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The HfP chat thread – Saturday 12th 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.

Please only comment under the main articles on the site if your comment is directly related to the topic of the article.  This has long-term benefits as it keeps the commentary relevant for people who read those articles in the future.

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Comments (215)

  • BP says:

    This post doesn’t appear on the homepage.

  • jil says:

    Any chance ihg free night cert expiring on 31 dec gets extended again? (Already extended once earlier this year)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Sounds like something could be announced to extend until August 2021.

    • @mkcol says:

      I emailed them to ask – they confirmed something is happening before the end of the year but could not say just yet what it was.

  • M says:

    Any thoughts on the pros and cons of a small business accepting AMEX? Do they still charge the business more? Lots of conversations re shop small businesses who state they don’t take even if they do…

    Including oddly lots of stories about rude Amex representatives in these parts…

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      My bank’s business fees for cash deposits have increased exponentially, and with ever more branch closures, banking cash is a pain in the bum too … I’d rather take Amex from customers over cash now.

    • KBuffett says:

      They do charge more. I can check more for small businesses, I can rates later.
      They key difference in the last couple of years of that pretty much all terminals and merchant agreements have Amex switched on my default, and you have to opt out. All existing merchant accounts also had it switched on around 2-3 years ago, with a manual opt out required.

      I was speaking to an assistant at Harvey Nichols a few weeks ago when I purchased gift cards to avail of the AmEx offer. She claimed no one uses AmEx now as customers use cards that charge lower interest rates.

      • Rob says:

        Is your average Harvey Nicks customer paying interest? Unlikely ….

        • KBuffett says:

          I’m not so sure. New money so all borrowed. I’m sure you’ve seen all the ‘gansta’ style clientele driving around near where you live, gold wrapped Mercedes A Classes etc. Times have changed.

        • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

          Revolve propensity is less correlated with income than you’d think. Also Harvey Nicks customers are hardly selecting for value-sensitivity…

        • Nick says:

          A lot of the people buying shoes (for example) in HN are the kind who can’t really afford them, so yes it will be paid on credit. Look at the people on (shudder at this word) insta and you’ll see what I mean. HN is probably more ‘normal’ people than say Harrods.

          • KBuffett says:

            Agree with on the the insta gangstas. I often wonder if they even own a home.

            I watched an interview with Carl Icahn a couple of years ago. He was commenting on luxury brand stock prices. He said 20-30 years ago, property was the status symbol and what wives used to compete with. People can’t afford property now, so when you go out to a restaurant now people are eyeing up handbags and watches.

          • Mikeact says:

            Good job I’m normal……

      • RussellH says:

        Terminals having Amex switched on by default does explain recent experiences where I have mistakenly used an Blue BA Amex instead of a Blue Marriott M’Card.
        The terminal tries to process the Amex card, which is declined, if the merchant does not have an Amex account.

    • George says:

      In my experience it depends on your acquirer. At small to medium volume the blended rates offered by Square / SumUp / PayPal Here and the more recent additions are attractive (1.7ish%) and they don’t charge more for Amex (plus potential shop small)

      If you’ve either the volume or willingness to do the yearly negotiation dance with someone like WorldPay or Barclaycard L then Amex more expensive than other consumer credit (but still less than commercial cards) so it depends what your spread of customers is – especially if you have a lot of customers using debit cards which are substantially cheaper.

      • KBuffett says:

        1.7% is very expensive for MasterCard and Visa. AmEx is around that rate.

        • RussellH says:

          I would guess that it still depends on what business area you are in. No one that I know saw any change at all when the interchange fee cap came in.
          I suspect that it was the large businesses that could negotiate hard that got the benefit.
          As to Amex being more expensive, during the last few years that I was trading Amex charged 1.5%, Visa/M’Card 1.8% for EU personal cards, 2.3% for non-EU personal cards and all commercial cards.
          But I was in the tour operating business, which many acquirers refused to deal with at all.

          • Nick says:

            The interchange fee cap has had zero effect for most businesses because (unregulated) Mastercard and Visa have just put their fees up by the same amount by which interchange went down. It’s a scandal just waiting for regulatory review.

          • KBuffett says:

            These rates are easily achieved for normal face to face retail:
            https://www.netpay.co.uk/costco/

    • memesweeper says:

      For lower volumes it doesn’t matter. Use a service like sumup or iZettle and everything is charged the same.

      At higher volumes you can rent a terminal (fixed monthly cost) but will benefit from lower rates on Visa/MC credit cards and lower still on debit cards. Amex’s extra margin is noticeable, you decide if it’s worth it.

      At very high volumes you can negotiate interchange plus with your acquirer and pay the lowest percentage possible. Note this may expose you to lower rates on some Amex types than others, and unusually high rates on foreign cards.

    • RussellH says:

      I have been really quite surprised at a couple of localish shops that are on Shop Small this time around.
      Passed through a small village, population less than 300, about 6 miles from home whose village store is on the Shop Small map; we decided to check it out, not having been in for over ten years.
      No credit card stickers on the door, tiny Visa/M/Card stickers by the till. No mention of Amex anywhere at all. Merchandise has moved upmarket quite a bit, though.
      Shop Small e-mail arrived before we got home.
      Second place was one of the traditional newsagents in the local market town. Tiny shop selling just newspapers, magazines, greetings cards and sweeties. Very small faded to colourless card sticker on the door, including one for Amex if you look really closely. Again, Shop Small worked.
      Why do these people not promote SS? We would not have bothered with either were it not for SS. As it is I shall swap some of my newspaper buying to the tiny paper shop now, which is what the scheme is supposed to achieve.

      • Polly says:

        Same here, two small village stores nearby..stocked up on stamps, lottery tkts etc etc, and Amex used no problems. Used them all summer too, and often do intermittent work. But one staff member insists they don’t take Amex..” wrong card’ goes in machine and it works.

    • jimc says:

      I’m in the pub/restaurant business. We’ve always taken amex. Yep the costs are more than the others, 1.9% vs approx .05% To put that into perspective Amex spend is about 10% of total card sales so no big deal. My theory has always been make it easy for customers to spend how they want to.

      • Polly says:

        Added advantage less cash to bank…and they may spend more if Amex users..sorry if l am profiling…

    • Jonathan says:

      My wife’s just gone through a review of credit cards. As a small business you can sign up directly with Amex 0.9% up to £100k put through them, compared to 0.7% on visa/mc so it’s not really any more expensive but the more you put through the rate goes up to 1.9% on £1m.

      However my wife uses paymentsense as her card provider and they bar direct relationships with Amex and force you the sign up through them who charge a flat 1.9% so yes it’s more expensive.

      The biggest draw back of not being a direct Amex merchant is you’re not included in shop small or get any Amex marketing support.

  • Mike says:

    Will the big hotel chains dangle any promos for January with December coming to a close? Bonus points etc…?

    Looking to travel to Istanbul in Jan.

    • Clive says:

      I would be careful going to Turkey as my Distributor out there has told me hospitals are at capacity

  • Juno says:

    Does the Curve Metal mobile phone insurance cover all phones you might own or only those that were purchased with Curve?

    • Genghis says:

      No need to buy on curve. Up to £800 IIRC.

      • Jonathan says:

        You have to supply proof of purchase too. I’ve just put a claim in with Axa for a repair but noticed on the paperwork that for lost and replacement phones they apply 30% depreciation per year or part there of to the final payout amount. There is also a £50 excess.

  • KBuffett says:

    Has anyone done a course such as Landmark Forum? Is it worthwhile?

  • mark2 says:

    To people who were invited to upgrade Amex Green to Platinum (serious question).
    Can you tell me please how you were invited? email? in app etc?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Why are you asking? Are you looking for an invite?

      • s879 says:

        Is the Green to Platinum route no longer valid unless invited?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Well they always claimed it was targeted.

          However, I got the link from their webpage that lists all of the supplementary card details. So either I was “targeted by an ad” or it was open to everyone.

          It’s no longer a webform but you have to call to apply.

          • Lady London says:

            Au contraire. @Stanley confirmed on this thread two days ago thar the invitation arrives in a carved wooden display box nestled on hyena fur borne by 4 boys dressed aa Roman Gladiators.

            One of them’s still missing after delivering at @Anna’s house and @BJ is keeping an eye out to receive this delivery.

          • Anna says:

            LL, obviously as we are still in Tier 3 at the time the gladiator is living in a tent in the local park – though of course this is quite authentic for a Roman soldier at the far edge of the empire!

          • Alex M says:

            Bloody roman migrants… Britain for British (from 1 Jan)!

      • mark2 says:

        No, I did it without an invitation and have not received the points.

        • DodgyDCF says:

          I upgraded as soon as I got the green card back in late October[when you could you do online ofc] and have since spent more then £10k and still no bonus 20k points, been 3 weeks now since meeting £4k spend requirement

          • Wally1976 says:

            I ended up writing a complaint letter about this and they applied the £20k points manually plus a £50 credit. I left it another week before cancelling as it felt rude!

  • Pauline says:

    Do you think you could buy a marriot gift card at a marriot hotel to trigger the Bonvoy amex offers?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      As long as it’s sold at the front desk through their card machine don’t see why it wouldn’t. No idea if they sell gift cards in the UK though. Tried phoning to ask?

      • pauline says:

        I have phoned – you can buy a gift card but it would be specific for that hotel – hope this helps someone but is not what I am looking for unfortunately

    • G says:

      I have done a prepaid booking at W London for May. This was a few days ago and the payment has still not been taken. Will contact them in the week and ask for the payment to be taken. Anyone else have experience of W London prepaid rates?

      • Jonathan says:

        They normally don’t take payment until a few days before arrival so you’ll definitely have to call if you want to use the Marriott/Amex offer

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