Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Thursday 26th August

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Comments (539)

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  • Louie says:

    Is the car hire insurance provided by Amex Platinum exactly the same as, Questor and similar companies? I’ve always used the Plat insurance previously but no longer have a Plat card. Everyone has previously said Amex cover is sufficient but not sure if there are any specific things to look out for with these other companies.

    I’m non-UK resident, hiring a car in the UK for a visit of 3 months. Two of us would need cover. Any recommendations for car hire insurance please?

    • Louie says:

      Actually we’ll probably nip over to Spain or somewhere warm for a couple of weeks, so two periods of less than 60 days, as it seems they restrict cover to that sort of length of hire (I think Plat covers 90 day hire max).

    • Yorkieflyer says:

      Amex Plat UK issued card covers UK residents only. Other policies will need checking for residency

      • BigSi says:

        This is patently wrong, you should read the terms of the policy if you live abroad as you may be covered. You are covered in your country of residence (only for AMEX platinum I think).

    • Sam G says: can cover for non UK residents – you can have a rental agreement of up to 60 days on their annual policy

    • Andrew says:

      First of all, plan long ahead. In can take weeks to source a long term hire these days.

      Do the calculations, you might even be cheaper buying something used and selling it back after 3 months.

      • patrick C says:

        Questor covers pretty mich any country, but select it ahead of time.
        Usually if you have a uk address on the rental bill and on your amex card, the platinum insurance will be fine. They may ask your departure and return to the uk flights/ plans though.
        Overall amex plat is easily the best var excess insurance around (very high coverage even expensive cars are included…)

  • James says:

    Nice 10% off Morrison’s just arrived on my Amex 🙂

    • Tarmohamed says:

      7% here

    • Andrew says:

      Can third party gift cards be purchased at self-serve tills?

      • Mouse says:

        Yes, I did this at the weekend. Just make sure to press down a little on the bagging area as you set each card down so that it registers the card as having been bagged.

        • Andrew says:

          Thanks for the tip.

        • Jonathan says:

          As someone reasonably experienced in this offer… if you’re buying in the order of £500 then go to a manned checkout, they don’t care at that level. £1k will likely result in a manager being called over who usually just wants to check you’re not buying them to settle an HMRC bill or one of the other scams. Don’t get defensive just give them a reasonable story ie. buying for a colleagues retirement gift.

          As with all offers, don’t take the pi33. Buying much more than £1k at a time just looks a bit suspicious. They don’t have to sell you anything if they don’t want to. They are getting a little bit twitchy about GC’s due to recent “fraud”. From conversations with staff I think this relates to the Morrisons GC’s but just be aware & maybe adopt a little & often strategy.

          Self checkouts need to have something with weight put in bagging area, just pushing down doesn’t work most of the time. You can take a bar of chocolate off the tillside display (don’t scan it) & put in bagging area with each card. I find this just looks a bit odd though & may generate unwanted interest from the supervisor. Obviously put the chocolate back at the end!

          • Mouse says:

            I did 4 x £250 Amazon vouchers, and the pressing method worked well, but I may just have got lucky. Unfortunately only tracked for the 10% on Virgin CC and not Airtime or Shops Away, but £100 saving on money I would have spent anyway for 10 mins work is still a decent return.

          • Char Char says:

            Use some keys or a wallet with every purchase instead of pressing down or even a plastic bag.

            I suggest nobody uses a Morrison gift card to pay at self checkouts as the machines often crash but normal card payments don’t have this problem.

          • Luke says:

            Which GCs can be used for HMRC? Are they still selling visa GCs?

      • Phil W says:

        Is there a reason to buy the GCs at a Self Service checkout? Other than convenience?

    • Justin says:

      Cool. Will this stack with the Shops Away In Store 8 points per £ offer?

      • Memesweeper says:

        Be warned it might not track, and if you challenge it they might ask to see receipts and, if it’s lots of gift cards, then deny you. Consider it a possible lucky bonus not a reason to engage with the offer.

      • Justin says:

        The VA CC Money Back feature seems to be ran by the same 3rd party company as the in-store Shops Away, so I guessed it might not be possible to combine both offers. But AFAIK Amex’s offers are ran in-house so hopefully they wouldn’t clash.

      • Char Char says:

        PAW + Airtime is often possible on offers but for me its either PAW or Virgin, I would use different cards for PAW and Virgin then you can be sure where they should track.

        Airtime in general isn’t very good at tracking IMO

    • Mouse says:

      7% version on Plat & BAPP each restricted to first 2,000 to sign up

      • Andrew says:

        10% every time on Plat and BAPP. Will combine nicely with the spend £5k offer (especially as the 10% back won’t come off the total spent for that target).

        • CarpalTravel says:

          +1. 10,000 signup limit which is quite remarkable, when you think about it.

    • Roger says:

      Not on mine, may be as it’s a business card?

    • Vincent Teo says:

      Thank you. Very useful tip as I always forget to keep checking the App for rewards. Do new offers get added on certain days or randomly?

      • Andrew says:

        Randomly – but most week days there is something new, although a lot of them are rubbish.

    • YC says:

      Morrisons trying to beef up their accounts with a second bid on its way. Last saloon for the offer?

      • Sundar says:

        They are likely to get added to Ftse100 in sept, so more money on the way as index funds have to buy, unless a deal is agreed.

      • Rantallion says:

        I doubt that 10,000 people spending an average of £1,000 each would register on Morrisons’ annual turnover of £17.5bn pa.

        • Rob says:

          Tesco’s ‘360 Avios for every £50 spent on gift cards’ was going on at the same time as their accounting was shown to be a little suspect ….

    • Claire says:

      Only 7% off free BA and nothing on BAPP 🙁 will keep checking. Self serve tills avoid the ‘someone’s birthday????’ question lol

      • Reney says:

        I find offers are never added afterwards for Amex for me. Either I get it when it is loaded into the system or not at all.

    • Gin and Tonic Please says:

      Nice spot. Same here! I’ve also got 5% off supermarkets, covering all the big names. I’m wondering if it’ll stack with the 10% Morrison’s offer (also on my Virgin CC)…

    • Gavin says:

      Will this offer buying Petrol at a Morrison’s petrol station or with an online shop? Gift card option won’t work for me and I don’t do physical shops due to mobility issues.

    • Reney says:

      thanks. the maths work better for buying amazon gift card from morrison at the moment.

    • Mel TS says:

      Am I just being a bit unobservant? I can’t see this anywhere?

  • Tom says:

    Has anyone been to Clubhouse LHR recently? Booked UC flight and planning on getting there early to enjoy the lounge – but obviously not much point if the full services are not available. Do they provide towels if you want to use the bikes or hottub? Assuming it’s still masks all the time? Also anyone know if the arrivals lounge is worth a visit for a full English on the return leg?

  • meta says:

    Rather long post or two about SSDV (or Six Senses Douro Valley) for those that are still due to stay.

    Room (Vineyard Garden Suite)

    Gorgeous views of the vines and picturesque houses dotted along the slopes. Some fine pieces of Portuguese artwork and pottery in the room and the property. One night we asked them to lit the fire in garden. It was just so romantic with full moon as well. The outdoor plunge/jacuzzi with waterfall feature is a nice touch, but probably too hot to use during the day when it was 35 degrees outside. In late spring or autumn it would work a real treat. Open your windows and doors in the morning and take a deep breath. It smells nice. Some problems with in-room gadgets. It doesn’t always make sense. For example, to turn light in walk-in closet, you had to turn on the bedroom light too. Shower has serious drainage problem creating a pool of water which doesn’t clear for a while. Home cinema was hard to use as there was no manual and ‘no signal’ was continually displayed. I wish they checked it and/or explained it during room tour or have instructions/operating manual. We also found cobweb in the closet. The outdoor furniture was also dirty and dusty.

    Exquisite! Breakfast is a la carte and it’s a lot of food. I’d compare it to Domes during covid last year. You can easily have late breakfast as brunch. My partner and I like to have breakfast early, but even then we could easily skip lunch.

    We also had them organise the picnic by the river (you can choose other settings – threehouse, forest or in the courtyard). It’s 140 euros for 2 people, excluding alcoholic drinks. The food is nothing to write home about, but it’s more for the experience and the beautiful
    views of Douro. You can also do it for 80 euros and take it away with you to enjoy in your suite or anywhere else on the property or in the gardens. Lots of wasps around as others have noted, so beware! But you’re in nature..

    We also had half-board on specially negotiated rate. It was again too much food as you can choose anything from a la carte menu (starter, main, dessert). The food was really tasty. I also liked the creativity of desserts and the plates again were like a work of art.

    I think this is currently SSDV’s weakest point. Very unpolished service at breakfast and dinner. Staff not communicating with each other well.

    • meta says:

      Lots of junior staff post-covid, so they are still training. It shows. I won’t go into details, but just small bits that add up. Not as seemless as you would hope and this is not something specific to restaurants. Some nice gestures too – like they put out a cleaning cloth underneath my reading glasses during turndown service.

      Hotel facilities
      Great pool with views of the river on one side and vineyards on the other side both from the pool and loungers. There is free ice cream (4-5pm), they also pass at least once or twice a day with a small snack and/or drink. There is also free tea (at least 10 varieties) which you can brew in a beatiful teapot and consume anywhere you like. Free cake as well from noon till dinner time. Then there is indoor pool and a spa we used one morning. It’s really well-designed and great spa staff too.

      All the usual that were mentioned here before. It’s presented as elite benefits rather than
      Ambassador benefits. For wellness platter we got four oranges (two of which were rotten) anda few chocolate truffles. Stingy or just because we were on points?

      In any case, it was a good stay and I would come back as I think they’ll improve once the junior staff is more trained. However, I think we all got over excited about the great deal. So it’s important to manage the expectations and note that it is not as good as one would expect for the normal price of 2.5k euros per night stay in the vineyard garden suite.

      I also stayed at IC Porto one night before and one after SSDV and this hotel remains as one of the best for me in the area. Always excellent service and good recognition of benefits and more. I can’t wait for them to finish renovations, so I can stay in one of the new suites. Now at Boeira Gardens Curio Collection (supposedly five star!) for a few days and boy, it’s so bad that it’s comical … I’ll leave this for another day.

      • Anna says:

        Sounds blissful, @meta! I am planning to book the IC for the first few nights of our trip next summer before heading to Galicia to reconnect with my paternal roots. I know what you mean about the smell – the area around Vigo always smells of eucalyptus, pine and mountain air!

      • JDB says:

        Meta, glad you had a good time overall and thank you for detailed review; very helpful. Hopefully they will fix the staff issues – sounds like management issues as well, as housekeeping managers should easily be on top of room cleaning issues, shower drain, gadgets etc. as that’s really basic stuff that has to be 100% at this price point.

        • WaynedP says:


          So helpful and thoughtful of you to take the time while still on your holiday.

          • meta says:

            It’s a bit of a work day today, so doing it whilst in a boring meeting…

      • Ste C says:

        How did you do the journey between Porto and Douro?

        • meta says:

          We rented a car with Sadorent. Avis/Hertz were too expensive. We took a scenic, slightly longer drive on the way and stopped in Amarante. Highly recommended. On the way back, we visited Lamego for 1-2 hours and then drove back via highway. There is a longer 2h30 more scenic drive, but we were a bit tired after Lamego as it was really hot (38!), so took a shorter option.

    • BP says:

      Sounds great. Can’t wait to visit next month.

      On half board are they still letting you have meals in any of the restaurants? Did you get a further reduction on the 60 euros Ambassador half board rate?

      • meta says:

        It’s only available at one restaurant. The other restaurants aren’t open apart from Summer BBQ, but that will stop in October.

        Bear in mind no Ambassador benefits, just the IHG Spire elite benefits which are almost identical. I got a further reduction as I argued that it should be lower that 60 euros per person given that breakfast is 35 euros and included as elite benefit and there are two of us. Overall we spent over 650 euros on F&B over three days, so I think that they should be happy.

        Now, I am not sure why I didn’t get points on F&B spend, but got night credits. Need to email Ambassador to check. It’s a lot of points.

        • meta says:

          Just as an example, we were only given 2pm late checkout instead of 4pm as they had someone else coming later. The late checkout is thus not guaranteed as with Ambassador. You also need to request it at the check-in and then they check whether it’s available.

        • S says:

          How did you manage to spend 650 Euro if you were on a half board plan (360 EUR for 2 for 3 nights)? That’s a lot of booze!

          • s says:

            Did you get 2 spa treatments as part of your elite benefits?

          • S says:

            And finally, any recommendations for shops along the way from Porto or Lisbon to stock up on good wine/champagne?

          • meta says:

            @S Alcohol is expensive. Porto tonicos at 14 euros each by the pool plus the picnic at 140 euros plus a bottle of wine along with that. Drinks are not included with dinners and that will be about 30-50 extra on top for 2 people at the cheaper end of wine bottles (or by the glass). It quickly adds up.

            Quinta Pacheca (5-min drive, next door actually) or Vallado (15-min) to stock up. Lots of good wineries around where you can stock up if you call in advance. Just have a look on Google
            maps for Quintas. Not sure where to stock on champagne though. When in Portugal we don’t drink champagne.

          • meta says:

            @S regarding massage, the reservations team before arrival were adamant it’s not included, but on arrival it was listed as a benefit. Spa slots were fully booked, so couldn’t use it. Not too bothered. We had our Six Senses spa treatments in other places around the world.

  • YC says:

    Going to unashamedly take credit for spotting this offer. Unfortunately I had to cancel my stay but consider this as my annual HFP fee 🙂

    • meta says:

      Yes, I remember! Thank you @YC. I owe you a drink at next HfP party whenever that might occur.

  • Crafty says:

    Thanks for all the basic advice over the last couple of days re: tests etc. Off to Tenerife tomorrow! First holiday abroad since November 2019!

    • Anna says:

      Enjoy! I am currently at MAN about to start my 2nd trip this month after waiting since Dec 2019! Tenerife was very pleasant indeed earlier this month, mostly Spanish families on holiday and lots of room around the pool!

  • Charlie says:

    To the few people that replied yesterday about the £20 off code for Pasta Evangelists that did not work. This link will work, enjoy

  • Mani says:

    Any word yet on the BA 2-4-1 vouchers being extended again?

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