Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 3rd January

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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 (308)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Mr(s) Entitled says:

    While we are still talking about Curve….

    I have a six figure corporate tax bill due later in the year so I am starting to take an interest in Curve for the first time.

    The HfP articles are a year old but if still current I need the metal card to avoid the 1.5% HMRC fee at a cost of £14.95 pcm. I then need to take out an underlying MasterCard or Visa and work out if the points generated offset the Curve fee. Is it as simple as picking the best underlying card at the moment or do different cards have different HMRC implications?

    I’m looking into this now because I believe I will need to start using the card to build up my limits.

    If there is a better way than Curve then I am all ears.

    • John says:

      £150 yearly fee for Metal. Pay HMRC with Metal then have something like IHG underlying. Then pay off IHG with VS. Easy and nice double dip, that’s what I do. Split it into chunks and gradually pay throughout the year to avoid anything flagging.

      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        Of all the potential destinations Hilton is my preferred platform so the Virgin card appeals.

        The other I was considering was HSBC Premier to withdraw into vouchers (the airlines associated with the card do not appeal to me).

    • Jonathan says:

      You don’t need to build up limits anymore I believe, you get 4.5k/day, 1.4million/year as standard. There’s no way round the daily limit so need to pay big tax bills over an extended period. I’m currently chipping away at a 6 figure CGT bill due by January 31st.

      • kitten says:

        need to establish a pattern of ongoing use asap and some normal spend should continue to be there too

  • The Original Nick. says:

    Can someone help me out with a phone number for BA please.

  • Ammar says:

    Hi. I have 3x o/w business flights booked with ba to tfs in 2 weeks from lhr.i used an avios Lloyds voucher to book two flights and one on its own. I am in tier 4 and clearly cannot leave the house for a holiday. What are my options?

  • Tim Rogers says:

    I’m planning to travel to Dubai in two weeks, all being well.

    I’d like to take a PCR test in the UK, rather than going down the test on arrival route (I don’t fancy self-isolation in a government facility!). You have to take the test 96 hours before departure and have the results in time. I fly at 8pm on a Saturday night.

    The cheapest options I’ve found that provide a reasonable level of confidence of getting the result in time cost about £150 – including The Regenerative Clinic which was featured on HFP.

    Has anyone seen any better options? I live in Central London so happy to do in person, and realistically I am slightly biased towards that as I suspect it improves the odds of my test getting to the lab quickly.

    • S says:

      All the noises are suggesting an imminent crackdown on the lax attitude to checking of valid reason for travel. Make sure your paperwork to prove essential business travel is in place before travelling to the airport.

      • Bill says:

        There won’t be. Is lowest priority

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Where do you make this stuff up?

        • S says:

          Watch this space (including those who might accidentally find themselves on an island resort whilst on a property hunt in Maldives)

          • Tracey says:

            The Maldives are doing everything they can to encourage tourism, I doubt they would care if you told them you were travelling from tier 4, assuming they even knew what that meant.

      • Jamie says:

        “All the noises” please stop lying.

    • Pete says:

      Have you looked at Collinson at various airports? https://www.collinsongroup.com/en/covid-19-testing LCY worked well for us.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Out of interest how long did it take?

        Obviously they maybe busier in a future without T4 across 70% of the population but still good to know

        • Pete says:

          Booked a couple of days before for 1630, got there about 1615, waited for about 20-25mins, paid and had travel documents checked, super quick antigen test and out before 5pm, so less than 45mins. Results some 15mins later (or even less) by email. Couldn’t comment on how long PCR tests take though, as Germany doesn’t require those.

    • G says:

      Unilabs in Euston. £100 and result was with me by email in 26 hours. Was all very professional. Call to book.

  • Keely says:

    Morning ! I have flights to Singapore booked for 21 Jan (my first long haul 2-4-1 ☹️). Singapore aren’t accepting UK visitors , the flight is still showing …I know I can get a FTV voucher or a refund (my preferred option). But I’m trying to save myself £100 – am I right in thinking that this is likely to happen around 2 weeks before…? Thanks
    (Oh and just as a point of interest, this flight was ticketed about 15 months in advance so BA can do it when they want to..!)

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Singapore airlines have just restarted UK to Aus/NZ flights with no transit – the plane will stop at SIN for refuelling and change of crew. 24 hours in the plane, but the only option right now?

      • kitten says:

        This is how I did Oz to UK once. In Y. A backbreaker (and possibly higher risk for DVT).

        Even with a flatbed maybe this will help Australians and New Zealanders who need to return home though.

    • Anna says:

      Please tell us how you booked so far in advance with a 241!

      • Keely says:

        Anna , I had originally booked for Nov 2020 (booked in Dec 19) . My husband was diagnosed with cancer not long after we booked but we still thought he’d be ok but then his treatment was delayed so in May I called to reschedule . The CS booked in for Jan 2021 – but then called back 3 days later to say she’d made a mistake and they could only ticket 12 months in advance of the original ticket purchase date. I played merry hell – to be fair she was lovely and annoyed on my behalf – it wasn’t her usual job (she was wfh due to COVID) and she made some (a lot!) of calls. Long story short they agreed to reticket for Jan 2021 but they really didn’t want to and I think it was probably more about BA putting someone in a role without training and she then kicked up a massive fuss too. Didn’t matter in the end as I’m still not going ….😩 (hubby doing well tho 😀😀)

  • Andrew says:

    Lots of replies, but a general summary.

    Allow about a week for the transaction to be identified by the system. Pending funds return are shown on the summary page in the app.

    There are no emails, but you will get a push notification on or around the day when the bulk fund return for the relevant month is credited.

    If you are a dual brand client, BOS cards don’t trigger a Halifax return and vice versa. Also if you activate it on the Lloyds site, and use a BoS or Hfx card, it won’t work. Make sure you select the offers on both sites or apps and use the right cards.

    Co-op

    Aargh, there are dozens of different Coops. If you’ve shopped in Scotmid, Clydebank Cooperative, Midcounties Cooperative, Lincolnshire Coop, Channel Islands Coop, or the other few dozen Cooperatives that aren’t based at New Century House in Manchester – it’s not likely to trigger.

    • 747_Brat says:

      Thanks everyone for the responses.

      @Nick & @Andrew
      How do I find out whether my local Co-op is a regional or a national Co-op? I had used the Amex offer at the same Co-op in the past, and it got triggered, so I am assuming it is a national Co-op. But is there any other way to find this out?

    • Charlieface says:

      On the plus side it means you can use each card separately and get the offer

  • Ian M says:

    I need to cancel a BA redemption booking, but can’t seem to find an option to cancel and a Avios and cash refund anymore. Only to request some sort of voucher. Do you have to call to cancel a booking these days?

    • Rob says:

      If all other options are not available then yes although I thought cancellation option was now back for Avios bookings?

      • Ian M says:

        When I click the ‘cancel booking’ option it takes me to a page ‘Apply for a voucher’.

        “Enter your details below to apply for a voucher equal to the value of your booking. If your application is successful, we’ll issue you with either an eVoucher or a future travel voucher”

        It would be nice to know which they would give me, why can’t you just cancel the booking and have your Avios and cash back minus the cancellation fee..

      • Anna says:

        I thought this was just if BA cancelled your flight?

    • TGLoyalty says:

      You can phone and cancel

  • Roselin says:

    Hi, is there a way to cancel the IHG premium credit card but still receive my 1 night free stay? My concern is that I’ll call to speak to customer services who won’t know anything and tell me that it’s not possible, I’ll have to pay the next years fee before eligible

    • Rob says:

      No. You need to wait, do not charge ANYTHING after year end and then cancel.

      Note that even charging a coffee after the year end stops you getting a refund.

      • Roselin says:

        Great, thanks Rob! I’ll hold off then! Anna and TGLoyalty, good points although I’m just not sure I will be able to make 10k transactions now I have left self employment and back to PAYE, would have to put mostly everything through Creation rather than my usual AMEX/Hilton Barclay. Will have a think, who knows when we will be able to make the most of this free night voucher properly!

    • Anna says:

      Why would you cancel? A night pretty much anywhere for £99 is a great deal.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        And no longer available for new customers.

      • kitten says:

        same here. Cards are disappearing off the UK market and new ones are not offering the benefits.

        If you’ve got it, even if the fee is a struggle for the next two years and even if you cant use the free night I would keep the card.

        There are ways in which you could probably share the benefit of the free night also. Some on here also find ways to spend the £10k each year even if they’re not.

        Ask those who cancelled the Hilton card due to not foreseeing use / benefits for awhile.

      • BJ says:

        Because it is no such thing as a free night for £99, like many you appear to have been drawn in by the hype on HfP. I believe the case Rob has made for this card over the years has been by far the weakest and least rational on HfP. I feel that he should have highlighted the options as opposed to merely considering the card in isolation but I appreciate that to do so might have complicated the review and related articles too much. To cut a long story short it is a free night for £99 + loss of potential benefit from more astute alternate £10k loyalty-driven spending. The alternate benefits that were/are available exceed, with possibly a very few exceptions, the cost of a hotel night –
        £99. For example, what benefit did you get for your assumed £99 on your Kimpton reservation you mentioned yesterday; my bet is it was pitiful?Granted, the waters have muddied a bit since amex rules on sign-up bonuses changed, and it is merely academic for those who don’t hold the card as new applications are not being accepted. Ofcourse, if you have £10k of spending you can do over and above any alternates then the card was always worth having, and now worth keeping – I’m not disputing that. However, I suspect many with more limited spending power were drawn in by the hype in noth articles and comments and ended up with less rewards for their spending than they might otherwise have realised.

        • Anna says:

          The card has been a gold mine for me during the past 12 months, BJ, I totally disagree with you. Over 100k points earned, Spire status achieved plus the “free” night (I did mention that it’s actually a £99 night). The Kimpton redemption I made was on a night when the cash rate is £270 but obviously I will keep an eye on that and decide if it’s still acceptable value. Combined with another night using points I’ll be getting a weekend stay worth well over £500 for that £99 card fee. I think you’re insulting HFP readers’ intelligence, tbh.

          • Yuff says:

            I agree with Anna, the card is very lucrative if you know how to use it😉

          • BJ says:

            I am not insulting any readers intelligence. It is only a gold mine for you for a single reason I didn’t mention because that was not always possible and may not continue to be possible. Absent that, the underlying rationale for the card remains weak except for high spenders. Anyway, make hay while the sun shines 🙂

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Over 300k IHG for me and not taken a penny away from any other card.

            Goldmine.

          • Anna says:

            TG – even more of a goldmine when you factor in paying it off with Paris and Nikki (I’m back to silly codes, I’m afraid, there’s been way too much overt chatter recently).

          • Anna says:

            Also doubled all that with the OH’s card!

          • James says:

            Anna, why do you take others views so personally? BJ is only expressing his opinion, and was certainly not insulting your or HfP reader’s intelligence. If you don’t like the views of others, why not go and live in North Korea or similar, as it seems you’d like it if everybody thinks the same as you. Alternatively, just make a NY resolution to be less thin-skinned this year.

          • Anna says:

            James, not that it’s anything to do with you, but when a comment is directed at me and words like “pitiful” are thrown about, I have every right to reply. At least I offer practical advice and information in my posts instead of just carping, as you seem to.

          • Chris Heyes says:

            Anna Although BJ shouldn’t direct insults at you (Slap) or anyone
            I Do agree with some of his thinking (points)
            We had the Amex Platinum for just over 1 month did 5 referrals spent the amount to get the bonus then downgraded, me to BA Premium partner to Gold.
            You wouldn’t believe the amount of “Value” (points) we got out of the deal.
            Even after deducting two months Platinum charges

          • James says:

            There you go again Anna, shutting other people down and belittling them where they differ from your script.
            And in relation to the use of the word pitiful, he was talking about his view of the overall benefits of a stay, not you personally. You were the one throwing insults and insinuations.

          • James says:

            And no one, including me, is debating your right to reply and your view. Just try and do it more civily, check out the reply from Peggerz if you want tips on how to do it with good grace.

        • Peggerz says:

          Hi @BJ.
          I respect your views, but the IHG card works for me.
          I have a modest income and don’t travel with work so points and status have never been possible, but the odd upgrade for being IHG Plat and the couple of pints at the bar in 2020 has paid for the £99 when I’ve travelled within the UK. I then have a ‘free night’ to play with that is live for 18 months. If I collect another ‘free night’ this year – and the IC Rome does finally open this year – then I’ll be off to watch my favourite rugby team in Rome in 2022 with two ‘free nights’.

          • BJ says:

            Historically though you could have done a lot more damage with £99 and £10k spend at amex than the IHG card. More debatable now though. Also, I’ve always believed the right redemption is the one that works for you regardless of value achieved so I suppose same is true of cards. If people feel this card works for them and keeps things simple and hassle-free then I get that too. Hope you get to Rome.

        • Rob says:

          You miss a key point. The Visa / Mastercard alternatives are VERY slim. It was not about moving £10k of Amex spend to IHG, it was about a card to use when Amex is not available.

          At 0.4p per IHG point you were getting a return of 0.8% for your £99 fee. The Virgin card is better BUT the lack of short haul rewards means you really need to be earning VS miles via work to justify it.

          £37,500 got you Spire Elite PLUS 25,000 bonus IHG points for hitting Spire Elite PLUS 75,000 base points PLUS the free night. You can’t beat that for £99.

          This is before you factor in the ‘double dip’ ability that comes with Creation ….

          Creation don’t pay us a penny, by the way. In all the years we plugged the card my entire earnings from them came to a cup of coffee at CP City.

          • BJ says:

            “It was not about moving £10k of Amex spend to IHG”

            …but this is exactly what I think many people did although I concede I have no way of knowing for sure. I am not disputing the benefits of the card just that greater benefits were possible for the same investment where people had the choice but couldn’t run both. I co dispute the comments from Anna and TG though, those are benefits of another card, not the IHG card in itself so were not always a factor and may not remain so. To be clear too, I wasn’t suggesting that your support of the card was motivated by income, you have always been very transparent about such issues and as I’ve said many times before I wouldn’t care anyway as the sure obviously cannotrun on nothing..

        • kitten says:

          So…BJ…. I think you’ve been asked before.

          These better opportunities you mention. You sharing ?

          • BJ says:

            Wel, for starters, how much does it cost to hold amex platinum alone for a month and what does that get you? If you don’t already know it is spelled out quite clearly on the relevant amex page and all the info you need to ice it and add a cherry on top can be found here on aHfP starting with Rob’s card review.

          • BJ says:

            @Anna, lost track of the thread so I’ll just tag this on here. There was nothing personal directed at you in using ‘pitiful’ so I’m sorry that you took offense. I was referring to the return on your IHG card being what turned out to be £180 which I do consider to be a pitiful return when considering the possibilities. However, if it works for you then why not, I have no problem with that as I replied to Peggerz. However, no matter how you or others try to convince yourselves or the rest of us otherwise, the gold mine you refer to is not a benefit of the IHG card, we have another to thank for that.

        • GaryC says:

          The IHG card is now my go-to card for any non-Amex “general” spend. I used to have the Virgin card, but cancelled that and traded my 200k VS miles for Hilton points and wine, as I’m neither confident of Virgin’s survival or my ability to spend the points anytime soon. I also have the Amazon, Tesco and MBNA Horizons card for specific store and FX spend. But like many other struggle to find a better general mastercard than IHG, and have also got Spire Elite this year, and got value from the free night voucher and the points I’ve amassed. If anyone has a better “general spend” non-Amex, I’d be happy to hear it.

        • Peggerz says:

          Hi @BJ
          Thanks for your comments. Along with the IHG card, Amex and Lloyds help me get the extras that I look for in my strategy. You are correct that £10k spend and £99 used to be better spent elsewhere. But things change.
          Re Rome, I’ll go whether the IC opens or not. Can’t miss Russell and Hogg with the sun on their backs.

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