Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Monday 25th 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.

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 (274)

  • Baji Nahid says:

    I wish all the nectar newbies a lot of good luck with Nectar customer services and their IT when things decide screw up! Lol! (I’m saying this with experience)

    • BJ says:

      Yeah, before all the newbies start getting their knickers in a twist they need to be patient and get to grips with how nectar works. Key here is that when nectar states points will be posted within /after 28 days they more often than not do mean 28 days (+/- 2 or 3) so there is no point harassing them on the phone before that. Also, this usually means 28 days after the expiration date of the offer, not 28 days of your transaction so depending how quickly you use the offer you can be waiting a lot longer than 28 days for the points. Some offers will post quicker than stipulated but this is rare in my experience. I’ve never had a problem with the Sainsbury’s shopping and bonus offers posting quickly. With the 2/3x points for financial products you sometimes need to call (Sainsbury’s not nectar CS) if it has not been applied automatically. Call nectar CS for nectar offers, Sainsbury’s if you are missing shopping points and the bank if you are missing points from financial products. Calling nectar CS about the latter two doesn’t usually help (although I might have a confession I am not going to make!). Calling nectar CS will remind some long term gamers of BMI DC … you need to be patient with them and provide helpful guidance 🙂 Unless things have changed very recently nectar do not appear to collect info on which members are targeted and registered for which offers. At least, if they do then it is not readily accessible to their CSA in my experience. So screenshots are your friend and a must. To nectar’s credit though, I have never failed to get missing points I was owed. Just do the screenshots, keep the receipts and a diary to help the CSA help you and you’ll be fine.

      • EwanG says:

        Good tips.
        Nectar CS have live chat and I’ve found that is a far more effective and efficient way of chasing up missing points. Plus you can send them your saved screenshots via it too!

      • Ali M says:

        Hey BJ – surely thats a lot of working keeping screenshots and having to beg for points? Yes I agree that you have to die for your own heaven but should be pain free and if you have had to chase a few times and God forbid someone didn’t have a screenshot – then Baji is right?

        • EwanG says:

          It’s the exception rather than the norm. When deciding whether to chase up missing points I also factor in time vs benefit! Same as chasing up any other point earning opportunities we have on here…!

          • BJ says:

            Agreed, I’ve had to chase very few offers anyway and most were VTEC. Key is to be patient until 28 days after offer closes before doing anything.

          • Genghis says:

            Yep. I’ve chased for a few Waverley – Haymarket tickets in my time.
            I even physically collected the tickets in the early days (though not required I found out) from Cannon St.

        • kitten says:

          Are you a serious points collector… or not?

          No different than people who used the Tesco scheme did if they were serious. You keep track.

          • BJ says:

            It takes seconds and most just sit there without ever needing a second thought, not onerous at all IMO.

          • Ali M says:

            I think so @ serious point collector x
            But wouldn’t chase 100 nectar points I think.
            thousands – would do. Maybe you are right, not serious enough. ha

  • Mark says:

    As my Amex spending is now very low my MR points are around 20 a week – 90%+ of my card spend is in supermarkets which I pay for using 4% discount supermarket gift cards from a website that only takes MC/Visa. I was using the MR points to convert to Nectar but as it is more beneficial to convert via avios.

    However as the min MR to avios conversion is 1,000 am I better off just getting a free BA Amex or Nextar Amex (free for a year) which don’t have a minimum redemption and scrapping the MR card?

    • Harry T says:

      Obviously depends what you want points for. MR are far more pluripotent. If you just want Avios then the decision is easy.

    • BJ says:

      Consider whether a 2y break from amex and a Sainsbury’s Bank nectar card could work for you.

      • Jonathan says:

        That card has awful earnings outside Sainsbury’s. 1 point per £5 spend is worse than dreadful.

        I don’t know if it’s based on per transaction basis (like Tesco bank cards are) or it’s per statement though

  • Mike says:

    Wow just did the maths my avios balance (1,611,456) is equal to £12,891 in Sainsbury – that is really useful rather than hypothetical / unavailable / unobtainable flights – plus I have no plans / desire (in the current COVID 19 climate) to fly until Easter / Summer 22. I am very happy with Sainsburys and would have turned £5,000 into Nectar today without the monthly limit (which does seem a bit limiting), instead I will convert 50,000 avios to £400 each month to spend in Sainsburys for the next couple of years – I shop in Sainsburys 80 % / Waitrose 20 % anyhow (mainly for the free paper and prior to COVID the free coffee)

    • Andrew says:

      Likewise. It’s a staggering amount of value the Avios I’m sitting on is worth (although somewhat less than yours). No travel plans for the next 12 months so might as well get some value out of them on the ground.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      Well, limits do tend to be limiting…

      But in seriousness this prevents any arbitrage being too costly for either party and does make sense. It also limits as perhaps was well considered, the massive outflow of Avios…

    • Peter K says:

      At per reply on the other chat you posted this. It’s only 13 months to convert your £5000 to Avios, so less time than you thought!

      • mike says:

        Peter K – Thanks, I think I meant I will convert 50,000 avios to £400 each month to spend in Sainsburys for the next couple of years , ie beyond the initial £5,000. I think £400 a month income from AVIOS to spend in Sainsburys is jolly useful use of AVIOS

    • BJ says:

      We discussed this yesterday, I’m considering an investment in Lego Baby Yoda 🙂

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Good, the more avios that leave the system, the better for the remaining members.

      • BJ says:

        In the grand scheme of things avios held by HfP readers is a drop in the ocean so I wouldn’t get too excited.

        • Rob says:

          Assume we have 50,000 regular readers. This is over 1% of the UK Avios accounts. In reality it is more, because most of us control multiple Avios accounts (I oversee 7) so let’s say we are 2.5% of the total.

          A huge percentage of those remaining 97.5% of UK Avios accounts will have very low balances and be effectively dormant. It is also logical that the more Avios you have, the more likely you are to read HfP.

          I reckon that our readers ‘control’ at least 5% of all UK Avios outstanding and probably far more.

          • dezbez says:

            Interesting calculations Rob, if correct (& as you say, it’s probably understated), this means HfP potentially has quite some influence, especially in the case of big news like we’ve recently seen.
            Any thoughts on figures for Virgin FC? Suspect it’s even greater reach as presumably fewer overall accounts than Avios?

          • BuildBackBetter says:

            Also, more importantly the HfP readers are the ones likely to bag the premium seats as soon as they get released. So if there’s one less competition for the same seats that I am trying to get, that’s good for me.

          • BJ says:

            I get all that Rob, not undermining the significance of the HfP community in the UK market. However, are most of the avios pool not in the USA market? I just sort of guessed that they might well be despite the difference in the earning opportunities. Also figured that the overwhelming majority of avios remain in hands of plopke that fail to use them asbwisely as the HfP community.

    • kitten says:

      If I had that many I would make the same decision. The limits exist to cap possible detriment to them from any one account. If too many players cashed out to the max I would expect them to deteriorate conversion rules and conditions so make hay while the sun shines.

      Avios is far, far more likely to devalue or have even higher so-called ‘taxes’ – which should be called ‘co-pay’ – to be used.

    • Jay says:

      Not sure I would want to convert many at a time as all that sits between your cash and being spent is a nine digit account number and a three digit series number converted into a bar code. Drip them through if I were you…. speaking from first hand experience of having a lot of points taken from my account.

  • Anna says:

    Does Amex ever claw back MR bonus points? I’ve hit my £2.5k spend target from last week and the retention bonus10k MR points have posted but the Amex website keeps saying there’s a technical problem when I try and convert them to avios. I’m keen to move them out of my account before a chunky refund hits from my latest BA cancellation!

    • Anna says:

      Scrap that, I’ve managed to do it on an ipad even though laptop keeps saying there are technical difficulties!

    • Rob says:

      Yes, they do clawback.

      • Anna says:

        Seems a bit unfair as I have actually spent the required £2.5k for the bonus points. It would be more logical at this point to add the amount of the refund to this card year’s £15k spend for 10k points (even though this isn’t going to happen as I’ll be closing the card shortly!)

        • James says:

          Its not unfair at all.

          • Nick says:

            I’ve also just had several hundred bonus points clawed back from a flight refund (that originally formed part of the Spend X, Get Y we all had). Not my fault it had to go… but not Amex’s either so I have no comeback (other than to curse their decent IT!)

  • Wally1976 says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned elsewhere but Sainsbury’s pet insurance are offering 7000 Nectar points here: http://www.sainsburysbank.com/PET4W. You need to use the PET4W promo code during the application.

    You also get double base Nectar points on Sainsbury’s spend for holding the policy. Policy has to be kept for 60 days to get the 7000 points and I’m guessing if you cancel the policy after that you lose the double points.

    From a quick search, cheapest premium I could find was nearly £8 a month, unfortunately, and not the £2-3 achievable with Tesco!

    • BJ says:

      Must just have launched, wasn’t there a few days ago. Yes, you lose the 2x points when cancelling,n and for whatever reason I’ve found Sainsbury’s much more efficient at cancelling than applying these offers!

      • Wally1976 says:

        Thanks BJ. I received a voucher in the shop on Saturday which told me about it.

        • kitten says:

          Does it have an end date? just lost one pet, may be replacing soon.

        • BJ says:

          Ah that explains it, if it is a flyer with a code and not obvious on bank site maybe more chance for HfP readers to exploit it before it becomes more widely known. Don’t think I’m eligible but I will check if my parents have taken in a stray or two recently so thanks for posting.

    • Aston100 says:

      Sainsburys pet insurance is quite a bit more than Tesco and others.
      For me, the cheapest cat insurance with minimal cover was about £120 at Sainsburys vs £67 for Tesco version. The Tesco version has a higher claim limit, and a lower excess too!
      Not sure if the 7000 nectar points plus double base points is going to be worth it considering it is still pricier and provides less than the Tesco version.

      • kitten says:

        Tesco was too high priced for my London (Middx) postcode even for my cat kept indoors. So I will be seeing what Sainsbury’s quote me.

        Having said that, my pet just squashed had got out onto the road so perhaps the underwriters of both policies will be pricing correctly.

  • Russel says:

    Do you get rewards for COT ATM withdrawals? Not intended but I did it through curve.

    • Rob says:

      If you do it through Curve then you may well do unless COT is deliberately looking for a particular code on the transaction and blocking it.

  • Martin Clarke says:

    There is (on the Sainsbury’s bank site) a statement saying you can only apply for the Sainbury’s nectar credit card once you’ve held your nectar card for six months. Ive just signed up for nectar, anyone had success convincing them otherwise?

    • Rob says:

      I doubt the offer will go away. I would just sit it out.

      • GaryE says:

        On a similar point reading the Sainsbury’s T&Cs if you have a Sainsburys Mastercard card (which I do) I don’t believe you can apply for the Nectar Card as it states for new customers only.

        • kitten says:

          which is the underlying financial institution for the Sainsbury’s Mastercard and Nectar credit card?

          • lumma says:

            Sainsbury’s Bank

          • Rob says:

            Sainsburys itself. Lloyds used to have 50% but Sainsburys bought it out years ago.

            It is not a crazy idea. Supermarkets are MASSIVELY cash positive because they sell stock within a few days of receiving it but only pay suppliers 4-6 weeks later.

            Sainsburys has revenue of around £30 billion per year. The ‘float’ (money it gets from you before it has to pay suppliers) will average around £2-3 billion on simple maths. If you can use that ‘free’ money to fund a loan book you could do nicely.

          • kitten says:

            You mean Sainsbury’s have got their own banking licence and unlike, say, John Lewis, they are not getting someone like HSBC to run the Sainsbury’s cards?

          • kitten says:

            Ah. just seen your reply Rob. Interesting.

          • kitten says:

            What would have stopped John Lewis from doing the same then?

            I guess Tesco was following the Sainsbury’s model then….as they offered mortgages etc….. wondering why did Tesco give it up as it sounds profitable.

          • Adder says:

            Sainsbury’s holds a banking licence in their own right (as does Tesco). Not sure about JL but M&S is a brand of HSBC (so no distinction, shared FSCS etc.).

            Tesco sold their mortgage book in 2019 due to “challenging market conditions” – low Base Rate and increased competition esp. from bigger player forcing rates (profits) down (https://www.ft.com/content/7feb0c64-ce15-11e9-99a4-b5ded7a7fe3f). The credit card book is likely to be much more profitable.

          • ATMJunky says:

            Tesco Bank and Sainsbury’s Bank have both been around for years. Tesco bought out RBS’ 50% stake in 2009 and Sainsbury’s did the same with LBG back in 2012. Both had 4-5 migration programmes which saw them move away from the underlying RBS and LBG banking and insurance platforms to their own platforms.

            Couple of interesting things to note:

            Tesco and Sainsbury’s have the biggest ATM networks in terms of transactions processed and because both have limited or no current account customers virtually all of those ATM transactions are interchange positive for the TB and SB. With 2020 accelerating the move away from cash usage, this will have impacted upon profitability for both.

            One of the underlying reasons for Tesco and Sainsbury’s to take ownership of their own Bank’s is that they found through analysing Clubcard and Nectar data that holding a TB or SB banking product increased the average basket value of a Tesco or Sainsbury’s customer. The more products they held, the greater the impact on basket value. Increase the incentives through additional points, and again the basket value would increase. The underlying RBS and LBG systems weren’t functionally rich enough to allow Tesco or Sainsbury’s to exploit the data at their disposal as effectively as they would like.

            Finally, it was proven to be true that if you bough curly kale, quinoa and peppermint tea every week… you don’t have car accidents, do SB will give you a fairly chunky car insurance discount for these customers.

        • BJ says:

          Correct, after cancelling you also have to wait so long before you will be accepted for another but I don’t know how long that is. I left a year between applications which was ok, and I can confirm that multiple sign up bonuses are possible (so far anyway).

  • GaryE says:

    Has anyone had any success in the Marriott status match program? They said you would hear back within 10 days if the registration had been approved and I have heard nothing back in over 3 weeks – Hilton Gold to Marriot Platinum Elite?

    • memesweeper says:

      Matched, then secured, late 2020. I heard back within a week. I would very carefully read the T&Cs and reapply with supporting docs that exactly meet the requirements.

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