Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The new HFP chat thread – Tuesday 4th August

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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 de facto 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.

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Comments (222)

  • yorkieflyer says:

    With BA Cityflyer from the regions are on sale for next year I’m wondering whether to pull the trigger on an avios booking. After they cancelled our May flights last year, two weeks rotations pulled at 6 weeks notice and then this years debacle I’m wondering whether to try again for next year? Some correspondents seem to think a reroute is fine, personally I’ve no intention of making a connection again on a short haul as it takes all day and risks a mis connection, particularly on the inward, in my experience. BA also point blank refuse to rebook on an LCC, the only other option from MAN.
    What to do? The one time we actually flew the jungle jet from MAN it was great….

    • Harry T says:

      Could always book and get a refund if they pull the route again or change the flight times?

    • Anna says:

      We found the MAN-NCE service great a couple of years ago, MAN-AGP got cancelled this year. Have you seen regional flights on sale for next July? I only ask because I couldn’t see any RFS for July 2021 which made me wonder if they’ve paused the routes with a view to pulling them altogether!

      • AndyGWP says:

        They seem to be there for me Anna? What are you checking for? Remember they fly on specific days…

        So Sat 10th July for example, MAN to AGP (3hrs, Direct) has seats at both 06:50 and 15:00 on Citiflyer

        The return on Sat 17th July is there for me too

        £187 p/p

        • AndyGWP says:

          Ah – just noticed you’re looking for RFS – try plugging in the above dates perhaps?

        • Anna says:

          I was looking at Seatspy and RFF across the whole year and it was showing no award seats on any MAN route for July, but they must be scheduled if you can book them for cash. I think someone was saying recently there is an issue with RFS at the moment, so maybe this is extending to RFF and Seatspy. I have a last Lloyds voucher to use by October so was hoping to use it on one of the direct services next summer as it’s much less hassle than going via London.

  • Alex says:

    Can anyone recommend a decent(but not overly expensive) hotel in Cologne?

    • Lady London says:

      I never found one when I had to travel there a few times so I will be very interested in any replies to your question!

    • Michael C says:

      I can actively swear you off 25Hours. Quirky style with nice views but absolutely filthy.

    • Louise says:

      It’s quite simple but I would highly recommend Motel One Neumarkt.

      Rooms are very clean, comfy beds, excellent shower and the bar is an amazing space.

      They do a nice continental breakfast for 10euros.

      Handy for metro.

    • John says:

      The HIX city centre was as expected, but it is now a Premier inn! The Hilton is ok if €100 is not considered expensive

    • ChrisC says:

      I stayed at the Hotel Mondale am Dom close to the Dom (cathedral) a couple of years ago. It’s an M Gallery (part of Accor). Wasn’t shabby from what I remember.

    • thehornets says:

      Best tip for Cologne is to be near a uBahn stop. After that, like any city, it depends. It’s also a highly walkable city, so staying near the Dom means you can walk around the Altstadt and shopping districts too.

      In terms of hotels:-
      Hyatt had the nicest rooms, but haven’t been there for a good few years.
      The Mondial is Ok.. good location though quite middle of the road with nothing standing out.
      The Marriott is fine, clean and relatively upmarket with a nice breakfast, and the cheaper Marriott Courtyard is further away from everything but near a uBahn stop.
      First time visitors often stay at The Dom hotel, immediately opposite the Dom

  • Alex says:

    Anyone know Ryanair’s cancellation policy on booking flights now for next year?

  • Laura_D says:

    A question for you savvy folk…given current pandemic compounded with UK quarantine on Spain, how much of a discount would you consider negotiating on a HomeAway/Airbnb/etc. rental?

    I’m looking to book 2 weeks in the south of Spain – not fussed about quarantine, but know they’ve been hit with bookings cancelled etc. Given it’s a ‘long-term’ rental, plus seeing the calendar wide open was thinking asking for 20%. Anyone here have any other data points? Or maybe as homeowners looking to sublet, what you’d be happy with?

    Also, if anyone has any good phrases / statements they’d use when negotiating over messaging that would be great too!

    Thanks

    L

    • Lady London says:

      2 weeks isnt longterm. Quite a common length for a summer holiday booking in that type of accommodation

    • xcalx says:

      Long term LOL Our airbnb had a guest Monday to Friday from January 2016 until March 2020 and will return when he stops working from home. No discount was asked for, or offered.

      If the host offers a weekly or monthly discount it will show on the booking page.

      I would refuse any guest who asked for a discount and would block them from any future bookings.
      This would my way of dealing with cheapskates that would probably mark us down on value as they were not prepared to pay the full asking price.

      Pay up or look for something priced at a level you are prepared to pay.

      • Lady London says:

        I didnt really want to be say that so I’m glad you did! my opposite neigjbour has a summer rental. As soon as Covid eased she put the best rates she could offer on tge websites they use. She also adjusted her terms, normally 1 week minimum required to be paid even if someone stays less, to say that she would consider shorter stays Sunday-Thursday. She-s getting close to half occupancy.

        I would only ask once “is their any flexibility on the price?” after discussing my likely dates and getting a first price. If there’s no movement I would decide to go ahead or keep looking and be polite. Anyone Spanish here may be able to suggest the best way to ask the question in Spain

        I always pay cash rather than card where I can too if I havent had to pay the whole thing up front, you can go over the pricing again when you arrive and ask is cash ok.

  • Andrew M says:

    It looks like there’s no bonus on transfers of HSBC points to Avios this month (unlike last August). I made a small test transfer on the 1st of August and it arrived in my Avios account today without a bonus. I thought BA was supposed to be looking for ways to raise cash? A bonus on transfers would push some cash their way.

  • Tom says:

    Has anyone found Amex to treat them differently after downgrading from Platinum? Within a week of downgrading they cut my credit limit on my 2 credit cards with them to £700 and £800 respectively. I wasn’t offered the Shop Small promotion – i have never abused it and never used it more than 2 or 3 times each year. Rang them to try and increase credit limit to a reasonable level and all i was told was i don’t meet the criteria for it to be increased. Even closing the card with a £700 limit hasn’t allowed me to increase the £800 card to £1500?

    Really not sure what has happened. Nothing changed on my credit file, no missed payments. Only thing that changed was the downgrade of the Plat card.

    • BJ says:

      £700 is what they give you when you are close to your limit with them. However, I have never heard of them reducing existing available credit to that level. You should always transfer available credit between cards (if desired) before requesting closure.

    • Luckyjim says:

      I thought everyone got ‘shop small’? I’m sure they would add it to your offers if you asked. You need to call though. Chat will take you through the whole security rigmarole before telling you they can’t do anything.

      I’ve never heard of anyone having their limit cut either. Have you actually checked your credit file or are you just assuming nothing has changed?

      • Tom says:

        Nothing has changed in fact has gone up slightly over the last 6 months (not that the number means much).

        In the email where they cut the limit on the cards they mentioned that i was not utilising my credit limit which was the reason for the cut. Since then (3 months now) i have used the card a lot more – the reason for downgrading Plat charge card was to spend money on the BA credit card whilst my spend was lower than normal (Covid) and avoid paying for platinum without using many of the benefits. I did attempt to switch the credit on the £700 card to my remaining card but was told they couldn’t reduce it past £700 so couldn’t do it.

        I am not really bothered much about Shop Small but thought it may be further evidence that Amex doesn’t like me right now.

        • Pablo says:

          What you’re describing is very odd. Have you checked your credit report recently?

        • Lady London says:

          I would feel that way too.

          If they wouldnt budge on the £800 limit for the Plat then surely they would have had to be concerned about your ability to pay their massivd card fee of £600 per year? does not make sense.

          I would take a look at my credit file as the other poster suggests
          Have you taken in a new line of credit elsewhere such as a mortgage?

          I certainly wouldn’t bother giving Amex any spend I could avoid if I was being treated this way. would only spend the necessary for targets and defo would have phoned Brighton to get Shop Small added which they should not refuse

          • Tom says:

            I had no limit on the Platinum charge card and spent £45k on it last year, no missed payments etc. As well as that i had a BA and Nectar credit cards.

            Only 1 missed payment ever with Amex (first one where i believed the direct debit had been set up but hadn’t been).

            Credit file seems fine – just checked again. There appears to have been no searches by Amex anyway so i assume as someone said they use an internal measure.

            I am close to triggering 241 voucher at which point i will close the account and try and open a new one a few months later and hope whatever has caused this to fallen off!

        • BJ says:

          With amex, it seems to be their internal file that matters most so I doubt it is your wider credit report but always worth a look. I await further feedback from others on this with interest over the coming weeks and months. Unlike the other comments, I don’t find it so odd because I’ve been expecting something from amex for some time – that they will have another go at rounding up us players. They tried it two years ago by changing sign up bonus rules but let’s face it, that has not deterred us all that much 🙂 So, I expect them to come after us again. Obviously we cannot jump to that conclusion on the basis of a single comment but we’ll see if it shakes anything else loose.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I have one supplementary card that receives zero offers including the small shop (had it manually put on) it’ll be cancelled soon anyway

    • Harry T says:

      Amex have treated mw well with and without Platinum, though one would like to think paying 575 GBP a year would bring some extra consideration in equivocal situations. They haven’t cut my credit limits since I cancelled my Platinum (I have three other cards). Sounds odd the way Amex are treating you. I suggest trying to escalate within Amex.

      • Lady London says:

        and make sure you’re talking to Brighton – only – on this. get them to transfer you straight away if whoever answers is not Brighton.

  • r* says:

    Is it possible to use the amex £100 back on waitrose/jl gift cards without needing to go in store, or can they only be bought in store for it to trigger the offer? Can you just buy a £100 card and nothing else?

    • Andrew says:

      You can’t be gift cards online, only in store. You don’t have to spend £100, every transaction at any of those retails however small will be refunded, up to a total of £100 across all of the retailers. You of course don’t have to buy a gift card, you could just buy food and wine etc, or something from the Apple store or Harvey Nics – the JL gift card is just an option should you prefer something from JL than the other retailers (and HFP readers always like to find a loophole)

    • Sukes says:

      M&S e-cards bought online direct from M&s will trigger the cash back, if that helps. Worked fine for me on three cards. E-cards can then be used online or printed and used instore.

  • BJ says:

    Thisfrom AerClub on Nonvoy partnership (set your earning preferences to avios in your profile if interested)..

    We’re delighted to tell you that we’ve launched a partnership with Marriott Bonvoy™, meaning you can now collect Avios by staying in over 7,000 hotels across 30 extraordinary hotel brands from W Hotels to Moxy, and Westin to Aloft. You’ll earn up to 1.5 Avios per £1 spent* and enjoy exclusive Marriott Bonvoy benefits.

    • BJ says:

      *Bonvoy

    • Harry T says:

      Interesting offer but not as valuable as the Bonvoy points your typical elite member earns for stays.

      • meta says:

        This offer doesn’t preclude you from earning elite points.

        • meta says:

          When I read it first, I thought it was that you book through Aer Club portal, especially because they talk about how you can turn Marriott points into Avios. Maybe I misread.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          If you set your Bonvoy profile to earn miles you don’t earn Bonvoy points.

          https://www.marriott.co.uk/loyalty/earn/miles.mi

          You choose: points or miles. Update your profile if you prefer to earn miles for your stays with any of these frequent-flyer programmes.

          2 pounts per $ = 1.5 per £ i guess

          • Harry T says:

            Exactly. Might be an interesting offer for someone who rarely stays at Marriott Bonvoy properties but does value Avios for flights.

          • Sundar says:

            Aren’t you missing the 60 K => 20K, + 5K extra option if direct miles are taken or is this a higher rate ?!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            @Sundar that’s if you take Bonvoy points and transfer them. Not if you ask to earn miles instead of points.

          • Sundar says:

            @TGLoyalty – The rate seems to be better is why i am checking – 1.5 avios per £ – The flexibility is lost ofcourse.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Ok got you. on average the uk consumer would receive c6 points per £ spend and at 25k per 60k Bonvoy that’s 0.41 Avios / Bonvoy (maybe 7 but depends on tax rates and fx rate)

            6 per £ = 2.5 Avios/£

            If you stay now and again you’d never earn 60k so if it’s the usual 1:3 6 per £ = 2 But there is a minimum to transfer to Avios I believe.

            Once you have status the it gets a worse and worse deal to take miles vs points.