Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Monday 9th November

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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 (274)

  • johnny_c-l says:

    The day after I cancelled my Amex PRG card, Amex decided to cut the credit limits on my remaining cards by 90%.

    I’m planning to call Amex to see if they will reconsider, interested if anyone else has experience of this?

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Had you held it long? Or did you just harvest the bonus and close it? Any other behaviours that could be deemed gaming they could have spotted on review? Or anything they may feel could be detrimental on your credit file? Switching between products is not unusual and doesn’t usually lead to a sanction.

      • johnny_c-l says:

        I had it for just over a year and haven’t done anything recently (last year or so) that could be considered gaming I think. If they went back further then it might tell a different story so maybe that is what happened.

        Will give them a call later and see what they say…

    • Mr Lyon says:

      I decided to cancel my Amex gold card a few weeks age, but I also hold a Amex Bonvoy card. I normally cancel via online chat as I find it to be the fastest option, but I thought id call this time to see if I could get a retention offer. The agent couldn’t do anything, but he said that its Amex policy to transfer the credit limit from the closing card and add it to any open cards. So I can now buy a small house with my credit limit on my Bonvoy card. Thought Id mention as it seem to be the opposite to your experience, maybe call them and request the credit limit of your closed card be transferred to your remaining card?

      • Mco says:

        I was recently advised by HSBC that having too much available credit on your credit card can come across as negative on your credit report. No idea why….I would have thought that having a credit limit of 35k on a card and using barely 1k of it is good but apparently not according to him.

        • Rob says:

          It’s a negative in terms of getting new cards, because the total amount of credit you will offered (across all cards added together) is a function of your salary, put simply. There is more to it but for an easy life ….

          However …. spending too close to your limit is also a bad sign. It makes you look desperate.

          If you are spending £2k per month and possibly £5k in a big month, eg holiday, then cut your limit to £10k.

    • Harry T says:

      A handful of others have recounted similar experiences in the comments, usually after cancelling a Platinum card. Amex seem to be unusually hawkish about cutting credit at the moment, which may be due to pandemic situation. Has anything about your creditworthiness or financial situation changed? It’s worth giving them a ring to see what they reckon is going on.

      • johnny_c-l says:

        Interesting – this was originally a Platinum card which I downgraded to Gold last year so maybe that was a trigger.

        I’ve spoken to them and they were very pleasant, but essentially saying that they review all cardmembers accounts/limits every 3-6 months (apparently), but there’s an option to send them copies of bank statements or give them access to open banking and they will review the decision.

        I can imagine a situation where they would have looked at my file seen high credit utilisation across non-Amex cards (thanks Curve), a slowdown in my spending recently (but income is the same), and the non-Gold cards not being used much and decided to be ultra cautious.

        I’ll send them the info they want and see what they come back with.

  • Peter K says:

    Hi Rob. Is there a delay in the Amex Amazon card review or did I miss it?

  • Dr Lee says:

    What’s the best option for meet & greet / valet parking at Heathrow T5? The official parking for the 10 days I need is over £100!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Usually cheapest are the off site parking companies on holiday extras. Best to go through martin’s M S E site and you can usually double dip with T C B

      However, it’s still around £60. Official valet has its perks as it’s drop off right outside the terminal and they’ll take more care of your car / you take up with Heathrow not some dodgy operator if there’s damage.

    • Doug M says:

      I’ve always thought it really odd to hand the keys to a car worth thousands or possibly tens of thousands to a random to save £40. Def not for me.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        all about experience. I’ve used Drivefly / Blue Circle – same company after a rename a number of times and its all been pretty smooth. But I agree it’s all good until the time its not.

        Lucky my car has a tracker where I can see it’s exact location via the manufacturers app and its usually at the HGI Hatton Cross.

  • Ben says:

    Hello,

    Very noddy question that I know has been answered 100 times before but I had slightly conflicting info from BA a few months ago (I trust the HfP readership more than BA CC staff, as helpful as I always find they are). If I cancel a RFS I paid £1 for, do I get charged £1 or £35 cancellation fee?

    Thanks

    • TGLoyalty says:

      The terms say you are meant to be charged £35 for cancelling.

      The website didn’t work as per the terms so you only lost any cash up to a max of £35 per person per booking, but you can’t cancel online anymore.

      If the CC says they will charge £35 then that’s what will happen. If they don’t mention £35 cancellation fee you might well get away with £1.

    • Jason says:

      I have cancelled 4 recently via the CC and they all went through at £1

    • Dr C says:

      £1 over the phone

  • memesweeper says:

    One for the armchair lawyers: HMRC are content that airmiles (and thus by extension similar things like hotel points) are not a taxable perk. But what about cash kickbacks? and similar use of points? I’m thinking about the ability to cash in Amex MRs for money off the bill — if the points were earned ’on business’ but the benefit flows to the staff member, could this be taxable? whereas if the MRs were taken as Avios it would not be in scope for tax?

    • KBuffett says:

      I wouldn’t do it. Cash is cash, full stop.8
      It’s taxable.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      https://www.gov.uk/hmrc-internal-manuals/employment-income-manual/eim21618

      It’s how you get the points, not what you do with them that counts. Take formal professional advice if you aren’t comfortable with your behaviour vs. the linked info.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I don’t think that would be valid if they are directly converted to cash on the business credit card account.

        If they’re were transferred elsewhere then converted to cash that may get around it.

        • Sandgrounder says:

          A business can’t have an MR account- the points always go to an individual and belong to them personally. You would therefore be repaying the business for your personal expenditure using the points. I presume you can merge the MR accounts as you can with personal accounts, and nominate one card to receive the points? If so, a personal card would be the one to nominate to make things nice and easy!

    • memesweeper says:

      To be clear: this is not a business credit card account. The MRs are landing in a personal account linked to a personal Amex. However, using the FX transfer scheme, my company is paying for the transfer service that generates the points, they are not derived from personal card spend.

  • Anna says:

    The Langley seems to be taking cash and points bookings for next summer now – cash prices are fairly eye-watering though!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      It’s not really cash and points it more mix and match cash and points stays into one booking. As you can only choose to pay points or cash for each night.

      Rates do look much higher than usual on weekends next summer. Guess they’re trying to recoup some of their lost takings.

    • Michael C says:

      Booking well ahead for your 75th, Anna?! ;o))))))))))

      • Anna says:

        You never know, it might happen then 🤣

        • Anna says:

          They are doing a rate where you get breakfast, spa access, $100 credit and a bottle of champagne in the room which gives Emyr a bit of a run for the money!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            They’ve always done the “Quintessentially English” rate. I booked it a couple times last year.

            Though find it odd they are limiting spa access, perhaps due to COVID capacity issues.

          • Anna says:

            I’ve booked this for a couple of nights at Feb half term, plus a second room on points for the teenager in case our Vienna trip doesn’t go ahead. It’s not really “Quintessentially English”, though, if it’s champagne they give you! (But would rather have that than English sparkling, don’t get me wrong).

  • insider says:

    Looks like the end is nigh (again) for Norwegian:

    https://newsweb.oslobors.no/message/517417

    • AJA says:

      The Guardian now reporting it:

      “Norwegian Air said it is facing a “very uncertain future” after the government of Norway refused to grant further financial assistance to the airline.

      The carrier was bailed out through state aid with stringent conditions attached in the spring, after the first wave of the coronavirus and the grounding of airline fleets.

      However, with a further winter lockdown in many markets and a slower recovery than hoped, Norwegian had appealed for

      On Monday, Norwegian said the Oslo government had announced the airline would not receive the further financial support that the carrier “had clearly communicated was necessary to maintain operations throughout the Covid-19 crisis”.”

      https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/nov/09/norwegian-air-faces-very-uncertain-future-after-further-aid-denied-covid

  • Amar says:

    Maybe I’m a bit slow here – somebody here mentioned they bought gift cards at Morrisons to use at JL? Is that Waitrose Gift cards?

    Going to pay a visit today and get as many as I can! Any tips?

    • Harry T says:

      The John Lewis gift cards can be used at Waitrose or John Lewis.

    • My Cat Voted For Biden says:

      “John Lewis” gift cards are the ones usually – they can be used in Waitrose. Fill your boots!

    • Nick_C says:

      There is a restriction on the £50 JL (Waitrose) GCs. You can only buy 1.

      But the £25 JL GCs don’t seem to be restricted.

      • Doug M says:

        I found they now had £15 to £100 JLP ones where you chose the amount at the till. Self checkout for me and I did 4 without issue, along with some Amazon £100 ones too. Have to use small till side items like chocolate to trick the scales to realise the item is in the basket.
        Almost every time I used the offer last time around the message from Morrison’s cashiers and tills varied as to what was allowed. No doubt it’s made up in the fly.

        • Amar says:

          Very interesting! Will add a data point once I try tonight

          • Amar says:

            Data Point: Bought £2,800 in one transaction at my local Morrisons today – worked like a charm at the till (said I’m buying it for employees for xmas). Was a mix of Netflix (4×25), JL (12×100) and Amazon (15×100)

        • Jonathan says:

          I used this offer in it’s previous incarnation at 6 different Morrison’s in Liverpool, London & Sheffield. There were either no restrictions or limit of 2 or £100 of JL & Amazon without manager authorisation. When it needed authorising they could either swipe their badge once for all the cards or would need to do it for each individual card. The regime, while variable between stores, was consistent for each individual store.

          The only thing the manager ever wanted to know was that I wasn’t falling victim to a scam of the HMRC type.

          The bigger transactions (~£700) normally resulted in some sort of comment from the cashier but not in a way that made me feel I’d be denied the purchase more simple nosiness! I always said I was buying them for employee Xmas gifts.

      • Jonathan says:

        I’ve seen some that allow up to £250

        • Polly says:

          Told me l could buy 3 x £250 Morrison GCs. They just add it at the till. And only 1 x £50 JL card would go through. Interesting about the £25 cards, will try them on the other card.

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