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.
From 1st October, NatWest Reward Black is making a series of changes to its packages.
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:
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)
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.
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? – April 2023 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.
In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.
You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:
Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard
25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £10,000 Read our full review
Barclaycard Avios Mastercard
5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and unbeatable travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 points bonus and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend 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 Platinum
40,000 points bonus and a £200 Amex Travel credit every year Read our full review
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers 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.