Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 6th December

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

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Comments (166)

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  • Baji Nahid says:

    I’ve seen televised reports that Virgin Atlantic have now been told that they have been refused permission to operate to Pakistan from Manchester by pakistani authorities (London operations are fine). Apparently bookings sold on the flights were 76% up on during the Christmas period.

    • Baji Nahid says:

      Whether this seems to be true (as media can get it wrong) but lets see how the situation unfolds.

    • Ali M says:

      baji not sure.
      My Dec flights from London were cancelled.we’re bought through third party

    • Rhys says:

      I know the Pakistan flights have been doing very well for Virgin

      • Ali M says:

        I thought to myself maybe Virgin wants to sell it themselves for better rates and for higher rate as I had quite a very decent deal but then thought surely they can’t do that 😐

  • Tom says:

    Any idea where I could go for a week from next weekend without having to pay for a C19 test, and would not have to quarantine either there or when I get back with the current regulations? Preferably warmer than the UK 🇬🇧

    • John says:


    • PaulW says:

      Madeira. Free test on arrival. Short quarantine while you wait for result,

    • Sandgrounder says:

      UAE. Problem with all the test on arrival destinatinons is that it is possible to get stuck there for 2 weeks with a positive test. There are loads of bargain canaries flights at the moment, yes you pay for a test but you know you aren’t going to fail on arrival. Even with 100-120 for a test, with flights going for 50 quid it’s probably still the cheapest destination. Masks outdoors is a drag though. Gib is probably the best choice, but with fewer flights it is expensive at short notice.

      • callum says:

        I had to wear a mask while outdoors for about 3 months – you get used to it very quickly!

    • Rob says:

      Gibraltar – which, to be fair, is also a good size for a weekend break.

      • Anna says:

        Tom seems to want a week-long break, however there’s enough to do in Gibraltar to fill that. It definitely punches above its weight for activities/sights in such a small area. The Neanderthal history is fascinating and it’s always fun to go to an “English” pub for fish and chips 1500 miles from the UK!

        • Chris Heyes says:

          Went to an “English” pub in Sorrento (against the recommendation of Pamela where always stop)
          It was lousy, dirty, filthy very large gardens at the back, looked ok from the street (7th year going and walking past it)
          We thought give it a try why not, Wasn’t fun we was the only one’s in at 7.00pm now we no why lol

          • Chris Heyes says:

            Should add advertised as ENGLISH PUB great Fish n Chips “not”

      • KBuffett says:

        I don’t think there are decent hotels there (for your target ABC1 audience)!

        • Rob says:

          I believe it has got a little better in recent years although clearly not outstanding.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks for all of the replies, still undecided though!

  • Save East Coast Rewards says:

    For January I booked the Hilton Garden Inn T2 and noticed the room had a ‘test & rest’ rate of £169 (the regular dreams away rate was around £90). This is the rate where you take a test when you arrive and then have the results when you wake up.

    I think this would be a good one for HfP to review. I doubt you need to do a flight to go through the procedure. Just book in, do the test, do a report on how the rest of the hotel is adapting to coronavirus (the bar, restaurant, room service, gym) and show how the results are reported in the morning. Also does the whole room rate earn HH points.

    The HGI rooftop bar is lovely but I believe that is closed but the downstairs bar is open but tier 2 means you need to order a scotch egg or something more substantial to drink alcohol.

    As it’s owned by the same hotel group the Sofitel T5 also offers this, I think the Hilton T4 is also the same group but currently closed.

    I will report my experience in January but I think many readers would like to see how well this works

    • Rob says:

      Exactly, it’s another Arora hotel so clearly they are now rolling out the testing. Arora has not been very forthcoming in responding to our enquiries but we will keep digging.

      • Save East Coast Rewards says:

        Ahh, you’ve already thought about doing a review on it. It was tempting to book the Sofitel as it was only £10 more, but I have lifetime diamond to aim for 😀

        I thought Arora would be interested in the promotion, I think you’ve mentioned it once, but I totally forgot about it until I saw the option hidden at the bottom of the rates

  • James. says:

    How much money are people pumping into ERNIE at the moment with the removal Bendy limits?

    At what point have they asked anyone for KYC?

    I am questioning myself if I increase the amounts I process on my MS cycle or if I am playing with fire.

    I play a relatively safe game at the moment

    • Tom says:

      I must admit I didn’t understand one of those sentences 😀

    • Jonathan says:

      Never heard of Ernie doing KYC, more likely that your underlying credit card would. My limit is our annual household income as I imagine it would fly. I’d imagine there would be thresholds for a KYC review at set amounts eg. 250 or 500k but I’d imagine if you hit them & it’s clear you’ve been cycling then it’ll be curtains. How much do you value the relationship with the card company? Virgin I could live without, my IHG Premium is something I’d like to keep as long as possible.

    • Nick_C says:

      You are playing with fire.

      Either Ernie or the bank that you cash out to could freeze your accounts. Getting an account unfrozen could be weeks or months. Do you have sufficient cash elsewhere to cover you credit card debts if this was to happen? Would you be happy if the bank you cash out to decided they no longer want you as a customer?

      • Sina says:

        I currently do 25k per month, for the past 8 months, no one asked me for anything. Two years ago I was asked about 10 pages worth of questions/details on transactions from my bank, but they never froze my account even before I send the questionnaire back, and when they reviewed, they said everything is fine. Had another review from HSBC because of large cash transactions but when explained, there was no problem.
        This is certainly not advice, just my personal experience 👍🏼

        • Rahaney says:

          There was a report on here 1-2 weeks ago from someone doing similar 20-25k a month since beginning of lockdown and now been hit with a proof of income enquiry.

          +1 Jonathan.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            25k a month is pushing it and expect KYC very quickly. I know someone who’s money was temp frozen for over a month via Ernie. You need to ask yourself, if your funds were frozen could you do without them for between 4-8 weeks?

        • Track says:

          That’s too much and you are on the radar.

      • Ali M says:

        I think this makes sense.Some of us are lucky of course but opening up a whole investigation isn’t worth it – admittedly ‘nothing to hide’ personally but would still won’t want to give pages and pages of answere

    • 2468 says:

      I was wondering if this curve test is away to find out which customers they don’t want.

      • BP says:

        My understanding is that Curve earns money from us using it. As long as what people are doing is legal, why would they have an issue?

        • Harrier25 says:

          Curve may not have a problem with it but when it becomes a problem with the regulator, it will become a big problem for Curve.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            Financial regs are linked to banking licences. Money laundering or atleast what flags as potential could mean Curve have their licence removed. Then we are all stuffed..

        • Jonathan says:

          Curve loses money when they’re paying out a credit card interchange fee to your underlying card but only earning the debit card fee from Ernie etc. Their business model is based on collecting data on all your spending which they hope to monetise at some point (like Facebook etc. if you don’t pay for a product, you are the product).

          There’s no value in a list of people that pump >20k/month of MS through with no other spend. They’ve tolerated it up till now as their first priority is to build a customer base but once investors start expecting more than that then they’ll be cutting loose all the major MS’ers.

          • BuildTheWall says:

            Doesn’t the same business model apply for genuine transactions too? Why would they then be concerned about using it for Ernie etc?

        • Rob says:

          When Curve last raised money, their key selling point to investors was the amount of money their users put through the card on average vs Revolut / Monzo etc (where average usage is virtually nil). They lose money on you but you are a marketing tool for them. Once you stop being a marketing tool, you’re toast.

          This is the same as happened with the Virgin Atlantic credit cards. They were happy for people to cycle their credit limit multiple times per month to make the maths look good, until the point where the cost saving in kicking these people out got too tempting.

          • Doug M says:

            Which points to Sina’s tactic being correct. Hit them hard until they stop you, because they’re not about an individual doing x or y, they’re looking at x and y as used by their customer base. I get the zero/reduced FX fee aspect of Curve, but isn’t the remaining purpose of the card geared towards doing what they, the underlying card, or someone else in the chain won’t like. If a business doesn’t take credit cards, it’s I guess about not wanting to pay the fees, if there’s a card that enables this, someone in the chain has to be unhappy.
            The carry only one card is a nonsense, especially when that one card is probably the most unreliable one you have.

          • Rob says:

            Start-ups have a life cycle. You can keep adding numbers but at some point you hit a wall – at this point you need to make the leap to mass market adoption. It’s when a niche brand like Fevertree is suddenly available everywhere and sponsoring big sporting events.

            This is clearly never going to happen for HfP but we haven’t raised £100m of money. I am pretty certain now that Curve will never make this leap. The product is so convoluted and has no genuine killer benefit. Can you see your Mum ever getting Curve?

          • Track says:

            Both correspondents above overplay their hands.

            It is likely that even spending 2x-3x of limit on Virgin card (3-5k) or IHG card (700/a week) is not ‘hitting it hard’ in terms of Curve limits. How many people here have 25k-30k credit limit on Virgin cards..

            At the same time, depositing money with NS&I is an obvious flag, and likely to lead to NS&I enquiries.

            Refusing to accept CC or AMEX CC for the sake of saving of 0.5-1% is very typical for the UK, and all such businesses lose my custom. Consumer pressure isn’t strong enough: debit card transactions remain dominant. If a business see that a neighbouring cafe/shop have 2x-3x times more traffic because customers prefer to pay with AMEX on an iPad dongle… not a convoluted, 15-year old tech card reader.

            Don’t see any less reasons for Curve getting wider customer base, compared to a specialty tonic water.. Number of people who drink gin is less then number of people who use credit cards. Of course, having and predominantly using one card is useful — and its as reliable as any, given this year switch away from Wirecard to own Mastercard membership.

          • Rob says:

            There were a small number of people who were churning their credit limits multiple times per month (you would be surprised how many people spend £100k per month on Google and Facebook advertising, for example) and they were disproportionately impacting the profitability of the cards. Trust me on this …

        • Alan says:

          How does Curve earn money from it?

    • James. says:

      Thanks everyone for your comments. I think I will stick with my safe game as increasing my amounts could raise suspicions

    • Titus Adduxas says:

      For the uninitiated but intrigued amongst us, would you mind translating all that into English please? I’m guessing ERNIE is Premium Bonds and I’ve looked KYC up and found Know Your Client but even with that the whole thing is gobbledygook!

      • Chris P says:

        I couldn’t understand how anyone could buy £25k worth of fried chicken until I realised I’d misread it

      • stevenhp1987 says:

        Know Your Customer.

        Essentially an ID and proof of funds check for anti money laundering purposes.

      • DT says:

        They want to know how much money people are putting into premium bonds via curve card payments and at what point does KYC kick in

        • Titus Adduxas says:

          Does that mean I can buy Premium Bonds with a Tesco credit card through Curve and earn Avios (at least until the end of January) Sounds like a good plan.

          Am I to understand that people are effectively buying and selling PBs just to get the Avios this way?

          • Mr. AC says:

            Yup, although not via Tesco cards. They don’t play nice.
            In general I’d steer clear, it’s more (potential) trouble than it’s worth.

          • Genghis says:

            Don’t use a Tesco credit card with Curve full stop!

          • Titus Adduxas says:

            Genghis – Which one should I get if not Tesco, and why not Tesco?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Reports in comments suggest Tesco charge fees on nearly every curve transaction if not every single one.

            Best way to find out which one is do small transactions with the other ones you have.

          • Alex says:

            How long would you recommend before you cash back out of Ernie? Are people leaving it in for a year to gain a potential bonus? Or each month to pay off CC and go again?

    • Compliance Man says:

      If you go over lower of £9,999 per month or 300% of net monthly salary deposit expect a file to open up at some stage within 6 months from one of the parties involved.

      • memesweeper says:

        “Cycling” money out of one account to pay into another is always going to look like money laundering. ERNIE is no exception. If you deposit with them leave the money alone for a while.

        • Doug M says:

          Or have enough there that what you cycle looks less significant?

          • Sina says:

            Just a couple of ooints, I agree that Curve is losing money at the moment in order to get more customers/convince inverstors that it’s a good product. They have a long way to go, but their money making machine is when the launch Curve credit, and a host of other things, and when they start in the US!

            As an Investor and a long time user (since 2017) I believe Curve has a Bright future, the product might not be what we have today, but it’s a fantastic team of brilliant people 👌🏼

          • Josh says:


            Curve won’t last long with clients like you 😂

    • Roro says:

      Serious request – can you tell me what the hell you’re talking about – I have no idea what Bendy bits, KYC or an MS cycle is

  • DT says:

    £30 Amazon voucher for applying for the Amazon Platinum MasterCard. No annual fee, so basically a free £30 Amazon voucher.
    Not sure if it’s permanent or not, but when I signed up for this card the voucher was only £10

    • Peter K says:

      Did this 2 weeks ago. Instant £30. Physical card took nearly the past 2 weeks to arrive though!

      • DT says:

        They are fairly slow and customer service with NewDay is very poor as well!

  • PK says:

    Are they serving alcohol in the Plaza lounge or Aspire at the LHR T5 after lockdown 2.0.

  • StevieKicks says:

    Monzo just decided they don’t want me as a customer. I was using my account there to cash out from ERNIE

    • StevieKicks says:

      Was supposed to be a reply to Nick_C

      • The Savage Squirrel says:

        Was it the ONLY thing you were doing with the account (in which case fair enough) or were you using it for day-to-day stuff too?

        • StevieKicks says:

          It was my main day-to-day account, so the closure was quite disappointing.

          Makes sense when I noticed I was sending 40k a month through it though

    • Lady London says:

      Why were you not spreading the love ?

  • Blindman says:

    BAPP card Q’s-The 24 month wait is over but I may struggle to spend £3k in 3 months and I could do with an Avios earning card.

    Still have 6 months before I can apply for any MR earning card from Amex.

    1. I assume it cannot be used with Curve?

    2. Can I pay IHG creation with it?

    3. Any ideas how\if I could pay my council tax with it? (They do not take Amex)


    • stevenhp1987 says:

      1. No
      2. No
      3. Does your council allow for payments using Paypoint? Pay your bills at a co-op. Could pay the rest of the year now if you need more spend.

    • Jane says:

      Do they take Paypal ? mine do so usually pay with my BAPP.

    • Mr. AC says:

      Some ideas:
      1. Top up something that you’re likely to use, like Amazon balance.
      2. Igloo energy allows you to top up with Amex. Not only that, they pay you 3% “interest” on that balance. Referral (each get 50 quid):
      3. Billhop lets you pay bills with Amex, but it’s quite an expensive way (2.95% on top) and it’s not instant.
      4. Online shopping ahead, e.g. occasionally we stock up on things like olive oil that takes a long time to go, or non-perishables like tissues.

      • Mr. AC says:

        Forgot to note that Igloo only pays interest on balances up to 1000.

      • StevieKicks says:

        Igloo will refund credit to your card when you switch supplier, rather than sending it to your bank, so make sure you stick with them until your bonus has triggered.

        Octopus are good at sending it to your linked bank account instead.

        • Mr. AC says:

          Good to know, thanks! Although, I wonder, if you top up from multiple cards, which one do they choose to “refund”? All of them? Or, like Trading212, they just plop the whole sum onto one of the cards? 🤔

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I’ve found the counter still said 6 months when I signed up last even though the terms said 3 months. Worth keeping in mind.

      Could buy some safe gift cards ie your normal supermarket or Amazon.

      Phone bill … Vodafone don’t accept Amex online but they do via the automated phone option.

      Energy, council taxes etc but all that relies on having £3k cash. Billhop is another option but charges 3%.

      • Blindman says:

        Thanks for all the replies.

        I’ll look into Paypal and Igloo.

        I spoke to Amex to confirm earliest date I could get Welcome bonus points.

    • Harry T says:

      Depends if you would struggle to spend 3k in three months because your outgoings are lower but income remains at a satisfactory level, or the drop in spend is due to drop in income. If the latter, best not to try and spend 3k! If the former, then loading up on supermarket or amazon gift cards may be best – expenditure on gift cards you know you will spend over the next year.

      • Blindman says:

        Luckily it is the former.

        • Harry T says:

          Glad to hear it! I don’t like to make assumptions during these times.

      • Harry T says:

        You could also give a supplementary card to a family member or friend you trust completely. Their everyday spend could help you hit the sign up bonus. I did this for my brother a while back – just paid him the amount at the end of the month.

        • Blindman says:

          Good point.

          Just have to work out which one of the kids I can trust 🙂

    • BuildTheWall says:

      Blindman, just wanted to point out that it’s better you get a MR earning card in 6 months before BAPP card. If you get the BAPP first, you won’t get bonus on any MR card.

      • Genghis says:

        Incorrect. Plat?
        “ I understand I will not be eligible for any Welcome Bonus award if I hold or have held any personal Membership Rewards-enrolled American Express Cards in the past 24 months.”

        • BuildTheWall says:

          Ah yes, Plat is the only exception.

          • Blindman says:

            I was told by Amex that the only limit for the BAPP was the 24 month limit if I had held a BA BLUE card.

            They said the BAPP is NOT a MR earning card so doesn’t affect the Welcome bonus of ANY Amex MR card (SPG, PLAT, Gold)

            I closed an SPG card 18 months ago

          • Charlieface says:

            Wrong way round: the BAPP welcome bonus is not affected by any other except BA Blue, but this is specific to BAPP, not the regular BA Blue vis-a-vis the BAPP, or any other card outside of Plat

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