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The new HFP chat thread – Wednesday 8th July

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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!

Comments (223)

  • Adam says:

    I think the Chancellor has an Amex card! Shop small anyone?

    • Andrew says:

      I thought that too! And of course if a Shop Small location participates in the Government scheme too we have 5% VAT, 50% off from the Government, and £5 back from Amex! A £25 meal could become about £5.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I highly doubt that vat reduction will be passed on to the customer as an actual reduction vs pre Covid prices. It’s likely to halt some price increases that would have been likely though.

        • Rob says:

          Very unlikely prices will come down. It makes more sense to rebuild your margins. Reprinting menus would cost thousands at a high-end restaurant for a start.

          • Optimus Prime says:

            Don’t they have to change the small print where it says prices including 20% VAT?

          • Vit says:

            Nah, I think tipex would just do the trick! Call it an “artf-form”. 🙂

          • Andrew says:

            I think the chains like Pizza Express will be shamed by the Daily Mail and on social if they don’t reduce prices – but smaller places and high end places will probably just adsorb the reduction into profit.

          • Optimus Prime says:

            In the US they wouldn’t be able to keep it since their prices never include taxes! I guess they would increase the ‘recommended tip’ to 50%…

          • Graeme2 says:

            Many/most are using disposable menus or scannable QR codes at the moment anyway though

    • Craig says:

      I love this site!

    • Andrew M says:

      The discount could presumably be combined with Meerkat Meals 2 for 1 deals.

  • Anna says:

    Has anyone else had a COVID antigen or antibody test? OH and I have both had finger prick antibody tests as part of a large health study – mine was negative but his came back positive for IgG (apparently the antibody which stays in your system longer). He hasn’t been ill at all, I was ill last autumn but not since. I can’t see that one of us could have contracted COVID and the other not. Currently awaiting full blood test results to see if it tells us any more!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It’s possible isn’t it? wasn’t the Canadian prime ministers wife ill and he never caught it (For example)?

      As time goes on it may well be that this didn’t start in Wuhan in December either

    • AndyW says:

      Lots of theories regarding how contagious asymptomatic people are, and of course as to whether everyone who has had Covid will show signs in these tests. I have no information but it’s certainly an interesting result

      • Lady London says:

        Come to think of it, it would be very tempting to just turn and breathe on some of these women on the supermarket who come too close and even knock me off my feet reaching for things. When I say let’s keep 1 metre distance they say um… ah no I wasn’t was I, then they just reach across anyway. A cough in the right place is very.tempting.. After all, who knows if I’m a superspreader or not?

    • Richie says:

      I had the antibody test – £80 – the Abbott test (you have to go in to a doctors and have some blood taken). It came back positive, which i expected – i had some symptoms (basically exhausted + headache for 3 days + spaced out – a bit like terrible jetlag) in early March. BTW, the ones they do in the post / do at home are not reliable – lots of false-positives / false-negatives.

      The other thing i’ve noticed, which might answer your particular case is that there’s a lot of talk from scientists about many people having “T-Cells” (developed from catching previous colds / or less harmful coronavirus over the years, you body builds up a broad suite of defences), which means you’re sort of “immune” already i.e. you won’t develop anti-bodies because you’re immune already due to T-Cells. Anyway, there’s quite a lot about T-Cells in the media over the last few weeks as more credence is given to it.

  • JOHN W says:

    Anyone else tempted to book or wait longer for better deals to come ??? – wait or not … !!

    • Stoneman says:

      I am tempted but really not sure I can book as I suspect covid will come back with a vengeance will means I wont be allowed in a where I would like to go. Still, my be worth a punt.

  • Munch says:

    Looking at options for the IC Maamunagau Resort Maldives.

    Cash Price is around $750 / night.
    Points 100,000
    I have a UK credit card award night but it doesn’t show as available? Not sure why – do they release availability at later dates?
    If I purchase Ambassador status, is it correct I would need to purchase say a Friday night cash rate and receive a Saturday stay free?

    Trying to combine all my options for most cost effective stay. I have plenty of points but not enough for the full stay.

    • Rob says:

      Or pay for Sat and get Sun free.

      Check pricing at first as it can differ from cash pricing at

      • Munch says:

        Thanks Rob for the tip.

        Do they release dates for a UK Credit card free night voucher?

        • Optimus Prime says:

          You can use the voucher for any dates where points with bookings are available.

          • New Card says:

            IME that is the case for all IHG hotels except the IC Maldives, where the voucher doesn’t work.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            I believe if you ring it should.

          • Munch says:

            I tried chat and even though its available on points they couldn’t redeem my voucher? Not sure if its worth challenging any further?

          • Anna says:

            Either it’s allowed in the Ts and Cs or it isn’t, it’s not good enough to just say they can’t redeem your voucher!

  • Sam says:

    Hi Rob, I don’t suppose you have any inside info on Amex extending the BAPP 10k spend past September (so you have an extended 2 for 1 voucher) – I have just over 3k to go before the end of September to trigger the 2 for 1 but struggling to spend it! Not really planning any holidays and buying stuff has lost its’ appeal! Thanks

    • Connor says:

      Reserve some expensive things from an Argos store, wait for the voucher to post and cancel for a full refund!

    • Anna says:

      Vouchers for your preferred supermarket (I assume you’re still eating). Do your Xmas shopping early? I would always manage to find a way to trigger the 2 4 1, I’m not far off triggering our 2nd one for this year and also well on the way to my 10k Amex gold MR bonus points.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I really don’t see it being automatic as there will be some very annoyed people who want to start earning for their next voucher.

    • Chris Heyes says:

      [email protected] around £1000 (I’d do £900 as i do £900 every year to Daughter as if I’m buying something i always pay the £30 fee as well to be on the safe side of Paypal)
      Use Paypal it’s easy to set up
      That gets you £900 nearer your target spend (for a cost of £30 fee)
      I Honestly wouldn’t risk more though (i once did it twice in one year though, also got away with around £1400 one time was sweating though lol

      • Travel Strong says:

        This is expensive compared to the Argos reservation of Fully flex flight booking route!

        • Travel Strong says:


          • Sam says:

            Thanks for your suggestions/comments all!

            @Anna – still eating although only so much I can spend at Waitrose shopping for 1 person and only so much I can eat too! My sister has a supp too and even with her spend, it’s a struggle!


  • Charlieface says:

    I’m getting rather concerned at the whole false negative/false positive thing.
    If 1% of all tests return false positive, apparently, and the actual incidence of Covid is 0.1% that means if you test 100,000 people 1,100 will have a positive and only 100 will actually have it.
    Conversely, if you test 1,000 people known to have had it, of which 100 have actually recovered, and the false negative is 10% (apparently that’s the rate), then of the 200 people with negatives, 100 may still be infectious.
    Oh, the maths of epidemics! It all seems completely lost on mainstream journalism, which seem to treat the results as gospel.

    • Stoneman says:

      Well the pieces in Private Eye have been going on about this since at least April but I accept Private Eye is not perhaps mainstream.

  • Laurence Dalby says:

    With the reduction in VAT on hotel stays does anyone know if I’ve made a reservation, but pay on check out if the rate will automatically be reduced by 15%? Got a few Hilton stays lined up in August in the U.K.

    • Stoneman says:

      Doubt it. The reductions are all designed to allow restaurants and hotels to lush up margins. They will probably just up the non VAT price to collect the same wonga. But, worth contesting of course.

    • Tariq says:

      Would love to know this as well, I made significant levels of speculative bookings for August onwards, so some big savings to be had if the reduction in VAT is passed down. I kind of suspect that the hoteliers will take it as margin though, I would hope to see some announcements from Hilton, Marriott, et cetera in the next few days.

      Wish the VAT reduction had been across the board though – I have two new cars to order!

      • Rob says:

        Hotel prices are based on supply and demand. Prices won’t come down because it makes no sense – if you can fill your hotel at £100 per night then way reduce to £87? Keep charging £100.

        • Chris Heyes says:

          [email protected] if you’ve “Booked” any Hotel (or “Ordered” any thing/bought which included Vat at a Rate Stated
          You would be entitled to a refund if Vat was lowered
          It would be your legal right (no way round that)

          • Tariq says:

            Looking in the Marriott app, my existing bookings have the following wording on, so it’s looking good…

            ‘Changes in taxes or fees implemented after booking will affect the total room price’

          • Rob says:

            It is illegal for a B2C business not to quote all-in pricing.

            I don’t even know why this is up for discussion. I’m guessing you didn’t complain when VAT went from 7.5% to 12.% to 15% to 17.5% to 20% and businesses absorbed the increase, which many did. The same happens here in reverse.

      • Anna says:

        I’ve just paid for fitted wardrobes, I’d be gutted if they now reduced VAT on this!

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:


      Is it based on when you book, when you pay or when you stay?

      NB it’s only a 12.5% discount though.

      • Rob says:

        Arguably you booked an all-in rate so the hotel has no liability to reduce it.

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          Marriott, Hilton and IHG show all in pricing, but Expedia, and show a pre-tax rate then add the VAT (currently at 20% even for pay at hotel bookings staying post-cut). Presumably the hotel couldn’t just uplift the base rate in that case (although they could cancel the reservation). Might be worth seeing whether Emyr can secure bookings at a rate+tax rather than all-in before they get adjusted upwards.

      • Andrew says:

        It would be when the payment was collected – if VAT goes up on something you have agreed to buy but not paid for yet, then the VAT would be due at the higher rate. The goods or services provider is collecting the VAT on the Government’s behalf when payment is made, not based on the all inclusive price you agreed previously. So if you’ve paid already, then no refund. If you haven’t paid yet, then it’s up to the goods or services provider to either pass that saving on to you or absorb the tax savings into their profit by reflecting on the receipt a higher pre-VAT price and therefore the all inclusive price is the same. For the larger companies, such a chain restaurants there will be considerable shaming on social media if they don’t pass the savings on, but for many businesses the price you pay may well be the same with the excuse of a price rise. Then in January, they will pass the increase in VAT on to you with a further rise in price. This happened the last time VAT was lowered from 17.5 to 15 and then up to 20.

    • Travel Strong says:

      Both Hilton and IHG display the reservation as a ‘Total for stay’ price for UK bookings… but clearly display USA bookings as pre-tax and total inc. tax – with a breakdown of tax rates too.

      So UK bookings you can expect to pay the same total.

      • BrianW says:

        Not sure you’re looking properly. Booking I have with IHG for next week details the VAT element of the total and states:

        Your Rate
        Stay for three or more nights and receive a discount of 34 pct off per night. Changes in length of stay could result in price changes.
        Rate Information per Stay for 1 Room
        Mon Jul 13 2020 – Tue Jul 14 2020
        38.27 GBP
        Tue Jul 14 2020 – Thu Jul 16 2020
        44.21 GBP
        Thu Jul 16 2020 – Fri Jul 17 2020
        35.63 GBP
        Price for 1 room(s) and 4 night(s):
        162.32 GBP
        Total Price:
        162.32 GBP
        Taxes and Additional Charges
        20% per night included in rate effective 13 July, 2020 thru 17 July, 2020

        Based on this you’re wrong. I’d expect the difference to be refunded.

        • callum says:

          It very clearly says that the total price is X including 20% VAT. It doesn’t say you’re paying X + VAT. I would agree if you were trying to claim it’s somewhat ambiguous and so could be interpreted either way, but it absolutely does not state what you claim it to.

          I don’t recall anyone being prosecuted the last time this happened, despite many companies not passing on the savings, so I have no idea what legal rights several of you are referring to?

  • Stephen says:

    Looks like Curve are using Merchant Category Code (MCC): 8999 for everything currently

    • Connor says:

      Some very interesting opportunities have returned

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Make hay while it lasts 🙂

        • BJ says:

          Why are so many upgrading to metal though, just to reset limits or am I missing something obvious? My blue card is working sweet as can be.

          • Doug M says:

            I was considering metal to reset the limits, currently blue. I suspect my use is not what they want, too much NSI. In the end I decided to just ask Curve to up my limit. Responded in a few hours saying 50K upped to 100K. Checked app and it’s actually 300K.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            If you’re a heavy Seagulls or HMRC user then the metal pays back quickly vs 1.5% fee.

          • BJ says:

            Very similar here although they said I should not request another upgrade without more day to day spend. I am content though as it is, I don’t want to risk losing my HH card.

          • BJ says:

            Thanks @TG, seems I am not missing anything which is a relief and a disappointment at the same time 🙂

          • Nigel W says:

            oh can Curve metal be used with HSBC Premier without getting charges from them?

          • BJ says:

            @Nigel W, Curve metal is about not getting charged by Curve, but at the moment it seems many who hold the lesser cards are not being charged either. By contrast, the MCC are about not being charged by the underlying card. The planets are currently in alignment 🙂

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            I thought most people received a very nice credit increase recently from Curve, I went from 100k to 500k overnight!

      • Mr. AC says:

        Would you kindly hint at what these are? With Fronted working some of the more obvious tricks are a no-go (assuming one doesn’t have Metal).

        • Connor says:

          My personal choice would be looping a card which traditionally charges cash advance fees for 6012 MCC transactions, combine with Curve Cash for extra sweet rewards.

          • Crafty says:

            Combine with Curve Cash? Gosh I really am missing something. Off to have a think…

        • BJ says:

          Crafty, Mr AC … don’t overthink it, it is the obvious.

    • Harry T says:

      Noob question: how can you check which code is being used?

      • Connor says:

        Check the transaction details on the website of your credit card provider and it will sometimes tell you.

      • Leigh says:

        Virgin card shows MCC codes when transactions are pending (online only not mobile app). Can’t find the MCC codes with IHG card transactions.

      • The Urbanite says:

        You need a credit or a debit card which tells you the MCC of the transaction online or in-app. As mentioned Virgin does so while the transaction is pending. Others like Lloyds credit and Barclaycard give a merchant category description which allows you to deduce the MCC.

        Alternatively you could telephone your card issuer after making the transcation, they can tell you.

    • Andrew says:

      So not 6012 for paying a credit card bill?

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