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Bits: mystery Supercard charges, LAN Madrid to Frankfurt deal back, Luxury Travel Diary deals

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News in brief:

Supercard – the small print we missed

I covered the relaunch of Supercard recently, the payment card which lets you charge foreign currency transactions to ANY Visa or Mastercard without incurring any FX fees.

You can download the free Supercard app and order a card here.

People are now starting to use their Supercard and a strange pattern is emerging.

When transactions are made, they are logged by the app along with the exchange rate used.  A few days later, Supercard is charging a separate – smaller – amount and calling it ‘exchange rate difference’.

This is apparently the difference between the exchange rate on the day of the transaction and the date that it is cleared.  That said, I was under the impression that Mastercard locked the exchange rate on the date of transaction ….

Extra confusion comes from the fact that Supercard does not tell you which transaction these ‘exchange rate adjustments’ refer to.  If you are using it for business purposes, it will be difficult to reconcile the original transactions with the additional charges.

It isn’t clear if Supercard gives you a credit if the exchange rate moves the other way.  The market has generally been one way over the last fortnight as we all know.  One reader was told by Supercard that he had ‘saved £48’ by using Supercard on a US holiday only to find an additional £50 of charges added on as ‘exchange rate difference’.


Fly Frankfurt to Madrid in LAN business class for £120

Last year I wrote an introductory piece on South American airline LAN. LAN is a oneworld partner so you can use Avios points to redeem for its flight from Madrid to Santiago, Chile.

It also has an impressive business class seat as you can see from that article and the photo below.

Few people know that the LAN flight from Chile does not terminate in Madrid. It carries on to Frankfurt.  This allows you to earn some British Airways tier points in style.  Why? Because you can buy tickets just for the Frankfurt to Madrid flight.

If you want to try out the very nice business class seat below, here are the current special prices available on certain days over the Summer as per the LAN website here:

Frankfurt to Madrid one-way – £120

Madrid to Frankfurt one-way – £101

Return trip – £179 irrespective of where you start

You will earn roughly 1,100 Avios points and 40 tier points for each segment. The flight is 2 hours and 40 minutes so you will get a decent amount of time to enjoy the LAN seat. Lounge access is also included.  You will be flying a Boeing 787 Dreamliner which a lot of people have not yet been able to experience.

The timings are not ideal, to be honest. The Frankfurt flight departs at 19.35 and lands in Madrid at 22.10. The Madrid to Frankfurt flight leaves at 15.10 and lands at 17.45.

There probably aren’t many HfP readers who actually need to fly from Madrid to Frankfurt, or vice versa. However, if you are after some cheap BA tier points and fancy trying out a different airline then this is a fun deal.  You can book this on the LAN website here.

If you want to do a triangular trip from the UK to Frankfurt to Madrid to the UK or vice versa, remember that some Iberia flights to Heathrow are operated with long-haul A330 aircraft with flat beds in business class. You can redeem these seats using Avios and it would be an interesting comparison to do that flight and the LAN trip as part of the same journey.

LAN 787 business class

Luxury Travel Diary auctions

Finally, the Luxury Travel Diary site dropped me a line about another wave of its auctions closing this week.

Here is 7 nights in a villa in Mallorca which ends in a few days and is currently very lowly priced.  This 2 night beach break near Athens is also finishing very soon.  Looking further out, there are a batch of 2-night Paris hotel breaks in the system as well as a St Lucia holiday.  Not everything will work for you, either in terms of location, length or dates, but you’ll probably find something of interest if you poke around!

Comments (155)

  • Jason Cousins says:

    Quite frankly this is a disastrous launch of a product which has had the benefit of a pilot scheme for 2 years. Apart from the exchange rate issues above, for which the handling is appalling, the new main issue for me, for which I have now contacted the FCA, is ringfenced amounts.
    On a hotel stay last week, the hotel took from my Supercard, a ringfenced amount of $200.00. Normally, on a credit card, they simply hold it (as pending not showing on a statement) until the hotel put through the actual charge (in this case, and importantly lower) at $35.00. Supercard instantly charge the original amount as actual onto the credit card. When the final amount comes through, Supercard does not change the Sterling Charge. On the App It updates to read: $35.05 @ £1.00=$0.2337 =£149.95!!! That’s pretty much a rate of £4 to $1. Customer Services are fairly uninterested until you mention the Financial Conduct Authority. Basically they have stolen around £125.00

    • Mr Dee says:

      That charge seems like a bug in their app, I would assume that you’ll get a seperate charge for the $35.05 and a refund for the original amount after about 7-10 days from the original charge.

      They are charging preauthorisations and then charging the final amount seperately, I think I will be avoiding supercard as well by the sounds of it unless I am desperate.

      This whole situation is the same as the Curve card, it is without a doubt to do with Wirecard and how their technology works, this wasn’t a problem when the product was in beta. Curve and supercard may have little way of changing the way Wirecard works but it is severely limiting their business, doesn’t excuse their customer support though….

      • Jason Cousins says:

        What you say about the separate charges for preauthorisation and final seem perfectly logical, and would have expected Supercard to state this, but so far, customer services have not. In fact they are only interested in seeing an actual bill before looking further into it, despite the obvious error contained wholly within Supercard.

        • Mr Dee says:

          Well it doesn’t seem right if you are preauthorised and charged to your card £500 on a hotel stay and then the next day charged another £300 for the actual final total, meaning your card is charged £800 and 10 days later the £500 refunded.

          The point is it’s an actual charge not a simple preauthorisation, the pre south charges are going through as a charge which will mess up your cards available balance. This is not acceptable a pre auth should be pre authorised not charged, it worked in Supercard beta but not now by the looks of it due to this wirecard technology.

          • Genghis says:

            As well – presumably if the underlying card’s statement date is between payment and refund 10 days later, that is cash out of your actual pocket as opposed to a balance just sitting on an account.

    • Cheshire Pete says:

      I thought FCA wasn’t responsible as its issued in Gibraltar ? Or is that the Ombudsman that isn’t.

    • AO says:

      I also encountered this issue yesterday for a hotel stay last week, but it seems to have gone a step further as they have charged the difference between the amount held at the start of the stay and the amount on checkout as an “IC Cash” rate adjustment of £385!

      Currently for a 603 EUR hotel stay I have been charged in total £898 across three transactions. After a long and confused conversation with Customer Services, they ‘think’ the extra charge will be refunded when the original hold updates from pending to complete.

      Has anyone had any experience to confirm?

      • Jason Cousins says:

        Yes, the exact problem. I’m still awaiting to hear back from them.. It’s clearly a major problem, but one they seem inexperienced or incapable to deal with. A ‘completed’ transaction for me has resulted in a final charge of $35.05 being settled at the original amount of £149.95. I’d report this to the Financial Conduct Authority as I have.

        • John says:

          Yes, this is a very worrying bug, but you can easily avoid it next time (if you haven’t melted your supercard in frustration) by not using the supercard for authorisations.

          For hotel and car hire I always check-in with my Amex to make use of the lack of credit limit. At checkout I pay with a different card (or sometimes cash – when I got it at a better rate with the old supercard :p ). Also Amex has better dispute resolution so if there is a spurious charge from hotels later, Amex helps out. I wouldn’t want a hotel to randomly charge supercard later when the maid steals from the minibar

      • Mr Dee says:

        Yes there card should not be used for anything that may involve a preauthorisation as their system is charging twice and you will need to wait up to 10 days for the original charge to be refunded same rubbish as Curve.

  • Mr Dee says:

    I’m starting to think its Wirecard (Behind Supercard and Curve) that is the problem rather than just supercard directly, had similiar pre authorisation issues with Curve.

  • rams1981 says:

    Why did supercard switch from visa to MasterCard and the new technology? What was the point of the beta?

    • John says:

      1. Because the old provider probably lost a lot of money as we all did cash withdrawals as purchases

      2. To see how much use there would be

  • MrHandBaggageOnly says:

    Just back from a few days away and had a look at the credit card statement last night. Had a small £1.20 IC CASH 01 transaction showing and was wondering about it, so pleased to see this update.

    I am far from impressed with Supercard so far. Mrs HBO and I both applied for cards, hers came through quite quickly, they wanted ID checks from me so I didn’t bother in the end, am now glad I didn’t. Worked fine for the first few days, but was then rejected at our final hotel, so reverted back to the Amex. The app on my wife’s card had also asked her to re-activate, then this morning on trying to log in said it didn’t recognise the last four digits and they then sent an email saying they’d temporarily locked the account.

    I’m not sure we will bother chasing it for reactivation. All seems like too much hassle, especially as we are not huge spenders when we are on trips overseas.

  • DS says:

    For a few Euros more you can continue to Alicante, Malaga, Lisboa, Tenerife etc. via Madrid.

  • John says:

    One positive out of all the negatives – I got 4 IHG points per £ for my (so far only) supercard transaction as it was processed in Ireland

    Has anyone tried using it in the UK yet? At this rate, it may be worthwile to pay the 1% fee for UK use if linked to the IHG card – provided that it gets recognised as a debit card by the merchant website

    • John says:

      and hopefully no exchange rate adjustments as GBP

    • Simon says:

      How do you know this? I only get the total points after the statement has been produced, and even then I have to try and work out what they have done!!

      • John says:

        Because my statement was produced today and that was the only “foreign” transaction that month.

        The number of points on the statement was exactly 2x the total expenditure of the statement, plus a further 2x of the supercard transaction.

        Actually I know many people have problems with the IHG barclaycard but I never have, my points are always exactly what I would expect (sometimes more, but in 2 years never less)

    • Mr Dee says:

      He meant that the supercard charge shows up as located in Ireland

  • Alan says:

    Very interesting (and depressing) reading all the comments on here. Sadly Supercard seems to have got a lot worse coming out of Beta, mainly due to this switch to Wirecard (same as Curve) – with all the same issues re. pre-authorisations, etc. Mind you Wirecard also power the Number26 debit card in Germany and it seems to work fine (and still gives free ATM withdrawals).

    I agree with other posters that Revolut has a role over and above just being for those that can’t get 0% fee credit cards. No fess on ATM withdrawals up to £500 per month too is quite decent. Of course the free SEPA payments may well be going for us now thanks to Brexit…

    • Alan says:

      Have also just found when signing up for Revolut that they give you an electronic card in the app immediately for use online whilst waiting for the physical one to arrive, very handy!

    • Nik says:

      Have to agree with you. Used the Supercard through the beta period and it worked flawlessly. Been on a couple of trips now with the new card and its failed three times at authorisation. It’s also lacking previously available features so you can’t change the pin, no TouchID on the iOS app and the website access has been removed.

      Luckily I have a Revolut card and have been using this all this week out in the US with out any issues.

      It appears that the beta period must have been too successful and the launch has been scaled back to the minimum viable product.

      • Alan says:

        I must say I’ve been impressed with Revolut – my card is due soon but they give an instant electronic one to use, have clear live currency rates and some very good security options (eg location-based security for physical transactions, ability to switch off magnetic strip transactions, etc)

  • Gavin says:

    Used just once an adjustment of approx. 1.5% on an online transaction in AUD.

    I only used my Supercard as I didn’t have the card I wanted to use in my wallet and I did have my supercard on me. Perhaps not to be used again given I have Clarity and Lloyds cards

    • PalCsaky says:

      Same here. Payment in AUD, supercard added 1.08% extra charge. Best to stick with Halifax Clarity.

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