And the credit card of the year award goes to …

For reasons unknown, I was not invited to “The Cards & Payment Awards” award ceremony a couple of weeks ago.

It is, however, an intriguing look at how people who do not know much about airline loyalty schemes judge airline loyalty credit cards.  (Guys, if you read this, I am willing to help you pick the winners next year.)

Card Product of the Year

The motley crew above (apart from Milton Jones) were the winners of the “Best New Credit Card Product Of The Year” award.

This went to the Capital One for Aspire World Travel card.

The three finalists were:

Capital One – Aspire World Travel
Emirates Skywards and MBNA – Emirates Skywards Credit Card Account and Emirates Skywards Elite Credit Card Account
Etihad Guest & MBNA – Etihad Guest Credit Card Account

This list is so wrong …..

The Emirates cards are derivative, frankly.  As I wrote in my original article here, the ‘2 for 1’ voucher promised by the premium card is useless for most people.  Whilst the earnings rate is good (2 per £1 on the Amex, 1 per £1 on the Visa), Emirates has higher redemption rates than BA.   The sign-up bonus is weak and has never been on promotion.

The Etihad card is better – they ran a 17,000 mile sign-up bonus at one point (very good for a free card), offer double and triple miles on Etihad flights for cardholders and offer free Etihad Silver status for taking just one flight in any class.  (More details via the Etihad website here.)

However, whatever you think of their customer service, the most innovative credit card launch last year was – easily – the Lloyds Avios Rewards cards.  My original article on these cards is here.

The lack of a sign-up bonus means that these cards have not taken off well.  My personal impression of them was not helped when the Lloyds marketing team put the boot into me because I had allowed readers to post complaints about Lloyds credit card service levels on the site.

However, it is the first UK credit card to offer reward points AND no foreign exchange fees on overseas transactions.  There is a £24 fee but that is easily outweighed by the 3% saving on all your foreign transactions – and you earn Avios on that spend as well.

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why the Lloyds cards were not nominated for this award, unless they missed the entry deadline.  If they did miss the deadline, I hope they win next time – if only to put some pressure on other card issuers to drop foreign exchange fees.

And the greatest irony of all?  The winning card, the Capital One Aspire World Travel card (which offered cashback in the UK and no FX fees abroad) is no longer seems to be available to new customers, looking at the Capital One website.

Relax in a Virgin Upper Class seat in your nearest Virgin Money lounge!
Worldhotels launches a loyalty scheme - Peakpoints - and 3,000 Avios per stay
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  1. James67 says:

    Also, the most valuable use of skywRds was arguably the ability to upgrade cheap economy fares. This is being withdrawn slo the scheme as a whole and its credit card are now less attractive; burning is sumply too expensive and poor value.

    • The current economy upgrade awards are a good deal, I admit – albeit at a miles cost almost equivalent to booking a BA redemption seat outright!

      • Emirates are downgrading the system (again) with little announcement, Skywards Savers fares (economy) will not always be eligible for upgrade using points – even at check in time, forcing people to buy the fully flex ticket.

        • I know – although the current system is surprisingly generous. Look at BA – all you can do is upgrade to WTP and even that requires a semi-flex economy ticket. Emirates lets you upgrade super-cheap economy tickets to flat bed, bar-down-the-back, chauffeurs included business class!

      • Should also mention there is a targeted mail for the free emirates card at the moment which offers 5000 points and then an additional 5000 points after a conditional spend (forgot the detail of it as no interest)

  2. The Cap One card range is at the best of times baffling. I have the old Aspire World card which was replaced by the zero exchange fees one. I phoned Cap One and asked to move over to the newer one – no – said the agent – you have to apply for it. But, you can’t have two of the same card, so you have to cancel this one and apply for another. Also, the Aspire product seems to come and go on their website depending on the way the wind is blowing.

    • Why does this make it baffling? Don’t know whether cancel and reapply is their official policy but it can be hit or miss for Lloyds. If they have a new customer number target and they have achieved the target then it makes sense to withdraw a product.

  3. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    I know those guys!

    The Card awards are good fun, but it’s more of an industry bash than a real awards show (I’m not a sore loser, honest!). You need to enter your own products – rather than being nominated – and this requires associated cost and effort. The Lloyds side of LBG were I think absent from the whole thing, perhaps due to their reorganisation, so no entry.

    I’d personally argue that it was a weak year for card launches, so the winner was always going to be disappointing compared to previous years’ such as Santander 123, which was a real blockbuster product.

    As you’re well aware, this blog does get industry attention, so you may indeed end up judging at some point. In the meantime, I’d be happy to get my black tie out for the HfP awards bash 😉

  4. Phillip says:

    The other downside of the Etihad card is that most benefits end after one year – double and triple miles are only for the first 90 days of opening the card, and the Silver membership, although I admit generous given that it is for ANY return flight (AUH-MCT RT can be had for £90), it is only for the first year. Same with interest free on Etihad purchases. Something more long term would be enticing!

  5. Flieduk says:

    *picks up dummy and gives it back to Raffles*

    In all serious though, it is interesting that non-Airline junkies view this all very differently/

  6. Aeronaut says:

    There are some, of course, who view the credit card industry with little more than utter contempt!

    (Some of the credit limits handed out willy nilly before the crash were absurd – of course people must take personal responsibility, but offering that kind of temptation to all and sundry was also pretty silly.)

  7. Very naive in the extreme to think any industry “awards” function is going to be handing out based on merit.

  8. I worked for the credit card company that, in the end, decided not to launch these cards after winning the initial bid. Simply, we knew we couldn’t build any kind of scale with such terrible propositions. Why launch a card that’s worse than BA or Virgin?

    MBNA succeed simply because the underlying functionality is no different across its cards – so its easy to bung on a new piece of plastic at little cost. But as you point out, no real value proposition for its customers.

    Having been to the Card Awards for a number of years, believe me you missed nothing!

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      That’s a tad mean, I’ve been impressed by the quality of the catering at the Grosvenor 😉

  9. These sort of awards aren’t given out on merit… They’re effectively bought as advertising.

  10. olybeast says:

    Surely the best new card is the one that attracted the most customers?

    • olybeast – no its based on the one who paid the most for the award… (possibly)*

      *disclaimer, the above may be abject nonsense.

  11. DontLikeFruit says:

    “This list is so wrong …..” is precisely what I think every time I see the latest Top 100 Employers award (or whatever) plastered across the front of Capital One’s offices.

  12. Stephen says:

    The Aspire World was replaced by the new Aspire Elite. World MasterCards are being replaced with World Elite MasterCards.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      Not so! Aspire Elite launched alongside Aspire World in 2012. Aspire Business followed several months later.

      Platform requirements mean that we’re unlikely to see much swap from World to Elite and they’re both being interchange-capped anyway.