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The HfP chat thread – Thursday 4th March

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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 (293)

  • Scottydogg says:

    As Creation IHG Premium CC are not honouring the free night stay after the £10,000 spend and lots of Head for Points readers struggling to get Creation to sort out this error. Do you think HFP should pull their credit card advertisments off its site ?
    Creation customer service truly is terrible with a 2.7 rating on trustpilot and by reading through the comments you can tell that the positive reviews are written by Creation themselves ! lol

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      The Premium card with the free night voucher is not open to new applicants anymore? Is it still advertised on this site?

    • paul says:

      wow, they got 2.7. I binned this card several year ago as the service was pitiful.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Then you missed out on years of the best non Amex out there by far.

        Who has need to contact customers services that often? I’ve contacted them once while I’ve had it (I’ve had it since launch)

        To OP if they are refusing to honour ask them if it’s their final response before you escalate to the ombudsman. It’s a stated benefit of a financial product so they can’t just wash their hands of it.

      • Rob says:

        Only a handful are having issues with the voucher. You get £150 cash off Creation instead and you will probably get the voucher too in the end.

        Creation have never paid us a penny, ever, for anything.

        • Craig says:

          Got £100 compensation and never got the voucher, if it hadn’t been for the travel restrictions I would have pushed further but I really couldn’t be bothered.

    • James says:

      I got my free night fine, as I have every year. I’ve seen maybe two people comment that they’ve not got the voucher?!
      I’ve had to call them once, unrelated to free nights, and they were efficient and sorted the problem in one go.

    • r* says:

      Have they actively refused to issue it for you?

      I have been waiting 4 months for mine and am getting nowhere with their cs, would the next step be ombudsman?

      • Dan says:

        The first year I got the card it didn’t transfer and had several phone calls with them. I used Resolver and it got sorted fairly quickly with £50 goodwill. Every year since it posts with the anniversary statement points.

        • Janet says:

          I was given the runaround re. free night from both Creation & IHG for months. Took someone’s advice on HFP & e-mailed the CEO’s of both. I ended up with £150 and 70,000 points.

  • AJA says:

    BA is advertising a new Covid antigen test service on LinkedIn. A company called Qured offers rapid antigen tests you pack in your suitcase and take with you on holiday / essential business trip 🙂 and you take the test during a short online consultation with a professional health advisor. Results in 20 minutes. Discounted cost to BA customers of £33.

    https://www.britishairways.com/covid19-tests/

    Not sure how they get the test result as you don’t appear to send the swab anywhere. Also requires access to a good Internet connection at your destination. Interesting idea though.

    • Craig says:

      This will be a lateral flow test, not acceptable for most countries I think. I’m hoping things will change as prevalence reduces and these tests will become useful.

      • Rhys says:

        I’m being a guinea pig for this today 🙂

        • Craig says:

          Mrs S is doing them twice a week, the biggest problem is if not conducted correctly then they aren’t accurate. As she explained to me, if it isn’t chuffing uncomfortable then it’s not far enough in!

      • TGLoyalty says:

        It’s allowed for entering the Uk which is all it should be used for anyway.

    • paul says:

      If it is the Lateral Flow Test then its £33 down the drain. 60% of negative test may not be accurate ( Liverpool surge testing results) and it is only accurate if there is a high viral load. These are the same test being used in schools up until net week. Its a monumental waste of money

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Here’s the thing.

        They aren’t trying to get to 0 Covid they are trying to identify the most infectious walking around but wouldn’t take a PCR as no symptoms. Therefore 40% identified is far better than none. £ vs benefit could be argued as a waste but I’m sure it’s optics for the first few weeks of school. If the positivity rate is extremely low something will change.

        • Rob says:

          They have a cunnning plan though. My daughter has to do 4 tests in her first week. On that basis, if she’s positive one of them may actually work.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            What they will hope is they are all negative and they continue to be negative so they can end mandated mass testing when kids get back from Easter.

          • Aston100 says:

            The schools round here have declared that kids don’t need to do a test, and they will still be allowed into school.
            The only ones who won’t are those that agreed to the tests and then failed a test.

            Sounds bonkers to me. If parents aren’t giving consent for their kids to be tested prior to admittance to school, then the schools should be thinking of the greater good and refusing entry.

          • Rob says:

            You’ve clearly not checked the law recently.

            The Government has said the tests are optional and schools have no power to override this. Neither do local authorities, which technically ‘own’ the schools. A private school might, but not a state school.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            I wasn’t talking about law but each schools view on if they are or aren’t required. which seems to be based on ‘feeling’ rather than ‘fact’

          • Anna says:

            We are supposed to be getting them to do at home so I don’t know if we’ll have to send the test results back to school or what!

      • Rich says:

        The whole idea behind LFTs is that they catch you when you’re at your most infectious. A window of a few days, while the PCR gives a positive result for much longer. You might test neg on a LFT, but pos on a PCR, but the theory is that you are much less likely to be infectious. (Note, not zero).

        It only works as a strategy if we are using LFTs to catch positive cases that we wouldn’t have otherwise caught. Ie, it should be used to *stop* you from doing things – it can’t be used to unlock you (individually) from restrictions.

        • TM says:

          To Anna, home tests for schools… you will only have to let the school know if positive. The uploading of results is all through the app so the school will never know either way unless you tell them.

    • Andrew says:

      According to TLFL it’s suitable for returning to the U.K. which is the point of it – you take it with you and do it while you’re away to save looking for a testing centre etc.

  • fivebobbill says:

    Delighted to say I’ve managed the extra 11 (22) nights to trigger Platinum in the Marriott “double” promo this week, so looking forward to some rewarding stays again – once we’re allowed to leave the country! On receiving my Platinum welcome email yesterday I was also pleasantly surprised to see a link to select my “additional” benefit, for achieving 50 nights.
    On clicking the link however, the Marriott page is displaying the following message:

    “COMING SOON: MORE CHOICE”
    “Members with at least 50 eligible nights in 2021 will be able to select their 2021 benefit soon.
    The 2020 Annual Choice Benefit deadline has expired. However, we’ll unveil our 2021 Annual Choice Benefit options soon and invite eligible members via email to select the benefit that suits them best.”

    Couple of questions.
    Is there something else going on here, or does it usually take until March for this page to update?
    I assume this is the 5 suite nights benefit we’re talking about here, if so and it is indeed coming my way, can someone tell me how it actually works in practice?

    TIA

    • Rob says:

      Yes, Marriott doesn’t activate the option until mid way in the year. Remember we are only 65 days into 2021 so in normal circumstances virtually no-one would requalify by now.

      We did an article on Suite Night Awards last year. The key is that a) only certain brands take part and b) they only clear 5 days before arrival, possible less. You can select which suites you would be willing to accept online when you book so you have some level of control – if you’d only accept the five-bed Presidential Suite you can untick all other suites, but of course your chance of getting it is virtually nil.

      Some confusion over whether Marriott still clears the upgrades centrally (so the hotel cannot stop you getting it) or if the power has now been given back to the hotels (who will be more conservative).

      • fivebobbill says:

        Thanks for the clarification Rob, had a quick look at your Suite Nights article there, very helpful. I’ll be sure to refresh myself with it when the Marriott page updates.

    • Matthew says:

      Good effort. Out of interest, were your 12 nights all paid or mix cash/points combo? I’ve heard people struggling to get double elite nights post on combined cash and points stays and had to follow up to CS to get them credited.

      • fivebobbill says:

        All paid Matthew, 11 nights. Struck a deal for £25 per night, paid for with my Amex Marriott. When I deduct the value of the points earned via Hotel stay bonus and Amex card spend I reckon it cost me less than £200 for the upgrade. Shouldn’t be too hard to get value out of that the next 2 years.
        Just to note, all points, nights, doubles and status upgrade hit the account promptly the day after “check out”.

        • Matthew says:

          Which hotel was it? Did you stay or just turn up check in and come back to check out 11 days later?!

          • fivebobbill says:

            Not sure I’d be at liberty to say which hotel Matthew, but I just negotiated a deal over the phone. Suffice to say I never went near the place.

          • Matthew says:

            Fair point. Thanks for the info though…

  • Thywillbedone says:

    Morning all. With summer hotel rates around Europe looking very high, I was thinking of going further afield but later in the year. In particular, looking at Thailand over Christmas. There is a hotel I am looking which has a very very attractive, but non-refundable rate. I am somewhat of a betting man but wanted to hear what people thought about likelihood of Thailand having relaxed/normal entry requirements by December or, at worst, a requirement to take a test before departure? It seems that they have been one of the stricter countries on entry requirements generally and currently have a 14 day quarantine on arrival rule. On a scale of 1-10, how likely do you think they will be back open for business? (10 being most likely)

    Lastly, I assume non-refundable is non-refundable in any circumstances whatsoever (hopefully not an entirely stupid question)

    Thanks.

    • AJA says:

      As Bebe says to Frasier: “There’s always a chance….”

      Love the idea of going to Thailand over Christmas but paying this far out for a non-refundable hotel is not something I’d be doing. I am less of a betting man than you. YMMV.

    • Vit says:

      We are planning to head home this Christmas after almost 3 years away and I will just be working remotely from our garden home for a few months. The plan budgets the 15 days quarantine on arrival for both of us even partner can get free State Quarantine. From local news, there have been discussion of opening to vaccinated tourists from October but I think that assuming all Thais are vaccinated by then.

      However, looking at the current vaccinating rate, with almost 70million population, I hardly think it will be done. So I would say 5 out of 10 being open by Christmas and that’s probably for major tourist spots (i.e. Phuket, Samui, etc.) and potentially with some restrictions to travel all over the country.

      I would not touch non-refundable rate though especially as far afield as Thailand.

      Happy planning! 🙂

      • BuildBackBetter says:

        Why would reopening depend on local vaccination? If u r vaccinated in UK and test negative, countries must be eager to welcome you. But the risk is on you to make sure you don’t get infected at the destination.

        • Vit says:

          It is all about mindset. If all / most Thai have not been vaccinated yet, those vaccinated travellers, even tested negative 72 hrs before travelling, may not be good enough for the country to let you in. Remember, zero risk mindset and they have been doing this for almost a year now (of course, at expense of the country’s growth) so the junta won’t let this slip and have the opposition party/public pointing fingers at them!

          I hope I am wrong though as we are eager to go home!

          • Andy says:

            I have read some suggestion that Thailand is very keen to let vaccinated people in Q3 onwards. Impossible to say at the moment though, I have a holiday to Thailand booked for December but not committing to non refundable at the moment!

          • BuildBackBetter says:

            Makes no sense if they are testing tourists. You are vaccinated AND test negative.

        • Aston100 says:

          I think being vaccinated yourself doesn’t necessarily protect the local (unvaccinated) population. Hence if it was my country, I’d want to make sure my people are largely safe from any infections that jonny foreigner might bring with him.

          • Andy says:

            Actually increasingly evidence is suggesting that if you’re vaccinated you can’t pass it on. Give it a few more months we should have more peer reviewed evidence e to show one way or another. If it becomes clear that vaccinated people can’t spread it then there’s limited reason to keep them out particularly from countries where caseloads may be virtually non existent

          • Vit says:

            Exactly! Some of us fail to understand that and the mindset of the publics or local in that particular country!

          • The Savage Squirrel says:

            “Actually increasingly evidence is suggesting that if you’re vaccinated you can’t pass it on.”

            Going to correct this. Nobody on Earth is suggesting that any vaccine is 100% effective for every individual. There is lots of good evidence emerging that you are LESS LIKELY to be infectious if vaccinated. Absolutes like “you can’t” are not applicable in medicine. Happily if it prevents transmission in most people it will mean any infection fizzles out quickly as it can’t transmit effeiciently enough to sustain itself, so that’s plenty good enough.

            It is perfectly sensible to base opening up mainly on vaccination of local population rather than status of incoming tourists. Less than 100% vaccine protection and it only takes 1 or 2 infectious incoming tourists (who are vaccinated but are the ones the vaccine did not work on) to pass on disease, and if local population not vaccinated then as soon as it reaches them it could easily spread rapidly and require huge lockdown/restrictions. Opposite scenario: if non-vaccinated tourists bring in disease to 100% vaccinated population then infection likely to naturally fizzle and die without any restrictions, or before it’s even noticed, as vaccination has resulted in herd immunity and hugely lower transmission rates (holds true even if vaccine only 70-80% effective in reducing spread.)

        • marcw says:

          That’s the whole point of a vaccination. It’s not there to protect primarily yourself, but the community you live.
          Vaccines won’t be a “travel free-pass”. Countries will open to tourism when they have vaccinated X% of their population, independently whether the tourist is vaccinated or not.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            That’s not the whole point. The whole point is to stop severe illness and death.

            Reduced transmission could be dependant on time, strain etc

            Unless the locals vulnerable are vaccinated is good numbers I think it’s a stupid idea to let vaccinated people
            (Of which 40% might still pass it on) are a risk.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            dont know why but the reply has got messed up.

            Anyway I guess everyone protecting themselves and not ending up in hospital with severe covid does of course protect everyone with any ailment.

            However, still don’t see the benefit to a country with a poor local vaccination programme.

          • marcw says:

            In summary, we mean the same: reduce hospitalisation and death of the community as a whole. Only when that’s been achieved, countries will open their border to non-essential trips.

      • David S says:

        Have booked for Jan 22. Fingers crossed, but won’t be booking hotels yet. The diff between refundable and non refundable rates is astronomical at present

    • BuildBackBetter says:

      Find out if you can get a travel insurance policy that can cover this? Trailfinders? LV?

    • Aston100 says:

      So some of the Thais I have been in contact with seem to feel there is a reasonable chance that tourist orientated island locations such as Phuket and Samui may open up before the mainland, and that this may even be as early as Christmas.
      Seems the Thai government need to strike a balance between safety and the economy of those islands that are massively reliant on tourism (unlike the mainland).

      Just speculation, but sounds plausible to me.

      • Rob says:

        I very much doubt that shutting islands until Christmas which are “massively reliant on tourism” counts as “striking a balance”.

        • Aston100 says:

          It is a balance because otherwise you are looking at keeping the islands closed for as long as the mainland is also closed, which could be well into next year potentially.

  • Russ says:

    Some nice hotel offers this morning on Amex, MO London spend 500 get 100 back.

    Hinty hinty, someone’s going to have to do a review on the best way to capitalize on MO bookings. Asking for a friend 🙂

    • TGLoyalty says:

      See if Emyr can do you deal.

      Looks like my use of hotel offers last year has excluded me from all of these new ones (not like £100 off £500 at MO would tempt me to spend money on MO London)

      • Rob says:

        As the Mandarin offer ends before you are likely to be allowed to travel abroad, and they have just the one UK hotel which won’t open before mid April, I doubt it is going to be a popular offer.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          I’d hope for the return of the Berkeley offer and stay there instead!

      • kitten says:

        MO is great for breakfast though….although even that might hopefully not soak up £500 ! I was always a bit surprised about the fire there though.

  • Keely says:

    Morning all! Has anybody who’s an existing Barclays premier customer been able to upgrade in the app yet? Nothing for me. I suppose I could pop to the branch but seeing as they’re still using covid as an excuse to only open for about 2 days a week in my local branch , they’re likely to be closed…

    • BP says:

      I have (I think), it shows my avios balance but it still tells me to link my accounts. I go to link my accounts and it tells me it was a success (after getting technical issue warnings). I then still see link your accounts 🙁

      • Keely says:

        How were you able to access this? Was it a link in the app?

        • BP says:

          Open app, more (bottom right corner) then rewards.

          • BP says:

            I keep getting a SP041 warning box, “Sorry we are experiencing some technical issues”

          • Keely says:

            Nothing there …I wonder if it’s because I’m already signed up for blue rewards ? I’m off today, trying to summon the strength to give them a call …

          • BP says:

            You need to cancel Blue Rewards.

    • James says:

      Really? Have you not read the articles? It’s a gradual role out over a month or so, so just keep looking till it’s activated as an option for your account.

      • BP says:

        Really ? really what ? have you not read the messages ? I have it (but it is not working as it should). Keely cannot see it as Blue Rewards needs to be cancelled first. Can you be more helpful James and tell us your experience of the Barclays Premier Rewards / Avios partnership ?

        • James says:

          Calm down BP, the reply was to Keely not you. In any event, have you mot read the articles either? They clearly says it is a gradual role out and people will have access to it at different times. Sorry for trying to save Keely a wasted trip or call to Barclays to be told this.

          • Keely says:

            James I have indeed read the articles . Just wanted to speed things up a bit ! Gradual roll out could still take some time ….
            Thanks BP, it wasn’t clear that I had to cancel Blue Rewards – I know you can’t have both but didn’t realise if I didn’t cancel I wouldn’t be offered this – so thank you!

          • James says:

            Yes, and that still doesn’t mean you’ll get the avios get in yet.

          • James says:

            Argh… *opt in

          • Keely says:

            @BP just to confirm , switching off blue rewards worked – thanks!

  • C says:

    How does the collection year run for IHG rewards? Is it calendar year or from when you joined up? I can’t see it mentioned anywhere

    • The real John says:

      Calendar year (I think all hotel schemes are, except hotels.com) but note that for IHG CC points the spend has to get on December’s statement to count for the current year

      • James says:

        I’d say from when you joined, my calculator appears to reset from early Feb, which is when I applied.

        • Andrew says:

          It’s calendar year for everyone.

          • James says:

            Apilogies, misread and thought Q was related to other comments on free nights. Yes, IHG status across a calendar year, my IHG card free night cert tracker alignes with when I took the card out (not that anybody asked this!).

  • The real John says:

    How much does it cost ernie to process a business debit? Worldpay charges some organisations up to 2%. They can’t have been happy seeing these extortionate fees come out every month especially if many people are cycling the cash

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