Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 24th January

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

Old chat threads are hidden from the HfP home page.  If you want to look for something in an old thread, click here.  This brings up all the articles in our ‘General’ category which includes the chat threads.

Comments (244)

  • Ming The Merciless says:

    This nectar partnership thing- I’m not convinced it’s a good thing.

    We earn £600 tesco vouchers a Q, 20k Virgin a month, 100k miles and more a year. The scale of earning opportunity for nectar awards is tiny in comparison to Avios.

    If I went all out for nectar points, my gut feeling is 2000 points per Month, which doesn’t touch the sides for a family of 4 accustomed to Lie flat seats to Australia.

    The earring rate may not be too bad, it’s a scale issue. A bit like the BA 241 is great but you need the Avios to get best benefit.


    • Bill says:

      You might benefit from a diet of you’re spending that much in Tesco

      • Ming The Merciless says:

        I don’t shop at tesco…

        • TripRep says:

          “We earn £600 tesco vouchers a Q”

          Curious how do you do this then?

          • Ming The Merciless says:

            Tesco financial services.

          • Blenz101 says:

            The now now longer available Tesco current account earns CC points on debit card spend for example. Very ‘clean’ way to earn, no bendy, risk of interest or credit involved.

            Most financial institutions will accept a deposit via a pure debit card. Provided you are able to withdraw in a reasonable timescale you can cycle it up to the quarterly cc point limit.

            Some tweaks will be needed to make this work for Nectar but given Sainsbury’s have a finance arm (which has been historically lax) and issue cards its a result.

          • Rob says:

            It was 1 CC point per £8 spent on the debit card. To hit the 30,000 point quarterly cap you’d need to be sending (£8 x 30) £240,000 per quarter to NSI or similar, so almost £3,000 per day.

            Admittedly, for 300,000 Avios per year, it wasn’t a bad deal but quite a lot of faff and I would have imagined a high risk of being shut down.

          • The real John says:

            How is recycling savings a “clean” way to earn?

          • Blenz101 says:

            @Rob – exactly right. For anybody with £25k liquid cash available this has been a decent return on your capital. Pay in £25k on a Monday and if timed correctly you can get your money back in your current account a week later.

            Whilst the £25k sits with NS&I it has been gathering a very healthy 1% for the week until very recently. £900 a quarter to spend on already rock bottom hotel prices is an excellent return. For those buying the full allowance of £50k in premium bonds you only need to do this a couple of times a month.

            This has been running fine since the Tesco account launched, really miss the Uber! The cap does apply on points per quarter, try earning too many and either can’t get them out via faster vouchers or get a letter about exceeding the cap saying sorry. It seems like a product they have abandoned. I’m sure they will offload the accounts sooner or later but meanwhile I guess the 1 point per £8 pays for the points.

    • Benj says:

      Assuming that £600 a quarter is through MS?

      Nectar isn’t all bad, yesterday I did a shop for some essentials – basket came to £7.44 and I received 357 Nectar points on that shop due to about 20 offers on my card that I guess I partially used…

    • Blenz101 says:

      Well sounds like you and your partner were maxing out the quarterly limit on tesco vouchers. Can’t you just do the same with Nectar?

      I think the Sainsburys credit card has always been historically lax for MS from back in the 3v days. Worst case use a curve card with Sainsburys CC to pay into a willing financial institution who will allow you to withdraw again later in the month.

      Assuming two of you get the card cycling £30k each will get you your £600 of points and this should be achievable within a week depending on your credit limits.

      Not sure if Sainsburys has caps on nectar issued or if the CC has been a little bit more aware of what its cards are being used for. Usual warnings apply to the damage you could do to your credit files but it does sound like from the figures you quote that you have something in place already.

    • Jonathan says:

      Probably not a good thing for you but you’ve been playing a game (very well) that was always going to have a shelf life.

      Enjoy the fruits of your labour while you can but expecting to keep generating enough miles to get 4 people to Aus every year from MS & bonus exploitation is a bit optimistic.

      The new scheme is no Clubcard in its heyday but it’s probably better than expected given the landscape of the loyalty industry today.

      • Ming The Merciless says:

        Realistically- tesco are still going to be a player in this but cash out via gold smiths and go ex-eu on cash fares. This would have the bonus of actually accruing Tier Points, which after 7 years of exec club membership I have close to 3 figures of.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Or cash out via Virgin to HH for as long as it lasts!

          • memesweeper says:


            free stays at Conrad / Hilton / IC / Kimpton, you pay for the flights — or fly with Virgin. Note Virgin give a straight cash discount for points on cash fares, I think that includes codeshares, so a fair few options there albeit not at a great rate.

            I’d not swap to Nectar if you have that much of a good thing going on.

          • Blenz101 says:

            @realjohn – in terms of ‘clean’ MS it doesn’t require the use of any credit facilities (and potential reports to reference agencies associated with), no intermediary products are required which could shut you down (curve etc.), all the capital involved is personal and proof of easily provided.

      • xcalx says:

        @ Jonathan “Enjoy the fruits of your labour while you can but expecting to keep generating enough miles to get 4 people to Aus every year from MS & bonus exploitation is a bit optimistic.”
        Some have been doing it years and it will continue. Just need to be open to all options

        You need to up your game lol

  • David S says:

    Why are the airlines themselves so quiet at present. We have blocked off so much incoming traffic and so many countries seem to be banning flights from the U.K. At one time there was talk of Easter hols and now the message is suggesting no Summer hols. You would think the airlines would be up in arms!!
    PS look at FlightRadar and see the volume of traffic around the world still – a staggering number of planes in the air at any one time

    • Pete says:

      Being given government money, so know to shut up (being slightly facetious here)? Or perhaps know the public mood isn’t in their favour?

      • memesweeper says:

        With over a thousand a day dying, if I worked for BA PR I’d be recommending a low profile on public lobbying right now.

  • Mr. AC says:

    Flew into Heathrow T2 yesterday. I’m a UK resident, non-EU, so used to spending some time in line at the border, and it didn’t look particularly long (maybe 2-3 aircraft worth?), but I spend a record 2 hours 37 min standing in it. Kids сrying, everyone tense – not fun. Citizens and EU folks can’t go through the automatic gates, so also in line (separate).
    Culprit seems to be very slow processing compared to how it used be. Previously for non-EU: give your passport, visa or residence card checked, fingerprints – you’re good to go, 20-30 sec affair. Right now: passport, card, “Why are you travelling?”, passenger locator form (officer scrolled through on my phone), COVID PCR test (officer looked over carefully), then he wrote down my name, DOB and flight information in one list, and then ALL of my info (name, DOB, passport, residence card) in a small pink notepad on a separate page that looked like it could be torn off. No idea what that last one is plausibly for, maybe should’ve asked…
    Anyways, I had everything in order and everything prepared, and it still took at least 2 minutes. Many however had something missing / done wrong based on how it looked, so the line moves VERY slow even though the number of booths occupied looked reasonable.

    • Pete says:

      Gosh, this sounds truly awful…

    • Tracey says:

      Locking at the picture of Heathrow arrivals hall, that seems the most risky place to pick up the virus!

      • Jonathan says:

        What’s the alternative though? The new rules seem fair enough (valid PCR & completed PLF) so makes sense to ensure compliance.

        If passengers can’t ensure their paperwork is in order then not sure that’s Heathrow or Border Force’s fault. Equally Border Force are resourced for normal times with e-gates etc & probably suffering far higher than normal absence levels so won’t be able to just open more desks at will.

        • Tracey says:

          One alternative is to keep passengers on the plane until there is room in arrivals, happened to me on a recent flight to MLE. Another idea would be to make sure you have enough staff on duty. Allowing for a realistic amount of people being off sick at short notice.
          Or even only allowing people into busy areas when there is room, if the supermarkets can manage to introduce a traffic light system, it can be done.

          • Mr. AC says:

            Bad idea to keep people on the plane. That was the original system in many countries. I spent 7 hours on one such plane in June waiting to disembark… But when planes power down they stop being well-ventilated. Better to be in a large hall rather than sitting on a plane for multiple hours.

          • The real John says:

            Open the doors and keep the air vents on?

        • Pete M says:

          Presumably, though, given they’ve shifted the onus of checking PCR tests onto airlines, there should be relatively few people without them?

      • kitten says:

        low ceiling, cramped, people breathing heavily, poor to no air circulation…it’s like they wanted to get off to a good start making sure everyone that comes to the UK gets infected.

    • Doug M says:

      Reported on FT by a trustworthy poster that the Covid Tests are being checked in greater numbers and more thoroughly. Classic change a system without resource to handle change.
      Re-queue those with issues so that the properly prepared pass through quicker. I wish that applied to all aspects of travel. Seeing my hand luggage pulled for a random and being 6th in line behind 5 people that thought the liquid limits and removal from bag didn’t apply to them was always very annoying.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Good but any reason why they can’t be checked prior to hitting passport control?

    • Bobri says:

      Confirm T2 is an absolute nightmare. 1h of waiting on the plane, 3h in the queue

  • Hanif says:

    Is it still possible to check how much taxes/fees be on an Avios reward flight on the Iberia site, if you do not have the Avios, I know you use to, but I can’t seem to figure out how now?

    • Tracey says:

      Can you book a cash flight and look at the amount of taxes and charges before you confirm?

    • Doc says:

      Yes, you can. Log into your Iberia account, look for book with Avios and your travel details and it will tell you how much Avios and tax you need as well as availability.

    • Hanif says:

      Thanks for reply –
      Tracey – That does not work with Iberia, they charge more tax/fees on cash ticket, I believe.
      DOC – Think they have changed it, I can no longer see the tax/fees bit.

    • Charlieface says:

      Try ITA Matrix, click on the fare breakdown.

      Make sure to use the correct fare class filter: “f bc=y” for economy and “f bc=j” for biz

  • Jonny says:

    Has anyone received a GHIC card yet?

    I applied at the beginning of the year as my EHIC was about to expire. Still nothing.

    (yes, I know I’m unlikely to need it in the near future, but I’m just curious).

    • Doc says:

      Not yet. Apparently was processed end of December but still no sign of it. They are blaming Royal Mail and told that it will arrive soon. Let’s see what happens.

  • Tarmohamed says:

    Is there any route where I can change my AUH-LHR flights to be AUH-EUROPE-LTN ? Trying to avoid LHR immigration queues.

    • Jonathan says:

      That won’t work when e-gates are closed & everyone made to go through a manned desk. EU is no different to RoW now & even pre Brexit we weren’t part of Schengen.

      • The real John says:

        Luton has fewer flights than Heathrow, but it all depends on how many officers are on duty

    • ChrisC says:

      Which airline?

      Do they fly AUH – Other Europe Airports? Do they allow free / low cost change of destination?

      Then what airlines fly from there to LTN?

      Seems a load of faff

      • lumma says:

        Especially considering he’ll have to enter wherever EUROPE is and deal with whatever their current immigration policy is to presumably switch to a LCC to fly to Luton

  • QwertyKnowsBest says:

    IC Ambassador question. Like others I had membership and free night voucher extended last year. Now membership due for renewal and I guess the free night voucher about to expire. Anyone had any success obtaining extensions to either, or should I let lapse, write off the voucher and consider rejoining as and when?

    • Genghis says:

      As I posted the other day, do the 6 month free extension – see AMB terms. Then get again when you need it. As no 10% rebate option now, there’s no need to keep it going if you have no stays.

    • ChrisC says:

      With both the 2 and six month extensions (6 only offered if you’ve been AMB for a couple of years and both are once only offers) it’s only your membership that’s extended not the certificate.

      My Amb renewal is due 1st Marxh so considering if / when to renew now or start again later in the year. I’m only eligible for the 2 month extension.

      • Phil W says:

        So I took Genghis’ advice and applied for the 6 month extension and it was accepted. Both my expiry and AMB Free Night Certificate were extended by 6 months. The later might’ve been a mistake but it’s showing in my account.

  • YFP says:

    HI there,

    I’m looking for some advice on the most efficient way to open AMEX credit cards for my wife and I. The priority is to maximise the number of bonus points we can collect and get the 241 BA voucher as quickly as possible to allow us to make a redemption for summer 2022. (We’ve just remortgaged for 3 years so happy to take a few hits to credit score). The restrictions i’m working with at the moment is that I have had only an AMEX Gold card for the last 2 years (my wife has never had any) and ideally can only spend on one card at a time for the bonus spend. This is my proposed plan, can someone critique?

    1) Open Nectar AMEX for my wife (Question: With an AMEX Gold card, can i refer her to the Nectar AMEX? Don’t think so)
    2) Once spending for bonus points reached on Wife’s nectar, open a BAPP AND ARCC for myself to keep my MR points and close my Gold card (Question: Will i still get the bonus on the BAPP card even though i have my Gold card?)
    3) Once i’ve reached the £10k for the 241 card, refer my wife for the BAPP. At this point, i am hoping to have redeemed all MR points to Avios to use the 241 and then close out all my AMEX cards to start the 24 month timer. Long term plan will be spend on the wife’s BAPP as a supplementary card holder until the 24 months is almost complete..
    4) A few months before my timeline expires, wife opens Platinum card to get the bonus points there, and then get referred for the Platinum card for myself to get the bonus for myself

    Does this plan make sense? The only other thing i can think of is whether I should get the Platinum before the BAPP, but that delays the 241, so happy to forfeit Platinum bonus points.

    • dezbez says:

      Hi YFP – not sure if you saw this article the other day, but well worth reading and may help you determine your optimal strategy:

      • YFP says:

        thanks, seen the article and has been really helpful. I was a bit confused with the fact that I have a gold card now, but think it all makes sense

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      1) yes
      2) yes
      4) which timeline are you talking about? No plat sign up bonus for you for 2 years from the date you close all MR earning cards. If you are waiting 2 years after closing all cards, why not start from fresh as per Rob’s article?

      • YFP says:

        perfect, thanks BBB. I thought I could get plat bonus, but re reading the article, should have been obvious that I cant. in that case, I think the only one I can get is the BAPP, then start the 2 year reset once I’ve gotten the 241. can finally get into the points game, so really excited!

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.