Questions of cash: 'Can I still claim for my Buy & Fly! miles?'
Saturday 07 February 2009
Q. I took out a Morgan Stanley credit card specifically because of its travel reward programme Buy & Fly! I accumulated enough miles for a return trip to the United States. But suddenly Buy & Fly! no longer existed and I was left with nothing. Barclaycard then wrote, saying it had taken over the Buy & Fly! Travel Awards programme and issued me with a Barclaycard Travel Rewards card. When I asked if it would credit my Buy & Fly! miles, it said this was being "considered". It assured me that for every £1 I spent, I would receive one mile on its new card. When I rang Barclaycard to check the position, I was rudely told it had decided not to credit me with the Buy & Fly! miles, and the travel rewards company taking over the new Barclaycard rewards scheme had gone into receivership. As a result, there was no longer a Travel Rewards card but a "Cash Back" card. This is offering 0.5 per cent on each pound spent! MN, London.
A. Last summer, Barclaycard purchased Discover Financial Services, which issued the Goldfish and Morgan Stanley Buy & Fly! cards. Customers with Buy & Fly! cards were transferred on to a Barclaycard Travel Rewards card, retaining existing benefits. But in November, the company running the Travel Rewards and Buy & Fly! schemes – Landround – went into administration. Barclaycard then converted unused Travel Rewards points into cash entitlements, which will be paid to customers by cheque. If, as you believe, you had about 40,000 miles accumulated on your Buy & Fly! card, you will be entitled to a payment of about £2,000 – more than enough to purchase tickets to the US. However, this would have involved purchases of about £400,000, so you may have overestimated the total miles collected.
Barclaycard has now transferred its Travel Rewards customers on to its cashback card, which will earn 1 per cent on spending up to £200 per month and 0.5 per cent on spend above that. Barclaycard says it is honouring the Buy & Fly! and Travel Rewards miles for the sake of customer goodwill, without a legal obligation to do so. It is about to write to Buy & Fly! and Travel Rewards customers advising them of the changes to their cards.
Q. I asked NatWest to help me restructure my debts. NatWest said it was unable to do this, suggesting my credit score was not good enough. I checked with Experian and found that my score was 984 out of 1,000 – rated excellent. Can you get NatWest to see sense? SH, by email.
A. You advise us that as a result of our intervention, NatWest renewed your debt facilities. NatWest did not respond directly to our enquiries at all – which is sadly not unusual.
Q. You explained the protection for Post Office investors (Questions of Cash, 24 and 31 January). I have investments in National Savings – Premium Bonds, savings certificates and a cash ISA – exceeding £50,000, with no class of investment exceeding £50,000. Are such investors covered in full for their investments, or only to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) limit of £50,000? CH, by email.
A. Post Office savings products are provided under an arrangement with the Bank of Ireland, which is not based in the UK and is no longer subject to the FSCS. Although National Savings & Investment products are also sold by the Post Office, these are not affected. "National Savings & Investments products are 100 per cent guaranteed, because they are backed by the Treasury," explains an NSI spokesman. "That includes products bought at the Post Office." They are government investment products so protection is not limited to the £50,000 guarantee that applies to products backed by the FSCS. Northern Rock as a nationalised bank is also fully guaranteed by the Government.
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