BA and Virgin price wars
After the disappointing Virgin Flash sale earlier this week, an exceptionally good deal for Virgin or Delta has appeared from London to New York. This means you can use the Virgin Clubhouse lounge (above), which in my opinion is the best business class lounge at Heathrow. You can read my latest review here. Virgin appears to be trying to match the BA 6-month advance purchase deal which is still available for many US destinations such as New York from £1324. You can find the best dates for the BA offers using the BA low fare finder which shows you the best month and date for the advertised lowest fare.
The Virgin Atlantic rules are:
- outbound – permitted tue/wed/thu on each transatlantic sector.
- inbound – permitted mon/tue/wed on each transatlantic sector
- 6-month advance purchase
- 7-night minimum stay or a Saturday night
- Non-changeable and non-refundable
- travel dates February 2019 onwards
You can find the latest prices with Virgin Atlantic here.
Virgin ex EU bargains from £1204
There are often exceptional bargains to be had with Virgin ex EU flights but they don’t come around that often. My last flight to Los Angeles was one of those flights costing around £1250 before I added in a stopover. You can read my Virgin Atlantic Upper Class reviews here. A new offer has emerged from Dublin which expires on 13 August, so don’t hang around if you are interested.
The best prices are:
- Orlando £1219
- New York £1204
- Boston £1215
- Los Angeles £1467
- San Francisco £1467
If you have never flown from Dublin before, have a read of my beginners guide to ex EU flights from Dublin here. One thing to bear in mind is that Virgin will insist on booking your luggage all the way through to Ireland on your way home. One option is to pay slightly more and do a stopover which costs £200 and use it for a separate trip to Dublin as I did. If you collect BA and Virgin miles, you can do the connecting Heathrow flights on BA and get 80 Tier points as part of the trip.
The rules of the fares are:
- Travel from Ireland –
permitted 1 Nov through 17 Dec or 25 Dec – 22 Mar
Travel to Ireland –
permitted 15 Nov to 31 Dec or 8 Jan – 30 Mar 2019
- Reservations must be made on/before 13 Aug 18.
Lloyds Avios changes announced
Lloyds has finally revealed the details of its new replacement card when it loses the ability to offer an Amex card any more. Due to EU fee caps, it is getting harder and harder for banks to offer the same perks on credit cards that we have been used to, although the new Virgin MasterCard manages to give a very decent package.
The news is not good for Lloyds Avios cardholders and many of the perks that I loved about the Lloyds card will go. There will be only one real advantage to keeping it – a non-Amex card that offers Avios.
The key perks that will be lost are:
- No more upgrade vouchers
- Foreign transactions will be charged at 2.95% fee which is fairly standard
The only plus points are that there will no longer be an annual fee, but personally, I would have happily paid a higher fee to keep the previous perks, even if it had a higher spend threshold. The other improvement is that you get double Avios for foreign spend though this still doesn’t make it worth the 2.95% fee.
What are the earning rates on the new Lloyds Avios card?
As I reported earlier in my previous article:
- 0.4 Avios per £1 you spend in the UK
- 0.8 Avios per £1 you spend outside the UK
- 0.4 Avios per £1 transferred for balance transfers
*Club Lloyds current account holders will get a 25% bonus if you have held the account for 6 months or more
What are the alternatives?
In terms of an Avios earning non-MasterCard you have:
- HSBC Premier World Elite MasterCard (tough criteria and high fee)
- HSBC Premier Mastercard (tough criteria)
- IHG Rewards Club and Rewards Club Premier Mastercard
- Tesco Clubcard Mastercard
For 0% foreign transactions there are options such as Revolut which I talked about here and the option I shall use to keep earning some miles – Curve card. Curve card allows you to link your Lloyds Avios card to your Curve account. When you use your Curve card to pay abroad you will only get charged 1% foreign exchange fee and will still earn miles. Obviously, you need to decide if the Lloyds earning rate is it worth your while to bother getting the extra miles at 1% extra cost.
I will still be keeping mine for the time being just for the odd occasion where places don’t accept American Express. As a huge amount of my spending is in foreign currency I think I will be tempted to use my Lloyds Avios with the Curve Card rather than get yet another 0% card. As it is there will be a big drop in my Avios earning since there will no longer be an Amex card with a low or no foreign transaction fee. There is little advantage to paying 1% versus buying Avios though.
You can get £5 free credit when you apply and find more information from my previous article on the Curve Card.
What to do now?
According to Head for Points, letters will be sent out on a staggered basis until April 2019 giving customers 60 days notice of changing to the new product. If you have any spend planned that will be in foreign currency such as ex EU flights, hotels abroad or tours buy them before the end of the 60 days. Make sure you pre-pay as much as possible for foreign spend before the switch date. Hotels usually give a discount for pre-pay advance rates too.
If you haven’t earned your voucher for this year try to ensure you do it before the 60 days is up.
Any fees paid for the current year will be refunded on a pro rata basis.
You can find the details on a special Lloyds website here.