This is my review of MBNA’s new Horizon Visa credit card.
Yesterday I wrote about how MBNA has pulled the plug on the UK Etihad Guest credit card from 27th July. This is also now confirmed as the final date for the MBNA American Airlines credit card.
I also expect that the Lufthansa, United and Emirates cards will also be closed on 27th July. MBNA may be staggering the letters or it may be staggering the closing dates, it isn’t clear. The Virgin Atlantic MBNA credit card is closing earlier, in the first week of July.
If you are looking for:
Obviously holders of the MBNA Virgin Atlantic cards can simply switch to one of these two new Virgin Money-issued Virgin Atlantic cards.
However, MBNA is desperate for you to stay
All holders of the Etihad, American, Lufthansa, United and Emirates airline cards are being offered a new MBNA Visa product called Horizon.
This card is not available to the general public. You will only get it if you are a holder of a co-brand card which is being closed.
Horizon is, frankly, great. My best guess is that it will be the least profitable credit card in the country!
Just look at this for the list of benefits:
No annual fee
0.5% cashback on all your spending
No foreign exchange fees
Free cash withdrawals, both in the UK and overseas (although you pay interest from the date of the withdrawal)
Some people are being offered a cash incentive to retain this card until October!
I mean …. where is MBNA going to make any money here?! They give you 0.5% cashback on the back of receiving a 0.3% interchange fee. They won’t make any money when you use the card abroad. They won’t make any money – apart from a tiny interest charge – when you withdraw cash on the card. They won’t make any money on annual fees. And, hopefully, they won’t make any money off you in interest charges because you’re not that stupid.
The only tiny catch is that the 0.5% cashback is paid on transaction multiples of £2. This means that a £1.99 purchase earns nothing and a £7.99 purchase only earns 3p (0.5% of £6).
The APR is 22.9%, with a higher 27.9% rate applying to cash withdrawals.
Should you keep this card?
I currently have the MBNA Lufthansa credit card which I am expecting to see closed very shortly. My gut feeling was that I would be cancelling the replacement MBNA card before it even arrived.
(When my MBNA BMI Diamond Club credit card was closed, MBNA chose to give unprofitable customers like me a replacement card with zero benefits to encourage us to leave, which I did. Profitable customers got a better deal. This time everyone seems to be getting the same good deal.)
If I am offered the Horizon Visa card when / if my Lufthansa credit card is closed, I will be keeping it.
I won’t use it much in the UK. 0.5% cashback is fine but I can get a far better return from the IHG Rewards Club Premium Mastercard. As I calculated in this article, you should expect to get an overall return of 2.3% on your first £10,000 of spending on that card. Even when you have triggered the free night, the two IHG points per £1 are worth 0.8% back.
However, as a card to use when I am travelling, this will do the trick. 0.5% cashback on my holiday spending and no FX fees is a great deal. Tandem has the same benefits including free cash withdrawals but Tandem is unlikely to offer the same chunky credit limits that MBNA usually gives. Tandem also does not offer free UK cash withdrawals. That said, one upside with Tandem is that cashback is paid monthly whilst MBNA is only paying out annually.
I have no idea what MBNA’s strategy is with Horizon. Stopping your existing customer base from defecting by paying them to stay – which is effectively what MBNA is doing here – doesn’t make a huge amount of sense in the long run.
Whilst I admit that MBNA runs a very impressive operation, almost up to Amex standards, holders of the co-brand cards were primarily loyal to the airline and not to MBNA. Perhaps they are hoping that most of their customers won’t be aware that they can continue to earn American, Lufthansa, Etihad etc miles via the Starwood Amex, Amex Gold, HSBC Premier etc and will stick around.
If you are being transferred to a Horizon Visa, I would think twice before cancelling it unless you already have another option for foreign spending with a good credit limit. You can feel happy tucking it into your passport and focusing your UK card spend elsewhere.
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