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The HfP chat thread – Friday 26th February

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We are running 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 (201)

  • Freddy says:

    Amex business gold doubling the points against purchases rate so 20k points = £180 off a purchase according to email just received

  • Globetrotter says:

    My flights to BCN on 3rd March have been cancelled by BA. The inbound has also been cancelled by BA. I wish to book a replacement flight but don’t know when for yet.

    Q: Do I need to book the replacement flight before the outbound date … or can I effectively just leave it as cancelled flights on the system until I know when I am going to fly?

    Grateful for any views / experience on this. Thx.

    • AJA says:

      You can leave it until you’re ready. You have up to 6 years to decide what to do. Even if it was only the inbound cancelled that would apply although in that case you would be advised to inform BA you wouldn’t take the outbound to avoid being marked as a no show.

  • Aston100 says:

    Hello does anyone have an idea of current turnaround times on passport renewals?
    I’ve got 3 months left on mine.

    • Anna says:

      I did one about 6 months ago before covid cases started to rise again and put the brakes on travel – it took 2-3 weeks. I can’t imagine the passport office is unusually busy just now as well.

      • Aston100 says:

        Great thanks. I’ll give it another month or so.

      • ChrisBCN says:

        Was that your new Spanish passport? I’m keen to know how long they are taking right now.

        • lgflyer says:

          If you renew them in Spain they process them in 5 minutes. It’s actually a really good service and it just costs 30€. Brits should learn…

          • Optimus Prime says:

            On the other hand if you need to renew it on the Spanish consulate you have to attend in person and they have a 6-months backlog 🙂

          • KBuffett says:

            Even whilst they are asleep mid afternoon?

        • Anna says:

          I don’t think that information would have helped Aston100, so no!

    • AJA says:

      My other half did it earlier this month. Did it online which involves taking a face photo on your smartphone and uploading it to the website, you get a unique reference number which you quote in the address on the envelope containing the old passport you take to the post office and send by recorded delivery.Total cost was about £85 including courier delivery of old passport back again.

      New passport delivered to house by courier in under 2 weeks from application and including a 2 day delay before actually going to the post office to post the passport. Old passport delivered by the same courier 6 days later.

    • maccymac says:

      I just did it last week and it took a week (I did post out my old passport via special delivery however).

      I imagine as confidence grows and more people realise they need to renew passports as they are booking new holidays the return times may get slightly longer

    • ant says:

      we applied for passport renewal in January. Super easy applied & did photo online, then sent old passport in after that took a week to get new passport and another 3 days to get old one.

    • Peter Mc says:

      Just renewed my UK passport. Online application using the code from a photo booth.
      Took just over a week from my old passport being sent off.

      • Yuff says:

        As opposed to getting an Irish passport who have decided not to process any applications for 4 months……

    • Tracey says:

      Passport turn around was less than 24 hours when I renewed mine at the beginning of January.

    • Liz says:

      I did mine and my daughters this month – took 10 days from application using mobile phone photo.

  • TomD says:

    Should a retailer in the EU be charging me for VAT with the UK out of the EU now? Historically, some websites remove the 19-20% VAT automatically at checkout if it is shipped out of the EU.

    • AJA says:

      Yes. They are obliged to register for UK VAT and include it in the price if the goods cost less than £135. If over that price you will have to pay customs duties and VAT on import to the UK. Note VAT is chargeable on the customs duties which are not the same thing as import tariffs, which depending on the item may also be charged on top.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        So it’s not a clear yes as over £135 they shouldn’t be charging VAT should they?

        • AJA says:

          It is a clear yes on VAT either way, just not EU VAT. You are charged UK VAT even on orders below £135. The difference is that it is included within the price up to £135 whereas over £135 you are required to pay it to HMRC rather than the supplier. You are still charged VAT.

          What is clear is that they should not be charging EU VAT in addition but as I said below some unscrupulous traders appear to do that as well so you get a double whammy.

          I think TomD was asking whether you should now see a saving of at least 19% by buying from the EU. The answer is you won’t.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Not trying to be difficult but to answer the ops question “ Should a retailer in the EU be charging me for VAT with the UK out of the EU now?”

            It’s yes if it’s under £135 and no if it’s over £135.

            It’s a no over £135 because the specifically asked what the supplier should charge and not what you should pay to HMRC on import.

        • Tim says:

          I’ve ordered many things from and companies in the EU since January 1st. It is £135 of items before delivery and VAT – as long as the company is registered with UK VAT number. If you goto or or website you will see: orders under £135 get VAT charged at 20%. Orders above have zero VAT, but then you are liable to import VAT and customs – just as before. It’s a combination of new domestic rules as a consequence of Brexit [ordering from outside EU before, the limit was £18 – now it as £135] and pan-European rules [e.g.: the BBC ran an incredibly uninformed article about how smaller sellers had to register for UK VAT as a consequence of Brexit and how ‘outrageous’ that was – however this will also be applied throughout Europe later this year.] The UK did not delay its implementation as made sense to do so on January 1st. The new regime is generally an improvement as long as the item you want costs less than £135. Even for an item at £1,000 the increase in cost is only about 2% and typical £10 import fee by courier.

    • AJA says:

      Also check if you do pay UK VAT on import that they have excluded the EU VAT from the price they quote. Some unscrupulous traders charge both EU and UK VAT.

      • Tim says:

        This is more likely a consequence of the change in VAT rules across the EU which the EU have delayed and the UK have applied, not necessarily unscrupulous traders. There is a big negative about the new rules though: if you buy a used item, for example on eBay in Germany or in the US, then eBay now automatically charge 20% VAT on top. So, secondhand items [where VAT has been paid] are now being double economically taxed. But again, that’s a UK thing – it is part of the global clampdown against digital selling and tax avoidance, plus the new EU VAT regime.

    • ChrisBCN says:

      I’m afraid it’s a whole lot more complicated now, but in the majority of cases you shouldn’t be asked to pay VAT twice on the same product (but you need to pay VAT on any import fees etc arising from the UK side)

    • TomD says:

      Thanks all. I bought clothing from this website which says VAT are included. So I shouldn’t be paying VAT on both sides. Will take it up with the retailer if I am asked to pay the courier when it arrives next week.

      • Tim says:

        If the total value of the package before VAT and delivery was £135, AND the seller is registered for UK VAT, then in theory it should sail through customs. And this is happening. If you buy ten items at £134 each before VAT, and they are individually sent, the same. If the package has one item of more than £135, or the total package value is more than £135 [before delivery and VAT] then the seller should zero rate the package and you’ll be charged import VAT, plus about 2%, plus about £10 courier handling. It makes items in the US and Japan with a value of less than £135 significantly easier to import -as long as the seller is registered for UK VAT.

      • Tim says:

        The exception, for example, is buying secondhand items on eBay. or will now charge VAT on top of the winning price – irrelevant of whether the seller is VAT registered with the UK or not. And equally, if you are selling from the UK to the U.S. for example, the same. And this is more to do with digital selling and tax avoidance – OECD stuff – than domestic tax regimes. All three [Brexit, changes to VAT across Europe involving destination, plus digital selling] have all happened at the same time pretty much. It is not all Brexit related.

  • BJ says:

    Vaccination priority to continue according to age, not profession, in the next phase:

    • AJA says:

      Makes sense to me.

    • Aston100 says:

      Many of the staff at the local schools around here managed to get their jabs in the past fortnight, despite the government seemingly opposed to teachers getting vaccinated.
      Not sure if the vaccination centre staff were not doing their due diligence properly, or if they were sympathetic.

      • Anna says:

        They must have had appointments though, or were using up left over vaccine doses? I think on balance it doesn’t matter who’s actually getting jabs as long as they are getting in arms as fast as possible – we all benefit from every vaccination administered.

        • Aston100 says:

          They had appointments (booked online).
          There were some slightly vague categories such as nursery worker that they cited when arriving at some of the centres.
          However, some weren’t even asked about their occupation – they just rocked up and were given the jab.
          Only one was turned away out of the dozens that we know of.

          I do find it odd that teachers (especially primary school) aren’t officially being prioritised, given they are with young children who are in school because their parents are key workers that are still going into work and mixing with others, thus potentially causing a risk downstream into school.

          • Anna says:

            I agree it would have been a really good idea to vaccinate as many teachers as possible over half term. Instead ridiculous amounts of time and money are being spent staggering the return to schools and providing for twice-weekly testing for teachers and students. It’s just bizarre, like the government is making every effort not to vaccinate teachers. Though I suppose if teachers were prioritised, other groups like the police would be being unfairly treated (though lots of police are getting left over vaccines as well by all accounts).

          • Red Flyer says:

            Teachers are the new miners for this generation of tories, hence why no mass vaccination to protect them.

      • Craig says:

        There is some leeway at a local level to use vaccination doses up rather than waste them. For example they are getting 1170 doses from a Pfizer tray, once it’s delivered to a GP it has to be used within 3 days. It also can’t be split and delivered to multiple centres. We have been vaccinating firefighters and police officers on an ad hoc basis at the end of the sessions. The combined emergency service HQ is round the corner.

        • Anna says:

          By coincidence, my OH has just messaged me that he has been offered a left over vaccine at end of clinic today in our local vaccination centre. This is great news as he has to attend murder scenes and other public-contact roles as part of his job and is also over 50. It will also mean he’s hopefully less likely to bring the virus home to me and our son, who could then take it into school (from next week) and spread it to his friends and teachers … !

      • Tracey says:

        In theory, going to a GP led clinic should mean that the GP has made the appointment, so the patient is eligible. Going to a mass vaccination centre means you have booked your own appointment online, so the centre should check eligibility. Both those systems work well. Then you have the pharmacies that have set themselves up to be mini vaccination centres, they are paid per vaccine given, so if they diligently check each appointment they lose money for anyone they turn away. There is one near me that will probably give a jab to anyone with a heart beat!

    • Rhys says:

      Frustrating for teachers, but presumably this is because we still don’t know how effective the vaccines are against transmission? At present, we know the vaccines are effective against severe disease, and so those who are most likely to suffer from severe disease are being prioritised.

      That makes the fact that schools/teachers might be a transmission vector quite irrelevant. If a particular teacher is more at risk then they will get the vaccine in line with their priority group. If not, then the risk of severe disease is statistically less likely and the logic is that that vaccine dose is more effective at preventing deaths somewhere else.

      It’s a question of the opportunity cost of vaccinating teachers vs vaccinating someone else.

      • Magic Mike says:

        …and I believe teachers are statistically at lower risk of dying from Covid than the average person in the same age cohort. So again, no reason for them to jump the queue.

  • Sal says:

    Looking at buying a new iphone 12. Does anyone know any decent ways of getting money off or earning extra points through portals? thanks

    • lumma says:

      Most amex cards seem to have £50 off a £500 purchase at the moment if you have one. It’s meant to be specially for buying an iPhone 12 but it seems you get it on any purchase from Apple, so people say you can buy 2x£500 gift cards on two different cards and buy the phone with that.

      • Raisa says:

        Has anyone actually tried to buy 2x £500 gift cards with this working?

        Also it seems to target “iPhone 12 Pro” – but I assume I can buy just an iPhone 12 (not the Pro) and get the cashback??

    • Aston100 says:

      I’ve got £50 off a £500 spend on an iphone 12pro on my Amex PRG (no idea how they’ll know what model of iphone you’ve purchased).
      Do you have something like that?

    • KS says:

      What I know applies to employees. Apple has EPP program with many employers that you could check. Another option I know is 8% cashback on Currys gift cards through perksatwork.

  • Youllnever says:

    Does anyone have any recommendation on which non-amex card deals with payment disputes/chargebacks efficiently and well?

    • Aston100 says:

      I’ve had a couple of positive outcomes with Halifax Clarity.
      An s75 and a chargeback.

      They don’t seem to have a webchat facility and the hold times have been quite long recently, but otherwise I’m happy with their customer service.

      It isn’t a points generating card, but I find it very useful when abroad.

      • The real John says:

        You can chat on the app, but calling is more efficient if you get through straight away

    • Travel Strong says:

      Not anything virgin money, convoluted postal process with all the barriers and delays you would expect. Creation bound to be an ordeal also. Unfortunately that takes both of the big rewards earning cc’s out of consideration!

      I suspect the highstreet banks are better generally on this front. No surprise that Halifax Clarity perform week.

      • Travel Strong says:


      • ankomonkey says:

        I waited months and months for a refund for something bought using a Creation credit card as I couldn’t face the prospect of going through a chargeback with them. Maybe I’m being unfair but, as a customer of many years, that is how I perceive their service levels.

      • Lord Doncaster says:

        I have never heard anything positive about Virgin Money. The bank is stuck in the dark ages

        • Magic Mike says:

          +1 not Virgin Money.

        • The real John says:

          Virgin money has some highest interest regular savers which I use; recently a withdrawal was blocked and they required me to travel 1 hour to a branch unnecessarily.

          In the branch despite showing ID, they had to call the call centre who didn’t believe the branch staff and wanted to ask more “security” questions, which I was unable to answer because who memorises the account numbers of an account that they never give out to anybody else??

    • memesweeper says:

      my previous experience with Barclaycard was very good during a dispute.

    • 747_Brat says:

      Curious to know how does HSBC fare on disputes/chargebacks on their Premier cards. Any first hand experience?

      • Mike P says:

        Terrible in a word. I had to do a charge back in relation to flights booked with Egypt Air on the Premier World Elite card. Despite the flights being fully flexible business class flights, Egypt Air refused to refund then. It should have been an open and shut case but took HSBC months to resolve.

    • Alan says:

      I also had a successful claim via Halifax Clarity. It was from Lufthansa when they were refusing refunds on cancelled flights. It took about a month for the money to come back.

    • Jay says:

      Barclaycard are very efficient, all online and hassle free.

  • Ben says:

    Any recommendations for a European cat 1-4 marriott to build a city break around over the summer? needs to have a pool

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