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John Lewis and Waitrose Partnership Mastercard cuts cashback rate – what’s the best alternative?

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John Lewis and Waitrose have made a sharp cut to the cashback reward on their Partnership credit card.

Whilst it has nothing to do with miles and points, we mention the John Lewis / Waitrose Partnership credit card quite a bit on Head for Points.

This is because it is the best mainstream cashback (well, pseudo cashback) Visa or Mastercard credit card on the market.  It is always important to know what other rewards cards are out there, because miles and points from credit card spending are NOT free.  You could have put the same level of spending onto a cashback credit card instead.

John Lewis Partnership credit card

The John Lewis / Waitrose credit card had a lot going for it:

No annual fee

1% cashback at John Lewis and Waitrose

0.5% cashback on all other spending

Cashback paid in the form of John Lewis and Waitrose shopping vouchers, sent every four months in chunks of £5

You can see how a lot of reward cards don’t look too good compared to this.  The free IHG Rewards Club Mastercard, for example, earns 1 IHG Rewards Club point per £1 you spend.  However, IHG regularly sells points for 0.4p each, so you’d be better off having the John Lewis card and buying IHG points for cash when there is a promo on!

(On the upside, points earned from the IHG credit card count towards elite status.  You also get IHG Rewards Club Gold Elite status for holiding the card.)

No other retailer card came close to this.  Take a look at this HFP article which discussed how M&S, ASDA, HSBC, Sainsbury’s and Amazon had all cut their cashback rates to 0.1% to 0.25%.

John Lewis Waitrose Partnership credit card cuts cashback rate

The bad news is that John Lewis / Waitrose is drastically cutting the return on the card and moving it in line with its competitors.

From 4th September, the new earning rates will be:

1.25% cashback at John Lewis and Waitrose

0.25% cashback on all other spending

Full details are on the John Lewis website here.  (Thanks to reader Aaron for the heads up on this.)

Unless you are spending disproportionately large sums in Waitrose and John Lewis versus all other shops, the returns on the card just got a lot worse.

That said, given the imposition of 0.3% interchange fees a couple of years ago, it was amazing that the card had held out at 0.5% cashback for so long.

It is difficult to recommend the card now.  Whilst 1.25% cashback at John Lewis and Waitrose is attractive, you can use American Express at both of these retailers.  You would still be better off using, say, a British Airways Premium Plus American Express card and earning 1.5 Avios per £1, albeit that card has an annual fee.

Virgin Atlantic reward credit card free

What is the best free Visa or Mastercard now?

If you’re looking for a free Visa or Mastercard to use at places where American Express is not accepted, the IHG Rewards Club card suddenly looks a lot better.  The Virgin Atlantic card is also worth a serious look.

With the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard, you’re getting:

1 IHG Rewards Club point (which I value at 0.4p) per £1 spent

Points count towards status

Gold Elite status in IHG Rewards Club

10,000 IHG Rewards Club points as a sign-up bonus (sign-up points do not count towards status)

No annual fee

Alternatively, you have the Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard:

0.75 Virgin Flying Club miles per £1 spent (which I value at 0.75p)

2-4-1 or upgrade voucher for spending £20,000 in a year

Free access to Virgin Money lounges across the UK

No annual fee

Note that there is no sign-up bonus on the free Virgin Atlantic credit card.  It actually makes more sense, in Year 1, to pay £160 for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ credit card which comes with 15,000 Flying Club miles as a sign-up bonus, and earns 1.5 miles per £1 spent.  You can downgrade to the free card from Year 2.

Find out more

Our full review of the IHG Rewards Club Mastercard is here and you can apply here.

Our full review of the free Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard is here and you can apply here.

Our full review of the £160 Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard is here and you can apply here.

The legal stuff …..

Here is the legally required interest rate information on the credit cards mentioned above, together with links to our detailed reviews:

Partnership Card – no sign-up bonus – apply hererepresentative APR 18.9% variable

IHG Rewards Club Mastercard – sign-up bonus of 10,000 IHG Rewards Club points when you spend £200 – apply hereour IHG Rewards Club Mastercard review is hererepresentative APR 22.9% variable

Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard – no sign-up bonus – apply hereour Virgin Atlantic Reward review is here – representative APR 22.9% variable

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard – sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin Flying Club miles after your first purchase – apply hereour Virgin Atlantic Reward+ review is here – representative APR 63.9% variable including fee based on a notional £1200 credit limit, interest rate on purchases 22.9% variable

If you are reading this article after the original date of publication, please double-check the information above before applying as it may have changed.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

Comments (46)

  • JamesD says:

    Why IHG and not the Hilton Barclaycard? you get free breakfast at a hilton…?

    • Michael says:

      Closed to new applicants unfortunately.

      • JamesD says:

        Thanks for the reply,
        Best keep hold of mine for now then 🙂

        • memesweeper says:

          The best MC/Visa cards are all closed to new applications:

          Horizon from MBNA
          Hilton from Barclaycard
          IHG Premium from Creation

          At one point I had all three, but let the Horizon go. Clinging onto the last two though!

          • Brian says:

            Tesco Premium is the best, combined with Curve for FX transactions, better than Horizon.
            (I hold Horizon too..)

          • cinereus says:

            Brian – also sadly closed.

          • Guesswho2000 says:

            Agreed, I’m clinging onto this trifecta for dear life!

          • RussellH says:

            I do not have the IHG Premium card – it is far too expensive IMHO.

            But I do still have my Marriott MC – which pays out 2000 points per year even if one does not use it. For me, this is my primary non-Amex card.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        And, presumably the contract won’t last all that much longer will it? Been some time since it was available

  • AMC says:

    Does this card work fine with Revolut? Any data points?

  • Cormac says:

    Not even Aqua are offering the 0.5% card (the one people love to hate as you look like a peasent with bad credit if you take it out)!

    • Guesswho2000 says:

      I remember the good old days when Aqua offered 3% – but it wasn’t the looking like a peasant thing that made me hate it, it was the fact I had to pay it off about a thousand times a month because their credit limits were insanely small!

  • Gary_Dexter says:

    Surely the Amazon Platinum card beats this now, for Prime members anywho…