Bits: bad news as Lloyds tries to buy MBNA, bad news as Regus culls Gold cards

Some (bad) news in brief:

Lloyds to buy MBNA UK?

According to reports yesterday, Bank of America has put the UK operations of MBNA back up for sale following a failed process five years ago.

The business has a loan book of £7bn and is believed to worth around £8bn, implying a £1bn value for the equity.

Regular HFP readers will know that, by a gap too wide to measure, Lloyds has the worst run credit card business in the UK.  Only Lloyds, for example, could take FIVE DAYS – in a good week – to send out refer-a-friend emails for their credit cards.  Five days to send an email.  And that is if you are lucky.  I recently had someone receive a Lloyds Avios Rewards refer a friend email SEVEN MONTHS after it was requested.

Only Lloyds would block my wife’s card on suspicion of money laundering because her bill was paid BY HER HUSBAND – and then refuse to unblock it until an original (ie sent in the post, not a branch print) bank statement could be produced, which took three weeks due to my statement cycle.

The news that Lloyds is apparently eager to buy MBNA should send a shiver down the spine of anyone with a Virgin, Etihad, Emirates, United or Lufthansa credit card.  The good news is that there are other names in the frame too such as Santander, Barclaycard, Virgin Money and potentially private equity.

A sale is not guaranteed, however.  MBNA, because of its focus on loyalty and affinity cards, will be very hard hit by the interchange fee caps.  Most of its cards are probably not sustainable now and, when the current airline contracts expire, we are likely to see benefits cut or fees increased.  The customer base is certainly not secure.

MBNA DOES, however, know how to run a card business.  It isn’t perfect – I get regular complaints about non-posting bonuses, whilst I can honestly say I have NEVER had a complaint about a non-posting bonus on an Amex card – but in general they are well regarded.

Regus Gold

Regus closing down free Businessworld Gold cards

During the recession, serviced offices group Regus was throwing free Businessworld Gold cards around like confetti.  Many airline, hotel and car rental firms were allowed to give them out to their status members for free.

These offers started to dry up in 2014.  The last mainstream one, offered by Virgin Atlantic to its Gold Flying Club or Black credit card members, ended in May 2015.

Businessworld Gold allowed you to use the business lounge in ANY Regus business centre for free, as many times as you wanted.  It was effectively free hot desk space.

Head for Points was born out of Regus.  For the first three years, I probably worked out of Regus for 150 days a year for a grand total of £0.  I didn’t just use them in London – I visited numerous centres across the world when travelling. This was thanks to a Businessworld Gold card I got free with a Business Traveller subscription back in 2011.

(That is not entirely true.  At one point you could pay £20 a day and get a private office on a standby basis and I did that occasionally.  I doubt I spent more than £400 over three years on those.)

These free Gold cards usually did not have expiry dates on them.  However, I have had a few emails in recent weeks from readers who have turned up at Regus centres – including the one in Heathrow Terminal 5 arrivals – to find that the system now shows them as Blue and so not allowed to enter.

It seems that Regus has had a clean up of its database.  As Gold cards now cost £600 per year and do not even offer global access for that price, you can see why.  Historically, the charge was £299 per year for global use.

If you were planning to visit the Gatwick, Heathrow or indeed any other Regus lounge with a long-held free Businessworld Gold card, I would have a back up plan in case you find you have been downgraded as well.

Business Class to Las Vegas on BA, Virgin or American for £1,150 this Summer
More petrol - is Virgin / Texaco better than earning Flying Club miles via Tesco petrol?
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  1. You only had to be a Virgin Flying Club Silver to qualify for the free Regus Gold. It was the only benefit to the Silver tier of any real value, and hasn’t been replaced with anything else worthwhile.

  2. krys_k says:

    It does rather seem that lloyds use antiquated admin processes, but I’ve found their customer service to be helpful and efficient. Also, all bonuses, and that’s 9 in all across both avis cards for three of us have posted. The important question that we should be discussing is when do the contracts end and what card is the best card to be on at that point?

    • It is not only Lloyds with antiquated systems. One of the other Big four requires its large corporates (loans of over say £75m) to send them a fax when they want to drawdown on part of a loan. A fax in 2016! My place of work did away with faxes five years ago- you can imagine how much trouble it causes!

      • Faxes are considered more secure than emails. Following last year’s hack, Sony Pictures got the faxing habit again.

        Allegedly V Putin’s staff have invested in typewriters!

  3. Sideysid says:

    The Lloyds Avios card is the only credit card that I have applied for and ever been declined. At one point I went in branch and had an appointment to open an account (to take advantage of the Club Lloyds account and build a credit file with them).

    Needless to say, their customer service (both in branch and on the phone ) was absolutely Scheisse. This was despite me being a Santander Select/Barclays Premier customer and me switching a redundant account.
    I walked out of the branch and from that day on Lloyds can stick it where the sun doesn’t shine for all I care, no matter what card they offer. I may try TSB at some point to see if they fare any better.

  4. Not being able to log in to the Lloyds cc website and settle the bill online unless you have a LLoyds current account is pretty antiquated.

    • Why don’t you have a current account with them?

      If you have a spare £5000 to stick there, they pay £200 interest (gross) plus 6 VUE vouchers annually. If you have a partner then open a third joint account.

      • Had a look, Club Lloyds looks interesting – although I see needs £1500 paid in per month (easy) and 2 direct debits.

    • Andrew says:

      Not great I agree but you can always push your payment from your other bank account direct to the Lloyds credit card. You just need to know the correct sort code and account number but most banks populate that for you.

    • The Urbanite says:

      The account number and sort code are shown on the giro slip which comes with the statement. The reference is the credit card number.

    • They made me go to a branch in person to settle a final bill when I finally binned them off after numerous problems. Wake up Lloyds, your service is terrible.

  5. Waribai says:

    Regarding Regus, I would login online to see if you’ve been downgraded!

  6. Catman99 says:

    Lloyds does have the best online banking website. Their online Bank Statements go back to 2002 and they look like Bank Statements and can be downloaded to spreadsheet which is great if you want to sort your statements into say Name order. Barclays is the worst as I’m not sure that they want you to use online banking….(Santander is also good, Nat West is OK and I don’t know about HSBC)

  7. James67 says:

    Another thing that appears to be getting culled this week are free legacy experian accounts, from lateJuly. These are accounts provided as part of products such as tesco finest home insurance that simply never expired even though you no longer held the qualifying product.

  8. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    View from my corner of the industry is that Lloyd’s won’t be able to take on the book – combined market share will be too high. Competition Commission already forced them to spin off TSB (although state aid was an important aspect in the decision) and the FCA is in the middle of their Market Study.

    Probably a similar situation for Barclaycard, we consider them even less likely given the internal restructuring going on.

    Virgin Money seems like a serious possibility – we also thought that Cap One could be in the race given that they’ve recently scaled up their investment in the UK and their acquisition appetite in the US.

    Perception is that it’s not a particularly good loan book though – look at that ROA for example. We expected that any sale would be at a discount to book value – interesting to see that the FT heard otherwise!

  9. Graeme says:

    OT – I’m at Gatwick, travelling to Norway. If I withdrew say €500 on my Supercard from one of those multi-currency ATMs, do people think I’d get away with it processing as if I’d withdrawn from a normal ATM in Europe?

    I’ve got several visits to France next month after Supercard closes, so it’d be really handy to stock up now.

    Thanks all!

    • I got euros out of those cards from my revolut card and it worked perfectly fine. €20 was €20. No fee.

    • Guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, as long as the ATM bills you in a foreign currency, you’re ok – I’ve used them to withdraw USD and EUR before, you just need to find the ones which don’t charge a fee!

    • I think they will DCC you in pounds.

      Withdraw NOK in Norway and I’ll buy them for euros at the spot rate…

    • Graeme says:

      Fantastic – thanks!

    • James67 says:

      Not sure about the answer to your question because presumably you mean one of those travelex atm. I used them only for free sterling withdrawals. Just wanted to point out that if EU vote is remain then £ may rise.

      • JAmes – I just phoned Amex re platinum upgrade offer and was told it is on till 11/1/2017

        • James67 says:

          Thanks Liz. Reply option was exhausted so I could not reply you last night re: income. This is my own experience and how widely it applies to financial providers and credit card companies in particular I don’t know. My partner, now spouse, came to UK with a visa to get married and faced usual difficulties of identity, address, credit rating etc despit having appreciable assets. A very helpful FA at one of the majof banks advised I pay my partner a minimum of £1000 from my account into my partners sole account by standing order each month as that would then constitute their income for any future applications. That it was at least £1000 seemed to be important. My partner was advised to use the account regularly and to have a minimum of two direct debits which actually paid each month, and to open an ISA once visa was extended and right to work granted. Although the FA was at pains not to say so explicitly, she indicated that the recycling of money between accounts as you describe was not an issue, and was actively, if inadvertently, encouraging it so we would open joint accounts and provide more assets to the bank (and probably more com for her too). Also important was to use housewife or homemaker as opposed to unemployed in any applications. I know not all of this is relevant to you but it does seem to me that you can legitimately claim that money you receive from your husband is your own regular income, and I doubt that you need to worry about recycling for interest purposes which I suspect is very common these days given best rates are associated with current accounts. Hopefully, Rob, Andrew or somebody else here inside the industry can give you a more definitive answer on income.

          • Brilliant James – thanks for that – I will bear that in mind for next application.

    • Catman99 says:

      Norway? Oslo on Norwegian Air? Good luck with that my 9.20 eventually took off at 4:40….without me

      • But did you get your QR flight??!

        • Catman99 says:

          No I’m going Thai air direct to Bangkok his morning. It was a good learning experience. Next time I will try taking the flight and staying in a hotel. I will have a quick look at for hotels before I go mainly because trying to do anything with the Airport wifi is frustrating….

      • Bergen actually. Took off 50 minutes late…. with me.

    • Travelex’s multi-currency ATMs are configured as being in the UK so you’ll be charged a ‘UK usage fee’ even if you draw out foreign currency.

  10. Danksy says:

    Oh dear….I left Lloyds after 3 shambolic months!

  11. I took the lloyds avios card out in february. So far i have zero avios post to my account despite healthy spending. They admit its their fault but say it will take at least 60 days to sort! They have given me £25 so far in compensation. They say they do not have the option to give avios as compensation

    • My wife got £100 compensation because he (I of course) had written twice. She, of course, got the handbag!
      They are still not crediting Avios so I am hoping for more compensation.

      • I had a similar issue when I had the £24 Lloyds Avios credit card (Amex/MasterCard) as well. The Avios points wouldn’t post to my account, and I had to call or write to their customer services every time I wanted the earned Avios to be credited to my account.

        I got bored of doing this after three or four times, especially when they kept insisting that it would all be resolved, and I wouldn’t need to contact them again to chase-up the missing points. So, after about seven months I cancelled the card(s) and switched to the BA Amex Premium Plus & Tesco MasterCard.

    • Callum says:

      They do but at pitiful rates. I was offered £80 or 500 Avios before, not a tough choice!

      Lloyd’s are very liberal with compensation, I tend to be happier after the problem than I was before it.

  12. I turned up at my local Regus the other day to find they wouldn’t let me in. No worries though as within 30sec I’d signed back up thanks to my Aegean Gold. It says you are signing up for Businessworld Preferred (still good) but has come through as Regus Gold the last 2 times I have signed back up :)

    • @Dan, same thing happened to me. Didn’t know about Aegean– does it matter what tier level you are with Aegean for what Regus level you get? I don’t have elite status with Aegean and tried signing up, but the email says “preferred”. Will the card come in the mail as gold?

  13. I have 2 Regus accounts, one through Avis and Gold via Virgin. Both have been downgraded to blue. I have never used them, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to in the future. Not being informed of being downgraded is rather annoying.

    • I opened it last week – it initially showed gold, then turned turned to blue a minute later.

      I visited a lounge, and in one screen it told them I was gold, and in another screen that I was blue – thankfully they let me in anyway.

      Really shoddy that they didn’t even inform us of the downgrade.

  14. Arun T says:

    OT – Advice needed. I’m relatively new to the points game so thank you Raffles and fellow commenters for valuable insight. I have just had my 20k Amex gold posted, what is the best next card for me? I am leaning towards the BAPP before bonus drop? Also, do I have to transfer my Amex MR points out to Avios before I close the card? Thoughts appreciated please!

    • Mikeact says:

      You really should look at previous posts, there is a stack of information available. Start searching. OT’so start messing up the main threads.

    • Raffles says:

      Yes, you need to empty your MR account after a short grace period.

      BAPP is a decent option whilst the bonus is high, and your Amex points would boost your Avios balance when you come to use your 241 voucher.

    • Genghis says:

      Could upgrade to platinum (still seems to be working per other posters), refer your partner, try SPG or BAPP (best to have a stack of avios to make good use of 241).

  15. It is possible that if Lloyds buy MBNA they will improve their admin.
    Having said that, I much prefer the Lloyds Avios card to any of MBNA’s offerings. Apart from the referral shortcomings everything else works well as long as you also have their current account, with cash back far exceeding the £24 annual charge leaving avoided FX fees and Amex statement credits as pure profit. They did manage to not add Avios to my wife’s account but gave her £100 compensation.

    • Callum says:

      It’s not pure profit, you can get the cash back on free cards too so it’s still costing you £24.

  16. dewsburyborn says:

    All this talk of MBNA – does anyone have any ideas as to when their agreement with BMI / BA may end ?

    So glad to have followed FT advice and added the 2.5 miles per £1 plastic to my wallet several years ago.

    • Ditto, here’s hoping it keeps going for some time yet, I’m loving my bmi Mastercard being linked to my Supercard!

  17. Mikeact says:

    Now Lloyds are on Android Pay, once again it leaves a lot to be desired. I’ve given up adding cards, no text or email verification has been received. Very poor for a major banks.

  18. I used to have a Lloyds TSB account. My sort code was a branch that was marked as part of the new TSB bank. I wanted to stay with Lloyds Bank to take advantage of Club Lloyds so opened up a new account. 3 months later I applied for the Lloyds Avios card…declined. Never been declined by any other credit card provider. I managed to get one 12 months later, purely for overseas spend and the upgrade voucher. Its been a hassle…but you know what the worst part is….I have worked for Lloyds for the past five years….tbf I like the mobile banking app :)

  19. This is very bad news if Lloyds gets MBNA. I do have the Lloyds Avios but the credit limit is stuck at £2900 – they won’t move it upwards having held the card for years with an excellent credit history. So that card is stuck in a drawer and never gets used.
    MBNA, on the other hand, are my main provider and have always been very good (I have the Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines and Everyday Amex with MBNA).
    I really hope someone else, anyone else, gets MBNA.

    • Sad to hear that credit limits are low on the Lloyds Avios card. I was hoping to use it to buy my season ticket for next year and get half-way to an upgrade voucher!

      I guess I need to look at a plan b.

      • Alex W says:

        I have the lloyds Avios premier and just got a letter in the post saying my credit limit has been increased to £12,250.

      • Brian W says:

        My Lloyds Avios Prem Duo cards have a limit of £13,750 so worth asking for a higher limit.

    • My lloyds card is now the lowest one I have, I have to pre pay for any moderate purchases which luckily goes through even if its more than the actual credit limit, I’m hoping they will increase this soon especially being with them for years.

  20. Sussex Bantam says:

    OT – BAPP used to give a small bonus for applying for a supplementary card on your account but I can’t find a reference to it anymore. Does anyone know if it still exists ?


  21. Alex W says:

    I have Lloyds Premier Avios. Had an issue where one £5 transaction was charged to the card 226 times in error! Took a couple of months to sort out with various issues but ended up getting £300 compensation and kept most of the Avios after the refund too :-)

  22. Regus: I also got one of the free Gold cards, a little over three years ago. Looking at my account online just now, it says Expiry date: 31/12/2078 ! ! !

    • Does it still show Gold?

    • Clive Gardner says:

      Unlikely it will for much longer. Mine showed that expiry also, but its been downgraded to Blue without warning. Their CS rep tells me all cards over 12 months old are getting cancelled as soon as they pick them up.

  23. I’m taking a more optimistic stance on a MBNA-Lloyds integration: If Lloyds are paying £8bn for £7bn receivables, they are not buying a loan book, they are buying a business. Is it out of the question that Lloyds might be looking to shift its card book to Chester to operate it under MBNA? If I was going to pick a legacy system to use, it certainly wouldn’t be Lloyds!

    That said, since Lloyds and MBNA both have around 7% market share (I’m taking 2013 figures) their combined entity would put them at a comparable size to Barclaycard, the market leader. It will be interesting to see what impact that has on competition.

  24. Nick Piggott says:

    My Regus Gold was also downgraded with no notification, which was embarrassing when I tried to use it.

    The mobile website doesn’t show any expiry dates for cards. I had to log onto the desktop version to see that it had acquired an expiry date of a few weeks previous..

    It’s too expensve to maintain for the ad-hoc use I make. I’m finding independent hot-desk and meeting room locations much better value for money and generally far less dull to work in (admittedly, I’m in a ‘creative’ industry, not a suit-and-tie business). It just needs a bit of Google work to find them.

  25. O/T

    if you’re abroad with no champions league final available, you can set up proxy hola, set it for UK, then get the youtube live stream bt sports champions league (UK only)

  26. Alex W says:

    Has anyone had any incentive to renew a Lloyds Premier Avios for the 2nd year? E.g. extra Avios? For the first year the double Avios for 6 months and 0% interest on purchases for 12 months were great perks. But I can’t see much reason to pay £140 for another year.
    Can I downgrade to the £24 version instead?

  27. I was given a small credit limit with Lloyds and had to pre pay the card, fortunately I didn’t get told to take statements in but they did question why I had to pre pay, if it wasn’t for the avios earning potential I would have closed it just for the low limit. I do like the double avios promotion for the first 6 months as it makes the card a very good earner upto the 2.5k limit per month.

  28. Richard Smith says:

    Downgraded by Regus. I bought things from their market place so I’m cancelling those purchases in disgust at their lack of consultation about membership downgrades.

    • Clive Gardner says:

      Likewise and its bitten them in the ass. Myself and a few colleagues were big users of their paid for co-working and day office services of the back of holding complimentary gold cards. We’ve now terminated all services with Regus and will not be doing business with them again.