News & offers: Emirates/Etihad merger, BA US business class from £1180, Curve update

5 different things to do in Las Vegas

Emirates/Etihad merger

Rumours about a merger between Emirates and troubled Middle East carrier Etihad have been around for a while but they seemed to be coming true when Bloomberg last week announced that they had started talks about a possible merger based on an anonymous source. Etihad has been in financial difficulties for quite a while now after a series of disastrous investments in struggling airlines such as Air Berlin and Alitalia. This has led to a number of cutbacks to the onboard service which has left them lagging behind the other ME carriers in some respects.

Emirates Boeing 777-300ER 

It now appears that Bloomberg has perhaps jumped the gun as this week both sides denied that there was any truth in the ‘rumour’. I am personally quite glad as overall I like the Etihad business and first products and would like to see them continue to operate as a separate airline. That is, of course, providing they can return to profitability and start putting back all the things that they have cut from business class such as the chauffeurs and amenity kits.

 

BA/AA to US from £1180

View of Portland, Oregon from Pittock Mansion.

If you are quick there are a number of good ex EU fares to the US with BA from Dublin which must be purchased by the end of today, 25 September.

 

As always unless you are after the extra tier points it is always worth comparing with the fares from Heathrow and including the cost of the positioning flights (and hotel if necessary) as often there is only around £150 difference from the Heathrow fare on the current 6-month advance purchase.

  • Las Vegas £1370
  • Los Angeles £1460
  • Portland £1534
  • San Diego £1460
  • Chicago £1340
  • Miami £1291
  • Orlando £1212
  • New York £1180

The rules:

  • non-refundable
  • changeable for a fee
  • travel permitted 27 June – 4 Sept or 20-25 November or 19 – 31 Dec for each transatlantic sector.
  • Monday to Thursday departures
  • Minimum stay 6 nights or a Saturday night

Tickets are available through British Airways or American Airlines

HT: Gilbert from God Save the Points and Flyertalk

Curve card update – makes the Lloyds Avios card worth keeping?

I wrote about Curve card a few weeks ago but since then things have changed dramatically for the better so it is worth rethinking if you weren’t sure about Curve card before.

Curve has made some changes for the better but also one for the worse potentially with your credit card company now being able to see your transactions in more detail on Curve. This means they could well charge you fees/interest for withdrawing cash whereas previously it was a good way to earn some credit card miles easily every month.

However, given the small withdrawal limit per month, to me, it is not a big deal. The upside of that change is that there should be less transactions declined which for me has been a problem since I started using it.

If you are a big foreign currency spender then the other big change will be much more worthwhile.  Curve now gives its customers the ability to spend abroad on any of their current Visa and Mastercard debit and credit cards and avoid any of the currency exchange fees they are usually charged. This means that you can continue to earn Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles abroad using your card through Curve without losing 3% on every transaction like you would do with most credit cards (and Lloyds Avios cards when the changes come into effect).

how to use lloyds avios upgrade voucher rules

The current Lloyds cards

If you are not familiar with Curve it allows you to sync all your Mastercard and Visa cards with the Curve card and spend via the Curve card instead (a bit like Apple Pay). Every time you make a payment with Curve card you can choose which credit card to use, even after the purchase where you can change your mind with the go back in time feature.

There are two options for the card and with the new 0% foreign exchange fees I will be upgrading to the black one to allow me to use my miles credit cards abroad with 0% fees as I need the higher limit. It is worth considering not just your spend when abroad but also your foreign currency spending such as ex EU fares and foreign hotels that you pre-pay which would also usually incur the foreign exchange fee.

The options are:

Blue card (free)

  • Spend Abroad: 0% fee and access to the Real Exchange Rate (better than the usual bank rate) on spend in over 150+ foreign currencies.
  • Initial cap of up to £500 per rolling month, and 1% fee thereafter (in November this will become 2% thereafter).
  • ATM withdrawal abroad: £200 at 0% fee, 2% or £2 per transaction thereafter (whichever is greater).
  • Weekend Spend Abroad: as the currency market is closed, Curve charge a 0.5% markup on Euros and US Dollars and 1% markup for all other supported currencies (in November this becomes 0.5% fee for Euros and US dollars, 1.5% fee for all other currencies).

If you’re a frequent traveller, you’d be better off using the Curve premium Black card (£50 fee):

  • Spend Abroad: 0% fee and access to the Real Exchange Rate on spend in over 150+foreign currencies worldwide
  • Up to £15,000 per rolling year and 2% fee thereafter
  • ATM withdrawal abroad: £400 ATM at 0 fee, 2% or £2 per transaction thereafter (whichever is greater).
  • Weekend Spend Abroad: as the currency market is closed, Curve charge a 0.5% markup on Euros and US Dollars and 1% markup for all other supported currencies (in November this becomes 0.5% fee for Euros and US dollars, 1.5% fee for all other currencies).

You can read more about Curve in my original review here before the changes. If you apply using the code VIMI4 you can get £5 of credit to spend as you wish on your first transaction with the card. You can find more details and apply on the Curve website here.

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