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The HfP chat thread – Monday 26th October

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We have decided to run this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

Historically, the daily ‘Bits’ articles were the de facto repository for random comments and questions.  With the news flow being lighter, we are running fewer ‘Bits’ articles.

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 at home, we want the HfP community to have a place to chat.

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Comments (252)

  • Rob says:

    Hi all

    Hoping someone can answe r this question for me.

    I’m the director of a small Ltd company )only 2 employees and soon to be VAT registered. I know alot of people on here use personal cards for their day to day business expenses.

    I wanted to know if it’s possible to use a personal Amex for all my day to day and then pay it off directly from the company bank account? What is my accountant going to say and will it cause more trouble than it’s worth?

    Many thanks

    • Rob says:

      Technically it is a directors loan, no different to that I think.

      If the company settles the bill on your year end date nothing will show in the accounts.

      Consider using the card JUST for business and then writing off the card fee against tax. It’s what I do.

      Also consider the Capital On Tap VISA at 1 Avios per £1, only for SME owners. See https://www.headforpoints.com/2020/07/30/earn-avios-with-capital-on-tap/

      • SteveSauceman says:

        Can you still use the Platinum offers if you’re writing it off? e.g. the Harrods credit

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I’m pretty sure people use the priority pass, Eurostar etc on holidays.

          The law says no but in practice who will ever know! Your statement will say +£100 -£100 net zero.

        • Rob says:

          If you want to stick to the letter of the law, you should work out what % of spend is personal and deduct that from the annual fee you reclaim.

    • Lady London says:

      I would have the company reimburse to my personal bank account after I’ve paid the card bill. To me that’s no different from incurring business expenses on my personal card, putting in an expense claim and the company reimbursing me. To keep things clear I might have a separate supplementary card on which I put payments I intend to claim back but that’s just for clarity.

      My accountant would prefer Rob’s solution of a separate card that is only used for business but I find as not everything is billed to card my first solutution above is what I do.

      I think the company paying directly into a personal account is always considered as you taking income from the company therefore by default part if your personal income and subject to your personal income tax so you need a strong paper trail or a consistently used struucture to prove otherwise.

      In the solutions above you are like any other employee making an expense claim and I believe you are also making a loan to the company (whether director or employee) until reimbursed.

      But so as not to attract undue attention I would never have the company pay a card directly unless that card was solely used for business expenses.

      • Anna says:

        LL – OT but in case you’re not aware, the new Jack Reacher book is out today. No way will it remain unopened until Xmas this year 🤣

        • Harry T says:

          Thanns, Anna, I’m a big Reacher fan too!

          • Polly says:

            Yes, good write up in the Times recently. Looking forward to the read..his brother Andrew seems to be just as good a writer, thank goodness for that. As he is tasked now with the churning out of future Reacher escapades! Love them all…

        • Lady London says:

          Noooooo! now you are exposing me to temptation!

          • Lady London says:

            @Polly why is Andrew involved? what happened to Lee?

            Yes this question is on a travel topic because when Rob checked into the Porto Intercontinental with his only luggage a child size Scooby Doo backpack we are sure Reception thought he was Jack Reacher.

          • Polly says:

            Hi LL,
            Lee is retiring from writing per se, and doing other things….his brother co wrote the latest Reacher, and now will continue writing them..interesting tack..

            Yes Cat, that was funny Rob checking in with the scooby doo rucksack., Reacher doesn’t even have a wallet!
            We would have been bringing the new Reacher with us to KUL next wee, had we been going…but it’s quite a novelty settling in for Nov in the U.K. this year…fire lit and takeaways.

        • dezbez says:

          Bit like my Brewdog Advent calendar- not sure if it’ll make it till December….!

      • Chas says:

        I do what Lady London does – make monthly expense claims for anything which I’ve put on my personal Amex. I even do the same for my VAT and Corp tax payments which I make via curve through to my personal MasterCards.

      • memesweeper says:

        +1 to LLs comments

        Also if the card is personal and nothing to do with the company then all Amex offer benefits flow to you personally with no paper trail to the company — you just submit VAT receipts as normal

        • Lady London says:

          Exactly. Things are much clear(n)er that way.

          For example on the Harrods thing, if the £100 had appeared on the Business card then there could be no cleaner alternative than the business taking the benefit of any offset credit against a charge as well.

          Whereas if you incur a £100 cost for business purposes that you later claim reimbursement for from the business then that’s all.

    • AJA says:

      If you want to use a personal credit card for company expenses it would be better for you to just put in an expense claim each month and have your business pay that to you. If you time your accounting you will receive the money from the business before you have to pay the credit card company.

      The problem with using personal cards for business use that the business settles directly is how you prove that all of the expenditure incurred on the personal card was wholly and necessarily for business use.

      You could just have one card set aside for business use but I would still recommend that your business pays you and you settle the credit card from your personal bank account. Otherwise you fall foul of the directors loans issue that Rob mentioned.

      You could get a card in the name of your business which the business would then pay off but even then you still have to prove that there is no personal use of the business card.

      • Rob says:

        … or just don’t bother with any of that and stick stuff on your card regardless, because the bulk of accountants don’t care and you aren’t actually defrauding anyone of any money as these are just archaic accounting rules.

      • Genghis says:

        1) No need for an expense to have been “necessarily” incurred for a person / Ltd co in this case, carrying on a trade.
        2) There is no issue really in having a credit amount on a Director’s loan account (i.e. initially a Dr expense, Cr Director’s loan account) – it just needs to be disclosed at year end. It’s only an issue with debit balances (i.e. the individual owes the Ltd co money, which may give rise to a tax charge).

    • Ryan says:

      Two ways you can use it for business expenses

      1) Use it all for ‘business spend’ and set the Direct Debit to come from the business account – Should be able to claim 100% of the fee

      2) Use it for both, but keep a record of what is business and either pay off from personal account or keep a record of what is personal and pay off from business account. This method you could apportion the fee based on value of business exps.

      Option 2) would require more leg work from you but either should be perfectly fine if your accountant is competent

      • memesweeper says:

        No problem with (1)

        My Amex offer benefits comfortably exceed my Amex fees. I don’t want to account for that, so I don’t contemplate doing (2).

        • Rob says:

          Correct, it is a rebate. However, you are using the business card partly for personal use so in theory you should deduct less than 100% of the card fee from your tax bill.

          That said most self employed people underclaim, in my experience. If you rent your home you can be quite aggressive in the % of your rent you reclaim as a business expense for example. Home owners need to be careful because it creates a CGT liability when they sell but renters are fine.

        • Ryan says:

          @ Rob, they always underclaim, personally I feel an accountant’s fee should be justified in some way in the additional tax savings that can be generated

          No CGT liability if you just include the mortgage interest (not capital) in the Use Of Home calculations… If you put the effort in to include all home expenses then you’ll get far more than the £6 / week flat rate!

    • Lady London says:

      Also if you’re going to be Vat Regd. think carefully about what date you issue invoices. You will have to.pay over VAT due by period end dates, say quarterly, whether or not the client has paid you.

      So invoicing at the end of.a month might not be as cushioning for your cashflow as imvoicing at the beginning of the next, say. YMMV if this matters to you.

  • EDA says:

    BA have moved my flights from London City to Heathrow. Can I do something about it? Can I claim additional travel costs to get to Heathrow?

    • Colin JE says:

      I’ve noticed this happening with my EDI-LCY flights, first time changed then moved to LHR, but the flight number changed. If your flight number has changed you could cancel for a refund, but I don’t imagine BA would cover your tube/taxi/limo costs. Others might know different though?

    • Andrew says:

      Guessing that City was far more convenient.

      BA generally consider all London airports as “London” so if flights change between airports it’s tough.

      Maybe consider whether grabbing an LNER service from Kings Cross is more convenient? If you get the timing right it’s about 30 minutes from LCY to St Pancras via Stratford International.

      • Rhys says:

        BA consider London airports the same but that doesn’t mean you should. We’ve had plenty of stories of readers insisting reroute or refund and being successful. Remember that BA are on the hook for any additional costs for you to get to new airport, so often they’d rather just refund the booking than pay for travel, hotel, food etc etc etc

        • ChrisC says:

          Despite what they say in the airport change email they are on the hook for reasonable travel costs

          I’d put in a claim for the difference in the costs between the two.

          So if it cost me £50 to get to LCW and £80 to get to LHR I’d claim for the extra so £30.

  • Colin JE says:

    Haven’t seen this anywhere on HFP so thought I should share. As an IHG Ambassador member I renewed last year for cash to get the point rebates of 10% on redemption bookings. I chased a couple of point rebates recently and the AMB agent told me the benefit had been withdrawn for any renewals since February this year. I would continue to get it until the end of my membership year (December), but not for the 6 month extension that IHG had given. Apparently the date used for whether a rebate qualifies is the check-in date, not the booking date.

    • rams1981 says:

      wow. Thats a major drawback. I will just renew with points in future if so.

      • Colin JE says:

        Indeed, probably me too. Though we’ll have to see what cash/points options there will be.
        I also noticed in the AMB T&Cs that everyone has the option of extending membership by two or six months, once in their membership lifetime, for either period. They don’t specify any qualification; you just request it.
        Would be interesting to see if anyone can come up with some cunning ruses for shifting renewals to different time of year.

    • Craig says:

      If that’s the case then for me I will only take out Ambassador just before I need it. No point renewing each year now.

  • YC says:

    Any recommendations of where/how to get good wine deals? Currently looking at waitrose cellar with 25% off some bottles looks like a decent deal. But I can’t find a way to double/triple stack. Not quite mastered my deal making capabilities…

    • Anna says:

      Laithwaite’s is pretty good, you get (a few avios) but the best deals are from multi-case buys and they have a 30% off sale at the moment. If you or someone you know works for the emergency services, you can also get 20% off on top of any other offers with a blue light discount code. I generally get prices down to below £6 per bottle which even the supermarkets can’t compete with for the quality, particularly for malbec which seems to attract a high price tag due to being “trendy” currently.

      • YC says:

        Amazing! Thank you

      • Lady London says:

        Aldi has a very decent Malbec at exactly that price.

      • Andrew says:

        Don’t forget there are fund return deals all around with Laithwaites too. 20% if you are targetted on BoS, Lloyds or HFX. Then you can stack 10% with various instore offers too (eg Airtime or Perks at Work)

        • YC says:

          Thanks all. Coming out to stack introductory BA offer + 20% emergency services + 15% Natwest (hopefully this comes through as Laithwaites and not WineFlyer)

  • rams1981 says:

    Thanks whoever said Harvey Nicholls gift card triggers online. Just tried it going through BA shopping portal. Hopefully the 14 avios/£ track correctly!

    • Rhys says:

      Will be interesting to see what technology is behind the 12 minute test. Presumably not the antigen test, which costs less than £10.

  • Tri87 says:

    I was one of the lucky ones as to receive the Plat Marriott £400 offer. I live in London and my b-day is late November on a Monday, so I’m thinking about a 2 night stay (Sunday and Monday night) though keeping the spend as close as possible to £400.

    Question for you experienced folk and apologies if I’ve missed it:
    1) Are we 100% certain that booking through Emyr triggers the offer?

    2) Want to stay in London and enjoy hotel amenities. Think none of them have indoor pools but does anyone have any recommendations on any of the hotels? Like a steam room / Spa / etc. and whether they’re actually open and what’s the cheapest way to access these?

    3) What’s the best value promos out there? I looked at FHR but they only have the Bulgari which is too expensive any way…is it better to book through Emyr or direct on Marriott (I’m a lowly Gold so wouldn’t anticipate an upgrade).

    I don’t fancy the W near Leicester Sq. as it’s too noisy and swanky, and I’ve been to meetings at the JW Marriott and it struck me as a bit too old school (though I could be wrong – have also read the steak place isn’t great)…any input appreciated!!

    Thanks,

    T

    • Amar says:

      Hi Tri87

      My aim was also to keep it close to £400. This might not be your CuppaT but the below is what I’ve booked:

      The Westbury – 31/10 to 03/11 (3 nights)
      Rate: £280/night but Emyr got me the 3rd night free so total is £560
      Perks: $100 credit, free breakfast (I calculate this free breakfast to be worth £150).

      Does anyone know if the breakfast can now be ordered as room service?

      • Tri87 says:

        Thank you all for your answers! Will e-mail Emyr with pricing for most places and compare.

    • Rob says:

      Emyr bookings qualify. However, the hotel may have exclusive online packages so worth comparing. If you don’t have top tier status then Emyr’s free brekky counts for more.

    • Harry T says:

      W is utterly dead right now – stayed a couple of weeks ago for a weekend and it was completely tranquil. I had a very good stay.

      1) Yes, booking through Emyr will trigger the offer because you pay at checkout.

      2) Unsure about spas. W has a very good gym for a hotel. Spa is open but I didn’t use it.

      3) Booking through Emyr is usually better if you don’t have proper status, as it throws in breakfast and extra F&B credit etc, plus a potential upgrade. The EZR rates are quite good right now though, so ask Emyr and then run the numbers.

      • Anna says:

        Harry T – just FYI, Emyr does the upgrade/breakfast/$100 credit at the Kimpton Clocktower now if you’re contemplating a stay. Cash rates are low at the moment, breakfast is normally $18.50 and there is an excellent restaurant on site so this would be a really good deal. $100 would pretty much cover a meal for 2 and drinks there! I’m hoping to treat my poor knackered keyworker OH to a stay in one of the suites in the New Year .

        • Anna says:

          £18.50! I assume the credit just comes off the final bill in whatever currency it’s charged in?

        • Harry T says:

          Thank you, that sounds like a good offer! I’m trying to make Marriott Bonvoy Titanium this year, though haha.

          • Darren says:

            HarryT, did you travel down by train, and how was it? Masked up and spare seat? Advance fares for Nov are pretty keenly priced at the moment.

    • Harry T says:

      @Darren
      Yes, I’ve got the train to London and back a couple of times this month. You will get a spare seat next to you and you face to wear a mask for the entire journey unless eating and drinking. It’s perfectly fine aside from the occasional folks who wear their masks their necks or decide to have a boozy picnic for the entire journey. Most people are behaving. Trains are running on time.

  • Andrew Mc says:

    Amex Gold holder. £140 membership fee applied 10 October. Called number on back of card hoping to be offered what I understand a number of others have been offered, specifically something like “receive an extra 5,000MR points when spending £1,000 by 31 December 2020”. Stated that I was considering my options for the year ahead, wasn’t benefitting to the extent that I used to from offers, which are currently not overly relevant to me (travel / London centric). Was told nothing was available. Asked whether I could be transferred to Brighton. Was asked why. Was told that they have access to the same systems and would not be able to offer anything either. Do I give up, or is there anything else worth trying? Chat?!?

    • Lady London says:

      Huaca, weekday standard office hours or 10am-2pm except lunchtime. Check it’s Brighton before you get down to business.

      A picture is starting to emerge that your chance could be improved close to a renewal they might lose though rather than when you are a new relatively unproven customer of less tgan, say, 6 months.

      • Andrew Mc says:

        Thanks LL. Any particular reason as to why 10am-2pm except lunchtime? 🙂

        Any particular number to use that makes it more likely to be Brighton?

        TIA.

        • Anna says:

          I rang the number on the card and said “retention offers” when prompted. I spoke to someone in America who seemed to know what I was angling for and offered me the spend £1000 get 5000 MR points deal (which should be complete tomorrow when I renew my house insurance!)

          • Anna says:

            I told the CSA I was deciding where to put my Christmas spending and that I would use the card provider which offered me the best return for it!

          • Nick_C says:

            I’m curious. Are you sure they were in the US? I’ve spoken to people with N American accents both in the UK and the Philippines.

          • Anna says:

            I didn’t check he they actually was, but definitely American accent and not in the UK! But it proves that overseas CS centres can do these offers.

        • Lady London says:

          10-2 being core hours which everyone generally works. ie longstanding employees with seniority and therefore likely to have expertise may get flexitime/privileges to come in later or to customise their day for childcare etc. 10-2 will be covered most likely by almost everybody.

          Like, if you have a medical emergency try not to make it a Saturday night or a Public Holiday. Try to be sick in normal working hours on non-weekend days because guess which days and hours highly experienced doctors whose seniority gives them a choice are not gonna choose :-).

          So who do you think in Amex is gonna pick up the phone in the UK late at night?

          @TG knows why I suggested calling the buyer, the one who quite likely is in charge of product offering and most definitely has targets to meet, on the morning of Thurs 29th October just in case

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      I would always say try and get thru to Brighton. They do have access to the same systems but they don’t know how to use it to generate the offer. Try again and make sure you get thru to Brighton. You are best to say I am considering cancelling because x, y and z no longer works for me. (suggest focusing on actual benefits, not the offers)

      To be honest, now you have paid the fee I would say you are unlikely to get anything above 5,000 MR points…

      • Jonathan says:

        I’m not sure about the obsession with Brighton. I’ve had 2 x 30k MR’s for retaining my Platinum off Philippines CS, both done in less than 3 mins. I get that Brighton is probably better for complex stuff but the retention offers are fixed & predetermined depending on your value to Amex.

        I’d say the overseas staff are very keen to just give you what you want asap (assuming they understand & have the capability) whereas in Brighton they exercise a bit more judgement & would potentially give you the run around if it’s obvious you’re on a fishing exercise.

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          Those 30k bonus where fairly standard and they ended up giving them to everyone with plat.

          My reason for saying brighton is the first time I rang up, I got someone in the Philippines, absolutely useless. Second time I got brighton and it was sorted in 5 mins.

          Other people’s experiences suggest overseas fails because they don’t know how / dont understand, brighton you succeed.