Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 13th 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 (240)

  • Sina says:

    Anyone knows if it’s possible to get the 10% off by using Clubcard Plus to buy gift cards?

    The terms says no, but anyone tried it?

    • Freddy says:

      I haven’t tried specifically on gift cards but the system is smart enough to distinguish food stuffs/clothing/toys and only apply the 10% off the appropriate items. So i’m minded to think no to gift cards

    • TGLoyalty says:

      I recall past comments saying no.

  • William Mackenzie says:

    Anyone know where I can get a covid test in and around faro?

    • Rui N. says:

      Google “Germano de Sousa” or “Unilabs”. They are the 2 big chains of medical lab work in Portugal, and both do Covid testing.

    • kitten says:

      Does anyone know of a lab Brighton/Eastbourne area ?

  • John Gallagher says:

    I have a Curve Black legacy card and am about to purchase some premium bonds.
    Anyway I can earn CC points?
    I currently have my Curve linked to me HH Barclaycard, but am willing to take out another CC if necessary to earn points on the purchase.

    • John says:

      Yes. You would take out another card if you wanted to earn the points offered by that card

      • Iris says:

        So if you have curve metal you can buy PP bonds if linked to HH?

      • John Gallagher says:

        Thanks John
        Any chance you could direct me to a suitable earning CC card?
        Or would signing up to Curve Metal work with HH CC?

    • BJ says:

      For the benefit of @Anna and others who also like to pack their own travel sandwiches … think twice before taking them to the EU.

      • Michael C says:

        In the early 80s, we were always ALWAYS stopped at Customs from bringing jamón/chorizo from Spain into the UK!

        • BJ says:

          In 40 years I have only ever been stopped twice. Once by a giant poodle at the plane door on return to LGW IIRC from Amsterdam. Once at GLA returning from HKG with EK, the lady couldn’t believe I travelled only with a small backpack, at least until she tried searching and repacking it.

          • Doc says:

            BJ, I don’t think you are allowed to bring some of that “stuff” back from Amsterdam 😂

          • BJ says:

            Was just passing through Amsterdam on way back from work trip. We went into a coffee shop (!) near Central station before going on to the airport….

        • Anna says:

          Michae, I rfemember those days, i used to have to tell my family I couldn’t take home all the goodies they used to try and press on me! Fortunately you can now get both at most UK supermarkets, but It’s still the first aisle we head for at the Mercadona when we’re in Spain.
          Can we still bring it back to the UK or is that banned as well now?

          • Michael C says:

            Good point, no idea?!
            And trying to “smuggle” in more than 2 bottles of Rioja in backpack…Again, are there new limits on drinks?!
            Btw Anna, any more thoughts on a stint in the Canaries? We’ve just been offered an apartment 5 mins walk from Barcelona beach if there’s no return to school before Easter…

          • Anna says:

            I’ve read you can bring 4 litres of spirits back now but I don’t know about wine. TBH wine prices have come down so much in the UK in recent years we haven’t brought any home from abroad for ages.
            I’ll see what the situation is by Feb half term, if they say schools will be closed until Easter and it’s possible to travel I would definitely consider it. Also depends on how far on they are with the jabs of course. Barcelona sounds lovely if Spain is in a better state than here (I’ve lost track a bit),

          • Yolo says:

            Brexiter bringing food from Spain and looking to sit out a pandemic from there. Ah the irony…

          • Anna says:

            Yolo, I’m amazed you haven’t become aware of this by now but there’s a difference between Spain, the country, and the EU administration in Brussels/Strasbourg.

      • mark2 says:

        At Seattle airport they had a food sniffer dog.

        • Anna says:

          In Australia and New Zealand they are really strict about taking in any foodstuffs because they don’t want foreign pests being introduced – you can see why when you watch some of those customs documentaries and see the things people try to smuggle in!

          • aDifferentSimon says:

            I used to work in NZ and would often get my shoes cleaned by immigration. Wore walking boots once and they came back so clean 🙂

          • kitten says:

            If yoi try to bring in foodstuffs to NZ even by accident that will get you a complete hard shakedown. If you brought a living plant they’d lock you up and throw away the key.

            Even if you’re not actually doing anything wrong, or if they themselves have got it wrong, minor officialdom in that place can be really annoying (and vindictive).

        • BJ says:

          I wonder what haggis might have done for it 🙂

        • kitten says:

          Hawaii too

      • Anna says:

        Lol, thanks BJ! Thankfully I’m told that you can still buy ham and cheese on the continent.

        • BJ says:

          Just remembered your comments on sandwiches as I’m always on my partners case to pack at least a few high calorie snacks or something because you never know what might go wrong with the catering on a long flight. Even with the normal offerings I’ve often wished I was eating a sandwich instead.

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Indian families compete with each other for the maximum number of items they can get past the US customs. Home made pickles, chutneys and pastes are in high demand.

      • Mikeact says:

        It’s nothing new, years ago we were stopped at Calais when we had the caravan on the back. He insisted on looking in the fridge which was virtually empty, but not the cool box in the back of the car which had the bacon etc., in it. The kids thought it hilarious at the time..

      • Charlieface says:

        Once got stopped years ago in EWR as a kid with my whole family because we had sandwiches and banananas. We ate the lot on the spot.

        • Anna says:

          The last couple of times we’ve been to the US customs haven’t even asked about food! In the 90s we took a catering pack of PG tips requested by a family friend in SF which caused a few raised eyebrows. I think they’re more aware of how important the British brew is these days!

      • Jody says:

        Be interesting to see what happens with this. As a vegetarian gluten free person, I think in-flight meals are going to be a no no for me, as they can cater for one or the other but not both, so I’ll definitely be taking more food with me than I previously would have done.

        • Anna says:

          I can’t see in flight meals being affected (though I agree they’re far from ideal if you have special dietary needs) as they won’t be being imported into the destination country. Otherwise there would be issues catering to flights going to the US, Australia etc where they’ve always had strict regulations on food.

        • The real John says:

          You’ll just have to eat everything before you enter your destination country

        • GaryE says:

          Also being Gluten Free (Coeliac – so not by choice) – I have experience of BA Vegetarian meals NOT being gluten free. I always bring plenty of food for long haul flights as you cannot rely on a) meals being loaded on plane b) crew not understanding and either giving your meal to someone else with an allergy or unable to locate it. I usually chuck what ever I haven’t eaten when they come round tidying up 30 minutes before landing and only hold back something if we get delayed clearly customs at destination. Barbados do carry out checks and ask what you are bringing in as many people staying in apartments bring food with them as it so expensive.

          • Peter K says:

            It’s a rubbish choice but raw vegan is vegetarian and gluten free. However, as someone who also needs gluten free, I’m very aware that ‘safe’ is far more important than ‘interesting’ when on a flight/holiday etc!

          • Anna says:

            Same in the Cayman Islands, though there don”t seem to be many restrictions on what you can take in as we’ve known Americans whose flights are obviously shorter than ours bring cool boxes full of meat with them! An ex-colleague of mine went to work out there are only lasted 8 months which I put down to him being from Yorkshire and having to pay £5 for a bag of oven chips from the supermarket!

  • Louie says:

    I’m trying to ring BA from Oz to make an Avios booking on 0191 490 7901, the number on the website and the one I have used before. Doesn’t even ring, just cuts off straight away. Does anyone have a number that works?

  • BJ says:


    • Louie says:

      Thanks very much BJ. The number you gave was answered promptly by a lady who transferred me to the Avios dept. Got a message that there would be a lengthy wait but I got through to them in seconds. Efficient chap dealt with everything I wanted although booking had to be passed on to fares department (multi-partner) but at least I have secured the flights I wanted…

      Been waiting all day for them to open to book flights home for Christmas to see my 89 y.o. parents (last saw them Christmas 2019). Have flights booked for June as well but I don’t think that will happen. Hopefully I will be proved wrong.

      • BJ says:

        Glad you got it sorted. That is just the number they have consolidated on during pandemic. Sometimes there are long waits but last time I had to use it somebody picked up within seconds.

      • BJ says:

        For future reference, you don’t need to wait for UK office to open either. You could try calling the Japan or USA numbers if the times work better for you.

      • kitten says:

        I hope you get a flight Louie

      • Lyn says:

        Well done getting your flights for Christmas, and good luck with June. Even if Australia lets you out of the country in June, I imagine it would be difficult to find reliable flights to get back again.

  • Josh O says:

    Good morning HFP-ers! Quick bit of advice if ok. I made a RFS Club Europe booking last night, from London to Berlin. I would have been perfectly happy with Economy but only Business seats were available (its only a short hop and I’d have preferred to have kept the Avios for a longer trip). My questions are:
    1. If Econ availability opens up can i downgrade to Econ, and then receive the difference in Avios back?
    2. Would I also receive a £7.50 refund as well? (I paid the £25 Biz option, and would swap to the £17.50 option in Econ – if it came available)
    Many thanks in advance!

    • Rhys says:

      Not worth it – you’d have to pay the change fee

    • Tracey says:

      If econ opens up you would book that and then cancel the bus flights. (Preferably in that order in case the econ flights disappear).
      If you also wanted to save the £7.50 then you need to do it in 2 steps. Firstly use the book with confidence arrangement to take a future travel voucher, then use the future travel voucher to buy the new bus flights.

  • Mikeact says:

    I see that ‘Currensea’ have taken advertising space on this site. I know nothing about them but they appear to be a bit of a competitor to Curve, perhaps. Does anybody have any knowledge about them….good news….bad news ? Worth considering for the back of the drawer ?
    Their marketing certainly shows potentially big savings against the high street Banks and other cards, but then, I guess it’s easy to manipulate numbers to suit your cause.

    • Rob says:

      Nothing like Curve, because it withdraws the money from your BANK ACCOUNT. It’s just an idiot-proof alternative for anyone who doesn’t have a 0% FX fees credit card.

      • Mikeact says:

        I know that, merely asking for other contributors views.
        It seems to me that the only advantage maybe, while overseas, is to keep it in reserve, just in case. At least you can get access to your own funds, albeit with the free card, 0.5% above wholesale, which in an emergency could be a no brainer. Obviously there are other options out there, but I wouldn’t necessarily discount it out of hand.

  • BS says:

    OT: HSBC Premier
    I am trying to ensure I have the ‘investment’ to qualify for HSBC premier. I was intending to put £100 in their global investor centre. Can anyone recommend how I can choose a fund that pays no dividend, so it does not trouble my tax return at the end of the year? I realise capital gains tax would be payable on any profit if it went up, but if I don’t intend to sell thats not a problem!

    • Grant says:

      If you want profits from investment in funds reinvested rather than paid out as cash then choose a fund marked Accumulation (or Acc)

      • BS says:

        Thanks. Just because the profits are reinvested, doesnt mean I dont pay tax on them. I will still get a statement for each year I have to put on the tax return, no? Is there a way of choosing a fund that is solely capital? So I avoid the yearly hassle? Obviously I don’t actually care about the quality of the investment…

        • Ste Cox says:

          It might change in the future but at the moment boohoo dont pay dividends.

          • BS says:

            Thanks. That is a stock, not a fund. It seems you can’t invest in stocks through HSBC’s global inverstment centre

        • Grant says:

          You mentioned funds so I took that reference literally. You could buy shares that don’t pay dividend – as Ste mentioned BOO would be one but there are thousands. EQT, SYME, SNG, AMGO, ARB and GGP are a few that might be a bit more interesting (volitile) for you if you are just looking to take a punt and tick a box. Obviously, do you own DD etc.

      • The real John says:

        The notional dividends on Acc funds are still taxable outside ISAs and pensions.

        There is a £2000 dividend allowance so if you invest £100 there won’t be any problems with tax unless you already have lots of other dividends.

        • kitten says:

          It’s just a pig to account for on a tax return so OP is looking to avoid any.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      Look for a fund that invests in companies that don’t make profits but have great prospects!

      Firms like Uber, Tesla, AirBnB etc. Must be some fund that covers that scene?

      Or an ETF for crypto currency?

    • Genghis says:

      As it seems you’re aware and others have mentioned, investing in accumulation funds in a taxable account is a record keeping nightmare as you’re still subject to tax on the notional dividends. Always invest in income funds in a taxable account.

      Some thoughts, however:

      – others have reported getting by without an investment product, if you’re willing to wing it and then sort it out when you get challenged.

      – if you don’t really mind what you invest in, there’s a number of Gold funds. Almost by definition, there are no dividends.

      – as already mentioned, if you buy a fund classified as an equity fund, you already get a £2k dividend allowance (note that tax not payable but this can affect your tax bandings, i.e. it is still classified as income for the £100k 62% banding) or if a bond fund you get a £500 allowance as a HRTP (you mentioned a tax return so could still be a HRTP; though nothing if ARTP). Even if you have to pay tax, investing £100 in a global fund which pays a c.2%, £2 dividend and then you’re taxed at your marginal rate isn’t too bad to meet the criteria.

    • memesweeper says:

      I have a life insurance policy. Qualifies, and they are competitively priced.

    • WS says:

      I believe you can qualify even by leaving the £100 in your global investment account as uninvested cash – that’s the understanding I had when I spoke to them last and that’s what I’ve currently been doing.

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