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NatWest Reward Black drops Priority Pass for DragonPass airport lounge access – worth £28?

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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.

NatWest Reward Black moving to DragonPass

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.

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.


Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2021 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here.

The following offers will end soon:

  • 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
  • 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
  • 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
  • 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)

Here are the top current deals:

British Airways BA Amex American Express card

British Airways American Express

10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review

British Airways BA Premium Plus American Express Amex credit card

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Rewards credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard

The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review

Virgin Rewards Plus credit card

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.

American Express Business Gold

20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review

Amex Platinum Business American Express

American Express Business Platinum

40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express card

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending:

Barclaycard Select Cashback Credit Card

1% cashback and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (51)

  • Polly says:

    If you can’t make the 100k salary minimum, at least HSBC is less at 50k deposit requirement. Just as well off doing an amex Plat churn every 6 months if you have other half. With pro rata fee refund, plus 104k MRs or avios plus spend, whichever you are collecting. With pro rate fee refunds, and attention to detail on cancelling dates etc. Sadly no upgrade to Plat from Gold now.

    • Brian Porter says:

      You can now get HSBC with a £75k salary and an investment product.

      • Simon says:

        Any suggestions for the HSBC investment product? (I have Premier/World Elite but will shortly need most of the savings in the account towards a building project)

    • Robert says:

      It’s also worth having a chat with your local bank (if you still have one!). Apparently the £100k income is a flexible requirement, especially if you’re younger and have prospects to get to £100k in a few years.

  • Arthur says:

    Anyone able to share what the Avios trial was that ran recently?

    • MrK says:

      Pretty sure it’s still ongoing. At least it was when i checked yesterday.

      Rewards customer can redeem their cash back for Avios at pretty good rates. £10-1300, £20-2600, £50-6,500.

      Though I must say, pretty surprised that Rob decided to mention it on this site. Does it mean that the trial is likely to go on for a couple more months?

      • MrK says:

        Oh – seems to be gone as of today

      • Rob says:

        I only mentioned it because it would seem odd otherwise. Avios wants it kept low key to avoid annoying those not targeted.

  • Colin JE says:

    For those who might not qualify for HSBC Premier, DragonPass also comes with the Travel Plus Pack with pretty much any Barclays current account for £15.50 a month, inc travel insurance & RAC European recovery. It works through Lifestyle Services Group (LSG). Joint account holders get two cards, and all other covers cover both. Either way you get 6 free lounge visits per year between you, then further visits are charged at £15.
    There’s an app for DP but not the regular DP one – it’s called Traveller. Shows the free visits you have left, discounted restaurants, finding a lounge and your digital card, though you get a physical one for each member too.
    I don’t know if HSBC will do the same or if membership will be direct with DragonPass.

  • MrK says:

    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 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.

  • 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.)

    • Rob says:

      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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