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Creation offers to settle with HfP readers over forced IHG One Rewards credit card closures

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IHG One Rewards used to market two excellent UK credit cards. They were arguably the best Visa or Mastercard options on the market. Whilst closed to new applicants some time ago, some readers still hold them today.

IHG had put together a smart range of benefits which both encouraged people to get the card and to use it.

We’ll get to why it all went pear-shaped in a minute, but to recap:

Creation settles with HfP readers over forced IHG One Rewards credit card closures
  • the free IHG One Rewards card was decent. You earned 1 IHG One Rewards points per £1 spent (2 points per £1 for FX spend and at IHG hotels) and you received Gold status in what was at that time IHG Rewards Club. The points counted towards elite status too.
  • the £99 per year Premium card was excellent. As well as earning 2 IHG One Rewards points per £1 (4 points per £1 for FX spend and at IHG hotels) – which also counted towards elite status – you received Platinum status in IHG Rewards Club. When you spent £10,000 per year on the card, you received a voucher for a free night redemption.

Whilst this was not officially part of the benefits package, the cards had two other quirks:

  • you could pay off your monthly bill with another credit card, so you earned points twice
  • the free night vouchers, at least towards the end, were not coded properly and could be redeemed for pretty much anything in the Mr & Mrs Smith collection – some HfP readers stayed in £1,000+ top suites at the Cliveden country house hotel in Berkshire, for example

Then, in late 2021, Creation Financial Services – issuer of the card – shut down a large percentage of accounts with minimal notice. One call centre agent said that 1,800 accounts were closed.

Why did Creation close down card accounts?

It was never made explicitly clear, and of course Creation has the right to withdraw credit from anyone it wants at any time without giving a reason.

It seemed that the common factor was that cardholders had been linking their IHG credit cards to a Curve Card.

Curve Card is a debit card which recharges your transactions to a linked Visa or Mastercard credit card. This meant that you could make transactions which were only possible with a debit card – such as paying HMRC, buying Premium Bonds, putting money into Hargreaves Lansdown etc – and they would be recharged to your IHG credit card.

Importantly, these transactions would earn points and count towards your free night voucher.

Another popular use of Curve was for card spending abroad. Curve did not charge FX fees, so you could make a transaction with Curve in a foreign currency which was recharged to your IHG credit card whilst avoiding the fee.

A third use of Curve was to gain access to Apple Wallet. Creation cards did not work with Apple Wallet but Curve cards did.

(The Curve Card website is here if you want to learn more. I strongly recommend reading the Curve threads in the ‘Other payment cards’ part of our forum first.)

Creation settles with HfP readers over forced IHG One Rewards credit card closures

What happened when accounts were closed?

This is where Creation made a mistake, arguably.

When cards were closed, very little notice was given. Cardholders were not even awarded points for their most recent spending.

More importantly, holders of the Premium credit card did not receive their free night voucher for the year. It was a feature of the IHG credit card that, irrespective of how quickly the cardholder spent £10,000, the voucher did not appear until the end of their membership year.

What happened next?

Many HfP readers raised complaints with the Financial Ombudsman Service, using our forum to share their knowledge. I know that some readers also launched legal action against Creation, with many successful in getting the value of a free night in a five star hotel.

The Financial Ombudsman Service eventually decided to pursue a single settlement with Creation.

This is the email that was received yesterday by people who had lodged a complaint:

Thank you for your patience while we’ve been progressing your complaint. As you’re aware we’ve been having regular discussions with Creation Financial Services Limited (Creation) to ensure an outcome that is fair and reasonable in the circumstances

Throughout these conversations, Creation have provided additional information and it’s been important to take this into account for the individual circumstances of each case. As a result of our conversations with Creation, we’re pleased to let you know that Creation have made an offer to resolve your complaint.

The offer Creation have made will depend on the type of account you held with them. I’ve explained more details below.

The closure of credit card accounts with Creation affected two of their credit card products which provided associated benefits.

  • IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card – customers were able to earn IHG Rewards Club points, and Anniversary Night Vouchers for an annual account fee
  • IHG Rewards Club Credit Card – customers were able to earn IHG Rewards Club points

For any customers who held an IHG Rewards Club Premium Credit Card, Creation have offered to

  • refund the unused proportion of the account fee on a pro-rata basis,
  • transfer the outstanding IHG Rewards Club points to their IHG account, and
  • grant Anniversary Night Vouchers for eligible customers.

For any customer who held an IHG Rewards Club Credit Card, Creation have offered to

  • transfer the outstanding IHG Rewards Club points to their IHG account.

I would be grateful if you could let us know whether you accept the offer from Creation in full and final settlement of your complaint by 31 March 2023.

If we don’t hear from you by then, we will assume your acceptance of this offer, and ask Creation to action the settlement and close your complaint.

If you would like to accept Creation Financial Services Limited’s offer, please let me know by 31 March 2023 and I’ll arrange for Creation Financial Services Limited to get in touch with you.

If you are not happy with the offer, please let me know why by 31 March 2023 and we’ll continue to investigate.

Creation settles with HfP readers over forced IHG One Rewards credit card closures

There are two obvious questions here ….

The first is over the annual free night voucher.

It isn’t clear if anyone who had not hit £10,000 of annual spend, but would have done so if their account was not closed, will receive their voucher. If Creation was refunding the entire annual fee for these people it could arguably get away with not awarding a voucher. Since it is only refunding the annual fee pro-rata, I think that anyone who was on course (pro-rata) to earn the free night voucher should receive one.

The second is what happens if you were not part of the FOS action.

The email is vague. It implies that this offer is being made to all cardholders, but I suspect that FOS means that it is being made available to all cardholders who made a complaint.

What should you do if your IHG credit card was closed down and you did not make a complaint to FOS?

You may want to wait to see if Creation gets in touch with you to offer you the same settlement that FOS has agreed for those who raised a complaint.

Your other option is to raise a complaint now with the Financial Ombudsman Service and say that you wish to be opted in to the settlement agreed between Creation and FOS. This was not a ‘group action’ to the extent that there was any sort of cut-off date.

Unless there is a limit to how long you can wait before making a complaint to FOS, I don’t see why any new complaint made now would not have the same outcome.

Conclusion

This has been a rather pitiful process. Whilst Creation has the right to give out credit to whoever it chooses, and to withdraw that credit if it wishes, the refusal to:

  • transfer over outstanding points
  • refund the unused portion of the annual card fee
  • award free night vouchers to people who had already hit the £10,000 spend target

…. was simply illogical and bound to end as it has now ended. A lot of time and effort has been wasted – Creation even sent legal representation to every court case I know about to defend itself, instead of settling.

The sums of money involved are peanuts at the end of the day, especially for a business (BNP Paribas) that has seen its market value drop by €17 billion in the last month.

Whilst readers will now get what they were due, there is nothing in these proposals which adds anything for the 18 months of inconvenience and delay.

Comments (242)

  • BJ says:

    What is the situation with IHG; are they still tied to a contract with Creation and if so can they not use this as a means to end the contract and launch a new card with another provider?

    • Alex Sm says:

      I still hold my account with Creation (white card) – they didn’t close it despite it being linked to Curve etc etc. But – IHG has downgraded me recently from Gold to Silver which means that Creation card does not guarantee you a Gold anymore…

      • Tom says:

        I also still hold the free card. I had to ask for a replacement earlier this year and was surprised to receive a new design (different colour – turquoise rather than white – different IHG logo).

      • John says:

        Isn’t it just that the card got you the lowest elite tier, which was previously gold but is now silver?

        • Alex Sm says:

          Maybe, but I’m now got lost in all these devaluations and rebrandings. Need to catch up with relevant HfP posts lol 😂

          • Neil says:

            I kept my creation IHG white card , I am still IHG platinum elite on the back of it.

  • Roger says:

    Impacted but didn’t take any FOS action.
    Should I wait or get in touch with FOS or Creation?
    Would this be somehow published officially on FOS website so we can reference this for any communication with creation.

    • baec_newbie says:

      I definitely wouldn’t wait, just in case they try to apply some arbitrary cutoff date for eligibility for this quasi-settlement. Creation have acted utterly irrationally and unreasonably about this so far; I wouldn’t trust them an inch. The decision to offer this settlement will have been made at a high level, so customer service staff will surely have been made aware of it (and if not, you can refer to it in your complaintl.

    • BJ says:

      ‘Impacted ‘ is interesting in itself. I only had the basic card so no voucher issues and I did not lose any points but I was still impacred as they closed my account for a single use of Curve for a £400ish transaction. My dad also had his card closed without notice despite never having his card loaded on Curve so he was even more impacted IMO. I think there was a lot more to the Creation actions than simply Curve ‘abuses’. Obviously neither dad or I were happy but did not feel it worthwhile chasing it up.

      • meta says:

        You have six years to make a complaint as mentioned yesterday, so yes you could wait. I only has the free card and couple of hundred points, so I’m not bothered and I’ll wait.

        • Rui N. says:

          What would BJ complain about? They have no points due, getting the card closed is well within Creation’s right.

          • BJ says:

            No formal complaint from me then or now, jyst annoyed my card was closed for a single use on Curve which wasn’t even that place. My dad does have grounds for formal complaint as no notice of card closure was provided abd in his positiin I might have gone down that road had it been me but Creation would likely just have claimed notice got list in post. Given my dads experience and comments by @Alex above it does look like more than just Curve issues behind this saga.

          • meta says:

            This was for Roger, the OP.

      • JerrySignfield says:

        Unless you are missing points, missing pro rate refund or a free night voucher you have nothing to claim, they aren’t offering compensation to people…

        • BJ says:

          I believe failure to provide notice of account closure is grounds for complaint if people wish to do so.

          • Lady London says:

            as is failure to allow use of the card or if full benefits due are not provided within the notice period

  • David says:

    I submitted my complaint to the Ombudsman in February 22. Received an acknowledgement of complaint received but heard nothing since. Not in my junk folder either.

  • David says:

    Any news on return of Hilton card Rob? You had speculated since 2018 that there maybe something soon in pipeline.

  • aseftel says:

    This looks like a fair outcome and exactly the strategy I would have proposed if I was running the shutdown. Just a shame that they didn’t take this approach from day one.

    Good result from the FOS.

    • baec_newbie says:

      It would have been a fair result if offered on day one… offering it now is frankly an insult to injury. Nevertheless, Creation knows perfectly well that most people will accept this, having ground them down for the last 18 months and fought Court claims with frivolous defences.

      As ever, it goes to show how justice is only really accessible to those with money.

    • Lady London says:

      @aseftel I know you are an expert (and I’ll never forget your comnent about the picture of the red Norwegian plane resembling a priapic dog 🙂 ) but it’s not a sufficient settlement just to offer to give what should have been given when earned in the first place.

      The delay of 1-2 years has to be compensated under the normal sorts of rules fir this type of thing by 2 things in addition (at a minimum), for everyone :-

      – compensation for the time value of receiving what was always due ‘x’ months later (similar to interest payments, at the minimum, but could be other losses generally or for an indivudual)

      – compensation for category ‘distress and inconvenience’ is normally also awarded, ie stress, effort, or even just inconvenience of not having received what you should have when you should have.

      Creation is trying to slide out with a low ball minimal offer and at least 1 of these should be part of the settlement for everyone and fir many people there’s a reasonable case for both.

  • TS77 says:

    Slightly off topic (but mentioned in the article), Re the mention ‘putting money into Hargreaves Lansdown with Curve card’, does this still work? I tried this recently and HSBC charged me the cash advance fee.

    • Swiss Jim says:

      Why oh why oh why do people still insist on asking such questions in public…? Don’t…

    • Thegasman says:

      Création were probably the most permissive mainstream card issuer when it came to Curve, until they weren’t with no notice.

      HSBC have always been at the other end of the spectrum & are quite trigger happy at ending their relationships with anyone who gives vague impression of playing games.

      All the other card issuers got a wake up call when Creationgate occurred.

      Don’t try anything that could cost you a relationship you value & don’t talk about anything you try that may succeed (unlikely as that is).

    • Rob says:

      Of course it works, that’s why he mentioned it. These sort of things bring lots of people to the site. It’s not done by accident!

    • ZW says:

      HSBC now charges 3% cash advance fee applied directly + interest depending on when you pay it back.

      • Rob says:

        HSBC to Curve has no fees BUT no points! Most people never realise they aren’t getting the points because HSBC has stopped putting points totals on statements ….

  • Rob H not Rob says:

    Still have IHG Black. Love the card.

    £5k free night redemption on the voucher last Nov.

    It will never get better than that.

    • S says:

      Where was that? I *only* managed to get £4k value out of it!

      • Rui N. says:

        Sorry to break your bubbles, but unless you were prepared to pay that in cash, that’s not the value you got from the redemptions.

        • Rob says:

          It was valued at £4k. That is correct. He’s not saying he ‘saved’ £4k – and technically he did save it since he received a £4k product without paying for it.

          Obviously not the same as saying he would have paid for it though.

      • Rob H not Rob says:

        Heckfield Place Long Room.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Just £5k! I got £15k because I got upgraded to the best suite and I would have actually paid the nightly rate

      In fact don’t know why I used the voucher and not cash …

  • Can says:

    Power of HfP! Well done everyone. Is “Bashing Creation” still the longest thread in this forum?

    • Lady London says:

      Yeah and the 57 or so pages the thread has currently reached would actually have been 86 pages if the reformatting of the forum pages to longer ones hadn’t been done a few months back.

      (@JDB will say I’m grossing up the figures unjustifiably 🙂 )

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