Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Sunday 2nd May

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We are running this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Comments (233)

  • Wollhouse says:

    Following up from Aston and HarryT’s discussion: I (normally) travel regularly to the US and Europe. I pay for most things with either my Revolut card or my NW cc as none of these incur additional cc fees. And NW does give me the chance to change my cash back rewards to Avios. Based on their discussion, I’ve just been looking at the €/$ cards. Both platinum cards have a $550 fee and say that they are billed in your home currency so my first question for those of you that have these cards, do they convert at a reasonable rate (NW does) or do they mark up substantially on every transaction?
    I also noticed that they advertise up to 20% discount off airfares. In practice, do you actually get this or is it a discount off a “full fare rate” that no individual would ever choose? If you did, it would help justify the card.
    My mum lives in the US so I would then refer her for a supp as it would allow me to treat her from afar when she used it! And I’d hopefully get referral points 🙂 Otherwise, I can’t see why I’d switch from NW/Revolut combo which costs me nothing. Just to clarify, I have NW Private so this includes lounge access, travel, concierge etc but not the hotel benefits platinum offers. I’d be interested to hear if people manage to get value from the advertised flight discounts? Thanks

    • Benilyn says:

      My mum lives in the US so I would then refer her for a supp as it would allow me to treat her from afar when she used it!
      >> revolut allows multiple physical cards, and assume your NW cc does as well

      Otherwise, I can’t see why I’d switch from NW/Revolut combo which costs me nothing
      >> you won’t earn points on Rev, or NW
      >> transfer partners wider than NW (which has none to potentially Avios only)

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      I only have the basic ICC Dollar Card but the bill is in the currency of the card – so you must pay USD – hence Aston & Harry T’s discussion about using Revolut or Wise to settle the bill. The advantage is that you do not have to worry about exchange rates in the USA at all, other than on the day you chose to pay the bill (assuming you then do so from another currency via a platform like Revolut). You also receive Membership Rewards on purchases at a rate of 1 point per Dollar.

      I can’t comment on the Platinum benefits or their value for you and I’m not sure your mum-in-law will be eligible for a supp card if she’s not UK resident as the ICC cards are issued by Ames Europe, which I believe is FSA licensed to issue cards in the UK.

      One other positive to bear in mind is the potential benefit of the uplift on MR balance transfers from a Sterling denominated account, as the points are increased on the Dollar cards by the prevailing exchange rate, so transferring 100,000 MRs would give you c.137,000 on the USD ICC at the moment. This can be very beneficial if transferring to partner reward programmes like KrisFlyer (which also convert at 1:1 from the ICC as opposed to 3:2 on UK cards). KrisFlyer also sometimes run a points promo as the icing on the cake, so last year I was able to transfer at a 1:1.15 rate 🙂
      There’s an article on here about it

    • John says:

      If your mum lives in the US it may be far more lucrative for her to get a US Amex and make you a supplementary… You can pay the bill of course

      • John says:

        When I signed up for the ICC euro card (the free “blue” one) I had to sign some sort of statement that I would remain a US tax resident and not be moving to the US. I’m not certain why that was required – if it’s because I applied using a US passport as ID – but anyway something to keep in mind about supplemental card holders.

        +1 on the idea for her to get a US Amex. One generally gets way more points with them, many of them don’t charge fees for transactions in other currencies, and as a supplemental you’ll get good offers for things you might buy your mum (such as rebates on Telefora or 1800flowers).

        I would recommend a Wise account over Revolut, however. You can have a USD account with them that comes with full banking details, with the added bonus of not having to deal with Revolut’s absent CS or haphazard AML teams.

        • John says:

          That should read, “remain a UK tax resident” and not move to the US. 🤦🏻‍♂️

    • Sandgrounder says:

      I’m tempted to switch to the ICC Platinum because it’s cheaper, and the benefits are similar, but travel insurance is valid up to 80 and my parents don’t have any excluded pre-existing conditions. Spend is likely to be on holidays only, but the Plat is not usually the best card to spend on anyway. Applying appears to be a bit of a faff though, ID docs required even for supps etc.

    • Wollhouse says:

      Thanks all! I’d forgotten about the MR arbitrage opportunities:). It was the below statement that made me wonder about the conversion rate! I guess they’re talking about transactions outside either $ or € depending on the card.

      All charges are converted to and billed in the currency of your Card Account, resulting in greater control and more convenience if you frequently spend or hold funds in these currencies.

      Interesting that the us card doesn’t charge extra fees for other currency transactions- shall check this out. Wonder if I can refer my mum (get points) and then have her sign me up for a supp (more points:)

      Thanks for all the responses

      I’m currently sitting in an ASQ hotel in Bangkok (for work) – half way through my 10 days- so I have plenty of time to research!

      • Pete M says:

        I live in the UK and have a US Platinum. The “no fees” exchange rate is generally about 0.8-1% worse than the mid-market rate so I don’t generally use it in the UK (where I also have UK AmExes), but it is worthwhile for spend in other currencies (particularly given the “additional” MR points on the US one and the currency fees on the UK ones). Considering the cost and benefits of the US Platinum it does stack up pretty well against the UK one, except that unless you spend a fair amount of time in the US, you don’t get to use all the offers and local benefits. Do bear in mind that the annual fee for additional cards on the US Platinum is $175 for up to 3 additional cards if you were to go down the route of your mum getting the card and adding you.

        • BuildBackBetter says:

          @Pete, how difficult is it to get the US plat for a uk resident?

          • Pete M says:

            I am not *cough* a UK resident *cough* as far as AmEx US is concerned!

  • Craig says:

    I was speaking to an old work colleague who moved to India with her family just over a year ago for work. They have a had a torrid time, especially with two young children! Anyway, they managed to get home a couple of days ago and are currently experiencing the thrills of hotel quarantine. She went for a run around the car park yesterday and was convinced that security though she was going to leg it. The worst part, the hotel have banned them from having alcohol delivered because the hotel wants to sell it them at the usual inflated prices!

    • Anna says:

      Thankfully they’ve made it home, it sounds like a lot of people are still struggling to get flights. Can they not get a grocery delivery from a supermarket with alcohol as part of that? Surely they can’t stop you getting basic supplies delivered! Hotels are already making money out of mandatory quarantine, it’s not really fair that they are trying to fleece people on top of this – it’s not like your friends have any choice about where they are staying!

    • Doommonger says:

      A small price to pay, given the situation in India I think.

  • Francesca Tuckett says:

    I hear that BA is still not serving alcohol in its Lounges under the pretence this is against govenmenet regulations. I don’t understand how they can justify this any longer with pubs etc open for takeaway alcoholic drinks. Does anyone understand this?

    • Zoe says:

      Could it be because currently you can only drink ‘outside’ at pubs. Lounges are inside.

    • Andrew says:

      Pubs can only serve it outdoors at the moment and there’s no outdoor space at BA’s lounges. It should return on 17 May when indoor hostility returns. But agree it is another Covid excuse as they are allowed to serve it if they wanted to but it’s cheaper to say they’re following U.K. hostility rules and as we know BA love to save a few quid where they can.

      • meta says:

        Lounges are exempt and have been exempt since the start of the lockdown.

        • Andrew says:

          Indeed. Just another Covid excuse.

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Lounges are t exempt from alcohol regulations in this lockdown. And it’s not changing until May 17th

      • Francesca Tuckett says:

        Yes doesn’t make sense at all as it’s not legal for hospitality to serve food indoors (which lounges are doing) so clearly the same rules don’t apply

      • Brian says:

        There’s plenty of indoor hostility around already!😀

        • Steve says:

          😂 glad I wasn’t the only one who spotted that!

  • Luke says:

    Still no news on the green list…. we’re waiting, Boris.

  • Toaster says:

    @Andrew, was that a typo or deliberate? It’s amusing either way.

    It should return on 17 May when indoor “hostility” returns

    • Andrew says:

      Ha! Yes typo! But a little hostility might return too!

  • JohnT says:

    Been lots of comments about Dragonpass cancelling, including Rob going to talk to them or Dufry? My expiry was even backdated to Mar 21. Any news due soon before I chase them please? OH account currently fine dated Jan 22.

    • Rob says:

      My call got cancelled, unfortunately, but I will try to pick this up again.

    • Lady London says:

      Yes please any help on this with Dragonpass would be gratefully received.

      I sm wondering if somewhere there’s been a hissy fit and perhaps Dufry did not pay Dragonpass if monies were owed? seems a bit vindictive to backdate cancelled memberships.

  • Anna says:

    Morning all. I’m currently sitting on my balcony at the Kimpton Charlotte Square enjoying a gloriously sunny and peaceful Sunday morning in Edinburgh. (Though it’s Russian roulette with the Seagulls to a certain extent!) I won’t go on too much and bore you all but the current set up works really well, table service breakfast, social hour drinks delivered to the rooms and pre-booking required for restaurants and attractions so there’s very little queuing or feeling crowded. Drinkers have to sit outside so the pavements are quite lively!

    • Mouse says:

      Congratulations on being there for the one sunny day of the year!

      • Lady London says:

        Lovely to hear that Anna. I am so glad you finally made it away!

        Isabella Rose – Mark Dawson – Books 1-4 just became £1 each on Amazon. Not Daily Deal so maybe for some more days yet.

        Following your advice to read these, I hoovered them up straight away and they are now on my ‘stuck for long periods in airport lounge’ bookshelf. 🙂

        Have a great time and drive carefully back.

    • Number9 says:

      Well Anna you contribute a lot to this site, and try and help people with queries when you can, I think you are more than entitled to “ bore” people especially those that just take and take and never contribute back.
      Have a fab time hope the weather stays nice for you.

      • Anna says:

        Thanks No 9, yes it’s been mainly dry and sunny so far which is definitely a bonus, we were so happy just to get a change of scenery and a bit of hotel pampering!

    • The Original Nick. says:

      Fairplay to you Anna!

    • Yuff says:

      I think a lot of readers would be like to be experiencing some R&R in nice hotel surroundings.
      Looks like England won’t have to wait too much longer, unfortunately the clown 🤡 in Transport can’t make a decision on anything, so trips abroad are full of uncertainly.

      • kitten says:

        Not sure why anyone would not still worry as and when we do get the green list – as it can update at any time.

        That’s the nature of the pandemic. India thought they had it nailed about three weeks ago. But that changed on them. Ditto at recentish points Germany and France thought they were doing well too.

        Now they’re not and everyone’s hoping to get as many people of all ages vaccinated to try to stop transmission even via the young and healthy. Looking over our shoulder hoping vacvines will remain effecrive against variants.

        I agree with Rob it’s time to organise donations of vaccines to hit the age pyramid top down in places like Brazil and India but we do need to vacconate further down our own age pyramid due to transmission/sink of variant risk.

        I can’t stand the vapidity of Grant Shapps either and Boris has not impressed me but politicians in UK and Europe have done the best they knew how.

    • Rob says:

      Chucked it down for the 48 hours Rhys was there 🙂

      • Phil W says:

        Yep… It’s been dry for a few weeks then the heavens opened for Rhys. My golf club has actually asked whether Rhys could return because the course needs some rain!

      • Anna says:

        We’re from Lancashire so used to seeing dry weather as a bonus!

    • Michael C says:

      Great news, Anna – and hope you’re able to practise your foreign language skills ;o)

      • Anna says:

        I was chatting to a Spanish waiter the other night! He was from Merida – shamefully I had to admit that I have been to Merida in Mexico, but not Merida in Spain …

    • Swifty says:

      +1 with the comment, you post away hen it’s nice to hear someone’s having a good time. It rained here yesterday, S E England.

    • Jay says:

      Was that the alternative hotel to the St Pierre in Chepstow that you were looking at?

      • Anna says:

        Yes – this was Plan A as we were waiting to see if Scotland opened up last week. Would have happily visited Wales but we have 2 expiring IC Ambassador BOGOF certs to use and Wales didn’t have an option for them!

    • Cat says:

      That’s fab Anna! I hope you have a lovely break. Bore away – we could all do with travelling vicariously right now!
      I went for my first big hike of the season – Milford to Haslemere. It’s only just outside London, but it’s a stunner. Hopefully I’ll be going further afield soon.

  • M says:

    Has anyone ever tried any cryptocurrency rewards debit card?

    It looks like there are two points earning opportunities – when loading up the card and when spending (some cards give you back some crypto rewards).

    However, this all seems pretty risky, given the cryptocurrency on your card can easily lose 20% or more against GBP in a day.

    As examples, I have seen that wirex and both offer cards which earn rewards.

    • Bs says:

      There was a discussion on financial risk here the other day. Cryptocurrency really is the highest risk you can get – wild swings in short periods of time, unregulated ‘currency’, nothing actually backing it, so just what people ‘reckon’. For this reason I would never actually put anything significant in it, as it strikes me more as gambling than than either an investment, or a currency to pay with. Yes, I did buy one Bitcoin in 2011 for about £50, thinking I would get one of those nice physical looking bitcoins with b dollar signs on. Disappointed when I realised you didn’t get that. Forgot about it and lost the login, and have since replaced the computer. Worth about $40,000 now. Drat.

      • M says:

        To clarify: I was definitely not asking about “investing” in crypto, I agree with your points completely. I was just looking for some points earning opportunities, ideally without being exposed to crypto volatility at all.

        • Phil W says:

          I’d read some of the reviews for plenty of examples of people never actually receiving their payment card.

        • Memesweeper says:

          I have the card. It’s fee free abroad and a very modest kickback, so might appeal to those without Curve. Topping it up is seen as a cash like and/or crypto purchase transaction by many institutions so I’d not load it up from a source which is linked to a card I’d actually want to keep long term.

          What it is excellent for is exiting actual crypto into cash or spending in the shops. Putting crypto gains into the bank these days is, again, not something you want to do with a bank account you care about. It’s a debit card and I’ve cleared by Barclaycard balance with it a few times (no kickback on these transactions) which is handy as Curve is blocked for that purpose.

          Right now I’m 100% out of crypto apart from a very modest ETH holding and with current rates and volatility I’d recommend everyone else steers clear. The value implosion is inevitable.

          • Optimus Prime says:

            Remember that every time you spend with your crypto card you’re selling crypto and buying GBP. So if your crypto assets have gone up, you have to work out your returns and see if you have to pay CGT.

          • M says:

            Thanks, that’s very informative.

            Isn’t there a GBP “stable coin” which is supposed to be somehow pegged to actual GBP?

            I must say, it seems like there is too many variables here that seem to be risky.

          • Optimus Prime says:

            @M – yes, there is: TGBP.

          • John says:

            What is the point of a coin pegged to GBP? As in, in what circumstances would you want to use it as opposed to actual GBP

          • M says:

            @John, again, purely to earn points on the way 😉

            But seems too risky to be getting into all that for points.

      • Babyg says:

        look at crypto over the year(s) not days… the trends are clear, and the technology is not going away. Any of the top 4 crypto coins are fairly safe bets IMHO. I also have made a punt on some unsafe bets (dogecoin) and have done extremely well.

    • Lou says:

      The one thing I’ll say about cryptocurrency… Please consider other investments. The amount of energy needed by server farms to generate them is an environmental disaster

      • Joe says:

        Not sure that’s all cryptocurrency Lou. Bitcoin – yes. But not all work the same way?!

      • babyg_wc says:

        Do some proper research, rather than just parrot news headlines, crypto mining can be done with renewables and can be environmentally sustainable, unlike the fossil fueled flights you take.

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