Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Why Tesco quietly dropped the Tesco World Mastercard

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

The story behind this decision is outlined at Retail Insider. 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The Tesco World Mastercard was therefore withdrawn to new cardholders.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.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2023 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

SPECIAL OFFER: The sign-up bonus on the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is doubled to 30,000 Virgin Points if you apply by 2nd October. You receive 15,000 Virgin Points with your first purchase and a further 15,000 points if you spend £3,000 within 90 days. Apply here.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 bonus points (SPECIAL OFFER TO 2ND OCTOBER) and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points bonus and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (12)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • John says:

    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?

  • Roger says:


    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.

  • Alan says:

    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.

  • 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.

    • Rob says:

      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.

    • David says:

      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…

      • David says:

        Sorry – none of the replies were showing when I loaded the page!

      • Rob says:

        This form has rolled over for a few years, so I doubt there will be any problems. Agreed, though, it is not certain.

  • John says:

    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?

    • Rob says:

      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.

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.