Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 6th 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.

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 (337)

  • TPB says:

    Any recommendations on best area to stay in Abu Dhabi for a weekend? Planning to travel over from Dubai this weekend (with negative PCR to get across border)

    Best area for doing a couple of the sights, but other than that good beach/pool

    • Mrs_Fussy says:

      saadiyat island. Beautiful white Sandy beaches and very serene. jumeirah/st Regis/ park Hyatt

  • BJ says:

    A few, mostly niche, new amex offers available. Only one worth highlighting is probably 10% for Apex Hotels

  • Maciek says:

    No offers since October here. My complaint was turned down: “ American Express runs our promotions with different categories of acceptance for our Card Members to be enrolled onto offers. I apologise sincerely we are unable to enrol you into all of our marketing offers but for internal factors this is not possible. I can confirm that all available offers for your Platinum Card and American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card are available on your online account. As such I am not able to uphold this element of your complaint.” No mention of why Shop Small offer wasn’t on any of my cards but was added by the agent when challenged.

    • pacman says:

      You’re not missing out on much. The offers have been really poor lately. Have you tried removing the card from online services and then setting up a new online account with a different username and adding the card there?

      • Maciek says:

        Nope, too much hassle, I’d rather have AmEx fix their end of marketing machine. Or I will vote with my money and stick to the other cards I’ve got.

        • The real John says:

          But you’ve spent more time and effort repeatedly posting about it here and making a complaint?? Why not just cancel the cards and reapply in 2 years

          • Maciek says:

            Perhaps, but it’s my choice – I am not going to faff with setting up a yet another online account only to find out that it doesn’t make any difference.
            Cancelling both cards will be a very likely outcome here.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Except it’s very likely to actually work. More likely to work than complaining to Amex and posting on here.

      • Jonathan says:

        There is an issue here though with far more people than normal reporting finding themselves with no offers, including universal ones such as shop small.

        Rob has reported that taking a payment holiday or defaulting gets you blocked but this doesn’t apply to a lot of the cases (including my wife’s BAPP).

        I’ve still got plenty of useless offers on my cards so not bothered to formally complain although did raise it when I called to get Shop Small added manually with the usual “targeted” nonsense reply.

        The fact that Amex hide behind a response that clearly isn’t correct is a bit pathetic. Just admit there’s a system issue or that they’re black listing & explain why.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          The only card account I wasn’t getting offers for I just requested a new card and 2-3 weeks later I got an offer.

          • kitten says:

            Definitely try that then link the new one to new account, put dome transactions on it for 2 or 3 weeks then can it if your offers are not similar volume to whatever other posters say they’re receiving at that time. Bearing in mind we can expect offers to be few while UK remains locked down.

            There are 2 new things in this sequence that might trigger you getting offers, that you’ve not tried. Since you’ve come so far the 6-8 weeka it will take to try these is probably worth a final try before you can it.

      • Alex M says:

        how do you remove the card? I have the same problem and would like to fix it asap. Thx!

    • Ian M says:

      Since October isn’t too bad. I’ve not had any offers since July.

      • Maciek says:

        Have you made an official complaint? The issue can’t go unnoticed at the top if they get flood of formal complaints.

        • E says:

          I’m now in the same position I think. I’ve had no new offers since the start of November. I had to get them to add Shop Small manually too on my 2 cards. My account is in good order with the balances cleared every month and well within my credit limits. The only unusual thing I’ve done was a chargeback for a flight refund in late October and that was upheld so I got the money back. Since then, no new offers.

        • Andrew says:

          Formal complaints don’t get you anywhere as the offers are discretionary and not part of the advertised benefits of the cards and therefore no case to answer.

          • Maciek says:

            You’re correct. I wonder if this is a deliberate behaviour on their side or a genuine issue that goes unnoticed without enough people making noise about it.

      • Brian says:

        I’ve got dozens of offers on mine and they’re all rubbish. You’re not missing out. A few are “in store” only for places that are closed anyway

    • Dr Lee says:

      Maciek, you could try asking for all the information AmEx hold on you under a GDPR ‘data subject access request’ which they would be legally obliged to provide. This information may shed some light on the issue, espcially if they have a ‘black mark’ or similar against your name.

  • vol says:


    Last year I (rather optimistically) booked a couple of flights using Avios for travel in early February.

    As the UK is in lockdown once again I expect these flights will be cancelled, but I haven’t had notification from BA that the flights have been cancelled so I am a bit confused 🤷🏽‍♀️

    When should I expect them to send the cancellations?

    Thanks in advance

    • Jon says:

      They might not get cancelled – e.g. BA may still operate them for cargo reasons, even if there are no passengers.

      But IIRC from earlier this year, cancellation notifications were typically about 3-4 weeks before departure, at least for the ones I was affected by. Having said that, keep an eye on Manage My Booking – of three trips I’ve had cancelled in the last few weeks, I only actually received an email for one of them.

    • TripRep says:

      Ditto, awaiting cancellation of a Maldives trip.

      Thinking it’ll definitely be at least 14 days out.

    • Gavin says:

      It won’t necessarily be cancelled. My flight to Japan next week is still scheduled and will probably depart (today’s flight is still going)

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Wait until 48 hours out and then just take the £35 per person hit.

      It’s likely flights won’t be cancelled because there’s no actual travel ban, just a ban on certain types of travel. Also BA do get a fairly large number of connecting passengers.

      • Nick says:

        … and a LOT of law breakers travelling anyway. There’s increasing pressure on BA to cancel what are clearly leisure flights though, especially given tui and others have pulled their entire schedules. I imagine there’ll be some fudged compromise by the end of the week.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          TUI and others are point to point. BA operate hub and spoke.

          BA decide if they have enough passengers and cargo reasons to operate a flight not the daily mail.

        • Rob says:

          As the flights will go for cargo BA has no need to pull them.

          • Nick says:

            There isn’t 9 weekly flights’ worth of cargo traffic to or from the Maldives. We’ll see what happens soon enough.

  • Green Plastic says:

    Morning all. How long does it typically take for a cash refund from BA to post on your Amex? Been waiting since Saturday but nothing showing yet.

    • Andrew says:

      Sometimes a few days, sometimes a few months. Just depends how quickly they process. Give it a few weeks then chase them.

      • Green Plastic says:

        Jeez, didn’t realize it could be that long. No problem but just didn’t realize!

    • DT says:

      I’ve had a few cash refunds and the quickest has been 2 days, the longest about 5 weeks. The most recent was a week.

    • Anna says:

      It can also depend on the type of cancellation – if it’s something they have to do manually it can take weeks or months. I imagine they’ll be very busy as well just now.

    • Paul says:

      Requested end of March, finally credited back just before Christmas for me, with hassling every ~6wks. Granted, I think that’s a somewhat exceptional wait time…

      • Nick says:

        If it’s a simple booking (their definition, not yours!) it can be processed by the agent you speak to, and will pass to Amex the same day (if before 6pm UK time) or the next day if after that. Amex then tends to process within 24 hours, other cards can take longer. If it’s a complex booking though it needs to be queued for manual processing, and there’s a wait for this. Currently standing at around 19-21 days max, except in extreme cases where a specialist needs to be involved.

    • James M says:

      I raised a dispute with Amex for BA flights in May last year after the 7 days (set in law for a refund) has passed; Amex just refunded it.

      BA eventually also refunded it, Amex then reversed their refund so neither Amex or I were out of pocket.

      Might be the fastest way to get this sorted.

  • Ant says:

    Morning need to transfer £5000 to a Euro bank acc abroad. Any suggestions to get the best rate/lowest fees?

    • BS says:

      Revolut is good. You can either pay the 0.5% fee above £1000, or upgrade. You could do £1000/month for free, and this drip-feeding way of doing it will stop them freezing your account.
      Worldfirst is also good, and more importantly you are less likely to get your account frozen asking for source of funds. But costs you a guaranteed 0.5%. You can also lock in todays rate in the future. You can also pay with your curve card 🙂

    • mzb says:

      Have you looked into transferwise?

    • Bobri says:

      Revolut for cost, but expect app level of customer service if anything goes wrong

    • Gruntfuttock says:

      I’ve used Foremost Currency Group, easy and straightforward.

    • The real John says:

      Transferwise has the best rate (about 0.35% off spot) for a one-off. You can also open their multi-currency account.

      Revolut’s rates are better (about 0.05%) but you need to buy the premium service (£7 a month) to use it for more than £1000 a month, otherwise they add 0.5% or more, plus their compliance procedures are awful if you trip a flag.

      Starling bank offers a euro account with a 0.4% exchange fee, but they also have extra flat fees for sending euros.

      You may get as low as 0.15% with large forex brokers by negotiation if you send large amounts frequently.

    • M says:

      Just checked Transferwise and you would get EUR 5511.
      With PagoFX (a new money transfer service by Santander), you would get 5499 + £25 amazon gift voucher if you register via my link posted in another comment.
      If it is a recurring thing, go with Transferwise. If it is a one off, consider PagoFX 😉

    • Pablo says:

      Check out western union as well. No fees for bank transfer loading and free transfer to a bank account.

    • M says:

      Or actually, even better, you can use CurrencyFair – you would get EUR 5509 + EUR 50 credited to your account as a bonus if you use my sign up link 😉

      Disclosure: I would also get a bonus if you use my link 😉

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Another recommendation for TransferWise. Might be a few pennies more than others, but best in class customer service. Some of the transfers take seconds!

      • Nick says:

        Thirded (if that’s even a word). Transferwise all the way, except for huge amounts where you’d be best off with a broker. Top service every time.

    • 747_Brat says:

      I use WorldRemit. Their rates are very good, usually around the daily spot rates. The transfers are instant, and you will receive an instant notification from the bank you are transferring to, confirming the receipt.

      I would appreciate if you could join using my referral link:

      Once you have sent 100 GBP or more, you will be emailed a £20 WorldRemit voucher code, which is essentially free money. I would suggest splitting your transaction into two, and use the £20 voucher for the second transaction and pocket the free money! 🙂

    • kitten says:

      Midpoint. They told me they give Avios too.

      Revolut too risky.

      Transferwise if you must. Caxton FX might have a method. But Midpoint the nicest to deal with so far and very transparent small fees with correct rate not a loaded one.

    • Catman says:

      Another vote for Transferwise. I have tried Revolut and Worldremit and Transferwise came out tops. Revolut wasn’t even WSIWYG what you see is what you get as even if they don’t charge fees the recipient bank or central bank did.

      With Transferwise you can also fund your transfer with a credit card – the fee is a £2-3 higher per £1K but I find the points I make more than offset the whole Transferwise fee

      My sign up link for Transferwise is

  • Anna says:

    Well I finally managed to book my BA holiday to MIA with the flight times and cabin I wanted (you still can’t mix and match cabins, but someone suggested putting each flight in individually and this did throw up a lot more choice than just putting MAN-MIA, god knows why!)
    I now need to cancel the original booking, which BA website indicates should be possible for a FTV, however I am getting the message that I need to call to make changes 😬. Will this change if I leave it till, say, 24 hours have passed so I can cancel online. Can’t believe BA are making you call for a voucher!

    • Andrew says:

      You can mix and match cabins – you first do a flight only booking and then when you go through to the price quote page you select to add a hotel or car and it creates a holiday based on the mix and match cabin flights you’ve selected.

      Also – for cancellations within 24 hours of making the booking you have the “cooling off” period so a full refund (not a voucher) can be requested.

      • memesweeper says:

        a full refund (not a voucher) can be requested *on the phone*

        don’t try and cancel online.

        • Anna says:

          Andrew – thanks, I will remember this in future! Cash fares are pretty good at the moment so I might try & hit Silver.

          memesweeper – I thought there was no 24 hour cooling off for BA holidays? Not too fussed about a voucher though as I will probably book car hire and other bits.

          • jc says:

            This is correct – for BA holidays there’s only a 24 hour cooling off period if booking by phone

        • ChrisC says:

          The 24 hour colling off period does not apply to holiday bookings made on line.

          See para 3.2

          “If you book with us directly on the internet at or, your contract will come into existence immediately at the time your booking is completed (unless Clause 3.3 or 3.4 applies). Your booking is completed when you see a “Booking Confirmation” page on your screen. We will send you an email or letter confirming your travel arrangements, together with a link to an online summary of your booking that contains a link to these conditions.”

          • kitten says:

            So build a dummy package online with the flights and other components you need, then call the BA Holidays line to book. You can check the cooling off period with them just before you finalise. Unlike booking BA Holidays online there will be a grace period.

          • ChrisC says:

            Why would you do something as complicated as that though?

            If you think you’re going to change your mind in 24 hours just don’t book it!

            The 24 hour phone booking is to allow for you to check for mistakes such as the agent made a spelling mistake in a name because they misheard you or you misheard them with a time of departure on the phone and have it corrected for free.

    • ChrisC says:

      Glad the ‘custom’ trip worked. Yes it does give more options than a normal booking. Don’t know why either but it’s my method of preference especially when trying to do a mini TP run!

      You can get an FTV for a holiday without calling. A BA Hols rep told me that last week when I rang to do that and discuss another issue on another booking.

      Click on the “COVID-19 | Travel and service updates” link on the BA homepage and select ‘Apply for a Voucher’.

      Took 24 hours for the confirmation be emailed from BA Holidays rather than BA customer

      Just very bad wording thats all! If they wrote things proeprly it would save them a lot of work!

      • Anna says:

        Thanks and thanks!
        I usually do use the “custom trip” option but it never would have occurred to me to split up the flights. Fortunately I had checked the MAN-LHR leg as a separate booking so I knew there was availbility on the service I wanted, it was just how to make the BA Holidays system show it! BA IT, eh, you never stop learning things lol.
        OH moaned like mad when I told him i had booked a trip to “covid central” but I reminded him you can’t be too choosy this close to August if you want premium cabins and decent accommodtion for 4 people without selling an organ.

        • Anna says:

          Hurrah! 2 FTVs applied for. It’s really not at all clear …

          • WaynedP says:

            Glad you’re sorted with your preferred itinerary, Anna.
            I hope that you are able to apply your FTVs to purchase extras on that trip.
            I was told by a BA CS agent that FTVs can only be applied to “new bookings”, defined as bookings made AFTER an FTV was issued, which I didn’t challenge at the time as it seemed to agree with T&Cs that I understood at the time (last year, not sure if changed since then) and I knew I would be making at least one “new booking” before the FTV expired.
            If BA’s policy on FTVs hasn’t changed, then you may find they refuse to apply your FTV to anything related to your MIA booking, but I hope you have better luck.

        • Jody says:

          I hope your holiday works out Anna. We have flights to Seattle booked in June (50% off avios plus 2 companion voucher) to connect with an Alaskan cruise we have booked. However, we’re thinking we’re going to push the cruise back to next year, as really not convinced they’ll be up and running by then (nor am I sure that the USA will be open to us). Just waiting on the quotes back from the cruise to move it.

  • Sprout says:

    Quick question re HSBC world prem elite …
    If you have a credit limit of say £10k per month are you able to spend more by paying it off as you go? I’m approaching spending my credit limit but have paid off over half and yet have received a text saying I’ve used 90% of my credit limit and if I spend more than the total I could be charged a fee.

    • Genghis says:


    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Yes, i have done that a few times. Wouldnt leave it late to get up to 90%. If you can pay it off early, do it. Helps your credit score if you avoid high utilisation.
      The message might be delayed – check your app for ‘Available credit’ – thats the correct number.

      • Sprout says:

        Thanks both for the replies. I have checked the app and the “available credit” is not reflecting the manual payments I have made so is effectively taking my credit limit minus the total spend. (Manual payments have been made over a 2 week period). I’m currently on live chat but he seems to have difficulty grasping the distinction between spend and credit utilisation.

        • Genghis says:

          When I make a faster payment it’s usually about 5 minutes for the available credit to update and then the next day (on a Tue-Sat) is when the actual balance then ticks over to reflect the payment.

          Have you made faster payments before to the card account? Did you get the details correct?

          • Sprout says:

            I’ve just transferred money from the Premier bank account. As you say balance updates a day or so later but the available credit hasn’t. Maybe I should make a transfer from a separate bank account direct to the credit card rather than via the premier bank account.?
            Anyway, the guy on live chat has finally confirmed what you have stated so I’ll use that as a reference if I get charged a fee. thanks again.

      • rams1981 says:

        I frequently go to 90% on 2 cards and then pay off a chunk. Based on what you say I should not do this I guess. Is there a set way of working out the impact?

        • memesweeper says:

          No, and I think there’s a touch of luck in here — are you at 90% when the reporting to the credit reference agencies occurs. I was at 90% for about 30 mins this morning, I can live with that risk. Stand to be corrected by someone who actually works for HSBC/Equifax.

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          Agreed with memesweeper, it depends on the reporting date for banks to credit database agencies. But no one knows what the date is and it might change from bank to bank and month to month. To be on the safer side, better to keep it low if possible, especially if you are looking to re-mortgage in the near future.

          • rams1981 says:

            thanks both. No mortgage needed anytime soon but good to be aware.

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