My Airline Credit Card Choices for 2020

When 2019 came around a year ago, I had just come off the back of a year filled with travel paid for by my hard earned money but there was one problem, I didn’t have much left and wanted to travel as much as I had done back in 2018. To cut a long story short, 2019 was a year of luxury for me. I flew First Class for the first, second and third time in my life, I flew to Australia via 6 different cities all in premium cabins and probably saved around £100,000 by doing it all on points.

So – if 2019 wasn’t your year, make 2020 your year to get started in the credit card game and start rewarding yourself with luxury travel.

What do I use?

As of last year, I had used all of AMEX’s cards apart from the top tier Platinum card. Now, I’ve ticked that one off too. As a student, I was able to use credit cards for student halls in 2018. In my first semester I used my favourite credit card going at the moment which is the AMEX Gold Card.The payment of £1,600 enabled me to be only £400 off the sign up bonus. After three weeks I hit this bonus and was rewarded with a total of 22,000 Membership Rewards points which I recently transferred into Avios (British Airways Miles). The sign up bonus is now smaller and you will receive 12,000 points but that is still enough for a European return trip.

For my second semester I used the British Airways Premium Plus credit card to pay my rent. This left me £1,400 off the sign up bonus and with a spend of £1,000 on British Airways (netting me 3x points) I was only £400 away from the sign up bonus which i ticked off through normal spend. I then netted a cool 26,000 Avios points.

My top picks and tips for 2020:

1.  The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Credit Card

The number one selling point of this card is that it is free. Not only will it not hurt your bank account but as mentioned above it will net you a wonderful 10,000 point sign up bonus (12,000 if you use my special link). For the full review of this card including how it can get you lounge access, hotel upgrades and more click here.

2.  British Airways American Express Premium Plus Credit Card

This card carries a charge of £195 a year but what people don’t realise is that if you cancel your card after receiving your sign-up bonus, money will be returned to you based on how long you had the card for. This card carries a lovely 25,000 (26,000 using my link) sign-up bonus which again is directly moved over to British Airways. For more details and how you can use this card to travel 2-4-1 on British Airways click here.

3. American Express Platinum Card

The AMEX Platinum is the most elite card on this list and boasts an enormous sign up bonus of 25,000 points (30,000 if you use this link). The card has a yearly cost of £575 and offers complimentary lounge access, hotel upgrades and other perks which you can find in the full review here.

4. Curve Metal Card

While not exactly an airline credit card, the Curve card is a great card for travelers as unlike American Express cards, there is no fee for spending money abroad! This card also has an insurance package and lounge access and you can read my full review here.

Whatever card you go for in 2020, make sure you read over my Miles and Points page to become aware of how best to use your points this year!

How I save THOUSANDS on my British Airways Long-Haul Flights

London is great for a lot of things, you can peddle a boat around Hyde Park on a summer day, watch tennis at Wimbledon, rugby at Twickenham or a play in the West End. One thing London isn’t so good for, however, is flying out of.

Flying out of London with British Airways involves paying hefty fees which are hidden in the ticket costs. In this article I will show you how I completely eliminate those fees by starting my trips elsewhere in Europe.

Due to Air Passenger Duty (a tax on passengers flying out of the UK), flying out of the UK will almost always end up being far more expensive than out of Europe. What this usually means is that starting your trip from a European airport, flying to London and continuing your trip as you were originally planning on doing is cheaper. Airports that I usually route out of include Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris because these airports are easily and very cheaply accessible from East Midlands Airport which is where I am based for most of the year.

Example #1 – Avios Bookings

In October, I will be flying to Toronto in British Airways’ new business class. I opted to book this trip using miles and straight away I saw that this trick would save me around £400. 

The cost of an avios redemption in business class to Toronto would have cost me a total of 50,000 avios and £418. With this enormous cost in mind, I used opted to start in Dublin instead.

Firstly, I searched for cheap flights out of EMA and found a one-way to Dublin for only £9.99: booked.

Secondly, I searched British Airways website for a one-way avios redemption from Dublin to Toronto via London which came up using the same London-Toronto flight I would have selected at first for a total of 62,750 avios and £166.

While this is a steep increase in the number of avios, for me it made much more sense I have a lot more avios than money. But remember, if you don’t want to use so many avios you could reduce the amount you use for cash.

Example #2 – Cash Bookings

Cash bookings are where the real money can be saved just by starting your trip in Europe. The example I will use for this is a trip I am looking to book to Tokyo in the autumn in business class where the usual return ticket comes in at £3,670. 

Total cost: £3,670

Now there are two ways to finding a much cheaper price for yourself on BA’s website. Firstly, you need to decide if you want to visit the European destination in advance and effectively start your trip a few months before or if you simply want to fly out, back into Heathrow and go straight from there. If you want to make a holiday out of the European hop then you want to use the multi-city flight search tool on BA.com and input the day you want to return from your small trip (start of your big trip), the outbound and inbound dates for your main trip (the Tokyo bit) and then a throwaway return leg which you won’t be using. This is what my search tool looked like:

After inputting these dates, you will be pushed through to a shabby looking page to choose the flights (note that you won’t be able to see the prices of the individual sectors) and once I had selected the flights the price of €2,606 which is a total of £2,385. 

This trick therefore created a saving of £1,285 per person and when you include the flight to Amsterdam you have to buy separately you’re looking at a rough saving of £1,245.

Conclusion

This is no hack or mistake fare but the most simple way to reduce costs on your next flight out of Heathrow. I tend to always use this trick when flying longhaul as it can pay for so much once you arrive in your destination.

How to Claim your FREE £5 with Curve

If you’ve read my two newest card reviews of two of Curve’s three cards, you’ll know exactly who they are and what they do but if you haven’t be sure to read them for an overview of their products.

Full review of the Blue Curve Card here

Full review of the Metal Curve Card here

Curve are offering a sign up bonus of £5 to any new customers by using this coupon code: LSPTR. 

If you are going abroad soon, the Curve card is a MUST for you as it eliminates all foreign transaction fees on purchases overseas. If you select the Metal card you’ll even be able to visit the airport lounge and be insured on your trip! More of that in the full card review.

All you have to do to claim this free £5 is download the curve app on your mobile phone, choose which card you would like to have the £5 put on, enter your delivery information so the card can be delivered to your door and you’re done!

No matter which card you choose, it’ll be a MasterCard so will be accepted no matter where you spend it.

Happy spending, and make sure you sign up before going abroad to eliminate those pesky foreign transaction fees!

How I Booked JFK-HKG in FIRST CLASS for $103

Flying First and Business Class is a treat. It’s more than that in fact, it’s incredible. For so many years i just thought that flying First and Business Class was how the rich and the mega-rich flew and dismissed it as ever being possible.

It is only recently that I have challenged this idea and begun to research how I, a 19 year old student, can afford such a novelty.

In this article I am going to take you through my mist recent redemption: Cathay Pacific First Class and show you how I was able to book it for the ridiculous price of £79 ($103)

Booking Cathay Pacific using money on this route will set you back approximately £20,000. Yes, WOW. I decided, after very careful consideration that this wasn’t worth it and decided to look at ways of booking this flight using miles and points.

By saying the words ‘using miles and points’ people instantly get scared away which I think is a real shame because it is so so easy to do and people get worried or think it is too much effort straight away.

Ways to book Cathay First Class

Using miles, Cathay Pacific First Class can be booked using many mileage programs such as American Airlines, British Airways and the best of them all: Alaska Airlines. 

Alaska Airlines are a small US domestic carrier based in Seattle who I have absolutely no ambition of flying anytime soon (sorry, Alaska). One thing Alaska does have which attracts me, however, is a superb mileage plan with some of the world’s best airlines as partners.

If you live in the USA, accruing Alaska miles shouldn’t be too hard. I’m no expert on US credit cards but I have seen sign-up bonuses of 100,000 points before!

To book this flight you will need 70,000 Alaska miles. These miles can very easily be accumulated by flying. Alaska is notorious for giving bonus miles if you choose them when adding your frequent flyer number to a booking. Examples of this include giving 500% on the miles flown in British Airways First Class!

If you have no way of accumulating Alaska miles, you can even purchase them for amazing rates. 70,000 miles will cost you $1,500 dollars at the moment so even if you have to do this you’re making a HUGE saving.

If you want to learn more on how to accumulate miles and points you can read my full guide here.

Booking This Flight

To find availability I  advise you to head to British Airways’ website and search for dates you want to fly. Lots of dates come up empty but if you are flexible, you should find a day that works for you. If you need help with that have a look at my guide to booking BA flights with miles.

Once I found my flight, I called up Alaska Airlines who asked me to verify who I was and then I told them the exact date and flight I wanted and the man on the phone said ‘that will be 70,000 miles and $103’ (A BARGAIN).

And just like that, my flights were booked and I was on my way to New York!

British Airways Reward Flights: A Beginner’s Guide

Today’s blog post in the LondonSpotter Miles and Points series has been requested a huge amount of times by my UK readers who still find lots of complicated posts online about cashing in miles for reward flights on British Airways but no simple guide which lays out the basics – look no further as here is your A-Z guide with everything you need to know.

Still not 100% sure what miles and points really are and how to generate them? No problem, I have you covered. Go to Miles and Points and click on the lessons for dummies then come back here for your exclusive lesson in British Airways award flights.

The British Airways executive club is a great place to cash in all those hard earned points you’ve generated through flying or on your British Airways credit cards in return for cheap travel.

To start your search for award bookings and flights, go to BA.com and log into your executive club account. Once you’re logged in, go to ‘Spending Avios’ and select ‘Reward Flights’ to pull up the search page.

The search page will give you two options. You can either book a revenue flight (a full fare ticket) and upgrade using your miles (this option is more expensive as you still have to shell out for the flight but makes sense if you still want to generate airmiles on the flight as you will earn miles based on the cabin you purchased) or you can simply search for award flights under ‘Book with Avios’. Let’s go ahead and look at booking a flight with avios.

How many Avios do I need?

The amount of Avios you will need to pay for a British Airways Reward ticket is based on two things: The region you’re flying to (based on miles) and the cabin you’re flying in. Here is the British Airways chart which should be your go-to table when booking award flights.

Examples: So if you’re flying from London to Amsterdam you are obviously still in zone 1 so you’ll pay 4,500 avios (4,000 in off-peak times) and 9,000 in business class (7,750 in off-peak times). Next week, I will be flying to Athens in Greece in business class which falls into zone 3. I, therefore, paid 20,000 miles as it is peak season. Simple.

Booking process:

While booking revenue tickets with airlines, I’m sure you will have noticed that buying a return ticket drastically brings prices down. This is not the case with reward flights. Reward flights are one way tickets and buying a return is simply double the price of a one-way. This is great as it gives you much more flexibility when booking trips.

As an example booking, I’m going to search for London – Moscow on a one-way ticket on March 8th in economy class.

Straight away you can see that it says ‘off-peak’ so we know that we will be paying the reduced number of avios on the above chart. Seeing as Moscow falls into zone 3, that number is 8,500 avios. In the below picture, you will see that their is also an amount to be paid in cash – these fees are taxes, airline charges and government charges which are thrown into every ticket and HAVE to be paid. While flying within Europe, these fees are not huge. As you can see, we only have to pay £17.50 for this flight to Moscow but as soon as we start to book other tickets to further destinations, prices begin to ROCKET.

For example, if you book a business class flight to New York, you’ll be set back £372 in fees. I’ll come on to how to avoid these charges later on in the article.

Once you have selected your flight, you will then be given the option to reduce the amount of Avios you use in favour of using more money. Once you select the ratio you want to use, continue like you would with any other ticket, confirm your details, pay the necessary charges (I suggest paying using the British Airways Premium Plus Card as it gives you 3x bonus for transactions on BA.com) and submit.

So there is your brief overview on HOW to book British Airways flights on BA.com but what makes the system with executive club worthwhile is the fact that you can book flights with other airlines too and what is even better is that the charges on those flights are rarely as high.

Booking tickets on other airlines through BA:

If you’re a keen reader, you’ll know that I booked to fly on Cathay Pacific’s A350-1000 for £27 and 9,000 Avios. Unfortunately the aircraft was swapped to a Cathay Dragon A330-300 but nonetheless, I was very happy with the deal.

I have booked several tickets on American Airlines using BA.com, too. Zone 1 fares have no been scrapped within the USA but you can still get some amazing deals. My favourite redemption has to be West Coast to Hawaii for 12,500 Avios and a killing $5.60.

Zone 1 fares may not be available within American anymore, but they are within Japan with Japan Airlines.

Avios can be used to book flights on any of BA’s oneworld partners as well as their non-alliance partners such as Alaska and Aer Lingus.

Avoiding hefty fees on British Airways flights:

As I mentioned above, booking flights with British Airways may not seem worth it because of the hefty charges they lay on. There are a couple of ways to reduce these costs such as: avoid flying British Airways and use your executive club to book flights on other carriers or don’t fly out of London. By routing your flight out of Dublin you can reduce the fees of that £372 New York flight to £163. Now obviously you have to start your trip from Dublin but it is easy enough to position there on a Ryanair flight eh?

I will make a much more in depth article on avoiding hefty BA fees soon but for now, play around with avoiding London and see just how big of a discount you can get yourself!


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I Am Flying Cathay Pacific’s A350 Business Class for £30.10 – Here is How I Did It.

I’m always looking for the best flight deals around and while I usually book revenue fares, I also try and look for some good deals that can be redeemed with air miles.

While looking at airlines that I wanted to review this summer, it struck me that while I have flown many times on a Boeing 787, I have hardly ever flown on an Airbus A350 so I decided to have a hunt for Cathay Pacific A350 flights to review.

Photo by Zach Honig from thepointsguy.com

Now many of you will know that my newest credit card is the American Express British Airways Premium Plus card which I want to talk to you about today and show you how you can use it to get some incredible deals like the one I just booked.

What is great about this card is the sign-up bonus it will give you. Now although the sign-up bonus is lower than lots of cards you will see advertised for the US market, its the best you’re going to get for British Airways cards in the UK.

Anyway, now onto the perks:

1.  If you spend £3,000 in the first 3 months, you will be awarded a generous 25,000 Avios points.

2. Every time you make a purchase you will receive 1.5 Avios points for every £1 you spend.

3. Every time you buy a flight on BA.com, you will get 3 Avios points per £1 you spend.

4. If you spend £10,000 in your first year, you will receive a companion voucher which enables you to buy one flight and receive a second ticket on the same flight in the same cabin for free!

5. If you refer a friend you will receive an extra 9,000 Avios points and they will receive a welcome 1,000.

So, with that said, here is how I made use of my new card. As I said above, I knew that I wanted a new business class product on an A350 to review for you guys so while browsing on Kayak I found that Cathay Pacific operates the Hong Kong – Taipei leg on one of their new Airbus A350-900 series so I looked to buy a revenue ticket but prices were pretty expensive.

Now, Cathay Pacific are part of the OneWorld alliance which means I can use Avios (which I got as part of my American Express deal) to book flights with them through partner airline British Airways and to my surprise it was incredibly cheap.

And just like that I am paying £30.10 to sit in the business class of one of the best airlines in the world and only making a dent of 9,000 Avios into my 25,000 start-up bonus. On this occasion I actually went a bit further and purchased a Cathay Dragon A321 business class flight and then a return flight on the Cathay Pacific A350-900 in Premium Economy which meant that I paid a total of 24,000 Avios and £57 – a huge saving from the £1,000+ I would have paid as a normal revenue passenger.

So, if you haven’t already then sign up for the American Express Card here (plus if you use my link you’ll get a bonus 1,000 after signing up), spend £3,000 in the first three months (far easier than you’d originally think if you get a supplementary card for family members) and spend those Avios on awesome flights like me!

Make sure you subscribe to me below for more travel hacks and on YouTube too!

featured image by Zach Honig from thepointsguy.com