Top Credit Card News

nigel woollsey

Nigel Woollsey

Online Writer
Published: 26/06/2019

A loyalty scheme that let Mastercard users collect points from by shopping with ‘ethical’ retailers has now ceased trading leaving customers with no way to claim their outstanding rewards.

Set up less than two years ago, the Mastercard Ice scheme encouraged members to claim points for buying goods and services from a range of ‘environmentally-friendly’ high street shops and businesses, including John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Toby Carvery, Harvester, First Choice Holidays and All Bar One.

Mastercard Ice customers had already been contacting consumer websites with complaints that they had been unable to contact anyone or spend their points online prior to a closure message being posted on the Ice website and Facebook page.

In the statement posted on its website, Ice said “It is with the greatest regret that we have to inform you that Ice has now ceased trading. The directors will be seeking shareholder approval to put the company into voluntary liquidation.

We would also like to reassure customers that the directors are continuing to ensure that all customer personal data is dealt with securely in accordance with GDPR rules.

The Ice team would like to thank everyone who has supported Ice and our mission to mitigate climate change. We would also like to express our sadness that we have been
unable to find a way to allow the Ice business to continue and for any inconvenience and disappointment this has caused to our customers.”

It has also been made clear that in accordance with Ice's published terms and conditions, any Ice points in circulation will now not be able to be redeemed.

Ice had appealed to many Mastercard customers due to the fact that in addition to the ability to collect points towards rewards, it could also be operated alongside other discount offers and loyalty schemes. Sadly, it seems that existing customers will have no way of redeeming their collected points for rewards with the closure of this scheme.

Over the past twelve months the average interest-free period available on 0% balance transfer credit cards has reduced by 63 days, while their equivalent purchase cards have seen a reduction of 29 days, according to data from the Moneyfacts UK Credit Card Trends Treasury Report.

According to the report, which is due to be released later this week, although interest-free terms continue to be reduced, the rate of these reductions has slowed between April and June 2019 compared to previous months.

Two credit cards currently rated as Outstanding by Moneyfacts have just announced changes to their introductory 0% interest periods.

Sainsbury’s Bank has reduced it’s introductory 0% purchase and transfer terms on its Dual Offer Credit Card Mastercard from 27 to 26 months with immediate effect. This card offers an APR of 20.9% and balance transfers are subject to a fee of 3.00% or £3.00, whichever is more. As part of the Nectar rewards scheme, customers can earn Nectar points both in Sainsbury’s and elsewhere. Applicants must be aged 18 or over and can apply for the card online or by phone.

On the other hand, in its most recent review, Halifax has increased the introductory 0% purchase and balance transfer terms from 20 to 24 months on its Online Balance Transfer and Purchase Credit Card Mastercard. The APR is 19.9%. It may be worth noting that after three months, those who wish to transfer a balance on this card must also pay a fee of 3.00% or £3 – whichever is the higher of the two. The card, which must be applied for online, requires applicants to be aged 18 or over.

These changes see both cards remain two of the most competitive currently available when compared to other credit cards offering both 0% purchase and balance transfer deals. The full range of further deals can be seen by visiting our 0% introductory balance transfer table or our 0% introductory purchase credit card chart.

The average credit card debt will take 26 years and nine months to repay if only the minimum payment is made each month, according to a report produced by The Money Charity.

Data from Money Statistics May 2019 reveals that the average credit card debt per UK household was £2,655 in March 2019 and the average interest rate on credit card debt stood at 19.87% in April 2019, which The Money Charity calculated would take over 25 years to pay off when only making the minimum monthly repayments.

When making its calculations, the charity used a formula many providers adopt when charging interest and repayment fees to credit card debt – interest, fees and charges plus 1% of the outstanding balance and often also with a flat rate of for example £5 per month – along with keeping in mind that balances and, therefore, minimum amounts reduce over time as the debt is paid off.

Commenting on the calculation, Erik Porter, acting chief executive of The Money Charity, said:

“This stark calculation shows exactly how problematic credit card debt can become if not taken on with a mindset of full understanding the product, its total costs and affordability, looking towards how it can be managed sustainably by planning and budgeting accordingly. It is essential that consumers appreciate that credit cards can be a helpful financial tool to be used wisely but mustn’t be treated as an inconsequential loan. While the calculation is an extreme one, sadly it does seem a plausible scenario for too many people.”

The reward credit card sector has been hit hard in recent years, largely the result of the EU interchange cap ruling in 2015 that limited the amount card providers could charge businesses for accepting card payments, which saw many providers cut their rewards in an attempt to remain profitable. However, our latest analysis of the market shows tentative signs of competition returning to the sector, with several providers improving their reward offerings in recent weeks.

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