From Corporate Benefits to Retirement

When I retired 5 years ago, I had spent quite a few years travelling. So I had a Platinum KLM card, a Platinum Hilton HHonors card, a Silver British Airways (never did make it to Gold…), a posh Credit Card which gave me free travel insurance, Airport Lounge access etc (I paid a fee), a bank account that gave similar benefits (again I paid a fee).

Then I retired, and I reviewed my expenses. The first thing I did was change the bank account to a free one. I decided to keep the credit card, the fee was more than covered by the benefits. There was the added bonus that my son in NZ had a card on the same account – we always called it his ‘get you out of trouble’ card. We were still travelling so enjoyed the travel insurance and the airport lounge access.

The many airmiles were used, travelling to St Lucia several times, trips to New Zealand and Malaysia, all business class. On one of our ‘airmiles’ trips, we even got upgraded to first-class. Now I understand what luxury travel is all about! I wouldn’t pay for it, (well, maybe, not until I am a multi-millionaire) but we did enjoy the freebie. We even got pyjamas and a downie on the bed. A far jump from economy.

However 5 years have gone by, and I got a letter yesterday saying that the benefits were being removed from March next year. We no longer qualify on our income for the ‘private’ accounts that give you these benefits. I could put in enough savings and investments to meet the threshold, but given the interest is a pathetic 0.05%, there would be a huge opportunity cost of doing so. If I get a 10% on the money by investing it myself, it would cost me far more than buying the benefits directly.

So I’ve been off investigating which is the most cost effective travel insurance for two OAP’s, one with a minor health problem, the other with no health issues. Saga was pretty reasonable £303 for us, and I could add on £49.21 to cover car hire excesses. Now we are looking at hiring a car in our coming trip to NZ, and three weeks excess cover comes to far more than that. So one to think about. The other one that was reasonable was Staysure Travel Insurance at £289.80. So I’ll do a bit more research but I think it is likely we will go with one of them .

The lounge access is a bit more difficult, and really is an expensive option, so rather than buying a Priority Pass directly, I think we will pay for specific lounge access on our long haul trips. On a 6 hour transit in Singapore, after an overnight flight, and before we get back on the plane for another 14 hour leg, a shower and some food is not excessive. However that will only cost us £50 for two.  Not worth paying for lounge access on a short hop. If it comes for free, why not? But I’m not paying £25 for it each.

I think that was the last of the ‘perks’ of the well paid, frequent traveller left. So now we’re back to economy (coach) travel….

Well, not quite. We are travelling business on our next trip to New Zealand, which means we get lounge access. However, due to some particularly poor planning, we are booked to go on 28th December, so the airmiles for one flight will count in 2016 calendar year, while the airmiles for the return flight will count in 2017. With the result that we will miss acquiring silver card status …. We got an excellent deal through China Southern, so we couldn’t resist it. It worked out about the same as Premier Economy with a couple of the other airlines.


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