Bits: Tesco Bank interchange fee profit hit, new Avios hotel deals, £50 credit at Radisson Blu Edwardian

News in brief:

Tesco Bank shows first hit from EU interchange fee caps

The Tesco financial results last week gave the first indication of how credit card companies will be hit from the 0.3% cap on interchange fees which came into effect on 3rd December.

For the year to 27th February, Tesco Bank saw its operating profit fall from £188m to £162m.  This was mainly due to a fall in ‘fees and commissions receivable’ from £410m to £379m.  The accompanying text blames the bulk of this fall on just 3 months of impact from the cap on interchange fees, although MasterCard had already reduced its fees marginally in March 2015.

It is possible that Tesco Bank could take an annual hit as large as £100m from the interchange fee cap – more than half of its annual profit.  It is unlikely that the halving in the number of Clubcard points (and therefore Avios) awarded on the credit card will make much of a saving.  Given that Tesco Bank can at least fall back on its mortgages, insurance and current accounts, you can only begin to imagine the impact of the fee cap at pure(r) card operations such as MBNA and American Express.

Tesco Mastercard credit card hotel deals in Dubai and the Algarve has launched a handful of new special deals for hotel bookings.

As an example, see Conrad Algarve which has a very good reputation.  7 nights from 11th June, for example, prices on at £2,154 B&B – and you earn 10,770 Avios back!  Over at the same room for the same dates costs £2,800 and that is room only.

Unfortunately, you cannot make a Best Rate Guarantee claim against Hilton as these are technically ‘members only’ rates for Avios collectors and are therefore exempt.

Deals are also running at Hilton Dubai The Walk and Fairmont Southampton Bermuda if you are heading that way. Remember that you won’t receive any status benefits or hotel loyalty points for booking via although you will earn Avios based on what you spend.

May Fair 350

£50 credit at Radisson Edwardian for BA Amex cardholders

If you are heading into London before 7th June, the 10 Radisson Blu Edwardian hotels, plus The May Fair, are offering a special British Airways American Express package.  This deal is also available at the Radisson Blu Edwardian in Manchester.

This includes a £50 credit towards in-hotel spend (you get this even if you only book for one night) and breakfast.  If you credit your stay to Avios instead of taking Club Carlson points, you will receive 500 Avios per stay.  Payment must be made with a British Airways American Express card.

You can check rates by going to the Radisson Blu Edwardian website here and using promotional code AXPLBA50.  Full terms and conditions can be found here.

By coincidence, I will be reviewing The May Fair hotel this week as I found booking a Radisson night was the only way to use up some SAS Eurobonus points I picked up.  I get a day of free office space out of it and a breakfast!

Which loyalty credit cards are worth keeping for their benefits even if you don’t use them?
12,000 Avios points with E.ON Energy Fixed 18 Month Reward gas and electricity tariff
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.


  1. I stayed at the May Fair hotel about 4 years ago. Perfectly acceptable place, but perhaps a bit too OCD about keeping the rooms tidy. I stayed there was due to a business meeting that involved 10 hours of travel that day, so I got back to the hotel and just went straight to sleep. At 5am in walks house keeping to clean the room. No one felt it necessary to apologise, so I never went back.

  2. Interesting re Tesco. Presumably there is in fact a double negative effect for Tesco – the lower interchange fee but also less usage of their card as people redirect their card usage. I have certainly more than halved my use of the Tesco MasterCard (old World version, so 1.6 Avios per £1) in favour of Amex. I also made a lot of one off purchases before the reduction with places that don’t take Amex such as paying my council tax, buying a tank of oil etc. Looking forward to Curve, but hasn’t arrived yet.

    • Surely more than offset by the reduced credit card fees they will have to pay for transactions in their stores

      • good point – obviously different profit centres, though

        you could do back of a fag packet calculation

        Tesco Bank annual hit £100million

        credit card usage in Tesco – non Tesco credit card – = 90% of all credit card transactions

        additional profit to Tesco through reduction in credit card fees payable = £900 million

        • There’s no way in hell tesco are going to make almost a billion pounds a year in extra profit.

          I don’t think Raffles assumption that the total drop was caused by the rate change is accurate (and as he said, ignores the rate cut earlier in the year, which could easily account for a significant portion – were there many still on world mastercards?), making the £100m extrapolation rather meaningless. Nor do I understand your assumption that customers spend 9x the entire tesco bank balance sheet in twsco on non-Tesco cards?

        • Genghis says:

          I think some of your assumptions are incorrect Harry. Tesco bank cards can be used at other retailers (you’ve assumed all Tesco card spend is at Tesco)

          • fair enough but Tesco credit card is a fairly small player (?) so you could still guesstimate that – with 28% share of supermarket spend – the additional profit through interchange cap is going to be way more than the possible £100m hit @ Tesco bank

            maybe not £900m but could easily be north of £500m

            • Again, completely baseless and rather absurd. You do realise that your estimates assume Tesco is spending £1bn plus a year just on card fees!? If they were going to make an extra 0.5bn a year in profit do you not think they’d be shouting about it to investors? Having worked in supermarkets I can also assure you that a huge proportion of people don’t spend on credit cards. On the occassions I was on a checkout I’d guess it was somewhere in the region of 10% tops.

              And as I said before, I still think the £100m hit at Tesco Bank is a huge exaggeration.

            • OK I’ll give you that one :)

              Both figures are clearly wide of the mark – 1. the guesstimate £100m hit BECAUSE of interchange cap @ Tesco Bank and 2. my £500m figure, the benefit to supermarkets etc bottom line from reduced credit card fees.

              Going back to the Tesco statement, operating profit @ Tesco bank declined from £188m to £162 m, and…
              Operating profit before exceptional items reduced by (13.8)% to £162m. This decline was primarily due to the introduction of European Commission caps on interchange income from December 2015, following the initial reduction driven by MasterCard’sagreement with the Competition and Markets Authority last April.

              Now, ‘primarily’ can mean many things – here I think it simply means ‘the most important single reason to explain the decline’.

              Bear in mind that whilst the cap came in on 9th December, the reductions in card fees were phased in before that date. Debit card cap was much earlier.

              Combine the 2 issues, and I would hazard a guess that in reality the decine in op profit due to the cap is more like 4 months’ worth @ maybe £15m. So a full year hit is more likely to be considerably lower than £100m, more like £45-50m.

              And if you fancy a better guesstimate at the upside to the retail businesses, I’d revise it to £200-250m or so.

            • This is like the small boy in Thailand trying to sell James Bond a wooden elephant in MWGG.

              I wonder what the number would be if we assume 10% of Tesco turnover is Credit Cards, of which 10% is the Tesco Card, and work backwards.

            • highly unlikely that only 10% of Tesco turnover is through credit cards

              my guess would be more like 65%+

            • What on earth do you base that on? Is it another blind guess about an industry you know little about?

              I don’t mean to sound too rude, but there’s no way in hell 65% of spending in Tesco is on credit cards. My 10% is an anecdote (allbeit based on personally processing these transactions) so not reliable, but presumably much better than pulling numbers out of thin air like you seem to be doing!

            • Can’t argue with true, gritty evidence from a Tesco till boy.

              10% it is.

            • I clearly said it’s an unreliable anecdote – just preferable to your blind guesses which are beyond pointless. We’re all making assumptions here, but randomly plucking numbers out of the air is beyond absurd and is completely meaningless. The fact your initial guess was that Tesco is shelling out over a billion pounds a year in card transaction fees should have demonstrated that.

              If you can’t handle criticism then you shouldn’t be posting on the internet. Though your patronising till boy quip makes you a bit of a hypocrite in that area… (hopefully my exasperation was misread as insults and you aren’t usually this childish)

          • shove that up yer cakehole :)

            Partly because of the diminishing need for people to carry coins, nearly four in every five pounds (78.5pc) spent in UK shops is now made through debit and credit cards, according to figures from the UK Cards Association.

    • That would explain why they wouldn’t waive a late payment fee, and interest, for a debit card payment I made on a rarely used card last month.
      They only warned me, on the website, that debit card payments can take up to 2 days to process once I had made the payment. The payment was processed the next day but a day too late.
      Ive raised a complaint but the card will be cancelled if this is how they are going to treat customers.
      All other cards I use credit the switch payment instantly, with the exception of MBNA, which is the next day. However Mbna waived the interest charge and fees and I now know to make the payment a day before it’s due.

      • easy enough to set up a minimum payment request to always avoid late payment fees

        • Not worried about the late payment charge it’s the £168 in interest I’m irritated about.
          If it had said it can take up to 2 days to process the payment, before I paid it, I would have set up an online payment from my account which is instant.

          • It may be instant from a Tesco Bank account but it isn’t from other accounts, as I discovered 2 years ago. I was going to call and complain, but upon a closer look I found that “late payment fee” charged to my card was not £12 but rather -£12 …. so I just left it!

            • -£12 generally means they’ve taken £12 from you. It would be bizarre if they accidently gave it to you – are you sure they did?

      • RE:

        highly unlikely that only 10% of Tesco turnover is through credit cards

        my guess would be more like 65%+

        The vast majority of card payments are debit cards, around 80% in my business. Few people use point schemes and they put regular spending on debit cards and financed spending on credit cards. A generalisation I know but it is what I see across multiples of businesses I own.

    • I don’t think the average credit card user is savvy enough to know to redirect their spending to a more efficient card, so the “double negative” effect will be minimal.

      HFP readers are far more savvy than the average user, but also form a small percenrage of total card holders.

    • most people can pay council tax with Amex via PayPoint @ Co-Op

      • Where do you live, I haven’t been able to for my past 3 councils??

        This year mine is debit card only, but managed to use Supercard, and Travelex didn’t even charge me the 50p for UK sales

        • I am lucky that my council does accept PayPoint. I try to pay it using GoSpendIt cards which I have bought from Tesco using money off vouchers. I have just used the last of a series of 8 giving £9 or £13 off £90. That awful Tesco not only allowed me to use them to buy gift cards in contravention of the T&Cs but on two occasions printed me an additional £12 money off voucher which I used to buy more gift cards!

          • People do move to this District so that their children can go to a grammar school, but I doubt that they move to pay their Council Tax by PayPoint.

          • I never get these money off coupons from Tesco. Do you mainly shop at a different supermarket? I spend mostly at Tesco and sometimes at Sainburys. SAinsburys send me regular money off coupons.

            • Me neither. I start to wonder what I’ve done wrong, other than try and accumulate too many clubcard points.

              I tend to shop at M&S using vouchers I buy at Tesco though…

            • We rarely buy ‘real’ shopping from Tesco, preferring Waitrose (which is sometimes cheaper) but currently in Tesco Wild Alaskan Smoked Salmon is the same price as farmed. I (or actually my wife) do frequently receive the coupons and always use them – for gift vouchers. I have no idea why they started and it clearly is not because of what I buy. I also receive £12 coupons from Sainsbury but rarely use them.

            • Genghis says:

              I used to have Tesco delivery saver and all shopping would go through on my account – here my wife received coupons (money off and cc offers) and I didn’t. Now my wife has the delivery saver and shopping goes through her account – I get the coupons and my wife doesn’t.

              So I guess that Tesco have decided to encourage non-brand sticky rather than loyal customers

        • OK I am randomly picking councils (honest!) and typing in results as we go – PayPoint accepted, yes/ no:

          Bristol yes
          Cardiff yes
          Birmingham yes
          Manchester yes
          Sheffield yes (sneakily say cash only – machine can’t tell difference)
          Norwich – yes
          Cornwall – yes
          Southampton no
          Exeter yes
          Glasgow yes
          Edinburgh yes

          Guess you were unlucky with your 3 councils, which ones were they, John?

    • I received an email last week telling me my expected delivery is week of 27th April. I’m surprised we haven’t yet heard of any readers experiences of having received and using the card.

      • Sussex Bantam says:

        A few people have them – I’ve had it for about 3 weeks I’d guess. All working perfectly as expected.

      • I’ve had my card for a couple of weeks (despite getting an email a couple of days ago telling me to expect a 27th of April delivery). I’ve been using it to get cash out and for non-Amex transactions (All in the UK). No problems so far. The app isn’t great but does the job. All transactions show as “Curve London” on my statement. Now waiting for a second card for my wife.

        • Thanks both. Am keenly waiting.

        • Still waiting here – no email received.

          • Had had email with 29/04 and tonight got dispatch email…

            • I’ve had notification of my card being sent last night (18th), but looking at the Curve website this morning suggests that Amex have suspended supporting transactions?!

              Has anyone used their Curve card today successfully linked to their Amex?

            • I cannot see that. Amex still showing on the accepted payments screen and in the FAQs –

              Please could you point us to what you saw?

            • I am having a call with them in the next hour, will let you know.

            • OK, this is where I was told things are.

              Amex is working perfectly well with Curve as of now. Nothing changes. Feel free to put your card into an ATM to test it!

              The message that appeared online briefly was a mistake.

              Should the Amex deal fall away, there is a strategy in place which will ensure that no-one who has ordered a card is out of pocket. You would be offered a refund or a favourable deal to keep your card (you would still get the ability to recharge ATM transactions to a Visa or MasterCard credit card as well as make transactions overseas with a 1% vs the standard 3% fee).

              There is certainly nothing to worry about if you have a card on order.

  3. The radisson blu Edwardian in Manchester is a very classy hotel, one of the nicer ones in the city.

  4. Sebastian says:

    If those are the types of figures we’re talking about across the board then for those of us who collect primarily through card spend the end may be nigh.

  5. I wonder if the interchange fees will make Amex pushmore benefits the way of the Plat cards? A revival of Cathay Gold plus 1.5 MR points per £ may encourage more take up and spend.

    • Cathay was a global deal and was never heavily promoted in the UK because of the BA relationship. I bet there are plenty of Amex Plat cardholders who never knew it existed or, if they did, never made the BA connection.

      What would make sense for Amex is to market its co-branded base, mainly BA, with a good offer to get Gold. If the Gold fee was removed, free BA Amex cardholders would be better off with Gold assuming that most never hit the £20k for a 241.

  6. OT – and probably a very basic question…

    I’m self-employed and so usually book/pay for hotels myself, but next week I will be attending a conference with accommodation at a Hilton provided by the organiser. I booked the room using their corporate code (but remain liable for any extras/the cost if I don’t attend etc) – Should I receive the points for the stay?

    If so, would it be best to make a charge to the room to help encourage the points to post (like for a points redemption and using a Hilton CC for the 2500 bonus points) or should this not matter? – If the quoted room rate is what they have to actually pay I could get circa 8k points with current bonuses so it’d be worthwhile making a phone call (/etc) if I need to!

    • Johnnycl says:

      I book all my Hilton stays with a corporate code and have never had trouble with points posting regardless of if I made a charge to the room or not. However these are booked through my Hilton account and paid directly by me which it sounds like may not be the case here?

      I think so long as you make sure the front desk have your HHonors number on file at check in there is no more you can do – the rate booked will either be eligible for points or not.

  7. Along with the interchange fee caps is the ability for traders to refuse certain card types (eg. All MasterCards or all Visas). Haven’t they being doing this in practice for a long time already? Are we really going to have to carry multiple types of cards in Europe?

    • not sure what your point is

      any trader who takes credit cards pretty much always takes Visa & M/C – as we all know, Amex is more patchy

      if you have any sense you’ll take a few different payment options with you when you travel, whether in Europe or elsewhere

      recently had my 2 point MBNA Amex refused at a DIY place in Europe (I bought yet another lawnmower, don’t tell the wife!) – store took Amex but not MY Amex! – luckily they took my MBNA Visa 1 point/ £ – yeah I know I should get Clarity, can’t be harassed when I nearly always get 2 points/ £