Barclaycard's Freedom rewards scheme has been axed, and customers have just two months to use up the points they have accumulated.
So what's going on? Why has the scheme come to an end, and what does it mean for customers using the scheme?
What's going on?Barclaycard has announced it will scrap its scheme from 26 July this year. Cardholders will still be able to collect points until 21 June (21 May with the online shops known as ePartners), and spend them until 26 July. After this date, the cards will still function as normal, there will just be no cashback scheme attached to them.
The schemeThis will come as a major disappointment to those who signed up in order to attract cashback.
The Freedom scheme was launched in March 2010, and was welcomed at the time for its simplicity. It is essentially a cashback card, which when you shop at participating shops, earns you 1% cashback (0.5% at Shell). The points amass on the card, and then you can spend them whenever you like.
The rate was applauded, and the scheme was widely approved of. Martyn Saville, Which? credit card expert, commented: 'The simplicity of the cashback scheme is refreshing – earn cashback on your spending and have the option of redeeming it on your next purchase from a participating retailer. The 1% cashback rate is also towards the top of the cashback credit card market."
The problemsHowever, even in the early days there were complaints about how restricted the scheme was, and disappointment over the number and type of retailers that signed up. The likes of Pizza Express, Shell and Halfords were considered useful additions, but the supermarkets were conspicuous by their absence.
Saville said at the time: "It is disappointing that the scheme does not boast a longer list of major retailers at launch. With a large proportion of the average family's weekly spend currently made in the big four supermarkets, the absence of these retailers from the Reward Money scheme is a drawback, although it is unsurprising given that most major supermarkets will be unwilling to see their own credit card reward schemes cannibalised by the new Barclaycard one.
There has already been speculation that the scheme may be being scrapped because it doesn't have wide enough appeal.
What should you do?Customers don't need to panic. You still have two months to redeem your points. Even if you don't get around to it, the money will be credited to your account, so you don't lose out. However, its worth pointing out that if you haven't used your card for six months, or if you have less than £3 in your rewards balance, any unspent rewards will disappear after 26 July.
It means it's worth checking receipts for your balance, or logging into mybarclaycard in order to access details of it.
The good news, is that a replacement scheme is coming. Barclaycard has not released details, but said in a statement: "Later this year we will be launching two new programmes. These will provide tailored and valuable offers from thousands of retailers and allow participating consumers to earn freedom rewards on all spend, both at home and abroad. They will also have easy options to redeem any rewards earned."
- Know your credit card rights
- Sainsbury's launches low-rate credit card
- The cheapest balance transfer card around
- Compare credit card deals