Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Wednesday 27th 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)

  • Andrew says:

    Looks like hotel quarantine will only be for those arriving from high risk areas. But that the list of high risk areas can be extended where needed, so it would be similar to the old travel corridor system where at a moment’s notice the government can say the place you are currently on holiday in is now high risk and you face hotel quarantine on your return unless you manage to get on a flight today etc.

    • Yuff says:

      As long as they enforce it properly along with the negative PCR tests or whichever test they choose to recommend to gain entry.
      If the toughen up border security rather than expect people to comply with advice they may be more successful.

      • Blenz101 says:

        How can they enforce it? The UK is not Australia or NZ, it is not self sufficient and therefore closing the border is not an option.

        I see no way that the government will be able to accurately determine arriving passengers travel history unless they are expecting border agents to go through every stamp in a passport and piece a timeline together to check if arriving passengers may have been in an affected country. Further complicated by those with residency visas who would not be stamped on entry or exit in any event.

        They have also ruled out tagging people. Will the hotels be under police guard to prevent guests exiting? You can already break the existing 10 day home quarantine to attend a funeral.

        Also a farce that these arriving lepers to be quarantined will have been on a plane, potentially packed airside bus, long immigration queue with hundreds of passengers who don’t require the same treatment.

        If they were serious about this they could have spent the last year working out a way to adapt the system for released prisoners and given people a tamper proof tag to check they were staying at home.

        What is currently proposed will rely on people declaring honestly on their passenger locator forms. They may catch a few out and fine them £500 but most people will easily work around any half baked system.

        • Tracey says:

          “Most people will easily work around a half baked system”
          I would hope that most people would follow the rules, this isn’t a game. Maybe if “most people” had followed the home isolation rules, reported to be at only 20%, the government wouldn’t have needed to introduce more draconian measures.

          • Andy says:

            Maybe if the Govt hadn’t messed up Test and Trace we wouldn’t be in this mess. As always some people will just blame other people and absolve those in charge

          • Andrew says:


          • Blenz101 says:

            That is my point. It’s already clear that people will not follow the rules. It’s also fairly obvious that without mandatory quarantine for ALL arrivals at any port of entry the system is unenforceable.

            Also, don’t forget to add in many ex-pats and local culture for some of the countries affected having a different attitude to ‘rules’. Getting an edge is an art for some, a sense of entitlement is true for others.

            The proposed quarantine may stop a few people heading down to the Algarve from the UK but it really isn’t going to secure the border from any new strains entering the country.

        • Yuff says:

          If it isn’t fit for purpose then it should not be implemented.
          Any rules to protect the country are only as good as the weakest link to break them.
          Look what happened in Guernsey at the weekend where there have been hardly any cases but because they have trusted people to isolate, admittedly under the threat of massive fines, one person has led to 62 cases in 4 days and the island being locked down.
          The government should either do it properly or not at all, but negative tests that are enforced go a huge way to sorting out the issue and as far as I am aware, unless they falsify documentation, they can’t get in. The border has already been tightened up hugely this month.

          • David S says:

            We can’t keep illegal immigrants out after many years trying so it’s never going to work completely or for ever. Can you imagine the gossip in Calais – come to the U.K. and stay in a hotel for 10 nights with 3 meals a day all on the U.K. taxpayer

          • kitten says:

            exactly, Yuff

        • Paul says:

          It is not only entirely possible for the UK to close it border but it is an urgent matter of public health that it does. The partial closure is insane as most people on this forum would understand. Many people transit third countries and more when flying. How do you pick up South African originating travellers if they have flown via Frankfurt on a separate ticket!!

          Had air travel had been stopped in the same way as OZ and NZ we would not have more than 100,000 dead and a crippled economy. The gov could have supported aviation as they are in NZ and OZ, limited arrivals in the same way and enforced self paid quarantine.

          The difficulty would have been sea borders and the ports. I would argue that with earlier action, a focus on border closure and quarantine and use of local authorities to manage test and trace then the resources would have been available to manage the sea borders better.
          Personally I would happily forego strawberries in December and some other imports if it could have allowed our lives to be more like those in OZ and NZ right now. Nor are they alone. Vietnam, Singapore Japan, Korea Hong Kong all have substantially lower rates of fatality as a result of well planned, resourced and competent delivery of their responses. Indeed the Singapore / Korea model is one we sold them in the early 90’s when we led the world in pandemic planning.

          10 years of Austerity, a deliberate ignoring of the number 1 risk on every national risk register combined with a focus on internal Tory bickering and Brexit planning has led us to where we are now.

          Had Johnson attended to COBRA as well as he attended to his matrimonial status and personal affairs, he would not be looking a a legacy of death and economic misery for generations to come.

          • Yuff says:

            Lol isn’t hindsight fab

          • Rob says:

            Realistically, Paul, the UK is going to have exceptionally low death rates in 2022-2030, because all covid has done is kill people who were about to die anyway. Hence the average age of death of 82 vs the normal UK average age of death of 81.

            Remember I used to part-own Britain’s 2nd biggest funeral group ….. I ‘do’ death rates (or at least did).

            Like it or not, if you’re a typical HfP reader you’re also very likely to have a cushy London job where you’ve been receiving 100% of your salary for the last year and been saving a fortune due to no spending on clothes / travel / commuting / going out. Ironically the HfP reader who has seen the biggest fall in their income is probably me.

          • Tiff says:

            Rob, it’s totally misleading to say “Hence the average age of death of 82 vs the normal UK average age of death of 81.” 81 is the life expectancy AT BIRTH. The life expectancy of an 82 year old woman is another 9 years, to age 91. There is a calculator on the ONS website.

          • dezbez says:

            It being the #1 risk on the register but the Govmnt not seemingly having any playbook or mitigation plan in place to manage the risk should it crystallise is easily the biggest failing IMO. Everything we’ve done has been reactive, trying to catch up and it’s generally been inadequate/ineffective as a result.
            (That’s not a political comment, that’s me speaking objectively as a risk practitioner btw.)

          • ken says:

            “UK is going to have exceptionally low death rates in 2022-2030”

            The current 100k deaths spread over 9 years is barely a dent over on the annual UK deaths of 600k a year.

            In a couple of years it would be hard to spot it.

            This even before the tail of excess deaths due to delayed cancer diagnosis etc,

          • Rob says:

            The strength of the annual flu pandemic makes a noticeable difference. If you pull up the accounts for Dignity you will see how it impacts annual profits.

          • kitten says:

            Tiff is correct and as well, ‘mortality drag’ is going to kick in for those who survive 2022 and beyond as well.

            A fascinating but morbid topic, this. Is anyone else feeling queasy?

          • James H says:

            That’s an horrendously callous thing to say, Rob. You’d well to think about your choice of words when discussing such a sensitive and appauling topic.

          • Rob says:

            That’s how it is. Life has a value attached it. The NHS won’t treat you if fixing you up costs more than £x – hence the number of cancer drugs which the NHS won’t prescribe. The Government won’t spend £x million on some road safety improvements if it won’t save y lives. It won’t impose extra safety costs on manufacturers if extra cost per life saved is more than £y. You may not like the idea but that is how the world works.

            In the same way, the Government will accept a level of covid deaths as the price required to reopen the economy. These are simply statements of fact, it isn’t even contentious.

          • Rhys says:

            We already answer all your emails and comments for free!

          • Rob says:

            We let you book hotels via our Virtuoso agent for free too!

            Once we’re back in the office, you’re also welcome to swing by for a free WeWork coffee (or beer) – as many readers do – no subscription required 🙂

        • The real John says:

          People on UK visas get stamped when entering the UK (unless the egates are on and they have the appropriate passport). They don’t get the visitor’s stamp which says “leave to remain for 6 months”

  • The Lord says:

    Seems sensible. The NZ strategy isn’t sustainable. Look at the flap they’ve got themselves in this week over one case in the community. I don’t see how they can return to any form of normal, even with the vaccine, when they have zero appetite for risk.

    • ken says:

      when you say ‘any form of normal’ what do you mean ?

      Seems pretty normal in NZ if you can eat out, drink, watch sport and travel domestically.

      Oh to have their problems

      • The real John says:

        Was going to say this, NZ is probably closest to “normal” except that 1 case causes an “overreaction” (but this is sort of justified).

    • Oh! Matron! says:

      Dying of Covid isn’t sustainable, so I know which problem I’d rather have right now.

      • Rob says:

        8-20,000 per year die of flu in the UK and no-one seems too bothered. The public will presumably accept ‘sustainable’ covid deaths at that level.

        • Andrew says:

          Absolutely – and Chris Whitty said that the other day – Covid will always be here, we just need to get to a death rate which is tolerable, which at the moment it’s not. And that’s also for our citizens to be able to freely travel to other places – we need to be down to a similar level to other countries for that to happen.

        • mvcvz says:

          Absolutely 100% correct. Why can so few people understand this remarkably simple issue?

          • The real John says:

            Because SARS-CoV 2 can put people in ICU for weeks while you usually recover or die from the flu quite quickly.

          • BS says:

            Because it is not (and never has been) about the death rate. It is about hospital/ITU availability and occupancy. Unlike flu which has a crisis relatively early on in the illness (ie you will die or get better quickly), Covid has a lag where it is your immune response later that does the damage. This takes time to treat and uses up immense amounts of medical resources.
            Using up 100% ITU availability means all the elective work, the cancer work etc. all stops, and collateral mortality and morbidity is high.
            Unless you are prepared to let Covid sufferers just die on the streets (which is political suicide, as well as denying care you could theoretically provide), this disease means it is wildly different to any flu comparison.

          • Oh! Matron! says:

            Thank you BS for putting into words what I couldn’t. Flu doesn’t leave you with the myriad of mental and physical conditions that Covid does. Have a look at the need for lung transplants in the US for the last year



        • Tony says:

          Its not the death, its the “long” suffering that will be a problem with this for years. That’s the real worry.

      • Paul says:

        Hear Hear!

        • James H says:

          On this subject I’m afraid Rob is an unfeeling automotron, and I fear you’re talking to brick wall.

  • SwissJim says:

    Can’t top up Revolut with IHG card this morning. Anyone else have the same problem?

    • Sprout says:

      Yep, on 2 different accounts. Is the party over?

    • Michael says:


      • Tom says:

        If only we had been more obscure with our code words.

        • Blenz101 says:

          Would be more concerned about your account appearing to be be used in a genuine way and and having proof of source of funds if asked than code words used here.

          When a previous loophole (back in 2018) was plugged it was followed with a wave of account closures. Discussed and complained about elsewhere, clause 19.1 is cited and they wouldn’t at the time overturn permabans.

          Could just be a technical glitch this morning but, if you are keeping cash in the account I would consider moving it until things settle.

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Are you going direct or via curve?

      • Sprout says:


        • Secret Squirrel says:

          Have you tried removing Ihg card details and re entering them again? I had a decline a few weeks back, deleted & re entered and worked again.

          • Sprout says:

            Yep, still not working. Are you able to top up Rev direct? Are you using the paid or free card? (Neither work for me) thx

          • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

            +1 here not able to top up the Revolutionaries direct from the Creationists 🙁
            My sample size is two different card accounts which have both worked in the last 7 days

          • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

            Update – managed a direct transfer from Creationists to Revolutionaries later in the day so I’m going with the IT issue theory for now…

    • DT says:

      Just tested this and it’s working for me

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Good to know, best to leave it until tomorrow

        • Sprout says:

          Seems to be working OK now for revolut. I’ve successfully loaded funds onto two different accounts. Haven’t tried curve though.

  • AndyW says:

    Getting issues with curve, creation this morning, saying reached card limit (curve card limit), other cards working fine. Anyone had anything similar?

    • AndyW says:

      Using another linked card works fine, I should clarify

    • Lee says:

      Seems party is over. Can use bendy with IHG anywhere else except ernie

    • Simon says:


    • Alan says:

      I have had the same for a week now trying to. Pay HMRC vis IHT Curve.

    • Lula says:

      I had to call Creation about another issue and they said there’s an IT problem today that should be resolved by the end of the day. Hoping it is that and not a permanent thing!

      • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

        Phew – let’s hope so Lula! Fingers crossed…

      • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

        And thanks for posting 🙂

      • Sprout says:

        Thanks for posting Lula. Hopefully they sort it out soon my seagulls are starving!;-)

      • JonD says:

        This sounds right. I had Tesco delivery call me this morning unable to take a payment from my Creation card so a general IT problem rather than a specific block.

        • Jonathan says:

          General IT problem or they’re working on a solution to the MS? Presumably wouldn’t be that hard to just block Government Services MCC & knock out Ernie/HMRC?

          It’s interesting that my decline has just flagged up as reached Curve limit when it will allow a payment to a different underlying card. That’s not the normal pattern with IHG when you hit the limits for financial services etc so clearly whatever it is is slightly out of the ordinary.

        • memesweeper says:

          Good grief — hope that’s true

      • kitten says:

        hmmm many ‘IT problems’ turn out to be system undergoing a negative adjustment so any practitioners are not necessarily going to find that things return as previous.

  • Simon D says:

    Morning! I was just wondering if anyone had any experience of retention offers for the Amex Rewards Gold Card please? The current on-card offers really aren’t working for me so I’m thinking about downgrading to a free one.

    • BS says:

      Absolutely nothing for me and account now closed. Others have reported double MRs for 3 months

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      It is about 50/50 if you’ll be offered anything. The usual routine is:
      1) Amex agent lists all the benefits of the card (I tell them to stop, I already know all this)
      2) You’ll loose any points in the account (just say I am thinking about it, will transfer out in a min if you can’t make it work for me)
      3) Would you like a free downgrade or to pay the fee in monthly instalments? (Monthly instalments doesn’t change the fact it is not a good option for you at present)
      4) 5k MR for 1k spend in 3 months OR 10k MR for 2.5k spend in 3 months OR 2 additional points per £ (Back in the summer I got to choose which one I wanted)

    • Harry T says:

      I received two additional MR per £ in October. For three months.

    • MD says:

      I rang in November expecting to be offered either two additional MR/£, or 10k MR for £2.5k spend as widely reported here. Rather surprisingly I was offered 10k MR straight off, for zero spend which I accepted. Hadn’t heard of that one being offered recently.

    • Hotelier says:

      Was on the phone with agent in Brighton last evening to check on retention offers for Gold card. We are on first year and Just had hit the £15k spend for the 10k MR on renewal date but still 6 months until then so had no hopes however was gladly surprised. As mentioned above was listed the benefits ( hotel collection almost made me laugh with the current lockdown) and then was mentioned that that’s what the £15k spent is for . I told him I was looking into cancel all Amex as currently not much spend and do a 24 month gap and was willing to forfeit the anniversary bonus unless there was some kind of offer , maybe double points or the sorts. Ended up being offered the £2.5k spend for 10k MR in 3 months which to be fair was better that I was expecting.

    • memesweeper says:

      Business Gold has a bit more flex in terms of offers for retention, but you must call M-F 9-5. Definitely worth asking in my experience.

  • s says:

    about to transfer some points to Amex to Singapore Krisflyer but its from a family member’s amex account. I know BA, Virgin etc go through fine is the surname matches. Any anecdotes on SQ transfer?

    • meta says:

      It will go through. However, if SQ does an audit they’ll remove the points and it will take months to get them back to Amex.

      • Danny says:

        SQ can be very strict. There’s a post somewhere on flyertalk from someone who had their Krisflyer account frozen after transferring in from their husband’s Amex. Even when I transferred in miles from my own CC account, I still had my Krisflyer account temporarily blocked by their audit team until I provided further proof that these really were my miles.

        • meta says:

          I transferred some points to my partner’s account about 3 years ago to have enough for two tickets in Suites. It went through. A few days later SQ did an audit, just asked for ID. They then unblocked the account very quickly, but removed the points. It was the first time I did it, so despite this not being allowed, they agreed to notify Amex that the transaction could not be processed their end. It took us 4 months to get it back. I kept calling SQ and Amex once a week. I also couldn’t close my Amex card. The only upside after all ordeal was that I got a substantial compo from Amex in form of extra MR points because Amex did actually receive the notification from SQ about two weeks after the audit, but they just couldn’t be bothered to process it.

          • s says:

            Damn, I wish a waiting a while to get replies before doing the transfer! I’ll book the flight as soon as the points arrive and hope they won’t cancel the flight. Its a star alliance redemption, flying in 4 weeks time so plenty of opportunity for them to cancel/create a mess. Great!

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      I tried this just before Christmas from my International Dollar account to Mrs Trotter’s KrisFlyer account. The transfer initially worked (perhaps because surnames match) but it was quickly queried and they reversed and applied to my own KrisFlyer number instead…

  • Nigel W says:

    Random question, but does anyone know if the Amex Platinum Corporate Card only allows lounge access via Priority Pass? The website seems very unclear.

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Are you referring to Plat business? Corp card is different and the benefits would be approved by your employer?

  • Blindman says:

    Anyone know how long bonus and points and normal points post from Ebay?

    Need a very small amount to get past the 1600 hurdle.


    • LewisB says:

      I had some points post this morning from a purchase on Sunday. It’s great that you still earn nectar points from eBay when using a voucher produced from nectar points itself!

      • Rob says:

        I don’t think Sainsbury’s does this (you don’t earn when you spend Nectar points) which makes eBay a MARGINALLY better redemption.

      • Andrew says:

        I was surprised at that too – used a voucher and still earned points and the points posted within 48 hours.

        • Andrew says:

          Although note that points are awarded on the product price not on any postage fees.

          • Jonathan says:

            As the way nearly loyalty schemes exclude delivery charges from earning rewards, apart from Amazon Prime for instance where free next day delivery on most products is part of the package

    • Jonathan says:

      Don’t forget that you only earn 300 base points per eligible item on eBay, so buying a new smartphone that costs £500, will only give you 300 nectar points, you will however be eligible to earn more bonus points if there’s an offer available. The system of earning points on eBay with higher value items isn’t as straight forward as it used to be and can easily catch many unaware shoppers out

    • Andrew says:

      Have you checked the Nectar App?

      I get about 20 offers a week, the ones showing now are:-

      4pt Milk – 60
      Breaded Ham – 120
      Titty buns – 60
      Cappelleti – 60
      Honeydew Melon – 90
      Sausage Rolls – 50
      Cake – 60
      Coleslaw – 30
      Strawberries – 120
      Crisps – 50
      Orange Juice – 40
      R&R Mango – 90
      Gnocchi – 90
      Tortilla Chips – 30
      Pizza – 150
      Jam – 100
      Dates -120
      Steak pie – 90
      Yoghurt – 50

      So that’s a potential 1460 Nectar points.

      Now, I don’t buy 4pt bottles of milk, and only buy strawberries when they are in season in the UK, but everything else is trolley basics so that’s going to be 1280 bonus Nectar points this week.

      Bonus points from Sainsbury’s shopping are credited instantly to the Nectar Account.

      • Darren says:

        2 questions –
        Which cake and what are titty buns?!

        • Andrew says:

          Cherry Madeira slab. So that’ usually about £1.

          White icing, cherry in the middle.


          It’s like those “magic eye” pictures of years ago, if you can’t see it, you can’t see it.

          • AJA says:

            😀 That reminds me of a story my father used to tell. In the early 1970s we travelled on the Windsor Castle ship from Southampton to Cape Town. En route there was a fancy dress party and the winning entry was two guys who pushed a pram that contained two blancmange each topped with cherry.
            No one could guess what they were.
            They explained that they were two men walking abreast.

          • Darren says:


      • Mr(s) Entitled says:

        No.3: new one for me. I guess you do learn something every day.

        • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

          For some reason I am picturing the round ones with icing and a cherry on top (two side-by side obviously…)

      • Alexis says:

        When do the weekly offers update?

      • meta says:

        I get new Sainsbury’s offers on Wednesday. It seems that the old offers are still valid. Some are for the same product, although different amounts of Nectar. Do they that stack?

      • Wollhouse says:

        Lol- I had exactly the same question! And then thought as Guernsey. God, we’re all bored stiff aren’t we? Ha ha Andrew, clearly you need to answer!

        • Super Secret Stuff says:

          Yes they stack on the VERY rare occasion both offers are eligible. Normally my bonuses post on a Friday, I think it is random which weekday it happens for you. Normally offers are valid for 8 or 9 days, so I can regularly use 2 weeks of offers in one hit at the weekend

          • The real John says:

            That doesn’t really change anything unless you only want to go shopping every 14 days.

          • AJA says:

            My new offers arrive on a Wednesday. They last for 9 days so I have a couple of days when I can take advantage of both weeks at the same time. I’ve never had duplicated offers on two weeks in a row. I had offers totalling 1450 points this week. I went shopping yesterday and managed a bonus 520 points on £64 spend as some of the offers I don’t actually need so don’t see the point (pun intended) of buying them unnecessarily. With the base points and the double nectar points which will post at some point after 29 April. Still effectively earned 1/3 of the points I transferred to Avios on Monday! Also means that the points earned yesterday are worth 405 Avios which gives a return of 15.8p per Avios!

      • idrive says:

        i only got fish bananas and strawberry on the app, plus some biscuits. how to get them all

      • Aston100 says:

        Are you a regular Sainsburys shopper?
        Did my first decent sized shop in years with them at the weekend, had about 6 bonus points offers totalling around 260 points.
        New ones popped up the other day, again 6 items, but this time for 330 points.
        I do hope the bonus points offers ramp up much faster as this is not really good enough to keep me going to Sainsburys.

        • AJA says:

          If you shop regularly and spend a decent amount you should get more bonus offers. Also often get 10p of per litre of fuel paper vouchers. Yesterday also got a paper voucher with 3x points on my next shop.

        • Andrew says:

          Twice a week.

          I don’t buy much in the way of dinner stuff from them as I have my main meal of the day at lunchtime in the restaurant at work 5 days a week. (Curry and crumble day today).

          So it’s mostly light stuff for tea. Ingredients for soup, cake, sandwich fillers, juice, breakfast cereal, and fresh fruit etc.

          Give them time. They can’t target you with repeat buys and special offers if they haven’t harvested the data from your purchases first.

        • The real John says:

          It took about 4 months of regular use on a new nectar before my offers went from 6 to 20 per week.

      • kitten says:

        I need to know what is a Titty bun.

        • kitten says:

          Ah. Just seen the picture. Got it. Would never have worked it out – obviously I’ve led too refined a life 🙂

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