A reader asked me last week to take another look at Diners Club, the charge card that time forgot. As it I haven’t covered it for three years, and it does still offer airline miles as rewards, I thought it made sense.
Most of you will probably have never ever seen a Diners Club card. In London, you are more likely to find a shop accepting China UnionPay cards than Diners Club.
Diners Club was the first real ‘travel and entertainment’ focussed charge card, well before American Express chose to focus on this market. Well before credit cards were first available, the charge cards issued by Diners Club and Amex were the only way to pay for items on plastic. In recent years ownership has passed from Citi to Discover Financial Services, although the UK operation is a franchise, independently owned by Affiniture Cards since 2012.
A Diners Club personal card will cost you £50 per year. As it is a charge card, you MUST clear your full balance every month. There is no option to pay interest and roll over a balance.
Diners Club in the UK does still operate a loyalty scheme, with some decent partners. However, the earnings rate is very poor.
You earn 1 point for every £5 spent on your card. These transfer to:
- American Airlines (400 points / £2,000 spend = 1,000 miles)
- Hilton HHonors (380 points / £1,900 spend = 2,000 HH points)
- Marriott Rewards (380 points / £1,900 spend = 1,500 Marriott points)
- IHG Rewards Club (280 points / £1,400 spend = 1,500 IHG points)
- Starwood Preferred Guest (380 points / £1,900 spend = 750 SPG points)
Oddly, the website still calls IHG Rewards Club ‘Priority Club’ which has not been the case for a couple of years.
These exchange are roughly 50% as good as you would get from holding an Amex card or a dedicated credit card from one of these programmes.
The only vaguely interesting option is Marriott, because the UK Marriott credit card is no longer available. However, with Marriott in the process of merging with Starwood, anyone keen to boost their Marriott points via card spend should just get the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and then wait for the points to become transferable.
Airport lounge access – for a fee
Diners Club also has an airport lounge programme.
You get access to 450 airport lounges, in what looks like a cut-down version of the Priority Pass programme. These include the No 1 Traveller lounges at both Gatwick terminals. The fee is £15 per visit which, for many of the lounges they use, is noticeably cheaper than paying on the door.
The £50 Diners Club annual fee is also cheaper than the £69 Priority Pass fee, albeit Priority Pass has a broader lounge network. Both charge £15 per visit.
Is there any point looking at Diners Club?
Not really, in my view. With card acceptance being very poor outside of the hotel and restaurant sector, the rewards programme would need to be exceptionally good to justify getting the card and paying the £50 fee – and it isn’t.
(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.)
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.