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Last Updated: Saturday, 8 December 2007, 15:39 GMT
Card charges 'by stealth' claim
By Chris A'Court
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

Front of a branch of Nat West
RBS/Nat West group is the second largest UK credit card provider
A credit card provider has denied it is introducing a charge "by stealth".

Nat West credit card holders who opted to join its new rewards scheme are now being billed 3 a month, unless they spend 1000 a month on the card.

Some customers claim the bank gave inadequate warning and is introducing the charge at Christmas when people may not notice.

Nat West says full details were in the written terms people got before registering to join last summer.

Scheme replaced Airmiles

RBS/Nat West group is the second largest UK credit card provider and introduced the Your Points reward scheme last June.

It replaced Airmiles, with Nat West claiming Your Points would be more flexible to customers' needs.

Your Points allows points accumulated each time a purchase in made using the card, to be exchanged for budget airline flights and holidays.

Cardholders were encouraged to phone up and register to join, but now some lower spending people have complained to BBC's Money Box, that there was no warning about the charge over the telephone at registration time, and say they feel disappointed and misled.

They have just received leaflets telling them that from 1 December, people who do not spent 1000 a month on their card, will see a 3 a month charge automatically added to their card bill.

Cardholder response

It has come by stealth... It does not seem moral to me.
Olive, cardholder from Sheffield

Some customers, including Jennie from Somerset, are angry.

She told the programme: "I think it is a very crafty way
of doing it, because you have got so many things coming through at the moment, with Christmas mail, you would not be inclined to read it properly."

Another cardholder, Olive from Sheffield, added: "I thought this was exceptionally bad and that is why I wanted to alert other people to it.

"Why did they introduce the charge in December, not June when the scheme started?

"It has come by stealth.

"It is just about legal, but it does not seem moral to me."

Customers' choice

Some customers have told how they received the leaflet telling of the charge, just two days before it was being brought in, and Nat West confirmed that unless customers rang up to deregister from the Your Point scheme by 1 December, they would be charged at least for the first month.

A Nat West spokesperson said the bank had delayed charging for the Your Points scheme until December because it wanted customers to familiarise themselves with the scheme first, and for them to have had time to collect some points.

Nat West says all customers will have "actively chosen" to join.

Some other customers have contacted the BBC to say they are happy to pay the 36 a year that it will cost lower spending customers to belong to the rewards scheme, and say they are waiting to fully assess the benefits.

People who do not spend enough to avoid the charge and who now wish to deregister from the scheme, should call Nat West's customer services department.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 8 December 2007 at 1204 GMT.

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SEE ALSO
External internet links
07 Dec 07 |  Moneybox
Airmiles switches credit cards
28 Apr 07 |  Moneybox


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