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The HfP chat thread – Sunday 18th 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.

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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 (318)

  • Yorkie Aid says:

    Could someone offer a bit advice to a new Revolutionary. I followed Harry T’s referral link from yesterday’s thread. I want to order a physical card but am only being offered metal ones which require an upgrade to the free plan I opted for. Any way round this? Also I tried doing a direct Solihull topup but it timed out on authentication and failed. Is there a better option? Beardy perhaps? Thanks in advance for any help offered.

    • Alex says:

      Beardy doesn’t work for a lot of people as they get a cash advance fee, for others it works fine, myself inc. I would contact Solihull as first time I did it, it didn’t work and they blocked it. Spoke to them once and now it’s fine.

    • Reney says:

      beardy incurrs a cash fee for me, so I would avoid.

    • Harry T says:

      Had a quick look. If you go into the section where you “add card”, you need to click on “add debit card”. This tries to get you to purchase a plan upgrade to metal. However, if you click “material”, you have the option to select “plastic”. Once you select “plastic”, then you can order a plastic physical debit card for £4.99.

      The alternative is to use the free card in Apple Pay. You can also generate extra single use virtual disposable cards for online shopping.

      • Harry T says:

        And thanks for using my link!

      • Harry T says:

        Historically, beardy starting charging me cash advance fees last year. I haven’t tried with my new Beardy account and card though.

        • Yorkie Aid says:

          Thanks all, really appreciate the advice 🙂 But @HarryT, if I don’t order a physical card though will you still get your blood, I mean referral money? lol

        • Harry T says:

          @Yorkie Aid
          Doesn’t look like I get anything if you don’t order a physical debit card, but I wouldn’t want you to be out of pocket for my sake!

          • TGLoyalty says:

            The important bit is paying off the whole balance not just the amount you topped up to avoid interest.

    • @mkcol says:

      I’m glad you asked these & other questions below, as these are things I want to know – esp about how to make Solihull work (as someone else said you need to pay off the WHOLE balance, not just the top-up amount).

  • KBuffett says:

    Are there any travel restrictions flying to Scotland this week?

  • TOBIAS L says:

    Hi gang,

    Random crystal-ball type questions. I’m hoping to get to the US from UK post-May 17th and maybe work from there for a bit. I’m not a US citizen or resident but fully vaccinated.

    1) This ‘green list’ I’m hearing murmurs about essentially is UK-facing, not US right? I.e. it just means if returning to the UK from US you needn’t quarantine. But the US doesn’t allow you in until they want to – which is anyone’s guess right?

    2) Given the above, would it then entail spending 14 days in a non-UK country on the US approved list before being let in? Why then can I price flights from UK to US? Are these flights only for residents/citizens?

    3) If the US is on the UK’s ‘green list’, does that also get reflected in FCO advice and therefore means travel insurance is NOT voided and fully active? I.e. If traveling with an Amex Plat would I be covered even if the US doesn’t consided the UK a ‘safe country’?

    I’m desperate to travel somewhere, and have an uneasy feeling that Europe will be struggling with further covid waves and potential lockdowns whereas key states in US will most certainly not lock down again.

    Any input appreciated!

    • Yorkie Aid says:

      I don’t have answers for all your Qs but…
      1. Yes.
      2. Yes at the moment, but who knows when that might change.

      If you mean “work remotely” from USA that would be fine but I would caution against actually looking for any work out there without the right visa in place. That is if you might want to visit ever again!

      • C says:

        Check that you have the right US visa (an ESTA will not be sufficient) and take advice from a US immigration lawyer if you intend to work in the US. In addition to visa concerns, depending on your business and the nature of your work there could be tax, US economic sanctions, and other regulatory considerations for both you and your business.

        • Pete M says:

          I think TOBIAS L would be working remotely for his UK employer or for his own company? In which case chances of being caught or getting into trouble are pretty limited. Except if you share this with the immigration officer on entry, of course. The reason you can see so many direct flights at the moment is cargo, transit and US citizens and residents travelling.

          • Rupert one says:

            …and close family members.

          • C says:

            Or when someone finds out that he managed his company’s business in Cuba or Iran from the US…or any number of other traps for the unwary.

  • Steve says:

    For anyone who jumped on Green as an Energy provider after the discussions a few weeks ago, they’re offering 10% additional credit for any top ups until midnight tomorrow. They take Amex, perfect to hit a spend target!

    • Anuj says:

      I wonder if they’re having imminent cash flow issues, strange offer for a energy provider.

      • Yorkie Aid says:

        That’s exactly what I thought when they offered the same deal in January. But the 10% bonus duly turned up 60 days later as promised. What’s at risk anyway? Any credit on account would be protected by the regulator.

        • Anuj says:

          True, I was just wondering because I had thought of investing in them a few months ago.

      • Steve says:

        @Yorkieaid exactly. The bonus is capped at £500, which would be a £5,000 top up which I certainly won’t be doing, but definitely worth a few hundred.

        • Yorkie Aid says:

          I agree I would probably avoid as an investment! Assuming most people would probably only top up one year’s expected costs at most then 10% is an awfully high cost of capital in the current environment. I did £500 last time and might do that again tomorrow. Wouldn’t get that return risk free anywhere else.

      • KBuffett says:

        Which fashion brand is this?

        • Anuj says:

          If it’s boohoo it’s normal they always have inflated RRP then silly sounding discount codes.

    • WaynedP says:

      There is a cost to uk energy consumers of guaranteeing credit balances on provider failure.

      The U.K. Energy regulator Ofgem is getting nervous, citing risk of anti-competitive practice by providers who encourage or build up excessive credit balances, e.g. pricing below cost price to artificially drive up market share.

      Ofgem is currently consulting on the matter (Google ” ofgem consultation credit balance mutualisation ” if interested) and is likely to prohibit providers from building up credit balances that exceed seasonally averaged annual costs, with implementation period of around 3 months, ie by July/August 2021 potentially.

      This may be a perceived “last chance” by Green to accumulate some extra working capital, although 10% seems high cost in current market unless their credit rating is poor.

      It would prompt me to do some due diligence digging, not that you are likely to lose your funds credited if Green fails, but Ofgem should draw the line at refunding your 10% bonus credit.

      I predict that in 4-6 months time, there will be very limited (or zero) opportunities to top up your energy provider, much fewer than exist now, and with limits on the amount of top up possible.

      • Track says:

        Thats a drastic conclusion. Top up/overpayment is the same thing.

        In fact, the regular providers hike DDs on short notice and keep customer accounts well overpaid.

        Green Energy 10% offer is something they are experimenting with, it seems.

        Ofgem likely points at rogue providers who do not graduate from teething customer service issues. They offer the cheapest price on market, and then lock you in by refusing switch under different pretences.

        Provider switch should be like current account switch — scheduled switch date, no ifs and buts.

        • WaynedP says:

          100% sensible points, and my prediction may well prove wrong.

          You are right that some mainstream providers muck about with DDs.

          But Ofgem is proposing a relatively complex model that, if it comes to pass (and I think it more likely than not), will force ALL providers to more closely match customers’ credit account balances to realistic forecasts of actual costs.

          If they fail, they will be forced to refund customers, at least four times a year. That means incurring avoidable admin costs, which in itself won’t go down well with Ofgem if it becomes a behaviour pattern.

          My guess is that providers will struggle enough to comply with the proposed model designed to avoid excessive credit balances, that they won’t want to offer customers the opportunity to add to that complexity (and to the risk of falling foul of their licence obligations).

          To me, it seems more logical than drastic that they will entirely remove customers’ ability to pay additional funds into their accounts (unless they are paying down historic debt owed), and will impose tighter limits on how DDs can be adjusted by customers.

          We shall soon see .. consultation closes 12 May and there is strong incentive for Ofgem to act quickly and decisively on its outcome decision ahead of September’s COP26 because of the Renewables Obligation issue also attached to this same consultation.

          • Track says:

            This is interesting and thank you for a sensible discussion.

            I do not work anywhere near the utilities sector (strike that, we do model for/with them), but I wouldn’t have the regulatory insight.

            “force ALL providers to more closely match customers’ credit account balances to realistic forecasts of actual costs.”

            Plus all those smart meters, each with own SIM card. Real-time billing will lead/cause more expensive tariffs. Utility suppliers have plenty of working capital from overpayment practice (keeping DDs above) and those consumers who don’t bother to recall the funds.

            Refunding customers four times/year will be a nightmare for all those new entrants (suppliers). We will see how far this regulatory push will go.

          • Track says:

            Meant to say more clearly that the system is well-supported by customers leaving money in accounts. Same story as with Gift cards and unused Oyster balances.

            Any such system of quasi-money or even fiat money benefits. Banks have 0.1% savings not moved by inertia or just because main current account and customers keep much more than needed to cover bills. Ponzi schemes benefit from funds unrecalled over long time too..

            In any such ‘system’, over time these balances grow and the likelihood of them being called back reduces.

          • WaynedP says:

            You might shortly find yourself and your company benefitting from additional modelling work required 🙂

  • Brucey says:

    Evening All – Hopefully the HfP hivemind will be able to give some advice! I need be in NYC for work for 10 May (annoyingly a week prior to the 17th “Green List” that’s been hinted).

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how best to do this? I know a few people who have gone via Mexico but I’m open to other locations as well.

    • Blenz101 says:

      Get the appropriate visa and travel direct from the U.K.

      If you don’t have a visa you will need to spend 14 full days outside of the current US ‘red list’.

      • Yorkie Aid says:

        But is there actually an appropriate visa that it is possible to get at the moment?

        • Blenz101 says:

          That is a question for the embassy, there are economic interest exceptions available.

          I would be expecting my employer to sort this out via an agent.

      • Brucey says:

        Thanks Blenz – that’s what I thought. For context this is for a one month project for my company. As the bulk of the project team will be East Coast based, it’s worth me being there due to timezones.

        Does anyone recommend any 14 day layover locations other than Mexico? If Mexico is the best bet, where do people recommend? Mexcio City, Tulum, Cancun?

        Cheers

        • Blenz101 says:

          Assuming you want to head west first I would look at where you can actually easily get to from Europe. There is nothing direct to Mexico from the U.K. right now as far as I am aware.

          If cost isn’t so much of an issue then you could also look around options in the Caribbean. Iceland another option but an expensive couple of weeks.

          If no need to head west straight away then you can look to the east of Europe. Turkey has been a popular layover at reasonable cost. UAE another option but more expensive and hampered by current red list if you planned to book a return with your US flight nested.

          Make sure you have easy access to testing prior to all flights wherever you end up and check what would happen if you do test positive before heading on to the US. You could find yourself with another few weeks south of the US in accommodation not of your choosing.

          • bafan says:

            I did KEF for the second time last summer and the prices had come down so much it was verging on hilarious. Icelanders have been making bank for the real for the past few years…

  • Patrick Cold says:

    Akbar Al Baker is at it again.

    • Andrew says:

      He’s certainly not wrong in his assessment of BA, but it does seem odd to be so scathing of a JV partner.

      • Pete M says:

        I can never decide if I like him because some of the stuff he says is 100% right, but then he’s also clearly sexist, ageist, etc. A bit like Piers Morgan I guess…!

    • Will says:

      As critical as I can be of BA and it’s practical Heathrow monopoly (when you consider JV’s) in the case of Qatar it’s very easy to be critical of the standards of others when you don’t really need to worry about how to finance your airline.

      Don’t worry, cost cutting will hit them too once the initial push to get market share through quality passes and they realise it’s quite tough making money in the airline industry.

      They do of course have a geographical advantage as well as access to cheap oil and labour.

  • TicknBash says:

    State owned vs Plc
    Ego driven vs bottom line driven.

    Easy to criticise when cost and cash is not his biggest concern as CEO.
    Make flybe work and I’ll bow to him but otherwise as they say in Southern Borneo, stop chatting sh1t bruv!

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