Clare Francis: We all love getting a good deal which is why reward schemes are so popular with UK shoppers. Millions of us have loyalty cards such as Boots Advantage, Nectar, Tesco Clubcard, or a credit card which rewards us each time we spend on them - whether it be with cash back, reward points or specialist schemes like Airmiles – and we found that these are really popular and highly valued by people.
“I use a Boots card and I find it very good, yeah.”
“I find it quite useful collecting the points.”
“Well first and foremost it’s my Tesco clubcard, definitely, I mean to be honest it paid for my Christmas dinner so…
“Every time I go shopping obviously in Tesco, I use the Boots obviously for cosmetics…”
“Game, just to get money off really for video games and stuff like that”
“You can get your shopping at the end of the year when you’ve collected your points, so it’s good.”
“It’s just an advantage because you get money off vouchers…”
“I think it’s one of the best ones out!”
CF: And Barclaycard's the latest provider to launch a rewards scheme – it’s called Freedom and I spoke to Sarah Alspach, marketing director at Barclaycard to find out why they’ve decided to go down this route, and how their new reward scheme works.
Q1: So Sarah, why has Barclaycard decided to launch a rewards programme?
Sarah Alspach: So this is really about making rewards simpler for our customers, and we’ve been doing that in a number of different ways – by focusing on the earning of pounds rather than points, because that’s much more transparent, and our customers have told us that they get confused with existing rewards programmes.
Equally by looking at the breadth of earning opportunities, so again customers have said that they don’t always get to take advantage of earning rewards everywhere, and so that’s as well something we’ve really tried to address with this programme, looking at a wide coalition so that people can earn rewards on a great many things that they purchase.
Q2: So how exactly does it work?
SA: So it works very simply. When you pay using your Barclaycard, you actually will see your rewards balance come up on the card terminal when you put your card in, and then you can decide whether or not you want to redeem right there on the spot.
So because you can see your total is calculated as pounds rather than points as I said, and you can decide what portion of that you actually want to pay towards an existing purchase so it all happens instantly there at point of sale.
Q3: What is the earn rate, how much do you get?
SA: So, in most participating stores it will be 1% and then in addition we will offer promotional activity, so at launch we actually offering everybody double rewards for the first two months of the programme for anybody who registers for myBarclaycard, which is our online account servicing.
Q4: And I guess the advantage over this type of programme rather than say, a cash back card, is that you can use your rewards that you’ve accumulated at any time can’t you rather than having to wait to have it credited?
SA: Absolutely. I think, as I said it’s offered each time you purchase in a participating store, so you have that opportunity to redeem – you don’t have to wait for vouchers to arrive in the post; you don’t have to worry about expiry dates – your reward money will remain active on your account for as long as your account is in good stead.
Q5: So the value of the pounds and pence that you’ve accrued doesn’t have to equal the value of the transaction?
SA: No, so that’s where we believe that there’s a addition of simplicity over some of the other programmes that are out there, as you can actually choose down to the pounds and pence how much you want to pay towards your purchase.
Q6: And who can benefit?
SA: So, we have made Freedom available to all of our Barclaycard customers who don’t have another rewards product with us – this is really about trying to give something back to cardholders who perhaps took a Barclaycard out for another reason, so they may have chosen us for a balance transfer rate or for a good APR, and this is about making sure that they also have the ability to earn rewards, so it’ll be over 8 million cardholders and they can actually check on our website – barclaycardfreedom.co.uk – to check and make sure their card is eligible.
Q7: So existing customers benefit – do they have to do anything to sign up or is it automatic?
SA: No it’s absolutely automatic! All of our customers will be able to earn reward money – which is what we’re calling the currency – from the moment that the programme goes live and it will happen automatically when they use their card in a participating store.
Q8: Which retailers accept it?
SA: We have already made public some of the retail partners that will be going live at launch, there are certainly more names to follow and we will be building on that list very, very much even after we launch. So at the start we have invited over 30,000 retailers to take part in the programme.
I think one of the really unique aspects of this is that in fact it’s not just big high street names, but its also smaller merchants, so when you’re out at your local dry cleaner or pop out to a local shop, those types of people will also be available and able to accept Barclaycard Freedom as well.
CF: Thank you very much for that Sarah!
SA: Thank you!
CF: Freedom’s likely to prove hugely popular because it’s available across Barclaycards entire product range, but it’s not the only option. If you’re one of the people who clears their credit card balance in full every month, it’s well worth taking advantage of a reward or cash back card and there are other competitive deals available. It makes sense, because of course you get rewarded every time you spend on your card.