Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

The HfP chat thread – Tuesday 31st August

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

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Comments (562)

  • Can says:

    I need to book a Day2 test for returning from amber fully vaxxed. Any suggestions for affordable tests?

  • Anna says:

    Morning all. The lounge reviews this week have reminded me that I’ve got unused PPs from my Amex gold which my friend and I might be able to use when we fly home from PMI on Friday if I can download the app!
    Which lounge would we be able to use and are we likely to get in with PP as the island seems busy with tourists despite the pandemic. I presume there would be an extra charge for my friend’s 5 year old?

    • Anna says:

      The Sala Llevant looks to be the non-Schengen lounge – does anyone know if it’s handy for U.K. departures (with a 5 year old!)

      • AJA says:

        If that is the lounge that BA allowed you to use it is a bit of a pain as it is the wrong side of passport control (that in itself can be quite a queue bottleneck) it is quite a walk just to get to passport control let alone from passport control to your gate (BA had a tendency to use almost the last gate in the terminal). I think you’re flying Ryanair and they too seemed to be at the farthest end of the terminal from passport control. I’d be inclined to just use one of the coffee shops or bars in the departures area after passport control

        • Anna says:

          Thanks AJA, we’ll do that – several bags and a 5 year old don’t lend themselves to a lot of walking!

  • S879 says:

    What’s the quickest and cheapest way to get Virgin FC miles? Need to visit my ill parents in the US. I can’t see any sign up bonus for their free credit card and the one for the paid one isn’t too high either unless I’m not looking thoroughly. Cash price for a ticket I’m looking at is very high so a redemption makes sense. However, I don’t have much Flying Club miles. Will need to fly in about 6 weeks. Do they often have bonuses on buying miles?

    • Jonathan says:

      If there’s no promotions with buying them, and you need them ASAP, you’re out of options unfortunately……

      • David S says:

        Spend vast amounts in Tesco

        • Andrew says:

          2,000 points with first auto-convert, but this is on 3 month cycle with clubcard bills. Does credit though, and a lot quicker than they say it may take

    • Erico1875 says:

      If cash price is high, is a redemption ticket even available?

    • Memesweeper says:

      Transfer from Amex, assuming you have a decent balance there.

      • Reney says:

        Do you qualify for the amex plat sign up bonus? 65k if referred after spending 6k… How many VS points do you actually need?

    • Andrew says:

      Where are you flying to?

      If you’re really price sensitive, a quick look at direct flights to the USA in 6 weeks times shows some really reasonable economy fares. £351 to New York, £389 Boston, £429 to SFO, and around the £500 mark to Miami, Austin, LA, Chicago, Seattle.

    • Lyn says:

      I realise this is unlikely, but if your parents are in the US, do they happen to have a stash of Chase credit card points? If so I think they are transferable to Virgin Atlantic as well.

    • JSemity says:

      there are bargain basement economy tickets to the US over the course of the coming weeks/months at the moment. Just get yourself to a main hub airport (e.g. New York, Miami, Atlanta) then internal from there. You can get to those above destinations for sub £300 return. Use Google Flights to search cheapest dates/routes.

      • S879 says:

        Thanks all. I am a teacher so can only fly during October half term and prices to Atlanta in economy were showing as over £1200 on my dates but will have a look at other hubs.

        • S879 says:

          Also the prices shown on Google Flights for BA etc are not what’s being shown on their own websites. BA is almost £1,500 when on Google flights its showing around £800 for same flight.

          • S879 says:

            I checked for other hubs on Google Flights and for EWR, BA was showing sub £400 but on the BA website its over £1,300 for economy so don’t be led by GF prices.

        • Memesweeper says:

          BA can show only fully flex if you search one way. Always search return if prices seem implausibly high.

    • Andrew says:

      Try Virgin Red and their bank account switch? 15,000 points, credited pretty quickly – though looking back in my account it was about 5 weeks

      Paid CC is also 15,000 points and that credits pretty quickly (but again probably around 5 weeks as appears with the first credit of points from CC spend)

      Virgin Wines 1,000 per case for selected cases. 500 points for first use of shopping through Virgin Red (can just be an ebay purchase)

    • Lyn says:

      Perhaps not the best use of Marriott points but do you have any that could be transferred across.

      Are you eligible for the US Virgin Atlantic credit card by any chance?

    • kitten says:

      Why does it have to be Virgin?

      • S879 says:

        It doesn’t. BA prices very high too. Max one stop as I have to go and come back within the half term so ideally want direct and BA, Virgin/Delta are the only options for that. BA have been very unreliable with Atlanta as they cancelled my flights twice this year so I had to reroute on American a few weeks ago.

  • The Lord says:

    Hilton Malta. Any good?

    • John says:

      Yes. But I wouldn’t pay €300.

    • Waddle says:

      Stayed in 2019. Received upgrade as Diamond. Lounge is good with nice sea views. Has big pool complex with family-friendly shallow area. Lots of choice for breakfast. Dedicated adults-only pool is good for non-families as well. Fairly decent location.

      Unsure if things are different at the moment due to the pandemic

      • John says:

        The breakfast situation keeps changing, but varies from acceptable to almost pre covid.

    • Allan says:

      Yes, very nice Hilton property. Good lounge and upgrade as a Dimond on points last month. Lounge functioning with breakfast, afternoon tea and drinks / canapes in the evening.

    • RM84 says:

      Just on my way back from there now. Very nice hotel and excellent lounge, upgraded to Executive Room as Diamond.

      Pleasantly surprised to find no issues with sunloungers – went down at 11am one day and still plenty. I spent my days at the relaxation pool in the beach club – I preferred this to the adults pool (which incidentally filled up very quickly each day).

      You do need get to the lounge close to 6pm to guarantee a table for evening drinks, and preferably earlier if you want a terrace table. They were very generous with the drink top ups!

      Staff all very friendly and helpful too.

      • Tracy says:

        Wow, very different experience to me at the start of August. Diamond upgrade was nice. Never any beds around the main pool after 7/8am. Hard to get a table for 4 in lounge at any time, we were sent to the lobby for breakfast at times. In the evening, the drinks service was very slow to the point it was a running joke to see if we could get 3 drinks in a 2hr service….

  • Jeff Greene says:

    From The Times:

    “Mars is planning to cut corporate travel by half and book 145,000 fewer flights each year in one of the clearest signals yet from a big company about how they plan to change business trips after the pandemic.“

    My company have also said international travel will be cut significantly (they’re currently having their best ever year too).

    • Andrew says:

      +1. Most companies will cut domestic and international travel and it will never return to pre-pandemic levels. Airlines will need to work hard to fill business class seats with leisure travellers in the new world.

    • mr_jetlag says:

      didn’t even realize you could fly to Mars on business…

      • AJA says:

        The Avios and TP on that route would be fantastic though 😀

        Seriously I can understand why Mars are cutting back. They and many companies have worked out that using Teams or Zoom allows lots of people to interact remotely so there is no need to fly to be in the same room. Flying on business will be restricted to the lucky few and it will take time to return to anything like 2019 levels if it ever does. It also allows companies to trade on their “green” credentials and reducing carbon emissions etc.

      • Anna says:

        It’s Branson’s latest wheeze.

    • Andrew says:

      Mars continue to expect to book around 145,000 flights every year despite Teams and Zoom…

      • Jeff Greene says:

        Some are needed though. Meetings with customers etc. Internal meetings (which make up all of my company’s international travel) are often a waste of money though

    • Dominic says:

      … and this is why my stay in the consulting industry will likely end sooner rather than later.

      Travel (as a youngish guy) was one of the key perks!

  • Jenny says:

    Will there be a review of the new skywards+ this week?

    • Andrew says:

      It was launched 3 weeks ago, so presumably Rob has decided it’s not worth any analysis and all the details are self explanatory from their website?

      • Super Secret Stuff says:

        Or he’s on holiday and cba. I’d be the same

      • Rob says:

        It required a disproportionate amount of time to research and write vs the relevance to a UK readership and – more importantly – the fact that I’ve been away for 20 of the last 21 days. We are back at full capacity now so it should turn up over the next week or so.

  • John_H says:

    I’m considering an MCOL claim against BA for compensation for being downgraded (First to Business class) based on EU261.
    Their position is that I had more than 2 weeks notice of this so EU261 does not apply.
    Does anyone have experience of taking an MCOL action forward and what are the possible negatives if I lose the action?

    • ChrisC says:

      Have you actually flown yet?

      You can’t make any claim for downgrade reimbursement until then.

      As long as that happens then you won’t lose because the regulation is quite clear. Once you send your letter before action to BA they will pay up.

    • Jonathan says:

      Negatives are you lose the MCOL fee (varies depending on claim value but circa 5%).

      There are no costs awarded against you in the small claims track (unless you are judged to be a vexatious litigant which you clearly are not) & it doesn’t generate any black marks at credit agencies etc.

      You’ll win the case though if BA even let it get that far, it’s open & shut.

    • GHT says:

      No downsides really bar those covered above.

      Definitely worth bringing this.

      Yet another example of BA’s customer services team engaging in misleading practices designed to result in customers surrendering their rights

    • JDB says:

      If you do a really good letter before action, there is a reasonable prospect BA will settle before you have to issue proceedings. If they don’t, you should have a good template for the MCOL application. Short, factual, clear chronology and supporting docs, time limit for BA to respond, 14 days being reasonable.

      • Eppleby Green says:

        Does anyone have a good anonymised template for a MCOL claim which has been successful?

  • Mycity says:

    Good Morning, I keep seeing comments about using Solihull to load Rev”””” if I do this do I need to pay Solihull instantly to avoid interest?

    • VerdantBacon says:


    • Kumar says:

      How can you pay instantly ?Is it via bank transfer with credit card number as reference .You wouldn’t be allowed to make the payment on Solihull until it is cleared which might take 2-3 days. I am paying some interest for those 2-3 days.

      • Anna says:

        I still don’t understand how they can charge interest before the point where you can actually pay off the amount, I’m sure it must breach banking regs. Not going to make a fuss though!

        • Kumar says:

          Topping up Rev*** is treated as cash advance so interest is liable from the same day but we cannot make immediate payment on creation web/app as it takes 2-3 to be cleared from pending .The only option is to make bank transfer on the same day. It’s still cheaper way of buying points by paying interest to my knowledge .

          • FFoxSake says:

            Save the Solihull card payment URL (on desktop) for future reference when you have any proper balance showing. Then you can use it anytime in the future, even when a zero balance is showing but your pending transaction has only reduced your available credit.

      • SteveJ says:

        You need to be careful with timing. If you go into credit Solihull are known to shut your account. Likely better to just suck up the interest.

        • John says:

          You won’t go into credit if you pay off after spending

          • Reney says:

            For me payment takes one day to post, charges takes 2 days. If I top up on day 1 and pay off straight away, on day 2 my account will say ‘credit’ with a pending transaction, day 3 i’m back to 0 when my transaction posts. What is unclear is their definition of in credit, does it net pending or not (T&C reads as net) but no one is sure. So it is a risk.

    • Andrew says:

      OK, I now get Brighton and Bendy, but what is Solihull. It’s a posh suburb of Birmingham, that’s all I know…

      • Andrew says:

        It’s the office location for one of the popular cards used by HFP. And it’s a market town near Birmingham, rather than being a suburb of Birmingham. (Different Andrew – not correcting myself!)

        • Andrew H says:

          Ok, I’ve corrected me to Andrew H…

          This is the IHG Rewards Club Credit Card – which seems pretty poor compared with Virgin, but offers more spend options and a not bad sign up bonus for a free card… that’s my take

          But – does it work for “cash” spends through Curve – i.e. paying money in to my share trading account or even paying HMRC?

          Being brought up in Bromsgrove I remember Solihull as basically being posh Brum, like Egbaston. Though that was many decades ago

      • Doug M says:

        It’s the IHG card.

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