Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.


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)

  • JDB says:

    This sort of thing is happening all the time from lots of apparently respectable providers; this particular event has just created more noise than others. Actually surprisingly few ‘voices’ show in the main thread and many were unaffected, ie non cardholders.

  • QFFlyer says:

    Myself and my OH made a complaint to FOS and neither of us have received any contact, in fact my last response from FOS was in October!

  • Stephen Lee says:

    I had a refund of £45 just prior to my card being cancelled. In the end I took them to court and they spent a fortune on a very expensive solicitor who tried to bully me. The trouble is that I know the way the courts work and simply raised a claim. Then they tried bullying again and denied the claim with the court. I was just about to have my day when I decided to offer them settlement if they also covered the court issue fee. I guess they wanted to avoid the cost getting the high court bailiffs that I use (The Sheriffs Office) and agreed to cough up. Nice people….

  • EwanG says:

    I would like to think that, after Creation’s u-turn, we get to hear from the regulator on this saga.

  • Paul says:

    Yes received this offer but declined as the points are minimal and Creation has not addressed any form of compensation!

  • PH says:

    Not that anyone asked my opinion, but this all looks unedifying as an outsider… and not on the part of Creation…

    • PH says:

      I mean, isn’t the story that some folks exploited loopholes / found arbitrage opportunities, and when Creation was perhaps a little hasty shutting it down they decided to throw their toys out of the pram as if we were talking about something major, with lots of added conjecture about customer service, banks being bad, etc.
      I thought part of this game was accepting ‘losses’ and moving on to the next.
      I’m sure this all drives a lot of clicks, but I probably wouldn’t be shouting about it if I ran this site because this audience is one advertisers would/should run a mile from.

      • Aston100 says:

        You’d be right if it wasn’t for the tons of people who also lost their cards for not getting involved in the MS shenanigans.
        You should look through the main Creation Bashing thread for all the examples.

        • PH says:

          Well I’m sympathetic to anyone who genuinely didn’t do anything ‘borderline’ with their account and got caught up in it. Personally I think I’d have let it go up to about 5K points and ~£50 un-refunded fee. Life’s too short etc.

          Can’t help but wonder if some folks have too much time on their hands pursuing this / have let it become too emotionally consuming… or TBF maybe their point balances were huge (but if only thanks to arbitrage I say collect your losses..)

          Of course there’s the principle argument too, but there seems to be an asymmetry in how some want to operate in a grey area as a consumer but go berserk when the company tries the same

          • Jim says:

            I haven’t been posted in the forum, but I have been keeping an eye on things. In my case, I did not have a ‘Curve’ card, and my black card still got cancelled. I was due a ‘free’ night, about 10,000 points, £75 of erroneous interest charges (I always paid my bill in full), plus after notifying me of cancellation, Creation had the audacity to charge me £99 2 days before the card was cancelled for the following year of [non] card use. On top of that, Creation have quite happily let me use the Marriott card, which I also hold, and have been doing since. I’ve just been biding my time as to what I would do next. On balance, I’ll be happy to be put right at this stage if all I need to do is spend 30 minutes writing a letter, and be done with it. However, and this is an important point, back in the early days I recall the ‘Curve card’ being heavily promoted by HfP. This seems to have gone amiss somewhere.

      • Rob says:

        Oddly that‘s not how it works. Because our overall audience is substantially wealthier than average, Amex, Nutmeg and Capital on Tap have all told us separately that the people we send them are their best cohort in terms of £ spent / invested. That’s why they work with us again and again and again.

        You need to compare this to, for eg, MSE pushing its readers (low income) to get Amex Gold to cash out the points for Amazon credit and then cancelling.

        • Harrier25 says:

          …and to cash out the points for Amazon credit, is not advisable. Shame on you, Mr Martin Lewis. 😀

          • Mark says:

            Yeah, come on.. to Avios and then to Nectar points gets you an extra 33% in effective cash value, even after the Avios to Nectar conversion devaluation!

        • PH says:

          Rob, I don’t doubt you have a predominantly high quality audience that works very well for advertisers, and have built something unique. I feel Creation-gate has exposed a minority who put a lot of effort into transferring value from a company’s margins into their own pockets, in a way that can be tolerated to a certain level (and maybe even beneficial if they remain advocates) – but are then quick to cause a regulatory/legal/PR headache when told ‘game up’. I’m sure they’re a loud minority of your audience, vs a silent majority who don’t have time to fight companies over relatively small amounts/principles and post about it online

      • will says:

        I think the main issue here is that Creation did not deal with the closures in a proper manner at all.

        For example, they could have cited abuse, cash recycling, manufactured spend, business spend etc and breach of terms as the reason for closure and I think they probably could have denied any points or vouchers legitimately if they had gone down this route.

        On the fee I think they were always on soft ground as on the face of it charging a fee for a product you fail to supply constitutes breach of contract. Even a pro rata refund doesn’t cut the mustard if you fail to supply other features of the card (ie free night voucher).

        So yes, anyone who did MS or cash recycling shouldn’t be surprised to have their account closed (and a provider can close anyone’s account if they wish providing they go through the correct notice period) but that in itself does not excuse Creation’s behaviour in dealing with the matter.

        There are many aspects to this:
        – Creation don’t appear to have been on the ball with KYC checks
        – They could simply have blocked all curve transactions
        – Why did their fraud team not spot this pattern very early doors
        – Why did some people not get the correct notice
        – Why did they not articulate to anyone that their points would be forfeited upon notice of closure?
        – Why did they not articulate to anyone that the free night voucher would not be issued?
        – Why didn’t they reply to many people who raised queries over the status of their account/points/fee/free night cert
        – Why did they then defend the complaints in a totally inappropriate manner?

        Poor conduct from customers does not give a provider the right to behave in such a manner and I guess the question really is were creation acting in accordance with regulation in both letter and spirit?

        • Rui N. says:

          They did not cite anything. They needed to either keep the card operating normally until closure day, or they needed to let people know in the closure letter what would happen regarding points, annual fee and free night voucher. People are making this way more complicated than it is.

          • Rui N. says:

            *They did not NEED TO cite anything. (Sorry, too early to be posting)

          • will says:

            They did not need to cite anything if they were going to honor the points/free night.

            Given they didn’t issue the points and certs they did need to cite breach of terms and I believe breach of terms would give them the right to terminate immediately. It’s one OR the other.

  • Surbiton Stopper says:

    Do I have any business complaining to the FOS now if I complained to Creation in 2021? At the time Creation refunded the card fee to my Creation account, and refused to credit the points balance or the free night voucher. I never followed it up or ‘agreed’ to Creation’s offer. The refund still remains untouched in my Creation card account.

    Any advice would be appreciated!

    • Nick says:

      I am in exactly the same boat.. Never formally accepted their point blank refusal to budge.. Surely this decision by the FOS means that any response to us is now irrelevant? Or are we going to have to go to the small claims court ourselves?

      • JDB says:

        The FOS hasn’t made a decision, it is merely conveying the terms of an offer made by Creation to those who have complained to the FOS.

    • SteveJ says:

      You need to follow up your complaint to creation. And all specifically for all the items you now know they’re offering per this article.

      • Mark says:

        There’s a six month time limit after receiving the final response letter from Creation to refering it to FOS, unless Creation agrees to waive that limit. In this case they were clear in their final response letters that they did not agree to it being longer.

        • Alan says:

          Ah, OK I wasn’t aware of this. I think that Creation’s “final decision” letter to me was received in April last year. I guess I’m too late to go any further then.

          • will says:

            Write to creation and ask to accept the offer indicated in this thread or else you’ll go to MCOL.

  • Mark says:

    Are MSE readers necessarily low income? I’d bet many wealthy people are such not just because of their income but also because they are careful in how they spend it.

    I used to regularly follow the weekly updates. Not so much these days but I still reference the insurance and travel articles in particular on a regular basis.

    I would expect though that average net worth of HFP readers is much higher

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      MSE has such a broad reach that, rather than being targetted at low income, I’d guess that it’s profile is, for practical purposes, the same as the general population. About 12% of people hit the 40% income tax band and about 33% of people do not pay income tax at all, which gives you an idea of the spread.

      Of course some people here might define anyone not hitting the 40% tax threshold (or even the 45% 😉 ) as low income, but in terms of population averages, they’re not.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please click here to read our data protection policy before submitting your comment

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.