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Credit cards restricted to existing customers

Preferential rates and exclusive deals on 45 cards

Major banks are limiting their best credit card deals to existing customers, new research from Defaqto reveals. 45 cards are now restricted in this way.   

Bank of Scotland, Barclays, Halifax, HSBC, NatWest, RBS, Santander, and The Co-operative Bank all have credit cards that are available only to those who bank with them.   

Account holders only

The increase in restricted credit cards is part of a wider move by banks to sell a range of products and services to their existing customers. Typical of the trend is the Bank of Scotland’s ‘exclusives’ offer. This makes 15-month 0% balance transfer and 12-month 0%-purchase deals available to customers with a current account into which they pay a minimum of £1,000 a month, or an Ultimate Reward account – for which they pay a £12.50 monthly fee.

Barclays offers a credit card with the ‘preferential’ rate of 13.9% APR (typical) to those with Premier Life accounts, while the Co-operative Bank has a low-rate (11.9% typical APR) version of its Clear credit card for Privilege and Current Account Plus customers. Santander’s Zero credit card is similarly restricted to current-account, mortgage or investment customers.  

Customer choice  

Which? credit card expert, Martyn Saville, commented: ‘Banks are increasingly trying to squeeze every last penny out of their existing current account customers by tempting them in with exclusive deals on other products, including credit cards.

‘Unfortunately, this means that consumers now have less choice than before when shopping around for a new credit card as they simply can’t access a significant chunk of the market.

‘Credit card users have to be canny – it’s worth checking the credit card deal on offer from your bank as it may be competitive, but you should always then compare the deal with our Which? Best Rate credit cards. We scour the whole market to find the best deals for your needs, as well as recommending those providers that offer the best customer service.’

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