Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Friday 11th June

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

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Comments (341)

  • Maximus says:

    Not travel related but I wondered if you good people had any advice. Am completing self-assessment for the first time. Has anyone been successful in claiming tax relief beyond the £6 per week for working from home? I’m puzzled by the “needs to be used wholly and exclusively for work”. Well I didn’t want to clog up my living room with office furniture but I couldn’t stand working from the kitchen table anymore (backache). Would a sit-stand desk and an ergonomic office chair qualify for which my employer didn’t want to pay? What about increased electricity bills? It jumped from 45/month pre covid to 80 a month on average.

    • Rob says:

      The £6 is meant to cover fuel costs isn’t it? The office stuff may be claimable but you must use it 100% for work and never, ever, for personal purposes. If the kids do homework on it you are disqualified.

      There is no penalty if you claim and then withdraw your claim if it is questioned, AFAIK.

    • Andrew says:

      That’s kind of puzzled me too. I bought a new laptop and monitor for working from home, and I did indeed use them exclusively for work, a couple of days a week, for the whole of 2020-2021.

      But I’m generally back in the office full time now and we’re in a new tax year – so no idea what happens with home working kit, bought using an allowance, in a previous tax year.

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        If you bought it using an allowance from work you really shouldn’t claim it as a personal expense

        • Andrew says:

          No, I paid for it myself and used the tax relief to mitigate the overall cost to me.

          So as a standard rate tax payer, I bought a laptop and new monitor with my own money in order to make working from home via a VDI more tolerable. Throughout the 2020-2021 tax year I used it wholly and exclusively for working from home. I’ve claimed tax relief for that kit for 2020-2021.

          So, say for example, my “home” laptop has died – what are the rules for using the “work” laptop at home now we are in a new financial year?

    • Anna says:

      I’d be interested to know about this as well – I’m now working partly from home as a tutor and need a computer, printer and Microsoft Word for my work. I don’t get paid much for the actual work as it’s for a charity which seeks to improve university access for kids from state schools, but I still have to cover the costs of these items.

      • Jonathan says:

        If you’re paid as a sole trader/ltd company then you could claim this as an allowable expense. If you’re an employee (ie. PAYE) then you wouldn’t get away with computer equipment/office furniture in the home as HMRC would claim it wasn’t wholly & exclusively used for work purposes. If you rented a lock up & kitted it out as a remote office then you probably would get away with it.

        • Jonathan says:

          The electricity bills is a bit of a circular argument. Did your employer dock your wages for lack of commuting costs, Costa, lunch etc? 99% of people wfh have saved far more than they’ve lost.

          • SteveJ says:

            +1 for Jonathan’s comment. Have heard so many people go on about increased utility bills but very few acknowledge the reduced commute costs.

        • Genghis says:

          As you say, if you’re carrying out a “trade”, the test is “wholly and exclusively”. However, what you claim as “wholly and exclusively” does not need to be the full amount of what’s on the invoice, just the proportion that is “wholly and exclusively” for carrying out a trade.

          For employees, the test is much more strict: “wholly, exclusively and necessarily” incurred in the duties of such employment (not just to put one in the position to be able to do that employment initially). HMRC has put out guidance that if an employer reimbursed such costs of office equipment, then no IT / NICs needs to be paid on this. But if no such reimbursement, no income tax relief. Incremental costs of electricity, phone calls etc can be reclaimed but likely much better off just claiming the £6 / w amount, even if worked at home just for one day, for 20/21 and 21/22.

  • Chrism20 says:

    Morning everyone, couple of quick questions.

    Has anyone stayed at the Mercure Kensington? I’m off to London in a few weeks with work and this is the only option on that side of London that they have provided but I’m not quite sure about it.

    And second question. Has anyone stayed at the Kimpton in Manchester since reopening? Is breakfast the normal service or is a croissant in a bag job?

    Thanks

    • Rob says:

      If that is the one on Cromwell Road then I booked it once as a day room to sleep after I got astronomically drunk the night before (as covered on HfP).

      Room was about as big as my wardrobe at home.

      • Chrism20 says:

        Thanks Rob.

        It says Lexham Gardens on the email which I’m sure is just off Cromwell Road. I think I will give that one a miss as I’m going to be there for five nights.

    • Roger Carpenter says:

      Stayed at the Clocktower last week. Breakfast is a full buffet, but handled by servers. Oddly they included breakfast even though I wasn’t expecting it on my rate. Hot food is ordered as usual – though they kept frying my eggs hard!

  • tony says:

    Interesting one here – I rented a car from Hertz last week (prepaid via AMEX). Booked an SUV, they gave me a Crossland which I thought was pushing the description a bit. Got the invoice today to find I had paid for a “K” but was given a “C”. Daily price difference is about £20 (I had it for 3 days). Am I due a refund and if so do I talk to Hertz or AMEX?

    • Andrew says:

      You talk to Hertz first.

      • Martha says:

        Definitely talk to Hertz first. I had a similar issue and after contacting every contact I could find, they offered to refund the difference

  • Gill says:

    I have booked a trip to AUH to travel tomorrow in Feb 2021 when UAE was on Red list through a travel agent ,my wife is unwell and cant travel tomorrow.If i were to cancel i only get the airport taxes back through travel agent .Does the travel insurance of Amex Platinum or HSBC premier be helpful to claim for the ticket cost minus the taxes.

    • Rob says:

      Which airline? Most will give you a voucher for the full amount.

      • Gill says:

        Etihad but not keen on the voucher as of now I might reschedule to Dec 2021 and Etihad seem to bit expensive than others during that period and also Lastminute.com didn’t offer me the option of a voucher ,

    • Anna says:

      I think someone said the Platinum insurance doesn’t cover you for travelling against FCDO advice , which I think would apply as AUH is still on the red list? But as Rob said, most airlines are offering vouchers.

  • Aston100 says:

    Abu Dhabi.
    Is there any reason to pick the Crowne Plaza at Yas Island over the Crowne Plaza in the city, outside of formula one?
    The Yas Island one is quite a bit cheaper on points but I am unsure if there are any breakfast options in walking distance. Booking up to 3 rooms and IHG will no doubt charge silly money for breakfast against reward nights.

    Also in scope is the Intercontinental which is similar points to the Crowne Plaza in the city. Anyone have a recommendation out of the two CPs and the IC?
    I note the Holiday Inn (not the downtown one) offers the best value (around half the points requirement) and seems to tick the boxes too and would consider this if anyone has any positive experience to share?

    Thanks.

    • Louie says:

      We stayed in the not-the-downtown Holiday Inn for two or three nights (stopover) five or so years ago. It was fine but it is in the middle of nothing much. You’d need a taxi to get to everywhere, not that that is too much of an issue. I think there were a couple of places you could eat a few hundred yards away to the north but it’s long enough ago and it was sufficiently unmemorable (if that’s a word) that I’m not that sure. We spent our evenings elsewhere. The one time we made it into the bar, it felt pretty seedy.

    • Blenz101 says:

      Not sure what your plans are when in Abu Dhabi as where best to locate yourself or what time of year you are coming.

      However, as a general rule for the UAE nothing is particularly walkable. The city is designed around cars to take you from one air conditioned location / landscaped area to another. Even if you pick the city CP in summer you aren’t going to be walking more than 10/15 mins from the lobby before you are drenched in sweat with high humidity and temps at breakfast already well over 30oC.

      If you are really worried about keeping the cost of breakfast down you can just get something delivered to any location. Deliveroo, Careem, Talabat, Noon Food will all bring you hot breakfast options to the hotel within 15 mins.

      Breakfast / food in the hotel generally will be on a par with London, perhaps £25/30 for breakfast. Drinks perhaps a little more, perhaps £15 for a pint of Heineken.

      As to location taxis are extremely cheap if you don’t choose to rent a car.

      • Aston100 says:

        Thanks for that.
        Not looking forward to breakfast at £25pp for 6 people per day for 7 days in a HI or CP.

        I see there is a Staybridge attached to the CP on Yas Island, and they share facilities.
        There is complimentary breakfast here, which I presume will be a poor standard. Perhaps this combined with the occasional breakfast delivery service or walking out to go eat somewhere may be the way forward.

        Alternatively, the CP in the city looks to be right in the thick of all the dining options, but the location and the hotel itself look a bit poor.

        It is so much easier when there are only 2 of us travelling. 6 people in 3 rooms is challenging, especially as everyone will no doubt have their different preferences and opinions all leading to a headache and me wandering why I put myself through this unnecessary pain.

        • ankomonkey says:

          Depending on the ages in your group, HI offer ‘kids eat free’ in most/all regions. I’m not sure what age constitutes a ‘kid’ and the deal is 1 child eats free per paying adult, but it may help you reduce the costs.

          • Sandra says:

            CP Markaziyah isn’t in a bad area, built up and traffic noise but it will be safe (as everywhere is there really) and plenty around although the district is one of the older residential areas. It’s near the gold souk and a few blocks back from the Corniche. IC a bit dated now (unless it’s been updated since 2015/16), didn’t used to be much around it in walking distance & it will be more expensive as it’s IC & nowhere in UAE is cheap for alcohol. As Blenz101 says taxis are cheap & plentiful and you won’t want to walk very far if you’re there once the heat and humidity rises. It depends really what you intend to do there, Yas is fine if you want the sun, Ferrari World, the water park & Yas Mall with a trip by taxi on to the island itself or to see the mosque on a couple of days out. But Abu Dhabi isn’t really a city for sightseeing as there’s not a lot historically to see. If you can get a boat trip out to sea/through the mangroves it’s a nice afternoon out.

          • Aston100 says:

            Thanks.
            Might go with CP Yas Island and get breakfast delivered, or eat out a few times.

  • Mark says:

    Morning, bit of advice. My wife has booked us flights to Amsterdam over new year which was supposed to be a surprise, however I found out after checking award wallet and asking her as I thought it was fraud! she has booked us Club Europe which is great, but so as not to arouse suspicion paid for the flight in full with Avios to the tune of 65,000! Clearly the additional Avios over the “normal” price is not a good use of the points. The booking was made a few days ago so is beyond the 24h cooling off period, is there a cost effective way of amending the ticket to reduce the number of avios used? She said when I found out that if there was a better way of using the points to make changes, she knows me too well!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Take an FTV and rebook over the phone for the Avios + £50 each price.

      the additional Avios have always gone back into my account.

    • AJA says:

      Would cancelling for a FTV and rebooking work? You’d need the seats to go back into inventory but could then rebook using the FTV at the Avios price you want to pay and have the Avios balance returned (might be in the form of another FTV for the Avios).

    • Jonathan says:

      FTV it, rebook at the Avios/cash level you want (will have to pay the cash element) then you’ll get the additional Avios back as a new FTV.

  • Oh! Matron! says:

    Given how difficult it is to get a hire car in the US right now (and probs will be for some considerable time) are there any routes to earning Hertz points outside of car rental? I’ve enough for a week for a C, but just want to be prepared….

  • Reney says:

    Sorry 2 days in a row of Che and Solihull. It looks like on my app, over a certain amount the 2 factor authentication pop up come on and that is currently not showing up. Which is causing my topups to fail. For smaller top ups where 2FA doesn’t come on, they are ok. I have updated my app, but that did not fix it. Support was no help at all.

    • Blenz101 says:

      Not much anybody here can do either. Have you tried deleting it and reinstalling? Are you Apple or Android?

      If Android then perhaps there is a problem with handset compatibility?

    • Guernsey Globetrotter says:

      I had this problem too, as mentioned earlier in the week. It seemed to coincide with the end of my statement period on the Solihull side – lasted two days but then reverted to working OK before I got round to calling, so hopefully just a temporary glitch for you too Reney!

      • Reney says:

        Thanks for this. My end statement date is another 10+ days. Today is day 2 so hopefully it will be fixed tomorrow (🤞 ).

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