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The HfP chat thread – Thursday 8th April

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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.

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 (384)

  • Damian says:

    Does anyone know how the 2 + 8 quarantine rules work for someone travelling from GVA to LHR for 5 days. They have already booked Fit to Fly PCR for return to GVA that happens to fall on day 2? All the ones I have seen only do a package for day 2 &8.

    • Nick Burch says:

      The rules only changed on Tuesday, so not all providers have updated their sites to let you book just a day 2 test for a shorter trip

      A Fit To Fly PCR won’t meet the requirements for a Day 2 test – a day 2 one must be RNA sequenced if positive for one thing. However, a Day 2 test may meet the Fit to Fly rules.

      Best to talk to the people you have booked with, and see if you can swap the booking to a Day 2 one, and see if they’ll include enough on the Day 2 negative certificate to cover flying.

  • Johnny5a says:

    Not a major one, Costa Coffee
    “From 12th May, we’ll no longer accept American Express in store
    You can use all other major credit and debit cards to pay.”

    • Russ says:

      Kind of related I find it interesting that Costa have never stopped selling coffee at their garages but Waitrose still won’t open their free machines if Covid really is the reason.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I’m sure It’s about crowding around the machines which used to be placed near the entrances.

      • Jonathan says:

        I was always amazed at the willingness of people to queue for 5+ mins for a cup of mediocre coffee. You could make better at home/in the office for about 15p worth of beans & milk & minimal effort.

        • Will says:

          Milk I’m coffee? Hang your head in shame

          😉

        • Rob says:

          You’re not paying for the coffee. You’re paying for 30 minutes hire of their sofas.

          • Genghis says:

            Indeed. Tim Halford in the Undercover Economist (old now but a bit of a classic IMO) has a good section on coffee shops.

          • Rob says:

            Rhys and I are paying £15 / day for WeWork hot desking at the moment …. could just spend the same £15 visiting 6 coffee shops for 90 minutes each ….

            That said, as WeWork coffee is free and I probably drink six cups per day, you could argue that I pay the same for the benefit of a proper desk than I would if I used coffee shops ….

          • The real John says:

            I thought that comment was referring to the free coffee at Waitrose…

      • James says:

        Genuinely always thought that the Waitrose free coffee tasted nicer than Costa.. Then again I never really rated Costa coffee

        • mark2 says:

          I agree and much better than Starbucks, but that’s not difficult.

          • Jake Taylor says:

            Going off on a bit of a tangent here, but given that Starbucks coffee is 100% Arabica, one thing you really can’t say about it is it serves bad-tasting coffee. Perhaps if you load it up with syrups yes, but as a pure coffee it’s objectively first-rate.

          • kitten says:

            @Jake Taylor are you serious? Arabica is not a guarantee.

  • Amy says:

    Are the new raised Amex referral bonuses permanent or for limited period only?

    • Jody says:

      I think I saw yesterday that it’s until around the 12th of May, so only temporary.

      Can you refer someone as soon as you have a card? I’m thinking of referring husband for gold card so I get 12k (we’ve both given up on the 24 month gap so he won’t get anything), then once he has that, him referring me for the premium BA card (for which I do have a 24 month gap since my last one), so he’d get 12k and I’d get 30k. Just wanted to make sure there aren’t any restrictions on how long you’ve held the card before you refer?

      • TGLoyalty says:

        No restrictions.

        • Amy says:

          More confused now 🙁
          Is it limited time offer until May as Jody suggested or has no restrictions on the end date as TGLoyalty suggested?

          • TGLoyalty says:

            It has an end date.

            I was answering Josh’s question that There are no restrictions on time before you can refer.

          • TGLoyalty says:

            Jody’s. I don’t even have a josh in my phone. Apple is surpassing itself these days.

  • Russ says:

    We’re packing away all our gear into storage and I remember there was an option to use Tesco vouchers to pay for that. I can’t see a link on Tesco’s site so has that gone and if so what’s a painless alternative? Thanks

    • Rob says:

      It was Safestore but they pulled out a couple of years ago.

    • Lady London says:

      Try and get a fixed price deal if you can. They all have initial deals free or close, say, for 1-3 months.

      Depending on the branch and how busy it is try to find a manager who will give you a fix for 1 year or more or for “life”. Read the small print carefully and keep verification of promise made if you do find one. Watch out for ancillary charges such as access charges, negotiate extended hours/days for access as you may find small print gives unuseable hours with extra charges for more etc.

      Everything is negotiable and a lot can be given free in order to get you in there.

      Once you’re in and the inertia value of moving or logistics difficulty applies, they’ve got you. Their plan is a continuous escalator of inflation-busting charges and fees programmed at specific intervals from your start date on plus likely ‘annual’ increases. Find the right branch of one of my the majors and negotiate as above. Then check your statements to check they’re charging you correctly. This, ongoing.

      Note I’ve twice had stores deny previous agreements made including one manager who simply refused to honour an agreement made by his predecessor that still had months to run. I’d put in the storage industry as slimier than most estate agents.

      • Lady London says:

        PS If it’s a corporate relocation and your employer is paying there can be some amazing deals for the removal co to just store your stuff ‘between moves’ if necessary for years.

        A collague of mine was paying about £10 pm for storage of the contents of his 3 bed house. He’d actually been back from Malaysia for 3 years and was on his second house move since returning before he asked them to bring the stuff from storage. Was one of the UK’s most upmarket removers that offered this.

        On the open market that storage could have cost £00’s pm at the time. As he didn’t need to access his stuff taking this option worked.

        • Russ says:

          Thank you for the tips on securing a good deal and the heads up on the shady side Lady London. I’ll keep an eye on them.

          • Lady London says:

            I only ever give tips on mistakes I’ve made myself 🙂

            Hence I give quite a few of them 🙂

          • Sukes says:

            Russ I’ve found increasingly storage companies try to strong arm you to buy insurance cover through them, usually at extortionate rates, as a ‘term’ of the storage contract. Make sure you can arrange your own insurance and the storage company will accept a third party’s policy. I’ve found Quote Monkey to be very transparent and reasonable for buying insurance for items in storage.

  • Zoe says:

    Just got an offer for a no fees for balance transfer Santander credit card, seems to also be publicly available. Very kind of them to offer it to someone with one of their own offset mortgages. Not sure how generous they are with credit limits.

  • AlanC says:

    Bit of advice please.
    I took out the Amex Plat last June for the first time. I have only used the 2 Waitrose Offers and a couple of Fine hotel stays as a benefit of the card. When and how should i ask for any retention off/bonus i have read of on HFP.
    Phone or Live Chat? Now or nearer renewal.
    Thanks
    AlanC

    • Harry T says:

      Ring during the day and try to speak to Brighton. Explain why you are thinking of cancelling. If they don’t offer anything to retain you, ask explicitly if there any retention offers.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Now! There won’t be anything when travel / shopping is back to normal.

    • Ste Cox says:

      You will have to phone up, dont ask for a retention offer though.
      In the past I have just said that i am checking into my options as i cant see the value in keeping it at the moment.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        I made sure I asked “is there anything available if I want to cancel”

      • Harry T says:

        Last time I called, the agent was happy to cancel without offering anything. I then specifically asked for a retention offer and she put me through to a very nice british lady who gave me 10,000 MR. This was for my gold card, which I had already received a retention for a few months prior. Don’t ask, don’t get!

    • Waddle says:

      No need to way till closer to renewal. Ring up during UK business hours. Say you are thinking of cancelling the Platinum but are “keen to keep it because of the benefits” and ask “are there any offers or deals around to motivate me to keep it?” Worked for me last year during the height of the pandemic – was offered 20k with no spending requirement.

  • Mummy55 says:

    Sorry if this is a daft question, but can you cancel/close an Amex gold on line?

    • Vit says:

      No. As far as I understand and based on experience, you’ve to call in.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yes Via chat but worth a call to see if there is a retention offer.

    • YC says:

      Agent on chat was happy to close the account on chat previously

    • Anna says:

      It’s quite easy to cancel via the chat, they will ask you if you want to call and speak to an advisor but just say no if you’re definitely closing the card. It takes about 5 minutes; just remember to have your security answers ready to submit.

      • AlanC says:

        Huge thanks for all the advice. Called just now. Initial – i think offshore agent passed me a UK rep who offered me 35,000 MR points. Took his hand off!!
        AlanC

        • YC says:

          35k retention for plat i’m assuming and not gold?

        • Mzungu says:

          I called to cancel Plat, and was offered 50K to keep it, no ties. Kept it for a couple of weeks to refer OH for BAPP (was almost at the 24 months point) then cancelled once the 18K referral hit 🙂

      • Mummy55 says:

        Thank you for all reply’s. Will do chat!😀

  • Lady London says:

    Card question : I need to pay on a US website that accepts Mastercard or Visa US ones only. Does anyone know how I can generate a virtual or throwaway MC/VS to use for this transaction? being shipped within US to my friend whose address I’d ideally not want to pay from.

    Does UK Rev do this? @RussellH mentioned something about Wise.

    Unfortunately there’s no way round paying with a US card on this site. Could have used Paypal a few years back as my registration was US but Paypal moved me to UK paypal a few years back without asking me and is now more geographically limiting (and a p in the a if you have to deal with them).

    • stevenhp1987 says:

      I’ve found that using a zip code made from numbers in your postcode and padded with zeros will work with some cards (e.g. AB12 3CD would be 12300).

      Could try that with a UK Card. My Barclaycard Travel card works fine on US sites in this manner.

      • Lady London says:

        Tx @Stephenhp this site that does not work. This is a site that knows what it’s doing to geoblick as its pricing in non-US markets is 2.5x. I even believe they have some kind of manual checking. A MC or VS with a US-type early digits identifier is what’s needed.

        Previously I could have just gone there and sorted it but I need to order before any of us will be allowed back into the US.

        • Lady London says:

          an alternative might possibly by something that could provide virtual ACH account numbers but a virtual US MC or VS would work best.

          • memesweeper says:

            I have a US account you could use if the amounts aren’t likely to trigger lots of money laundering questions —

            memesweeper

            protonmail

            com

            ( … this is a one person limited offer as I know her Ladyship IRL )

          • Andrew says:

            Have you considered an E-Visa Gift Card?

            https://usa.visa.com/pay-with-visa/find-card/buy-gift-card

            If you click through to Vanilla Gift, they sell e-gift Visa cards that can be used online.

      • Ghosty says:

        I use that system for my ‘zip code’ when paying at pump in US gas stations

    • Joints&Piles says:

      There are services like US Unlocked, Skrill, Payoneer, but while I have heard people talk of them I’ve never used them myself and I think they usually have a set-up cost.

      Search something like “US virtual credit card”

      • Lady London says:

        Tx Joints&Piles not sure about the other ones you kindly mention but I have looked at US Unlocked and thought it costly with a few gotchas. I will take a look at the others on your list though.

        Stephenhp1987, Ghosty, Andrew also thank you. I will take a look at the gift card idea soon too. @memesweeper thank you so much may I contact you back if needed?

      • Lady London says:

        Tx Blindman. Very interesting info. Not sure if it covers the extra step of masking but highly, highly interesting. One to read thoroughly with a Campari in the sunshine I think.

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