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The HfP chat thread – Sunday 22nd 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 (213)

  • Colin MacKinnon says:

    Anyone recommend a COVID PCR test place in central Scotland?

    Need a 72 hr prior test for a 6:30 am flight to Canaries on Thursday (arr 12 noon) and, apart from Boots who have a 3pm appointment on Tuesday with a 48 hr target time, all the rest are postal.

    • Jonathan says:

      Boots will also be postal so a 3PM test on Tuesday will get to their lab Wednesday morning ie. the same as the online providers who will post you a swab kit tomorrow to arrive with you Tuesday & return overnight.

      The problem with early morning flights & postal tests is you lose the first 24 hours before it reaches the lab & the last 12 hours overnight will also be wasted so essentially need the lab to do same day turnaround.

      You should be fine at the moment when travel volume is very low but I’d think carefully about flight/test timings for Xmas holidays & either book an afternoon/evening flight or get test done somewhere with an on-site lab.

    • Craig F says:

      I used Perth Travel Clinic this week and got test results in just over 24 hours Would highly recommend the clinic. I believe he has an office in Fife too
      Derek Ramsay
      07967622186

    • Zoe says:

      Not a test recommendation but having had an NHS test at a drive through I would aim for one that you don’t administer yourself. We all tested positive but haven’t been especially poorly and I’m allowed out today. Mentally it’s much easier self isolating for a genuine risk during lockdown than on our return from Spain in the summer whilst it felt like all around were flouting rules.

      • Lumma says:

        Regardless of whether you self test or get it administered, if you get a positive test, you had the virus at the time of the test. The bigger risk by doing it yourself is not doing it correctly and spoiling the sample and it coming back as inconclusive and having to take the test again.

        The NHS sites that offer administered tests within the M25 are Heathrow, Twickenham, Chessington and Lee Valley

      • Lady London says:

        how do you think you picked up the bug, @Zoe ?

        • Zoe says:

          My daughter and her boyfriend are living with us, they got ill first, there was a cluster around his rugby club, so maybe they got infected there (pre lockdown). In terms of symptoms my daughter and I both had heady colds before losing sense of smell. Her boyfriend had no symptoms before losing his sense of smell.My husband had aches and pains for a few nights before the smell went. None of us have been very poorly, my husband had a couple of afternoon rests but he has had much worse flu in the past. (Kids in 20’s, I’m in 50’s, husband in 60’s)

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        NHS tests no use for Spain since you now have to have your passport or ID card number on the test!
        Makes that moral decision on using the NHS redundant!

    • TripRep says:

      Colin – can I ask your reason for travel? Work / Welfare?

      I ask, because you could expect police checks at the airport. It seems bizarre that legally you can fly abroad, but it could be technically illegal to travel to the airport.

      • Anna says:

        Is travelling within low tier areas ok? Or if say, you live in Edinburgh, travelling to EDI might not be banned. Sadly all I needed to know was that it’s now forbidden to cross the border! Though surely all the police could do would be to fine you for being in the wrong area, I don’t think they could stop anyone getting on a flight.

        • TripRep says:

          Colin doesn’t mention where he lives or the airport in question.

          IIRC all travel in a Tier 3 or 4 area needs to be for essential purposes.

          But I have to confess it’s hard to keep up..

          And I agree, I think your summary of what the police can technically do seems correct, wee Nippy Sweetie hinted at the same.

          Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know people have been asking why are we making it against the law depending on where you live to travel to an airport, but not against the law to fly to another country.”

          She explained: “Just because it’s not against the law… does not mean we think it’s ok to do it right now.”

          • Anna says:

            We’re waiting to find out which tier we’ll be in from December 2nd! We’ve been in the strictest lockdown since August now so I will be really annoyed if we have to endure that through December and January just so some people can have “5 days of Xmas”. (We won’t be having any family get togethers, it’s frankly madness).

          • Hhhibs says:

            Cost nothing to be polite.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            Does anyone take any notice of non essential travel during this lockdown?
            Living on the SW coast we still have loads of high tier visitors here.

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          Technically, the police can fine you £30 (£60 if not paid quickly!)

          With one way tickets to the Canaries on Ryanair and Jet2 for as little at £16 – the fine is peanuts. Hardly a deterrent and doesn’t generate a criminal record.

          To me, that’s one of the issues with the “laws”. No teeth.

          Edinburgh dead last night – except for groups of students carrying bottles of vodka – obviously on their way to parties! No police at all.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            The law relys on the public being compliant and the police issuing fines is a deterrent.

            It’s a fact there aren’t enough police in the land to stop everyone and there are lots of actual serious crimes still going on that require attention vs kids going to an illegal party

          • Nick says:

            I agree make the fine £1000 that might make people think

          • Sandra says:

            I thought I’d read that the police are no longer issuing fines but a summons instead as they decided fines were unfair due to some better off people refusing to pay and going to court anyway to get it quashed under whatever loophole they can find – think maybe after some of the bigger fines earlier in the year issued to students from wealthier families caught having a party

          • Rob says:

            The fixed penalty notice is, well, fixed. If you go to court, the fine is based on ‘ability to pay’. For many this will be lower than the fixed penalty notice.

          • Anna says:

            The £10k fines have been replaced by summonses as people were challenging them in court and getting them means tested (this was always going to happen). The lower level ones are still being issued AFAIK.

        • EwanG says:

          @Anna – from what I saw yesterday at the designer shops around St Andrew Square in Edinburgh, many (maybe even most) were not from Edinburgh and listening to accents I would say had travelled from south of the border rather from the west (where they now have the highest restrictions and have been told not to come to Edinburgh). People desperate to continue shopping, so it seems, and continuing to travel.

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        You can ask – and reason is obviously work! Except that it is not me travelling, but my Spanish wife!
        So we can party on at my gaff since I’ll have “an empty”!

    • BP says:

      Friends arrived in Lanzarote today from central Scotland. They had NHS tests. Got in the country fine but the hotel wouldn’t accept their tests and they needed to get a local test for ~£30

  • Wally1976 says:

    Is it still the case that Hilton don’t charge resort fees on points bookings? I’m thinking specifically about Florida.

  • DZOO says:

    Bendy limits – currently on annual 500k. Just curious if anyone has a higher limit as slightly wary of asking for a further increase / associated review if not available as have seen a couple of posts in last week or so mentioning that this may in fact trigger a limit reduction. TIA

    • Peter K says:

      Someone the other day claimed to have a £1.4M limit.

    • Jonathan says:

      If you got 500k I’d definitely stick rather than twist. 1.4 million is like rocking horse poo & all I’ve seen recently is people having limits reduced from 500/300k to 100k whereas 12 months ago everyone was reporting increases.

      I’d imagine they’re at the stage when investors are starting to want to see some bottom line numbers rather than just usage/customer growth.

    • Genghis says:

      There’s a much higher KYC risk £500k+, depending on what you’re doing.

      • Jonathan says:

        I’d imagine the number of people in the UK who can generate a vaguely legitimate annual spend of 1.4 million on a debit card is pretty small!

        • TGLoyalty says:

          You would be surprised when business is involved.

          • Rob says:

            I get multiple enquiries per year (I had one last week) from people who spend £100k per month on Google and/or Facebook advertising for their businesses and want card advice.

      • DZOO says:

        Thanks all – sounds like it’s best not to be too greedy!

    • The Urbanite says:

      There is a £1.6m tier. If you’re MSing I’d stick with £500k as beyond this, enhanced KYC is carried out sooner rather than later.

      • Sina says:

        I’m £1.6M and was never even asked for ID, I’ve been with Curve since beta tho.

      • Dubs says:

        +1. Daily spend of £9k is a max limit that Mastercard impose, as told to me by CS, ( not so good when looking to buy/ deposit for some items) which gives £1.6m tier.

    • Matt says:

      From what I remember, those reporting limits being lowered have been changing their card (upgrade to metal, switch from business). I got my limits upped (not while changing card type) a couple of months ago. I put absolutely all spending onto the card for about 4-6 weeks prior so was running close to monthly limit.

      • Doug M says:

        About 3 months ago I asked for an increase from 50K, thought I’d get a refusal and mention of the fair use, as historically Amex and currently NS&I see a good chunk of my spend. Got a response within a day or so of upped to 100K. Checked the app and it was 300K.

    • Jimbob says:

      I asked when I got to within 10% of my annual limit via chat, and got lifted to 1.4m withinn 24 hours.

      • Jimbob says:

        Well, I “claim” I did, but might be making it all up, ‘cus you know that would be funny.

        • Peter K says:

          Actually, someone on here previously posted that they made up figures of spend/points generated as they were depressed and felt they were missing out compared to others, so made some up to put on here for a while make themselves feel better.

          Of course, that post might also have been made up by the poster 😅

  • Tom1 says:

    My favourite Sunday activity – planning (dreaming) about future trips.

    Aiming to do a oneworld multi carrier redemption when it’s possible again.

    Something I don’t understand – i see example Trips with some segments book in to first while the whole trip only booked in to business. Are there any hard and fast rules about this, or is it just trial and error?

    And any other hints and tips welcome! Thanks. 😊

    • Ming The Merciless says:

      I spoke with an agent about this the other day and got a trip priced as follows:

      Lon-cpt-Lon-hkg-syd-hkg-Lon-nyc-lon-Hnc

      All was first/business apart from last flight to Japan in economy. Priced as economy as the Japan leg was the longest.

      • Andrew M says:

        Very interesting to see a real world example of how that can work. I assume the last leg was LON-HND rather than Frisco, North Carolina?

      • S says:

        did you get it ticketed? Its all well and good getting a quote but ticketing is impossible after an IT change last year. It takes hours and hours to piece together availability, then many many times hanging up and calling again to get someone willing to even try pricing it, and then the computer and/or fares team kicks it out (for obvious reasons).

        • Ming The Merciless says:

          Availability is always down to you to sort out, given that the booking process is onerous for the agent it seems only fair to do what you can. I took the booking through all the way to just before payment to check it worked, leave, hotels events needed to be checked for availability as well so I dipped out just before payment. I had a good agent who had booked them before and was completely unphased by the request. Admittedly this is a one off.

          • S says:

            yeah, I can’t imagine how long it would take if you asked an agent to look up the availability for you!

            anyway, I think you would have found it fails at ticketing stage, gets sent to fares team for manual ticketing and then it gets kicked out. One of mine which slipped through led to a 280k avios manual correction a month later.

          • Hugh says:

            How do you recommend it is best to check availability? I spent ages checking reward availability for some internal USA flights last year on Ba.com and Award Nexus, but when I rang to book the agent found better flights where I had not seen any availability, and told me she had access to more accurate availability than I would find online. So curious as to best approach!

      • Jonas says:

        Is this all on rewards???

        And are there long gaps between the LON arrive\depart?

      • Andrew M says:

        Has anyone been able to get something like this ticketed recently? Perhaps inserting one or two higher class flights into an itinerary would work better than the extreme example quoted?

        • Tom1 says:

          My brain hurts with the thought of the number of covid entry/exit rules to consider – I’ll think I’ll wait for the time being!

      • the_real_a says:

        Is there no backtracking rule on a multi carrier redemption? Are you stopping over in LON?

        • Rob says:

          They don’t seem to mind, or the agents aren’t properly trained. A lot of people add an extra ‘London to Europe and back’ trip at the end – with a suitable gap – if they have some mileage ‘spare’.

          • the_real_a says:

            Very interesting. Thanks Rob.

          • tom1 says:

            this is the story that sticks in my mind from your previous article…. never let those remaining miles go un-flown.

          • Lady London says:

            With a bit of luck Dennis from BMI might now be in the ticketing department of a large travel agent 🙂 Another one I came to this game too late for !

  • Reney says:

    Hi yesterday I mentioned I was getting error messages from curve that I appear to have hit my limit even though I had enough limit. Someone suggested it might be my underlying card – creation after trying a different card today it appears that is the case. I do have plenty of limit on my creation card according to my online account but I also put a lot through this month and paid them quickly. Anyone has similar experience? Is it a case of unwritten rolling limit monthly / annual limits (if so any ideas what that might be in relation to overall limit) and I need to let it cool a bit or they have put more limit on my account that I wasn’t aware off? Thanks.

    • Jonathan says:

      Balance & available credit are often out of sync by 24/48 hours in my experience. I often make a payment that will clear the next day with a reduction in balance but it doesn’t become available to spend for another day or two. You should be able to see this on your online account though.

    • Rahaney says:

      Thought it was Creation from what you were saying… Curve transactions on here can take up to 2 days to process although your limit “should” be reduced – there hasn’t always been 100% convergence for me. Payments also can take 2-3 days. The app/online is not updated at the weekend at all neither. Secondly there’s definitely a seagulls limit, somewhere between £200-250 per transaction although some report it won’t work at all. Lastly, I’d prob agree there’s a limit on how many times you can pay it off early/total spend wrt your limit and this can’t be increased for the first 6 months.

      • Matt says:

        Depends on the transaction. Creation have a £700pw and (I think) £300 a day limit on cash or cash-like transactions. Sorry, I haven’t checked back to you post yesterday but that could be the problem.

    • The Urbanite says:

      Creation’s system is a bit witchcrafty but after extensive observation I almost have it sussed.

      There are hidden limits. Transactions to MCC 6012 merchants are limited to £300 a day, £500 over 3 days and £700 over 7 days.

      Regardless of what your available balance is showing, the sum of uncleared transactions cannot exceed your credit limit. If you try, you will get declines.

  • Sam says:

    Thankfully no last minute BA cancellation so woke up in Barcelona this morning, technically day one of living here, although we still have to find an apartment. Thanks again to all who advised and helped settle my nerves around getting here.

    T5 was surprisingly busy and the flight was completely full – leading to some quite funny tension over hand luggage storage.

  • Roy says:

    I’m looking to maximise my AMEX MR point earning this coming year as I will be short for a planned trip.
    Anyone know whether Bulb Energy still accept AMEX payments?
    Is there a list anywhere of which Home/Car Insurance firms accept AMEX payments?

    • Martha says:

      Octopus accept amex.
      However, it’s more important to pay the cheapest you can for Energy and insurance rather than choose a provider based on them taking amex

    • FFoxSake says:

      – Octopus Energy is great for Amex payments. What I did was reduce my DD to £5 per month (you can tweak it yourself online) and then make payments directly with my Amex card. If you signup via my link we both get £50 credit too… 😉
      share.octopus.energy/sand-dream-144
      – My council takes Council Tax takes payments via Amex no problem too. That’s a good lump sum you can pay at the start of the year.
      – Linking your Amex card to PayPal you can often spend in more places.
      Hope that helps.

      • Roy says:

        Thanks. I’ve just found that my current provider (Outfox The Market) already allows additional payments and accept Amex. Slapped-wrist!
        Now to check the other DDs

      • Andrew says:

        I don’t have an Octopus DD and just pay my actual use monthly bill in full online with Amex.

        Unless Spar or Coop are on LBG, and I haven’t used it for my Council Tax when, I pay there.

    • E says:

      Yes, Bulb accepted an Amex payment from me last week.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Yes, Bulb still accept Amex for manual payments.

      • Rob says:

        When we moved house recently, we closed our old Bulb account and opened a new one for the new place. Bulb repaid, in cash, all my accrued credit Amex plus my referral credits ….

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Try your mobile provider. Vodafone only accept Amex via phone but it’s automated.

      • Sundar says:

        Ive tried it but for some reason Vodafone phone payment keeps saying post code mismatch. Any tricks or checks to be done ?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          It only asks for the numbers and I only have two. It does ask you to confirm.

          Any chance you have recently moved and Amex hasn’t updated all addresses on file?

  • FlightDoctor says:

    I know this question has been asked a thousand times before, but given that we (fingers crossed) can see the COVID vaccine cavalry coming over the hill, I am keen to get peoples thoughts about cancelling or hanging on to Amex Platinum.
    My renewal is due at the beginning of Dec which is always a rubbish time of year to pay such a big expense. We are reviewing our family finances and it is always a touchy subject as most of the travel benefits benefit ME through extensive work travel (lounge access, hotel loyalty cards etc) and not my wife and kids who see it as an unnecessary indulgence. I am BA Gold by the way and tend to do most of my spending on the BA AMEX, so the Platinum is really just there for the travel perks. I haven’t travelled since March so, other than the odd “offer” it does feel like money down the drain at the moment.
    Any thoughts? If I cancel it and then work travel starts up again, would I be able to apply for it again? Would Amex consider a “6 month freeze” on the card and benefits?

    • Andrew says:

      Worth speaking to Amex and seeing if there is a retention bonus for you of MR points which you can cash in as a credit to offset the fee. If you’ve already had a retention offer this year you’re less likely to get a second one but people have reported getting two, so worth asking. Something they do seem to be offering most/all people when they call is to pay monthly rather than annually – as you say, not a great time of year to hand over such a large sum but monthly and “seeing how things go” might be an easier argument to win within your household.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Couple options

      Ask for the fee to be billed monthly. It’s becomes £48 a month so an extra £1 across the year. Better than a sharp £575 at Xmas.

      You can downgrade to gold charge and perhaps they will give it for free if you state it’s about cost of (not it’s £140 a year or about £12 monthly) and then upgrade when the time is right.

    • Blenz101 says:

      If Amex are happy to have you back as a customer when you reapply then there is no freeze as such. What isn’t available is a new customer bonus until you have taken a 24 month break.

      • Doug M says:

        Not guaranteed as I understand it, hence not mentioned by Rob. But if you downgrade to the green charge card, £60/year, you keep you MR account active and 20K MR for a £4K (£3K??) 3 month spend when upgrading to Plat using the googlable link.

    • Ken says:

      Unless you can get a retention offer it seems insane to keep it.
      You keep most of the hotel statuses anyway.
      When are you next likely to travel? Cancel now, take any refund due and reapply as soon as you are travelling again.

      However if you are BA Gold , how much are the travel benefits worth ?

      I got rid of mine in March – obviously a pang if regret when you see the £400 Marriott offer , but then remind myself that I save £575 a year and no guarantee that you get that offer anyway.
      Plus – has 6 months off got Business Gold in October and 20k joining points just landed with some referrals to follow!

    • Chris Heyes says:

      FlightDoctor Have you thought of referring your wife/partner for the Platinum (we did it earlier in the year) then cancel yours (or your wife’s) after 1 month not much cost (maybe a few referrals thrown in)
      if your wife keeps hers get a sup card for you.
      Or alternately cancel both after transfering points

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