Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Friday 30th October

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Comments (228)

  • Green Plastic says:

    Hi all.

    Planning to settle a mortgage balance of GBP 150k and the bank have advised I can carry this out by debit card transaction. Before I do this, thought I’d check on here if there is some way of generating a gazillion avios out of this?!

    Thanks as always!


    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      None for avios that I can think of, but if you used curve you could get a lot of points thru other cards (depending on spending power)

      • Green Plastic says:

        I do have a Curve card, what would the best strategy be?

        • Anna says:

          Well first of all you would need to look at your daily/weekly/monthly/annual limit!
          Wish my bank would allow this.

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          Depends if you want hotel miles or air miles. Virgins premium card would be the best for air miles but obviously we don’t know if they’ll survive. If you had tesco card that would be idea, but iirc they don’t issue them anymore. Or if your lucky you might get accepted for the HSBC card.

          For hotel points, maybe IHG? But they aren’t doing new applications for the premium card. Robs monthly article on the best credit cards is probably your best point of information.

          • Genghis says:

            Tesco treat most banks as “Financial Institutions” and hence do not earn points. YMMV.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            Why not VS rewards plus card for Hilton points? It’s not just for virgin flights!

        • Chas says:

          If you have a small business take out the Capital on Tap card, and link that to Curve. You essentially earn 1 Avios per £1. Yes, I know your mortgage won’t be a business expense, but there is nothing to stop you from repaying your business for the personal expenditure (it will be treated as a Directors Loan in effect). The only downside to this is you shouldn’t be able to treat the annual fee as a business expense as you will have used the card for personal use).

          • Genghis says:

            Genuine question, do CoT not care that the card is used for personal purposes, in breach of Visa regs?
            If so, any personal use of the card could just be carved out so you can only claim the genuine business proportion of the annual fee as an expense.

          • Chas says:

            Hi Genghis. I honestly don’t know. If something is in breach of Visa’s regulations then I suspect that CoT would be more on top of the situation than other card providers might be, in the same way that they are for other things (for instance you can’t use your CoT to repay the seagulls). My experience is that paying HMRC for my personal tax using my CoT hasn’t caused me any issues whatsoever, although from CoT’s perspective it could look like I was paying Corp Tax or VAT. So in this instance maybe paying a mortgage provider wouldn’t work as it could more obviously appear to be a personal payment. If only I was lucky enough to be in a position to test it out – paying my mortgage by debit card each month would be fantastic!

          • Chas says:

            Genghis – in answer to the 2nd part of your question about apportioning the business element of the spend to allocate part of the card fee as a business expense. Personally I wouldn’t put it through my company’s accounts, as the spend should be “wholly and exclusively” incurred in running the business. I think it would fall down on the exclusively part. Although other people’s attitudes to this do of course vary…

          • Rob says:

            Obviously not, or people couldn’t apportion parts of their rent or mortgage interest or bills if they work from home.

          • Genghis says:

            @Chas. If you only put through the element which is business related, that’s fine. For a way in, see I’m not a tax expert but still a Chartered Accountant.
            “The rule prohibiting a deduction for expenditure not incurred wholly and exclusively for the purposes of the trade does not prohibit a deduction for any identifiable part or proportion of the expense which is incurred wholly and exclusively for trade purposes.”

          • Chas says:

            Thanks Ghengis – I’ll be expensing some of that this year then!. I’m a chartered accountant too, but clearly a bit rusty…

          • RK says:

            Paying a mortgage provider could also be a business expense…. a commercial mortgage for commercial premises.

        • Amar says:

          I did this using bendy & virgin (~50k). Did batches of 4.5k as that was my bendy daily limit. Mind you, the lender didn’t care about the name on the card, so I used 4 bendy’s in family members’ names – only took a few days

          • Amar says:

            Having said that – this was over a year ago. Hopefully someone can confirm it still works!

    • Jonathan says:

      I find it a little odd that no one here has mentioned the Lufthansa Miles and More Diners card that also comes with a MasterCard, the beauty of this card is card processing systems think the MasterCard is a pre-paid (debit) card.

      Rob has an article explaining the benefits of the card, although it’s probably a few months old now, I’m not entirely sure when he published it though

      • Genghis says:

        Not that odd when the card doesn’t earn avios per OP’s Q.

        • Jonathan says:

          I know it’s not Avios, but flying a reward flight with Lufthansa would be one of the best airlines in the world to go with, if using first class, given that they’ve even got their own terminal exclusively for first class passengers at Frankfurt

          Avios also expire as well, although you’d have to be unlucky and or careless to let them expire

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Genuinely didn’t know that about the mastercard, interesting.

        But lufthansa points expire, so kind of a bit pointless given the current situation.

      • Rob says:

        It IS a prepaid debit MasterCard! There is no confusion involved 🙂

      • Harry T says:

        Can you make deposits with the national bank using the M&M MasterCard and one curvaceous boi?

        • Jonathan says:

          I’m not entirely sure but highly doubt so, the Miles and More pre-paid MasterCard can only be funded via the Diners card, which is a charge card, so not apart from paying your bill or having refunds, money isn’t supposed to into the account from the consumer’s end, like with pretty much all credit / charge cards

  • Nick says:

    Does anyone have any hotel suggestions for Athens?
    Marriott has a fantastic price but seems out of the way – has anyone used public transport and is it ok? (I hate taxis and there’s no Uber)
    Intercontinental has a decent price but middling reviews
    Novotel has a good price but seems more basic
    Hilton looks great but is twice the price of the Marriott – is it worth it?

    Thoughts very welcome.

    • meta says:

      Grand Hyatt Athens. Currently Emyr can get you 3 for 2 nights Hyatt Prive rate with free breakfast, $100 credit (which the hotel treats as 90 euros) and one category upgrade.

      • Nick says:

        Hmm interesting. I’ve got a £86pn offer for Hyatt direct which seemed too good to be true (and the reviews really weren’t great) – have you stayed there?

        • meta says:

          Yes, been there last week. Mixed feelings. Emyr got me £10 cheaper rate than the ones with Hyatt direct. Rooftop pool is much better than anywhere else as it’s heated. Breakfast was standard covid buffet fare where they plate for you. Rooms – chose ones looking at inner courtyard as views of Acropolis are miniscule and it’s noisy on the street side (Intercontinental is on the same side, only 5-10 minute walk down the road). Got upgraded to junior suite which is more like a huge executive room, but I liked it. I ate dinner on first night in the rooftop restaurant as arrived late night, but wouldn’t eat there again. Dinner not included in F&B credit), so spent it on drinks at rooftop bar/pool. Whole of Athens is full of construction, so there’s no escape from that.

    • Graham D says:

      I booked a BA Holidays package for the Athens Hilton for April (but then changed to May). Hilton only marginally more expensive than Marriott (£58 total over 4 nights) when booked as a package…

      • Nick says:

        Thanks both, appreciate the insight and tips. I already have a (non package) flight booked but will look and see if BA can do a deal on the hotel, I hadn’t thought of that. I’d like the Hilton but can’t really justify a £300 premium over the rest.

    • Kevin C says:

      We stayed at the AVA and had balcony with Acropolis views. Is on a side road so not noisy. No pool, etc.

      The Hilton is a long way from a lot of the historic sites but depends where you want to be.

    • Jake Mc says:

      I stayed at the ‘new’ hotel in Athens. Not part of any chain so no good for points (spending or collecting) but was fantastic. The staff were wonderful and the rooftop bar / restaurant is great. Some of the room views though could be better! Would highly recommend though all things considered. The location is dead central too!

      Also there is uber as we used one to get around for a journey

    • fivebobbill says:

      Just back from Hilton Athens a week ago Nick, spent 10 days there and left a fairly in depth review over on tr1padvisor a few days ago (same username). As to being far away from the sites, that depends on your mobility, it was a 15-20 easy minute walk for me to Syntagma square. Public transport is excellent, the metro M3 will take you directly from the airport to Syntagma Square or Monastiraki in 40 minutes for 9 euro each way, the public bus (X95) does the same, also in 40 mins, but for 6 euro each way – BOTH go right past the Hilton Athens. Highly recommend the Hilton AND the bus!

      • fivebobbill says:

        By the way I’m Hilton Gold, and a cheeky (but polite) email prior to arrival got me upgraded from an entry level room to a Deluxe 2-bathroom Suite, 2 balconies and Acropolis view. Hotel is only 15 – 20% full at the minute, no need to pay a premium…

    • Nick says:

      Beware of sophisticated scams to steal your purse/wallet/phone on the Metro, my OH and I were purposefully seperated by a ‘staged scrum’ and OH bag unzipped and passports stolen according to Police there are 100 plus reports a day

  • r* says:

    Is the extra Virgin upgrade voucher on £500+ spend still running? I cant find any reference to it on either virgins site or the credit card?

    • DRJR says:

      Yes, it’s still running but to qualify you must book with or Virgin Holidays before midnight on 31/10/2020, its apparently taking between 10-14 days for the voucher to appear on your flying club account.

  • iain miller says:

    Hi All,
    I have a quick question on redemptions.

    I’m about to book my first big long haul redemption (utilising a 2-4-1 voucher) for next October. I live in Scotland so I’m going to book from Inverness. It’s not my nearest airport but it will save me over £300.

    My question is this: I’ve saw it suggested that “missing” the last connection back to Inverness wouldn’t be a problem. On the other hand, I’ve also saw it suggested that if I did this then there could be some sort of penalty applied?

    My thoughts are that I book a stopover in London on the way back in order to get my bags, then book a separate flight to Glasgow. Booking that so far out would be a lot cheaper than the £300 I will save flying from Inverness.
    What could BA actually do if the cotton on? and is it worth the risk?

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Can’t you book the return to Glasgow? The taxes will be paid on the outbound?

    • ChrisBCN says:

      It’s fine to miss the last leg on an occasional basis (NEVER the first or subsequent ones). You are right to add a stopover so that you can collect bags.

      The only problem with what you suggest is if you book your flight to Glasgow with BA. They will then obviously know you never had any intention to take the last flight, which might cause problems. So, book with another carrier, but maybe you will need to transfer airports to do that which could be a hassle unless you are genuinely having a stopover. Better to look into what Sandgrounder says!

    • Matt says:

      Book INV-LHR-XXX-LHR-GLA – it won’t make a difference to the price vs return to INV, and you won’t have to pay for a separate LHR-GLA. Alternatively you could just book to finish at LHR on the way back, if that works for you.

      It’s leaving from INV that makes the difference – no APD. It doesn’t matter where you finish. If you’re booking an Ex-EU cash ticket then that’s when you need to think about where you’re finishing.

    • Anna says:

      Well obviously BA would know that you’d flown to Glasgow, so the worst case scenario would be that they could get shirty and close your account. Personally I wouldn’t risk it, as there have been odd cases of BA persuing pax (and travel agents) for extra money when this has happened.

      • Anna says:

        Or what Matt said! Though you’ll probably have to call to book that all on one PNR, which you will needto check your luggage through and not get charged avios on the domestic legs.

      • Stu N says:

        Anna – don’t see how this is relevant. The poster is asking about a redemption so Avois and surcharges will be identical between Glasgow and Inverness.

        The cases that BA pursue are where people booked an ex-EU at a significant saving over ex-LHR then skipped the final leg back to Amsterdam/ Paris or wherever.

        • Anna says:

          Which is what I then realised if you look at my next comment! Calling & getting it on all on one PNR is defintitely relevant though …

    • Stu N says:

      +1 for book INV-LHR-XXX-LHR-GLA. Only downside I can see is that you would probably need to do this over the phone rather than online.

      • iain miller says:

        Thanks to all! I’ll try the solution of officially finishing at GLA.

        I wonder if it would be worthwhile booking online first to finish at INV as normal, then calling up to change that leg to GLA?

        • Stu N says:

          If you’re concerned about availability then yes, go online. Otherwise it’s much easier to do over the phone in a oner.

        • ChrisC says:

          Just book the trip to end in GLA if that suits you best.

          Booking to INV and then changing to GLA would likely mean paying any change fees which would eat into your savings.

          There is no problem booking trips that start in one place and end in another.

          I have one next year – booked paying cash right from the start – that starts in INV but ends in LON. Not the first time I’ve done that and nor will it be the last. Saves all sorts of messing about with worring about luggage etc

          (I have a separate one way to get me to INV the day before)

          These sorts of trips aren’t complicated to book but some people make out that they are.

        • Lady London says:

          you may find no difference if you do that after the fact. But you might find fares available change and it gets repriced overall because of that. if you’re going to do it, do it upfront.

          You absolutely do not have to go back to same airport. sometimes it costs same, sometimes more, occasionally even less on some airlines we know and love. As the other poster says there’s a tiny risk on EU, pretty much zero if you change airport in London on same ticket, anyone can have transport problems etc….. or, yo u could find your return longhaul flight is late and someone official automatically changes your ticket in a way you didn’t expect!!!!! in case of irrops you can be forced to do the whole ticket accidentally. So especially for a domestic just do it upfront – it’s one of the several varieties of “open jaw” [route like crococile jaw] tickets, ,which is an official thing. Look in the fare rules for the fare class and it will make your head spin what else you can do with some tickets if you have the time. Your case is relatively simple and likely achievable without too much effort.

    • the_real_a says:

      Just price up your correct itinerary first. Ive done this probably 50 times over the past 20 years and never needed to abandon the last leg. The price difference has been either zero or negligible… Open Jaw is the phrase.

    • Jill (Kinkell) says:

      I’ve done a LH. 241 trip starting Inverness and finishing in Aberdeen. ( reasons for that even tho Inverness is my local airport) . No problem. As an open jaw had to phone up anyway to get the inbound from a different USA city.

      • Grimz says:

        +1 I live in Aberdeen and start my trip in Inverness and finish in Aberdeen. Just call you don’t get charged the £35 for booking an open jaw.

    • Harry T says:

      Just call BA and book outbound from Inverness and return to Glasgow. I did this recently with a trip to Japan, starting in INV and ending in NCL. I wasn’t charged any difference in taxes and charges vs a return to Inverness.

  • Paul says:

    Rob – did you feel the earthquake?

  • Anna says:

    What are people’s thoughts on the likelihood of Tier 4/circuit breaker/national lockdown. My area has effectively been in Tier 3 since August, it’s clearly not working, or at least not bringing infection rates down. I’m even starting to question the actual figures because I still don’t know anyone locally who’s even had Covid!

    • ChrisC says:

      Can they just make up their minds up and implement it ASAP so we know what we are are supposed to be doing?

      The pictures from Nottingham last night are disgusting and could have been avoided by an immediate implementation – not starting in a couple of days time.

      • Anna says:

        It’s been like that in every town and city which has been put on notice of a lockdown and must have resulted in a good few transmissions. In the absence of political appetite to facilitate any kind of meaningful enforcement I’m inclined to think we should adopt the Swedish model.

        • Crafty says:

          “The Swedish model”? Now globally recognised as a tragic conflagration of hubris and poor advice?

          • Jack says:

            Says who? One of the lowest transmission rates in Europe now. But don’t let that get in your way! I think alot of politicians don’t want to admit that maybe we should have followed Sweden before we set fire to the economy.

          • Brian says:

            Not globally recognised as such (that suggests it was) – globally condemned by governments and so-called experts who want to hide the fact that their own alternative ‘strategies’ turned out to be wrong. Sweden, you will note, is on the exempt-list for quarantine for those returning to the EU.

          • Harry T says:

            A very accurate comment, Crafty. Although perhaps advocates of the Swedish approach are aiming for a high mortality and decreasing nursing home waitlists?

          • Lady London says:

            You said it so nicely, @Harry T.

            I was just going to ask “Is there anyone left over 70 in Sweden” but thought even for me, that would be going too far.

          • ankomonkey says:

            I was thinking about something completely different when I read “the Swedish model”. Can you get points with this alternative product? Sorry for bringing the subject matter down to this level…

        • ChrisC says:

          I just went out for a bit of shopping (forgot the bread though). 50 people in a queue outside of a ‘party shop’.

          Very few masks worn and no social distancing in the queue (nor in the shop either from the looks of it).

          These are the people who are making it worse for everyone else and will be first to complain when Brighton gets ‘promoted’ to Tier 2 let alone Tier 3.

          • Lady London says:

            +1 I think this is the problem.

            That, and no one seems to acknowledge that children are mainly asymptomatic transmitters and school is a bug swop shop.

          • Josh says:

            What’s a party shop? Just somewhere selling party poppers and fancy dress nun outfits?

          • Rob says:

            They do exist. There is a decent market for a shop selling party supplies, mainly for kids obviously but Halloween is a good excuse to sell to adults.

          • mvcvz says:

            What’s a party shop?

          • Jerrry Butler says:

            and I thought Brighton were in the Premier league!

    • Callum says:

      I sincerely hope that you questioning the official figures because you don’t know anyone personally infected is a joke!

      • Anna says:

        Nope – I have my reasons and if you lived here you would have some knowledge of them rather than just being dismissive.

        • Anna says:

          And believe me, if fraudsters can help themselves to £3 billion of furlough money without anyone noticing for months, maipulating a few local numbers is a piece of cake.

          • Callum says:

            No, I’m not going to “believe you” because those events couldn’t possibly have any correlation with each other. Being able to do one doesn’t even come close to implying you can do the other…

        • Callum says:

          Ah that old chestnut – “I have good reasons for believing these insane conspiracy theories, I just don’t want to tell you”.

          • Lady London says:

            It depends where people used to work, @Callum.
            Those of us who follow @Anna may have the same impression I have, as to the scope of the profession she was very successful in, bringing a number of terrible criminals of a particular speciality to book, that she has recently retired from (and I don’t blame her given what she will have dealt with in her career.)

          • Anna says:

            Obviously you’re too lazy to do your own research. As well as the report above (which has been reprinted throughout the national press, it’s entirely possible to get round the system by doing things like sending one member of the family who has a positive test to get tested again giving someone else’s details. £500 support payments are available for some individuals so there is plenty of incentive to try this. I suppose local election fraud, crash for cash scams and insurance and welfare fraud on an industrial scale are also “conspiracy theories” if you’ve never bothered to find out about them …

          • Anna says:

            Obviousy that was for Callum and Coucou, not LL!
            There will be people who see this as an easy way to get £500 – make an appointment with a testing centre and send your covid positive mate or relative to get the test done. There are people who find an opportunity for fraud in pretty much every situation!

          • callum says:

            Lady London – What an absolutely absurd statement to make. Like your Khan rant, you’re just letting emotions override any semblance of logic. Unless there’s some reason I’m missing why a cryptic ex-justice role means Anna has any actual knowledge about the rubbish she’s spouting?

            Anna – Your “research” is irrelevant. Faking a negative Covid result has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER to do with official testing records. I can fake one myself in less than a minute – why on Earth do you think that’s notable?

            Your new claim that thousands of people per day are making fake appointments and sending covid-positive people to do the test for them is completely unfounded. If you’re going to make such ridiculous claims then YOU have to prove it, not me. The fact that you think it should be me providing evidence for your claims speaks volumes – and yes, makes you sound EXACTLY like a conspiracy nut. I’d certainly never make outlandish claims then insist you either believe me or prove a negative (i.e. virtually impossible).

            And no, I’m not naïve enough to believe that has never happened. If you’re going to claim that it’s happening on such a huge scale that it’s significantly distorting the recorded numbers (i.e. literally 10,000+ people a day are doing this) however, then YOU need to prove it. Your suspicions mean nothing and yes, is a conspiracy theory. As is anything else you list that has zero evidence. Just saying something is theoretically possible is not a valid basis for insisting it is…

        • Capt Hammond says:

          You’re spot on, Anna. We live in a Tier 3 zone and I know one person who has had it – and they recovered within days. My wife has worked throughout in a busy community pharmacy with a very high client base of elderly people and similarly has seen minuscule numbers (fewer than 5). In the meantime, other health issues, especially mental health are rising rapidly

          • Callum says:

            I know education standards are rather shocking, but I’m constantly amazed at the number of people who like to present themselves as being at least vaguely competent yet say mindnumbingly moronic statements like “I don’t know anyone with it so it is therefore a global conspiracy with hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers all in on it for…. for… ermmmm….. fun!”.

      • Coucou says:

        Joke is an understatement. Pathetic.

    • Nick says:

      I do trust the figures, even though I personally don’t know anyone with it either (not that I know the whole town!) But as an example, there’s been a recent (large) outbreak at my sister’s employer and in her local area, which has this week been placed into T2 and I can see exactly why. She personally knows two dozen positive cases in a small village alone.

      I think there’ll be more and more local restrictions until it’s national in all but name (e.g. excluding only the Scillies and Orkneys). Bozo won’t stand for an actual one in name even if it should happen, as that would be seen as letting Labour ‘win’.

      • Ken says:

        Absolutely baffling that people think the figures aren’t broadly right. Death is a binary thing, hospital intensive care beds either have COVID patients or they don’t.
        All the data seems pretty consistent, ONS random testing, community testing, hospital admissions, deaths ascribed to Covid (naturally lagging) and excess mortality.

        Fraud in the system, no doubt. Possible over counting, a bit.

        But these are vastly over-exaggerated by people trying to make some point.
        Not much of a leap to start claiming 5G causes Covid (and I run past such graffiti on a daily basis).

    • ken says:

      I’m also in a Tier 3 area (400+ rate).

      I know 16 people who have tested +ve in the last 2 months, one who possibly has long covid, a 93 old aunt who survived it, and a close friends dad who died this week.

      Even getting the R value below 1, it will take months to get back to a rate below 20.

      It makes me despair people claiming its some kind of conspiracy.

      • Anna says:

        No conspiracy theory – there are some unbeliavably naive people on this forum who apparently have little insight into the things their fellow humans are capable of!

        • Ken says:

          And the deaths ?
          Roughly a third of deaths in Liverpool each week at the moment are put down to Covid. That’s 60-70 each week.

          And the fact that Local hospitals have more beds occupied with Covid patients than the peak in April ?

          Are they scams as well ?

          Naive ? Well I’m from Liverpool, have worked in the criminal justice system, sister is a social worker so probably have a better idea than you what people are capable of.

          Be careful of keeping an open mind – sometimes your brain falls out.

        • Jerrry Butler says:

          @anna, you are correct, thanks for giving me a few ideas though!

    • Brian says:

      Why are you only now starting to question the figures, Anna?? Surely you should be aware that the figures have, from the outset, been pretty arbitrary (to put it kindly – one could say deliberately misleading). It’s like the death figures – they include all those people who died in the 28 days following a positive Covid test, regardless of what other factors were at play. So if you die in a car crash after a positive test, you’re on the list. Commit suicide after a positive test – you’re on the list. Die of a heart attack after a positive test – you’re on the list. Etc. It was worse before – it’s quite recent that they limited it to 28 days.
      It’s this kind of creative use of statistics that helps to keep most people in fear (which is presumably what they want) and makes those people who are able to look beyond the headlines sceptical about everything they say.

      • Anna says:

        Agree with all that, I’m just galvanised after more than 2 months in the most stringest restrictions in the country but we currently have an infection rate of nearly 1000 per 100,000! Something clearly isn’t right.

        • Josh says:

          The figures are strange because, while COVID-19 is rampant, other flu rate/deaths are far below average.

          • Louie says:

            Why is that strange? Flu is spread in much the same ways as Covid so with everyone washing their hands all the time, kids mostly not at school and socially distancing, flu won’t be being spread around like in normal years.

            We’ve had our winter flu season in Australia and have had c21k cases of flu compared with c247k last year. And c27k cases of Covid so far, so a total of c48k of the two combined or 20% of last year’s flu+Covid cases. So if you are concluding that low flu rates = overreported Covid rates, that’s not borne out by the experience here.

    • James H says:

      I suggest you pay a visit to any Mcr hospital if you question the figures.

  • Flying Misfit says:

    @HarryT… not sure if you have used your Gold supp yet… but I was also offered the retention deal of 2 additonal points per pound over 3 months on my Gold Charge (downgrade from Plat)… better half has been using supp and can confirm all transactions posting 3 MRs a pound.

  • Mouse says:

    I am wondering whether I have understood Virgin’s flexible no change fees policy correctly. My reading is that I could book a flight in upper class for any dates, then immediately move it to the dates I want without paying a fee, if the price difference is <£350. I can't see another way to interpret it, but it seems like a very generous invitation for anyone booking flights to take a £350 discount.

    • Callum says:

      You’ve read it correctly. They might put restrictions on it if lots of people start doing what you plan to (although they might just see it as a worthwhile cost to get the bookings) but your plan should work.

      I saved £400 (on a £1000 fare) by doing the same with Qatar.

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