Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Friday 11th December

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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 (349)

  • Alan says:

    I have just acquired a Beardy card with £15k limit, with the aim of racking up Virgin points.

    If I take out a metal can I still
    1 Pay a CGT bill with Beardy via metal £15k in both Dec and Jan
    2 After that buy £15k of Ernie per month up to the £50k limit

    Any other ideas for earning points would be appreciated.


    • John says:

      You can try but people have reported that hmrc isn’t working. Ernie still works for me with blue

    • Rahaney says:

      Just checking you’re aware you’ll only earn Virgin Points on the first 15K of spend per month.
      Plus with 2 there are reports that continued spend at that level could trigger a PYI request. See comments over the last few weeks

      • John says:

        Had a £25000 limit since I first got the Virgin credit card (when it first started).
        Have put £25000 a month through via Curve to HMRC since Curve first started. Pay off in full every month
        Never had an issue!

    • Holam says:

      yes – I have no problem paying HMRC with beardy via curve. But now I tend to pay with IHG (via curve) then pay off IHG with beardy for the double dip.

      • Alan says:

        Thanks to all for the replies.

        I will give it a go, I hadn’t realised there was a double dip option so will have to get an IHT card application in.

        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Most people have the black IHG card which is now closed to new applicants. The fee free card is all that’s on offer now.

      • Shub says:

        New to this, Using curve with underlying IHG. What is Beardy? how can I pay IHG card balance using that?

  • Mouse says:

    Does anyone know what BA’s latest Instagram post is about? A picture of a first class boarding pass to Barbados with the caption “We can’t wait to welcome a very special customer soon”?

  • Amy says:

    I need to spend £1k (more) to hit gold credit amex bonus by Feb 2021

    Is there anything I can purchase and refund later? (Without resulting in a negative membership rewards)

    I was thinking about Amazon but I dont have 1k of things to spend on (or hotels bookings etc)

    • The real John says:

      Where do you do your grocery shopping

    • Rahaney says:

      What about gift cards. Amazon last 10 years..

    • Dave says:

      Fully flex flight, or any flight that you can change to a voucher

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Fully refundable holiday or flights.

    • Mike says:

      overpay your council tax via billhop and then ask for a refund (they will refund) refund is not refunded to Amex gold

    • mr_jetlag says:

      As others have said, overpay council tax, utilities, school fees (?) or a fully flex J flight for as far out as possible. If you change from gold to plat or arcc I believe subsequent refunds back to the old card don’t hit MR balances.

    • memesweeper says:

      With EE you can overpay your mobile phone bill online. Your future bills then eat up the credit balance.

      • Harrier25 says:

        Same with OVO except here you also earn 3 to 5% interest on credit balances too up to £1,000 too!

      • Lady London says:

        With 3 / Three also.

        The direct debit is just not taken so long as prepaid amount still left, exceeds it in

    • Chris Heyes says:

      Amy if you have a “paypal” account (link Amex) and a “trusted” friend you could buy something from them for £1000 (i would do just under)
      then friend transfers your money back (not by paypal)
      and you give friend whatever you “bought” back lol
      Total cost to you around £30 Note i wouldn’t recommend using paypal gift a friend use busness ie “BUYING” Hence £30 cost to you
      NOTE this is frowned upon but as long a used infrequently ie once a year only (The highest I’ve done is £1400, £1000 every year my norm)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      If the £1k was refunded post feb 21 it will mean you’ll need to spend £11k next year.

      Gold bonus isn’t like the BA you need £15k spend at the year end to qualify so any refunds etc that take you under £15k before feb 21 will affect the bonus eligibility.

    • Anna says:


    • Alan says:

      Buy vouchers for your usual shopping, pre pay utility bills, council tax?

  • Jonathan says:

    Bit OT but we are having our Wills written which I have seen bits on here in the past. I’ve asked to specifically add airline miles and hotel points but it’s the first such request our solicitor has had unsurprisingly. He’s put together a sentence of our wishes but Is there any specific text they need to use or phrases that must be included to be valid?

    • Maciek says:

      I’m pretty sure T&Cs say the miles die with you at least with BA. Perhaps better to leave account details to the inheritor and make them empty the account before the airline finds out…

      • Number9 says:

        I’ve given my Son authority on my BA account and log in details and told him to use all the miles up when I die. Told him if he didn’t I’d be back to haunt him.

    • Jonathan says:

      I don’t believe you have the right to bequeath Avios or other loyalty points. There are reports of BA allowing the transfer to NoK on a case by case basis but they won’t let you split them between multiple accounts.

      On a vaguely related subject, my wife is a family lawyer & recently had a couple arguing over a 7 figure balance in a HHA. After some discussion it was determined there was no way they could be split 50:50 as the sums involved were way above transfer or purchase limits. BA were not prepared to negotiate on an even split so partner A had to stump up >£15k to cover the value at 1.6p/Avios.

      • Genghis says:

        It seems case by case but without documentatary evidence and that their de facto stance may change at any moment,, personally I wouldn’t risk it.

        I have instructions on how to access accounts for others to use up points. Hopefully won’t be needed for a while!

      • Mike says:

        I am guessing Partner A was a bloke !

        • Jonathan says:

          Partner A earned pretty much all the Avios through regular work related flying. Not commenting on specifics but you’d be surprised how many cases there are now where the typical gender/wealth balance is inverted!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Paying 1.6p per avios? Partner A should have just let them all go. Especially if they were just from flying with work.

            You can buy 300k a year at just over 1p via each of BA and Iberia.

          • Jonathan says:

            That’s the problem though, you can’t just let them go. In the eyes of BA they exist in a twilight zone where they belong to the person who earned them but there are limits on how many you can transfer. Buying is also limited to circa 250k/year (+ any bonuses).

      • The real John says:

        Not a family lawyer, but I would have thought that the household account could just be dissolved. Each member always has their own balance even in a household account.

        Did partner A spend a million avios on themselves that were collected through joint spending / flying?

        My family is in a household account but joint expenses go broadly on both my wife’s and my Amexes, and as I do more flying, I try to keep my redemptions proportional to what I personally have over-contributed.

        Other FFPs may have different policies, for example if an Aegean Together account gets split the miles all go to the head of the account.

        Perhaps the lesson is that if your relationship is going sour you should only make avios redemptions where the true value to you exceeds 1.6p.

        • BP says:

          I’d sooner donate the entire balance to charity and make it a non-issue than pay 1.6p an Avios.

  • Yuff says:

    Anyone applied to renew their British passport recently, any ideas on turnaround times?

    • Number9 says:

      2 weeks for me.

    • Genghis says:

      I applied 29 Nov and old passport sent same day special delivery. New passport posted through door 8 Dec.

    • ChrisC says:

      Biggest issue I’ve had so far has been royal mail.

      Posted my old one to Liverpool last Friday (4th Dec) 1st class and it arived yesterday (Thursday 10th).

      Still not recorded as being received on the HMPO tracker though …

      That said I was pretty impressed with the code system to access my photo taken at Timpsons and that their system pre validated it as meeting HMPO standards.

      • Yuff says:

        Thanks for all the replies 😄

      • Genghis says:

        My iPhone took a great photo in our living room.

        • Alex M says:

          My samsung was ok too, except it took ca. 30 attempts to get a reasonable photo of my 5 yr old. And asking her to make a serious face didn’t help at all…

  • Maciek says:

    Does ernïe play the ball with a) beardy, b) funny duo and c) ic hotels without bendy? I remember it works with pre-1997 colony bank.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Well, this certainly suggests an idea for the hfp Xmas quiz!

    • Jonathan says:

      So many varying experiences reported here recently that you’re going to have to do some small trial payments yourself to determine the answers.

      • Lady London says:

        ….and please share
        I think someone got hotels straight to work
        Beard plays in one direction bent not the other according to reports recently

    • DANi says:

      I pay ernie with bendy backed up by hotel

    • Ash says:

      You can just tell us the names. It’s fine to say virgin, hilton and curve. Please explain the others.

      • Genghis says:

        The Hong Kong and Shanghai bank, I presume.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        @ash: I thought everyone done this as reports software used by companies to search the internet finding keywords that can shut down loopholes?
        Thats why we all use code names rather than spell out direct or has this now changed?

        • BrightonReader says:

          They know how their cards are used and they will close any loopholes when they are good and ready.

          I bet someone at curve and revolute regularly reads HfP to see what people are saying about their cards so no high tech search engines required.

          • Secret Squirrel says:

            I think it was LL who mentioned it first but was a while ago now. Think its become a game to play at HFP everyday trying to work out code names.

          • Chrisasaurus says:

            No, but when they hit the mainstream and are more than a rounding error; then they’re forced to close them

          • Ash says:

            Yes. Rob said all senior management read this blog.

          • Mouse says:

            I thought the point was to make it harder for beginners therefore reducing the number of people exploiting these loopholes and making it less of a priority for the card companies to shut them down.

          • Ash says:

            This is already mainstream blog. Other sites keep these things very secret.

          • Lady London says:

            people reading is fine.

            Once machines pick it up en clair too many times or too many nonfocused places it’s toast.

            Seen too many deals blown for everyone that way in the short time I’ve been watching.

        • Rob says:

          They all read it anyway. I have never met anyone from Amex who doesn’t read HFP.

          When I called up the other week even the call centre guy knew who I was.

          • Chris says:

            This is the point – the card companies read this site. But the 2m+ subscribers to Mortin Lowis (sic) don’t!!!

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Ernie worked fine for me this morning using blue bendy backed by IC.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Think all have to go through bendy as classed as a debit card, all others are CC so would be declined or underlying charge fees.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Why not just give them all a try and see what works.

      Take any fees on the chin as the cost of getting in the game.

    • Doc says:

      What is Ernie and why? I have manged to decode all of the others.
      Probably should ask but curiosity got the better of me!!!

  • Ri says:

    Currently Hilton gold member. Thinking of doing mattress run to become diamond member is it worth the extra money/points spent to become one. Apart for lounge access are the upgrades any better etc

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      IME no, same upgrades for being Gold, nearly same benefits except maybe wine on arrival rather than sparkling wine (not Champagne).
      More points back from reward stays on Diamond but could be individual by hotel to hotel if you get more benefits.

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      It really comes down to how much you value lounge access.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      One mans rubbish is another mans gold. Only you can decide if it’s worth the hassle.

  • Jimbob says:

    Reports of Amex starting to close down accounts the other side of the pond when abusing manufactured spending. Wonder how long before credit cards in the UK catch up?

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      The U.S do have some very nice, high value gift cards that can be purchased through lots of retailers that can be rinsed out easily to bank. Maybe that play has set off alarm bells over there however fund management over here could be hit hard.

    • Number9 says:

      Something to do with PayPal I think I only skimmed article.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Ooohh PayPal, we know to not play with them too much!

        • Chrisasaurus says:

          Well both PayPal and Amex are likely to kick off frankly if you do that, so no surprises if you get burned doing anything so obvious…

      • Optimus Prime says:

        So some people have been taking the piss and exploiting a loophole via Paypal Key – this isn’t available in the UK, it’s about Paypal providing you with a virtual debit card number.

        These muppets used their new debit card linked to their Amex cards to pay off their Amex bills. Result: Amex has shut down all their cards.

        BTW I love the name of the Amex team in charge of shutting these loopholes down: RAT (Rewards Abuse Team).

    • Jonathan says:

      They’ve always been a bit stricter over there, they hammered a load of people with a history of self referrals about 18 months ago but haven’t repeated over here despite many predictions.

      Not sure if it’s related to the earning rates being much higher therefore driving higher levels of abuse, the T&C’s allowing them to be more aggressive or just that they are a bigger overall player in the States so feel able to focus more on quality rather than quantity of cardholders. It’s much harder to MS on Amex in the UK anyway.

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        Fundamentally it’s a bigger problem to solve. It takes an analyst, compliance bod etc the same amount of time to make a decision whether it’s 1,000 customers impacted or 10,000. Fundamentally some optimisations aren’t worth doing (or prioritising) in the UK that are in the US, so you have smaller teams working on (relatively) bigger problems in the UK.

    • Rui N. says:

      “Starting” it’s quite the misnomer. This has always happened depending on the type of MS you’d do.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      They have a target of double digit growth cardmember fee revenue so they’ll not be doing it frivolously and without good cause

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Whenever you pay off a card with itself you are in for trouble.

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Agree TG. I was always under the impression there should be atleast one card extra between. If anyone investigated your account that way they cannot see your paying off using the same.

    • Lady London says:

      That’s Oooold in America, sorry.

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