Why Tesco quietly dropped the Tesco World MasterCard

A couple of years ago, Tesco upgraded some of its credit card holders to the Tesco World MasterCard. World MasterCard is a premium product which comes with some elite benefits along the lines of those offered by American Express – see the website.

Tesco even bribed people to accept the upgrade! They received some bonus Clubcard points, and the promise of a further 650 Clubcard points for every year they kept the card. If you upgraded your card, you should have received your 650 points for 2013 in the last week or so.

And yet, if you look at the Tesco website today, the Tesco World MasterCard is nowhere to be seen! (I couldn’t even find a picture of it, so I chose this instead:)

Tesco Clubcard

The story behind this decision is outlined at the Retail Insider blog. And a fascinating story it is, which shows another example of how Tesco has been operating like a headless chicken in recent years.

World MasterCards have higher fees to retailers than standard MasterCard products. This is presumably because retailers are told they are held by ‘premium’ customers who will spend more.

But where were Tesco World MasterCard holders doing a large percentage of their shopping? Well, erm, in Tesco. No big surprise there.

Tesco’s UK retail business started to take a big financial hit because of the extra card fees taken by MasterCard on the World product. Some of this increased fee went back into Tesco Bank as commission, but some did not. And in any event, it made the financial performance of the UK retail business look poorer than it was. With other parts of the Tesco empire struggling, the company was desperate that the UK arm continued to show good performance.

The Tesco World MasterCard was therefore withdrawn to new cardholders. It is ironic, though, that Tesco is still paying existing cardholders 650 Clubcard points every year for keeping it!

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Comments

  1. I didn’t know that Mastercard could charge different fees to retailers based on the type of card…but they effectively have no choice? They can refuse Amex etc. but must accept all mastercards, right?

    Tesco has alwasy been a headless chicken. They can’t even use the same sign-in details for their savings account and credit card account, much less groceries, clubcard and bank! And isn’t it incredibly stupid to accumulate points over 3 months which can’t be used until they send you “vouchers” in multiples of 50 in the post?? (unless you want to print the associated coupons yourself) And if you happen to have a voucher for 1000 points but only want to get 625 avios for some reason, you have to use the entire voucher and wait another 3 months before you can use the remaining 750 points unless you decide what you want to do with those points right now?

  2. :D

    I never saw any of the supposed World MasterCard benefits and am not surprised by this story. (The annual 650 points bribe is a Tesco promotion rather than MasterCard.)

    The story seems to be about a year old, judging by the Olympics* content and the date of a comment.

    * Getting OT, purchases of Olympics tickets in the UK could only be made using Visa cards as Visa were an Olympics sponsor. However, when the debacle anout Olympics rationing broke ut last yeart, I was able to price up tickets (including some finals) from a German agency at normal prices and could have paid by MC or AmEx as well as Visa.

  3. Interesting – I hadn’t heard of this difference re World MasterCard before either. I had an egg card and when taken over by Barclaycard this was turned into a World MasterCard – can’t say I’ve noticed any particular benefits, but I guess there was previously things like purchase protection on the egg card that they matched with this.

  4. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Those benefits are US-only (and have been for as long as I remember). The closest thing we get over here is MasterCard World Elite, which is an even more premium platform. Most visible example is Capital One’s Aspire Elite card.

    I’ve got a lot more to contribute on the topic of interchange – on a tablet at the moment so typing is a pain, will swing back later.

    http://www.capitalone.co.uk/creditcards/aspire-elite-credit-card.jsf
    http://www.mastercard.co.uk/credit-card-world-elite.html

    • Andrew, as you seem to be the driving force behind nearly half of Rob’s posts, maybe you should be added as a supplementary blogger?

      • Actually, on the old blog (the software is slightly different since we moved to external hosting in February) I used to see a ‘top 10′ list of commentators! That isn’t in this version of WordPress, unfortunately.

  5. James67 says:

    Hi Raffles, were you able to get a new tesco refersl form date beyond June? If so, I will wait to end of month to apply but if not I will apply next week. Thx.

    • Yes, there is a new form available. Email me when you need it.

      • James67 says:

        Great thx. I will now wait and apply on my return to UK on 28th. If points continue to post quickly then hopefully we will have our respective 1k in next statement. I didnt feel comfortable applying overseas in event use of a nonUK server might cause a red flag.

    • I don’t know if Raffles has anything more recent, but the latest referral form I have is valid for “new accounts opened up 30th June 2013″, although you have until 30th September 2013 to submit the claim.

      So, you could probably apply in the last week of June and be fine. Don’t push it to the last day, in case they want to review it. (They could also potentially ask for submitted proof of address, etc).

      Personally I would expect a new form to come out shortly, with advanced dates, but nothing is guaranteed in this game…