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.
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%.
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.
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 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 here – representative APR 18.9% variable
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard – sign-up bonus of 15,000 Virgin Flying Club miles after your first purchase – apply here – our 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 points from credit cards? – January 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our January 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
British Airways American Express
5,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and a companion voucher for spending £20,000 Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
25,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
15,000 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:
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
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
Earn both Avios and BA On Business points with your business spending 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
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.