NatWest Black drops Priority Pass for DragonPass – but is it worth £28 per month?

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We don’t talk about the NatWest Reward Black current account much on HFP, although it has good travel benefits. 

It has also been trialling an Avios offer recently, as many of you who were targeted for the trial will have noticed.  Whether this ends up being a permanent feature or not remains to be seen.

NatWest Reward Black has a chunky £28 monthly fee.  At £336 per year, you are almost in American Express Platinum territory, and arguably Platinum has a better range of benefits.

From 1st October, NatWest Reward Black is making a series of changes to its packages.  This PDF explains them.

From a travel perspective, the most interesting one is the move from Priority Pass to DragonPass as the airport lounge provider.

NatWest Reward Black moving to DragonPass

What is DragonPass?

The three major lounge access cards, which take up 95% of the discussion on HFP about such cards, are:

Priority Pass (buy outright here or free with Amex Platinum)

Lounge Club (two free visits per year for Amex Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders) and

LoungeKey (for MasterCard World Elite cardholders, eg HSBC Premier)

These are all owned by the same company, Collinson.  Whilst there are some differences between the lounges available across the three Collinson products, the similarities are far greater.

DragonPass is the only company apart from Collinson offering airport lounge access cards.  This has allowed it to cut some interesting deals which are not available with the three Collinson products.  Here are some interesting London examples which are NOT available with Priority Pass or Lounge Club:

Heathrow:

In Terminal 5 and Terminal 2, you can use the Regus Express business centre lounge in Arrivals

In Terminal 5, you can use the new Plaza Premium departures lounge (this can be accessed by showing an American Express Platinum card but it is not a Priority Pass benefit)

In Terminal 3, you can use the No 1 Lounge in departures (this is in Priority Pass but not Lounge Club)

You get dining discounts – but no freebies – at The Prince of Wales (T4), Giraffe (T3, T5), Comptoir Libonais (T4), The Curator (T3), Apostrophe (T4), Wonder Tree (T2), Market Gardener (T3)

Gatwick:

In South Terminal, you can use the Regus Express business centre lounge in Arrivals

You can get dining discounts – but no freebies – at Nicholas Culpepper (North), Giraffe (South), Garfunkels (North), Wonder Tree (South), Eat (North), Armadillo (North), Shake-a-Hula (North), Comptoir Libonais (North), Joe’s Coffee House (South)

Obviously DragonPass will also get you into most of the ‘usual suspect’ lounges which Priority Pass can also access such as Aspire (but not Heathrow Terminal 5) and No 1 Lounges sites.  You can search the DragonPass lounge directory here.

NatWest Reward Black adds DragonPass and drops Priority Pass

What will NatWest Reward Black offer?

From 1st October, DragonPass replaces Priority Pass as the default lounge provider. 

This is generally a positive move because of the addition of Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 5, used for the majority of British Airways flights.

Additional guests will be charged at £20.  Your DragonPass appears to be ‘account holder only’ so your guest fees will add up quickly if you travel a lot with a partner.

(If you open a joint account then you receive two lounge access cards but only pay the same £28 monthly account fee.  This is clearly the way to go if you travel with a partner.)

Very generously (ahem), NatWest is also promoting the ability to pay £5 to guarantee entry at No 1 Lounges as a new ‘benefit’, even though this is available to the general public via this link.

What are the other NatWest Reward Black changes?

There will be no charges for foreign currency purchases made using your Black debit card.  ATM withdrawals outside the UK will still incur a fee.

Discounts on hotels, cruises etc will continue to be offered although I doubt these are better than anything you could track down yourself.

You no longer get free in-flight meals and a 20kg baggage allowance when flying with Thomas Cook!

Outside travel, you will get a 40% discount at 250 UK cinemas and free UK and European breakdown cover with Green Flag.

Benefits remaining the same include travel insurance (although the age limit is dropping from 75 to 70), mobile phone insurance and 2% back on direct debit household bill payments.

How do I get Reward Black?

NatWest Reward Black offers many of the benefits of American Express Platinum for a lower fee, although certainly not enough for me to justify switching.

The criteria – apart from a willingness to pay £28 per month for a current account – are a minimum £100,000 sole income or £120,000 joint income paid into your NatWest account, or £500,000 minimum mortgage borrowing or £100,000 in NatWest savings or investments.

The fee will drop a bit if your household bills are high, because of the 2% rebate on Direct Debit payments.  This covers council tax, gas, electricity, water, home & mobile phone, TV packages and broadband.  I reckon we would save around £7 per month, although I would lose the points I currently earn for paying our council tax with a credit card.

The move to DragonPass is an interesting one and opens up some interesting new options for cardholders, including Plaza Premium in Heathrow Terminal 5.

You can find out more about NatWest Reward Black here.

PS.  Don’t forget that American Express Preferred Rewards Gold comes with 20,000 Avios or other airline miles (or hotel points, or loads of other things) just for signing up and spending £2000.  You also get two free lounge access cards – which get you into some places that DragonPass doesn’t – AND the card is free for a year.  I strongly recommend getting one of these to boost your frequent flyer miles quickly.  You can find out more in this article.

(Head for Points is the UK’s biggest frequent flyer website with 1.4 million monthly page views.  Want to learn more about earning and spending Avios?  Click here to read our latest news storiesclick here to join our email list and click here to read our ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.  Read this article to learn how you can get 20,000 FREE Avios by signing up for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card.)

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Comments

  1. I don’t think it’s worthwhile getting the NatWest black rewards credit card if you don’t have a black current account as the only thing you really get from the card is the 0.5% cash back and the fx fees. You can get cards like tandem which offer the same thing without the £84 annual fee.

    Yes NatWest rewards has some flexibility in terms of what they can be redeemed for but I can’t justify that annual fee.

    • Robert Govier says:

      I agree. If I didn’t have the account, I wouldn’t have the card, but if you have the account the card is free, so seems like a no-brainer.

  2. Aeronaut says:

    “Benefits remaining the same include free travel insurance, free mobile phone insurance and 2% back on direct debit household bill payments.”

    £28 a month is not free.

    (Nor, as far as I can see, do NatWest describe them as being free.)

    • True. But we’re heading into the great Holiday Inn Express court case here ….

      (If anyone is bored, google why Holiday Inn Express is no longer allowed to call its breakfast free, even though no-one pays for it.)

      • Aeronaut says:

        I agree with the ASA and disagree with you on the HIE breakfast issue, i.e. at HIE you pay for the breakfast as an integral part of your hotel room charge, hence it is not free. If you don’t eat your breakfast, that’s your shout – likewise if you don’t use the shower, that’s up to you (hotels don’t speak about ‘free showers’ for example).

        The NatWest Reward Black account scenario is I’d suggest even more black and white than the HIE breakfast scenario – with NatWest, customers are specifically paying £28 a month for a package of benefits, of which the travel and mobile phone insurance is part.

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