View from City Road: No such thing as a free car

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The Independent Online
In the crowded and highly competitive world of credit cards, any new wheeze to attract customers is guaranteed to generate excitement among marketing folk. The same goes for the car market.

So yesterday's announcement by Ford and Barclaycard that car buyers had saved more than pounds 1m through card-related discounts in the five weeks since their joint scheme was launched should indicate something is up.

The preliminary results of General Motors' own credit card scheme will be announced next week, but the company says 80,000 people have returned forms requesting GM cards. In other words, this marketing wheeze looks as if it is repeating the success it has had on the other side of the Atlantic.

Let's hope, though, that phlegmatic Brits remember that there is no such thing as a free lunch - or a free Hoover and flight to New York for that matter. If you want a cheap car, there is still no substitute for playing off one dealer against another - and bargaining hard on the forecourt.