Barclays changes its credit card application rules again – for the worse

Barclaycard issues two of the most popular non-American Express travel credit cards:

The Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa (read my review here) – which has the easiest high value bonus in the industry of a free night at ANY Hilton hotel (even a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria) for spending just £750, and

The IHG Rewards Club Visa and Premium Visa (read my reviews here and here) – both of which give you status in IHG Rewards Club for as long as you hold the card

Late last year, Barclays changed the application rules on its cards.  I was told by numerous people that the following criteria were in place:

You could no longer apply for a Barclays-issued credit card if you already had one

If you cancelled your existing Barclays card, you could apply for a different one immediately but would have to wait six months before applying for the same card again

Hilton Visa

Three people have told me since Christmas that Barclays has changed its policy again.  These are the new rules:

You cannot apply for a Barclays-issued card if you already have one

If you cancel your existing card, you must wait six months before applying for ANY Barclays issued card

I find this very surprising, to be honest.  If you want to ditch a Barclays-issued card which has no rewards and swap it for a Hilton or IHG card, you would think that Barclays would be keen.  After all, the alternative would be that you sign up for a card with a different provider instead.

But no … Barclays appears to be adopting a ‘cut off my nose to spite my face’ approach!  They would rather not make a penny off you for six months than make it easy for you to switch to a different product.

IHG Rewards Club Visa

I can’t imagine what Hilton and IHG make of this, since it obviously impact them.  A huge swathe of people who have an existing Barclaycard are now blocked from getting a Hilton or IHG card.  People who already have one of the hotel cards – and are substantially more likely than a general member of the public to want another – are also blocked.

You therefore need to think carefully about your strategy for applying for the IHG and Hilton HHonors cards.  If you currently have a non-travel Barclaycard, I would seriously consider cancelling it ASAP because you may want to start the clock on the six month gap before you can get either of the hotel cards.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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Comments

  1. The rules you are reporting as comming into effect after Christmas are the rules as they were explained to me by Barclays back in August, and were borne out by comments on numerous HFP posts. What was also borne out by comments is that Barclays rules always were, and probably remain, farcical. How an application is treated is anybodies guess, and it’s just your luck what you do or don’t get. For those who are not too fussed about the outcom there’s probablh no harm in trying an application any time it suits them. What will surprize me most is if it becomes apparrent that Barclays start applying any rules consistently.

  2. Hilton card closed ages ago, so look forward to entering the application lottery again for it soon (I find Barclays very hit-or-miss on approving applications, when MBNA and Amex consistently approve them!).

    IHG closed more recently as everytime I went to close it they kept offering me more cash to keep it – after £60 received finally closed it off!

    • My father had a similar experience with IHG white. He applied for it last winter and spent less than £2 for 30k points. His points were late crediting so £10 goodwill credit. Called later to cancel, £20 to keep, a month later anothe request to cancel was met with £50. £80 plus 30k point for sub £2 spend. They even sent him a cheque for last £50 when he finally cancelled in antjckoation of bonus again this winter (bug came unstuck with the early promotion and 6 months rule).

  3. The whole way in which Barclaycard conduct there business leaves much to be desired. A recent string of applications led to countless calls to an incomprehensible call centre. Finally resolved by writing letter of complaint/concern and eventually dealing with UK call centre. Only the efforts of a member of their staff enabled the fatuous underwriting decisions to be overturned. We have no problem with Amex, Lloyds, Natwest or MBNA so what is the purpose of Barclaycard’s behaviour. It is only the free hotel night that makes it worthwhile. The most amazing comment made during this tortuous process covering 6 months was that there were too many searches on the credit file. Guess what they were all made by Barclaycard. So what is the point of dealing with them? I suppose if you have the time and inclination to pursue the result can be worth it

  4. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    If you cancel, wait, then reapply is it possible to earn another Hilton Certificate?

  5. Maybe I’ve been very lucky / my application slipped through the net. I cancelled my wife’s Hilton card in November, applied for the IHG card 2 days ago. Referred, but received confirmation accepted yesterday. Will now look to cancel my IHG and may try Hilton application before the 6 month window is over (or simply start the count down….). 4 free nights a year worth going after.

    Can’t find a 6 month rule anywhere in their terms by the way – the rest, yes

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Right, time to cancel my Hilton card then to start the clock ticking to the next certificate.

  6. This is a very old rule reincarnated. Their risk team believe if customers need quick access to more credit (ie get another card) then they are likely to default on payment. Hilton and ihg are a miniscule (and pretty irrelevant) part of their p and l so there is no value in making exceptions where people play the game for sign up bonuses.

    • But that doesn’t explain why you can’t switch from one product to another product which you prefer. It wouldn’t increase your available credit, and it’s a motivation which shouldn’t ring any alarm bells, credit-wise.

      I wonder whether the rule really is there to clamp down on churning sign-up bonuses? Though in that case, just making a rule where you don’t get the bonus would make more sense I suppose.

  7. It happened to me, I have a very old Visa card, standard non-aligned and tried to apply for the Hilton Card. I use the BC about twice a year (wow I’m being honest) as a vehicle to play the odd bet on the Grand National via an online Coral account. It is currently in £100 in credit! I may use it again in March for a couple of each way bets at Cheltenham.
    I am fortunate I have an excellent credit rating so didn’t anticipate any issues. I was rejected. Speaking to anyone at BC that you can either understand or has an ounce of common sense is virtually impossible. I was told to visit my branch. I duly did and was told I had to book an appointment to see a ‘manager’. At the interview after the ‘cup of tea’ and the attempt to change my mortgage the lady reviewed my application and again remained adamant that I could not have the HH credit card as I already had a BC. I could be considered after closing my current card in 3 months. How uncommercial is that?

    If I were Hilton I’d seriously question the relationship with such a shoddy service related organisation.
    The result.
    No card.
    No spend on Barclaycard.
    No stay in Hilton property spending money in bar and restaurant.
    I think the Americans call this a lose/lose situation.

    • Britbronco22 says:

      Keith I think you should use debit cards to fund betting accounts. My understanding was that most bookies charge deposit fees for CCs and the CC treats it as a cash advance and charges interest from the transaction day

  8. What a pain as I already hold the IHG, will it be possible for a partner to open a Hilton visa but credit points to my acct? As I have Diamond though the recent status match with Spire.

    • I’m in exactly the same position as you. My husband has the HH card as I was refused on the grounds of having the IHG card. I have diamond status due to recent match – once we hit 10k later this year he will be gold I suppose. Will just have to book using the 2 accounts. Same with IHG – I have Spire and I’ve recently opened an account for him to buy points – he is only a Club member.

  9. Me too. The only card I have ever been rejected for but can’t be bothered to argue with them. It’s a shame because I fancied a free night in a posh New York hotel….

  10. Dirtyneedebluesky says:

    Always found it strange that Barclaycard control what could be two of the most common UK based credit cards for hotel loyalty schemes.

    @raffles

    Regarding your comment below then it may also work in the opposite way. Making it difficult to ‘ditch & switch’ potentially locks the consumer into their loyalty scheme for a longer period of time.

    “I can’t imagine what Hilton and IHG make of this, since it obviously impact them. A huge swathe of people who have an existing Barclaycard are now blocked from getting a Hilton or IHG card.”

  11. Presumably somebody has to pay for the “free” night in the hotel, whether it be Barclaycard or the chain. Therefore restricting the churn rate benefits that party.

  12. Barclaycard adopting Amex rules then!

  13. Have a Barclaycard platinum and are such a pain to cancel!
    Have rung up twice and the retentions team are a nightmare

    • Me too i got an ooold barclays platinum that i never use i should have cancelled before. I ll do it asap then..

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Why?

      Me: I want to cancel
      Them: Are you sure? I could…
      Me: No. I have no interest in maintaining this relationship further. Please close my account now.

      No idea why it would take multiple calls.

      • Twice I have rung up and they have said they can’t process closure as I need to talk to retentions and the department was closed.

        I have written to them asking for closure and even then they have bombarded me with emails and text messages asking to call them

        • I write to them saying I am cancelling, enclosing the chopped up card.

          They will then try to contact you to talk you out of it. Just ignore their text messages. A couple of weeks later you get a letter confirming closure.

    • They give you good offers though. I got a year of interest-free purchases. Was perfect for my Rugby World Cup ticket buying obsession.

  14. I’m in the same boat, cancelled my premium IHG visa early December and waiting to apply for the Hilton CC. Need a voucher to use mid April so time running out.

  15. axel heyst says:

    I cancelled my IHG card on 29th December their retententions lady was pretty haughty taughty about this until I told them I was moving abroad. Applied for Hilton on 2nd January. Browsers said I was succesful but oddly no email confirmation came through. BUT then the new Hilton card arrived yesterday.

    It was my first burn and churn with Barclays, and it’s obviously hit or miss.

    Rob, one IMPORTANT benefit you should mention is the free and uncomplicated online access to your experian credit rating with these Barclaycards.

    I checked my credit rating before I cancelled the IHG card and am very keen to check it again once my Hilton card account is active.

    • Really… Please do tell.

    • Barclaycard gives you your Experian score, which is a number drawn out of a hat.

      Unlike the US, in the UK your credit rating is assessed individually by each financial institution when you apply for one of their products. Until Experian starts offering credit cards, their score remains worthless.

      Financial institutions do access data held by Experian, for which you need to pay £2 to access, or you can sign up for a ‘free trial’. The other two agencies which hold financial data about you are Equifax and Noddle, both of whom now offer free monthly credit reports.

  16. I applied for IHG on 28th December and also got no confirmation e-mail – the card came through the post.
    Barclaycard need to up their game.

    O/T but does anyone know how long to expect before my 40,000 points post? And how long until I get platinum showing on my IHG account?

    • O/T but just applied for the Lloyds avios cards – couldn’t have been easier, did call customer service – helpful, smart, UK call centre, just like Amex, wonderful, and dramatic comparison to above Barclays behaviour.

      • Can we assume that you did not get the 9000 Avios introduction bonus

        • I have not yet received the supplementary card requested on December 2nd (have to use paper form) and my wife has not received any Avios for a year’s moderate purchases despite three letters

        • There is no bonus on the Lloyds Avios cards, unless you use a refer a friend link for 4,500.

    • I got a white IHG card just before Christmas as part of my Accelerate My status changed fairly quickly, but I’ve not had the points yet.

  17. wetboy1uk says:

    I am fed up of Barclaycard. Their customer service is crap – they could not sort out an issue with my card and the points balance. Promised a good will credit of £10 which was never received and half the time they don’t kow their own credit card rules properly.

  18. ankomonkey says:

    Our lass is a housewife. She has two Amex Amexes right now and has successfully applied for an MBNA Visa/Amex duo in the past without her own salary. Does anyone have experience of Barclaycard giving cards to those with no personal salary?

  19. Lee Harris says:

    I had a Barclaycard Platinum and wanted to change it to an HHonors card, so in mid December I called them and asked to change the card. They had several other cards they were willing to change it to, but not the Hhonors card, so I closed my account. They told me on the phone that I could wait for 6 months and apply for the Hhonors card.

    I waited a week (so I could be sure the account had fully closed) and applied online for the HHonors card and got an instant acceptance. I’ve had the card (and even had the voucher for a free night’s stay, already).