Barclays changes its credit card application rules again – for the worse

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

Barclaycard issues two of the most popular non-American Express travel credit cards:

The Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa (read my review here) – which has the easiest high value bonus in the industry of a free night at ANY Hilton hotel (even a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria) for spending just £750, and

The IHG Rewards Club Visa and Premium Visa (read my reviews here and here) – both of which give you status in IHG Rewards Club for as long as you hold the card

Late last year, Barclays changed the application rules on its cards.  I was told by numerous people that the following criteria were in place:

You could no longer apply for a Barclays-issued credit card if you already had one

If you cancelled your existing Barclays card, you could apply for a different one immediately but would have to wait six months before applying for the same card again

Hilton Visa

Three people have told me since Christmas that Barclays has changed its policy again.  These are the new rules:

You cannot apply for a Barclays-issued card if you already have one

If you cancel your existing card, you must wait six months before applying for ANY Barclays issued card

I find this very surprising, to be honest.  If you want to ditch a Barclays-issued card which has no rewards and swap it for a Hilton or IHG card, you would think that Barclays would be keen.  After all, the alternative would be that you sign up for a card with a different provider instead.

But no … Barclays appears to be adopting a ‘cut off my nose to spite my face’ approach!  They would rather not make a penny off you for six months than make it easy for you to switch to a different product.

IHG Rewards Club Visa

I can’t imagine what Hilton and IHG make of this, since it obviously impact them.  A huge swathe of people who have an existing Barclaycard are now blocked from getting a Hilton or IHG card.  People who already have one of the hotel cards – and are substantially more likely than a general member of the public to want another – are also blocked.

You therefore need to think carefully about your strategy for applying for the IHG and Hilton HHonors cards.  If you currently have a non-travel Barclaycard, I would seriously consider cancelling it ASAP because you may want to start the clock on the six month gap before you can get either of the hotel cards.

(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.)

Bits: 20,000 IHG points bargain in SanFran, Thistle Heathrow brings back free pod trips!, SAA sale
Bits: extra BA Corfu service, Fortnum & Mason offering 'eat on board' hampers in T5

Click here to join the 15,000 people on our email list and receive the latest Avios, miles and points news by 6am.

Amazon ad
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. James67 says:

    The rules you are reporting as comming into effect after Christmas are the rules as they were explained to me by Barclays back in August, and were borne out by comments on numerous HFP posts. What was also borne out by comments is that Barclays rules always were, and probably remain, farcical. How an application is treated is anybodies guess, and it’s just your luck what you do or don’t get. For those who are not too fussed about the outcom there’s probablh no harm in trying an application any time it suits them. What will surprize me most is if it becomes apparrent that Barclays start applying any rules consistently.

  2. Hilton card closed ages ago, so look forward to entering the application lottery again for it soon (I find Barclays very hit-or-miss on approving applications, when MBNA and Amex consistently approve them!).

    IHG closed more recently as everytime I went to close it they kept offering me more cash to keep it – after £60 received finally closed it off!

    • James67 says:

      My father had a similar experience with IHG white. He applied for it last winter and spent less than £2 for 30k points. His points were late crediting so £10 goodwill credit. Called later to cancel, £20 to keep, a month later anothe request to cancel was met with £50. £80 plus 30k point for sub £2 spend. They even sent him a cheque for last £50 when he finally cancelled in antjckoation of bonus again this winter (bug came unstuck with the early promotion and 6 months rule).

  3. The whole way in which Barclaycard conduct there business leaves much to be desired. A recent string of applications led to countless calls to an incomprehensible call centre. Finally resolved by writing letter of complaint/concern and eventually dealing with UK call centre. Only the efforts of a member of their staff enabled the fatuous underwriting decisions to be overturned. We have no problem with Amex, Lloyds, Natwest or MBNA so what is the purpose of Barclaycard’s behaviour. It is only the free hotel night that makes it worthwhile. The most amazing comment made during this tortuous process covering 6 months was that there were too many searches on the credit file. Guess what they were all made by Barclaycard. So what is the point of dealing with them? I suppose if you have the time and inclination to pursue the result can be worth it

  4. Mr(s) Entitled says:

    If you cancel, wait, then reapply is it possible to earn another Hilton Certificate?

  5. Maybe I’ve been very lucky / my application slipped through the net. I cancelled my wife’s Hilton card in November, applied for the IHG card 2 days ago. Referred, but received confirmation accepted yesterday. Will now look to cancel my IHG and may try Hilton application before the 6 month window is over (or simply start the count down….). 4 free nights a year worth going after.

    Can’t find a 6 month rule anywhere in their terms by the way – the rest, yes

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Right, time to cancel my Hilton card then to start the clock ticking to the next certificate.

  6. This is a very old rule reincarnated. Their risk team believe if customers need quick access to more credit (ie get another card) then they are likely to default on payment. Hilton and ihg are a miniscule (and pretty irrelevant) part of their p and l so there is no value in making exceptions where people play the game for sign up bonuses.

    • Richard says:

      But that doesn’t explain why you can’t switch from one product to another product which you prefer. It wouldn’t increase your available credit, and it’s a motivation which shouldn’t ring any alarm bells, credit-wise.

      I wonder whether the rule really is there to clamp down on churning sign-up bonuses? Though in that case, just making a rule where you don’t get the bonus would make more sense I suppose.

  7. It happened to me, I have a very old Visa card, standard non-aligned and tried to apply for the Hilton Card. I use the BC about twice a year (wow I’m being honest) as a vehicle to play the odd bet on the Grand National via an online Coral account. It is currently in £100 in credit! I may use it again in March for a couple of each way bets at Cheltenham.
    I am fortunate I have an excellent credit rating so didn’t anticipate any issues. I was rejected. Speaking to anyone at BC that you can either understand or has an ounce of common sense is virtually impossible. I was told to visit my branch. I duly did and was told I had to book an appointment to see a ‘manager’. At the interview after the ‘cup of tea’ and the attempt to change my mortgage the lady reviewed my application and again remained adamant that I could not have the HH credit card as I already had a BC. I could be considered after closing my current card in 3 months. How uncommercial is that?

    If I were Hilton I’d seriously question the relationship with such a shoddy service related organisation.
    The result.
    No card.
    No spend on Barclaycard.
    No stay in Hilton property spending money in bar and restaurant.
    I think the Americans call this a lose/lose situation.

    • Britbronco22 says:

      Keith I think you should use debit cards to fund betting accounts. My understanding was that most bookies charge deposit fees for CCs and the CC treats it as a cash advance and charges interest from the transaction day

  8. What a pain as I already hold the IHG, will it be possible for a partner to open a Hilton visa but credit points to my acct? As I have Diamond though the recent status match with Spire.

    • I’m in exactly the same position as you. My husband has the HH card as I was refused on the grounds of having the IHG card. I have diamond status due to recent match – once we hit 10k later this year he will be gold I suppose. Will just have to book using the 2 accounts. Same with IHG – I have Spire and I’ve recently opened an account for him to buy points – he is only a Club member.

  9. Me too. The only card I have ever been rejected for but can’t be bothered to argue with them. It’s a shame because I fancied a free night in a posh New York hotel….

  10. Dirtyneedebluesky says:

    Always found it strange that Barclaycard control what could be two of the most common UK based credit cards for hotel loyalty schemes.


    Regarding your comment below then it may also work in the opposite way. Making it difficult to ‘ditch & switch’ potentially locks the consumer into their loyalty scheme for a longer period of time.

    “I can’t imagine what Hilton and IHG make of this, since it obviously impact them. A huge swathe of people who have an existing Barclaycard are now blocked from getting a Hilton or IHG card.”

  11. Presumably somebody has to pay for the “free” night in the hotel, whether it be Barclaycard or the chain. Therefore restricting the churn rate benefits that party.

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment.