibility!)

        Sorry for going over old / regular ground :/

        • Lady London says:

          any reroute including internal flight is still part of your rerouting rights so should cost you nothing

          • AndyGWP says:

            Cheers LL…

            1) Is that even if internal is not on BA / Oneworld?
            2) Am I correct that taking the re-route now (LHR -> Vancouver -> Calgary), would then mean I couldn’t cancel for free if Canada are still imposing a 14 day quarantine and…
            3) (Note to self), I need to check if insurance covers me for a full trip refund due to flight cancellation as they could possibly be infringed if I choose to re-route and cancel at a later date

          • Lady London says:

            1)They are responsible for rerouting you on their own airline or any other airline that can get you there and it should not cost you anything
            2) if you had booked a flight that wasnt cancelled then the airline is not responsible if your immigration status or the rules for that changed – personally this is why I’d take the refund
            3) yup would look into this too

  10. Geoff says:

    Following Qatar cancelling one of my flights I requested a cash refund on 12 May. Funds were received back to my Amex yesterday. No communication from Qatar yet to confirm cancellation. Pretty fast service.

    • Genghis says:

      You had better look than me! My chargeback was successful, however, and got a little brucie this week as my “portal” cash turned to payable and I got the money in my bank account. Nearly a ton. Happy days.

      • Genghis says:


        • Lady London says:

          Well done. I take it you will move it out pronto? I do see the odd report of even at that stage disappearing or reducing…

  11. RussellH says:

    Reasonably present surprise this morning.
    We had been due to fly BHX-BCN this afternoon on Vueling. I got a voucher around a month ago. Phone message today still said to wait a few weeks before asking for cash, but surprising I was only on hold for 2+ mins after listening to the pre-recorded messages, and it only took the agent, Ricardo, another 4 mins to process the refund, even including re-reading the pre-recorded message about how wonderful the voucher is.
    Now to wait 60 days for the cash…

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