Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Forum Replies Created

  • in reply to: Cairo
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    So we’ve ended up at the St Regis – one of my friends decided she wanted to spend Christmas in true luxury, so is kindly treating us to one of their 3 bedroom apartments!

    Does anyone have any experience with the CAI lounges? We’ll be spending a fair few hours at Terminal 3 during our trip whilst flying domestically with Egyptair and I note the Priority Pass website says the lounge is available for “international flights only” – is that really the case? The airport website doesn’t go into this much detail…

    I can’t comment on the lounges at CAI but we stayed at the St Regis in the centre of Cairo earlier this year and we absolutely loved it. It was an excellent hotel and somehow felt more like a st regis than the st regis New York. Breakfast was great, restaurant was good as well for lunch, pools were great. My one tip though – it’s a half smoking, half non-smoking hotel so if you’re sensitive to cigarette smoke then you might find yourself struggling in places. We stayed in a nile view room supposedly non-smoking and could definitely feel cigarette smoke in our throats in certain parts of the room.

    I’d echo the comments about not driving though. Ubers were cheap and I think it only cost us about £5 for most long journeys in Cairo.

    in reply to: Tax Free Shopping EU
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    There’s now 3 big options for tax free shipping in the EU. Global blue, Planet and the latest (but only in France right now) WeVat. You’ll aLao find some smaller vat refund companies but only at specific retailers. All of them will charge you fees, global blues fees are definitely higher than others in my experience. WeVat are aiming to disrupt and charge a fixed 22% fee for processing vat refunds. One limiting factor here is that it’s driven by the retailer as well, ie if that retailer uses global blue then you’re using global blue unless you shop elsewhere. The best bet is to just minimise the fees you get charged. That means things like taking a tax refund to a card rather than as cash, using a card with more favourable foreign exchange terms like Chase or just buying from countries where you get higher vat refunds.

    in reply to: Airport transfer benefit?
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    Amex does airport transfers as a benefit on the centurion card assuming you book flights through amex travel but I’m not aware of that benefit on any other card.

    Alternatively some hotels on FHR offer airport transfers as their benefit instead of a food and drink credit but in that case you need to book through FHR.

    in reply to: Post new Amex statement credit offers here!
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    Not strictly a comment related to the new offers, however, I wonder if there is an issue with my Amex Platinum card, I’ve held it for over 2 weeks but notice that I barely get any cashback offers on it (in fact I haven’t had any), this was also the case before this card was a regular Amex Membership Rewards Card, in contrast I seem to get at least 4-5 new offers on my BA card every week.

    My day to day card up until the start of 2023 was my platinum card and it was always the case that I’d get 50-100 offers on it with around 5-10 on the free ba amex I held. At the start of the year I got a new amex for day to day usage whilst continuing to hold my platinum and all year I got most of my offers on my platinum card. It was only around October that I started to actually get offers on my new card which is now hitting the 50-100 mark and the number of offers on my platinum card started to drop.

    I think the targeting has changed and it takes longer to get offers on a new card. Although it also seems like I only really get lots of offers on one card now and not all 3.

    in reply to: How does FHR prepayment work with FX fees?
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    If you pay in advance then you’re charged the room rate at the time of booking so your spend would contribute to the sign up bonus and there’s no FX fee since you’re charged in gbp. Most pay now rates I’ve encountered also give you free cancellation until the standard cancellation period with a refund equal to the gbp amount you spent.

    That’s great. In general / your experience.. is HFP bookings the same price and the bonuses added on top are value, or they are that much more expensive where you could just pay for it yourself almost?

    For example.. is the price of 5 nights at any Monday – Saturday in the Bellagio the same as it would be on say.. direct or on Booking.com and I get the value on top? Or it depends.

    Could I be cheeky and ask if you could pick a Mon – Sat for 2024 that FHR allows you in Bellagio and share the price FHR quotes in GBP for a King Room? If you can do that or have access – if you can’t or don’t want to that’s fine too! 😀

    I’m not entirely sure why but the Bellagio isn’t bookable for 2024 on FHR. To give you an idea for comparisons though the 18th-23rd December this year prices up at £815.61, there’s no pay at hotel rate option available, however, you’ll also have to pay £210 (actually $250 so may be subject to fluctuations) for the resort fee. Looking on the Bellagio site gives a total price including resort fee of $1100.

    Personally, i think the longest FHR stay I’ve ever done was 3 nights and that was only because the hotel had a 3 nights for the price of 2 promotion on when booking through FHR. When we tend to travel somewhere we end up jumping around a bit, it’s not uncommon for us to stay in 7-10 hotels for a 2 week trip, which makes FHR valuable for us since we’re only staying 1 or maybe 2 nights in each hotel. Anything over that though, the value proposition of FHR starts to fall quite a bit. Ultimately you’re booking the standard flexible rate and for stays longer than 3 or 4 nights most hotels will happily knock 20% off that rate straight away for a stay longer rate. Whilst FHR might give you a $100 room credit, that’s not too useful if it’s costing you an extra $400 above a hotels special rate.

    Thanks – so in this example the 2 prices are basically the same? But with FHR I’d still get full cancellation for free, is that correct too? Even if you prepay, you’d get your full fare refunded if you cancel in the timelines. Additionally, all the benefits of FHR would add on top but the 2 rates (direct vs FHR) seem to be the same. This is a great deal, no? Or am I misunderstanding.

    Yeah, you’d get free cancellation etc as per the hotels terms. In this case the rates are the same, however, they don’t take into consideration the 15% discount you’d get if you signed up to MGM rewards before signing up.

    Then the FHR rate is only worth it if you know you’ll use the F&B credit and eat breakfast in the hotel every day.

    in reply to: How does FHR prepayment work with FX fees?
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    If you pay in advance then you’re charged the room rate at the time of booking so your spend would contribute to the sign up bonus and there’s no FX fee since you’re charged in gbp. Most pay now rates I’ve encountered also give you free cancellation until the standard cancellation period with a refund equal to the gbp amount you spent.

    That’s great. In general / your experience.. is HFP bookings the same price and the bonuses added on top are value, or they are that much more expensive where you could just pay for it yourself almost?

    For example.. is the price of 5 nights at any Monday – Saturday in the Bellagio the same as it would be on say.. direct or on Booking.com and I get the value on top? Or it depends.

    Could I be cheeky and ask if you could pick a Mon – Sat for 2024 that FHR allows you in Bellagio and share the price FHR quotes in GBP for a King Room? If you can do that or have access – if you can’t or don’t want to that’s fine too! 😀

    I’m not entirely sure why but the Bellagio isn’t bookable for 2024 on FHR. To give you an idea for comparisons though the 18th-23rd December this year prices up at £815.61, there’s no pay at hotel rate option available, however, you’ll also have to pay £210 (actually $250 so may be subject to fluctuations) for the resort fee. Looking on the Bellagio site gives a total price including resort fee of $1100.

    Personally, i think the longest FHR stay I’ve ever done was 3 nights and that was only because the hotel had a 3 nights for the price of 2 promotion on when booking through FHR. When we tend to travel somewhere we end up jumping around a bit, it’s not uncommon for us to stay in 7-10 hotels for a 2 week trip, which makes FHR valuable for us since we’re only staying 1 or maybe 2 nights in each hotel. Anything over that though, the value proposition of FHR starts to fall quite a bit. Ultimately you’re booking the standard flexible rate and for stays longer than 3 or 4 nights most hotels will happily knock 20% off that rate straight away for a stay longer rate. Whilst FHR might give you a $100 room credit, that’s not too useful if it’s costing you an extra $400 above a hotels special rate.

    in reply to: How does FHR prepayment work with FX fees?
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    If you pay in advance then you’re charged the room rate at the time of booking so your spend would contribute to the sign up bonus and there’s no FX fee since you’re charged in gbp. Most pay now rates I’ve encountered also give you free cancellation until the standard cancellation period with a refund equal to the gbp amount you spent.

    in reply to: How does FHR prepayment work with FX fees?
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    If you book a pay at hotel rate then you won’t be charged anything until you check out of the hotel, at which point the hotel will bill you in their currency of choice meaning you may be charged a foreign transaction fee.

    If you book a pay in advance rate then American Express will convert the hotels nightly rate into gbp at the time of booking and then charge that to your card. Amex travel will then effectively issue you with a voucher for the equivalent rate that you would have been charged at the hotel.

    Even if you book a prepaid rate you may be charged additional local city taxes etc, if that’s an FHR booking then you’ll need to pay with your Amex card. If you charge anything to your room you’ll need to pay at checkout, which will charge you in local currency and so you’ll need to pay the foreign exchange fee.

    in reply to: Dresden
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I stayed at Gewandhaus back in March 2022 and I thought it was a great hotel. As a gold at the time I got upgraded to the category below a suite but the hotel was very quiet at the time. The rooms were overall good although the bathrooms were feeling a little tired, but I think that might have been due to the slightly weird, excessively large jacuzzi style bathtubs. The breakfast was excellent, plenty of choice, fresh and a variety of hot dishes to order. Overall a great hotel.

    I’d recommend the green vault if you’ve got a few hours to spare in Dresden to see the huge treasure collection there.

    in reply to: Using Platinum Dining credit in NYC
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I can definitely give a +1 to quality meats, the food was great and the portions were huge. We also really enjoyed fish cheeks, I regularly think about the crab curry I had there 12 months later

    in reply to: Available LHR T4 lounges with Amex Platinum
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    You can get into the plaza premium lounge with your Amex platinum. As a forewarning it’s the lounge that Air France use for those with lounge access.

    It’s always worth checking lounge access on the Amex app instead of the priority pass app to see things like centurion lounges, priority pass, plaza premium etc.

    in reply to: Virgin flying club gold showing as sky team elite
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I can’t answer your question but I am intrigued as to which credit card gave you free gold ? I presume it’s some US card.

    It’s a uk Amex centurion benefit.

    in reply to: Double stay credits on fast track to Platinum?
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I did the same status challenge last year during the same double nights promo. The promotional nights didn’t count so I’d only get 1 night towards it instead of 2.

    bruinbrown 59 posts

    If you book through FHR you can make a single booking for multiple rooms and get the same benefits across all rooms. Eg if you book 2 rooms then everyone will get breakfast, every room will get an upgrade and every room will get the property credit. Some hotels may be awkward about the credit and insist that 2 $100 credits aren’t the same as a $200 credit. If you’re booking through FHR you may also be able to use some of the FHR offers eg 3rd/4th night free – there’s a full list of all properties with offers on this page on the Amex website
    https://www.americanexpressfhr.com/fhr/offers

    If you’re booking through Marriott or Hilton then you may be able to get an extended stay rate that might knock 15-20% off the flexible rate but you’d end up needing to pay for breakfast. Hilton gold will get you breakfast for yourself plus one person sharing your room. Marriott gold won’t get you free breakfast at all. The FHR rate will pretty much always be the same as the flexible rate on the hotels website.

    in reply to: Korea
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    You’re definitely not unlucky, Korea is a reasonably expensive country and has gone up a lot in recent years. There was a brief blip during the pandemic when hotel prices dipped a bit but they’re back up to their normal rates.

    Hotel prices in Korea are high right now for a couple of reasons. There’s been a big push towards status chasing in recent years and so you’ll typically find a lot of cheaper hotels booked for long term mattress runs. Also with travel in Korea being restricted during covid, there was a big push towards hotel breaks where people would visit a hotel to stay in the hotel. Add in the limited vacation days that people in Korea get and this tends to mean holidays within the country. For example, the Hilton you mentioned in Busan isn’t actually in Busan but it’s a resort about 10 miles away with a decent Korean style spa which makes it popular for people wanting a break in Korea.

    There’s also been closures of a few big hotels, eg the millennium Hilton seoul has closed which has increased demand on other Hilton’s in Seoul but with the small footprint that Hilton has in Seoul its meant a lot of the smaller hotels are busier.

    If you’re not willing to pay the sorts of prices that chain brands are charging now then Korea has a lot of high quality independent hotels that are also in places off the beaten track. Or if you’re set on staying in chain hotels then Marriott has by far the largest presence and is continuing to expand across the country but the chances of getting your status benefits is reasonably low owing to how busy they are.

    in reply to: Best Price Guarantee
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I think over the past year I’ve managed to make 8 claims and 6 of them have been approved. In all cases I’ve had a response within 24 hours which means if I didn’t get the rate matched I was able to cancel my booking with Marriott direct. I’ll give some examples of my claims below:

    Hotel: Courtyard New York Times Square West
    Marriott rate: $716.16
    Third party and rate: Booking.com $519.36
    Comments: Approved – final rate was $446.50

    Hotel: Gewandhaus Dresden
    Marriott rate: 210 EUR
    Third party and rate: Expedia.de 180 EUR
    Comments: Approved – final rate was 135.15 EUR

    Hotel: AC Brescia
    Marriott rate: 725 EUR
    Third party and rate: Booking.com 689 EUR
    Comments: Declined – booking didn’t include city tax whereas Marriott did

    Hotel: Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
    Marriott rate: 122.5 EUR
    Third party and rate: traveluro.com 114 EUR
    Comments: Declined – slightly questionable reservations site

    Hotel: Moxy Bordeaux
    Marriott rate: 115.3 EUR
    Third party and rate: Expedia.com £93.19
    Comments: Approved – final rate was 80.29 EUR

    Hotel: Renaissance Bordeaux
    Marriott rate: 175.28 EUR
    Third party and rate: Expedia.com £146.42
    Comments: Approved – final rate was EUR 120.87

    Hotel: Fairfield New York Downtown
    Marriott rate: $246
    Third party and rate: Expedia.com $220
    Comments: Approved – final rate was $165

    Hotel: Basel Marriott
    Marriott rate: 365 CHF
    Third party and rate: Priceline.com £157.40
    Comments: Approved – final rate was 138.71 CHF

    If you make a claim against a site like Expedia as long as the conditions are similar then it’s likely to be approved, a lot of those hotel booking sites you see on Google aren’t valid for comparison. Also it’s in the hotel owner’s interests to make sure the rates are the same since they’re going to get find on the order of $50-$500 per breach of the terms as well as needing to accept the lower rate. That means you can sometimes find good BRG claims on new quiet hotels where the owners don’t necessarily know what they’re doing yet.

    bruinbrown 59 posts

    Thanks for the info hadn’t noticed this one.

    Which other lounge in South terminal is recommended with amex platinum?

    The Club Aspire lounge and Clubrooms are both closed until further notice. Your options are either the No 1 lounge or the MyLounge, but the MyLounge option is only open between 7AM and 2PM.

    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I’ve also got a platinum card and a blue ba card. Currently on my platinum I’ve got 103 offers and on my ba card I’ve got 26 offers. I’ve held both cards for roughly the same amount of time but my spend is biased towards my platinum. I’ve got quite a bit of overlap across the offers, things like Pure, Kitbag, Aveda etc etc are available on both but currently my platinum has a lot of offers for restaurants like Hakkasa, yauatcha etc

    in reply to: Refusal to honour statement credit offers
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    Similar situation here. Spent the £200/£75 back with Marriott offer in Paris, 30th July. Bill came to £204. They claim it came to 199.17. Their conversion! Excluded the 2.99% which was almost £6. They told me several times l met the criteria on phone and chat, until this week they said l didn’t. Expressed concern so asked for supervisor, who offered me £50 goodwill. Pressed on, said they would see if their manager would approve the £75. Told her l was humiliating to beg for the £75! And that Amex were nit picking excluding the exchange fee…. Phoned me back as promised with the full offer. Almost 4 months. She mention she could allocate up to 7k Bonvoy points, should have taken them. But probably would have only given us £75 x 2! Useless.

    Other one we are waiting for is the One Fine Stay night, added an extra night. OFS billed us directly, supposed to have 200 credit back, it was a 276 bill. Again, big discussion, hadn’t a Clue where to find it, had to guide them…. Asked us to phone them back Today, can’t. So will do next week. So yes, having to drag certain credits out of them.

    Saying that, the restaurant credits both U.K. and Singapore posted quite quickly. HN now to buy a gift card/candle.

    I’ve had a situation relating to this recently. I had a setup where I’d get to £395 spend in GBP plus the 2.99% to take me over the £400 offer on Marriotts. I asked on chat about what settled amount meant and the chat agent was absolutely adamant that the offer would apply if the transaction fee caused it to go over the threshold. In the end though we didn’t need to worry as we went well over, but I’m thankful I have it written down for the future now.

    in reply to: Amex FHR hotel booking
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    When I book through FHR I do regularly see a bit of difference between the pay at hotel rate and the rate as quoted online. For example if I book a hotel and choose to pay at the hotel then it might price at £220 but the equivalent pay now rate might be in the region of £223. Your comments suggest that one might be a pay in advance rate and the other is a pay at hotel rate, however, I wouldn’t expect that to lead to a £400 difference.

    The only other thing I can think is whether one rate had a different cancellation policy to the other. I’ve noticed an increased number of FHR hotels offering non-refundable rates now rather than the usual 24 hour cancellation policy.

    in reply to: Dubai
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I can’t answer the questions about the Jumeirah hotels but on the second question I’ve seen that Marriott also offer a dine around package which allows you to go half board at other hotels’ restaurants if you’re staying in one of the participating hotels.

    https://www.morecravings.com/en/offers/dine-around

    in reply to: New £300 Platinum dining credit July 2022
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    Just been to Fish Cheeks in New York. We didn’t use the credit here but we found the place because of the dining offer. Lunch was excellent, the crab curry was incredibly spicy but tasted amazing. I’d 100% recommend it if you’re in NY even if you don’t use the dining credit here.

    in reply to: Post new Amex statement credit offers here!
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    An interesting new offer just popped up on my platinum card – spend £6.99 at reward flight finder and get £6.99 back up to 3 times before April next year.

    in reply to: Post new Amex statement credit offers here!
    bruinbrown 59 posts

    A new offer popped up on my platinum this morning – spend £50 anywhere get £10 back 3 times

    bruinbrown 59 posts

    I have a suspicion as to what has happened here. Given the cost of the hotel in local currency is reasonably high, as soon as you had a sufficiently high number of nights, the total cost of the hotel overflowed a 32 bit integer. Some part of the site clearly couldn’t cope with the large numbers caused by a high daily rate in a currency like Rupiah.

    Unfortunately I think in this case you’ll get no recourse as it was just a “presentation” bug rather than an invalid rate. The hotel clearly knew the actual rate was 169000000 per night and since Marriott processes all payments at the hotel I would anticipate the hotel would be able to process such a high rate which marriotts it couldn’t.

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