This card brings you the exclusive benefit of earning ipoints everytime you shop using the ipoints.co.uk credit card and you can redeem your ipoints for over 200,000 rewards including flights to 27 countries around the world.
You can view credit cards in one of two ways: (1) they make modern life easier by removing the need to be forever taking out cash and carrying it around with you in great wads, or (2) they are instruments of evil that tempt us into purchases we otherwise wouldnt have made and help us rack up huge levels of debt, which the card companies then charge us painful amounts of money on. As the sort of smug person who always pays their credit card off in full every month (and has only once gone over my limit in 8 years of using plastic), I fall firmly into the first camp. I like having a credit card. I find it convenient, invaluable for online shopping and more secure than carrying a lot of cash with me wherever I go. They are also fantastic in emergencies as I found out when my car broke down last summer!
However, 3 years ago I found myself in the position where I wanted to change my credit card. I had been with Barclaycard since I turned 18. Although I didnt use the card greatly, I had had frequent problems and poor service from Barclays, which I wont bore you with in great detail here. Suffice to say, I was fed up and looking around for a better deal. As you have probably guessed from the category, my ultimate choice was the Halifax ipoints credit card. But why amongst the hundreds of potential credit cards out there did I choose this one? There were several reasons that influenced my choice:
- As a student living on a restricted research grant, I wouldnt be accepted for any credit card that required a minimum income level (such as American Express Blue).
- I pay off the balance every month, so looking for a low or 0% APR (annual percentage rate, or what proportion of the debt you pay to the credit card company in charges) was irrelevant to me. Equally, I never spent huge amounts on any card, so I didnt need to look for a company that offered high credit limits.
- By not being dependent on the APR, this freed me to look for a card that gave me something back for using it. There are a wide variety of cards that offer such incentives these days, and without paying any charges, this effectively meant I would be paid for using the card on transactions I would have done anyway. This would therefore leave me a bit better off than I was with Barclaycard, who gave me nothing. (I was not a member of the Nectar point scheme at that time, as none of the major contributing members of the program had outlets near me see www.nectar.com for details).
- If I was going to get something back, I would prefer that it was linked to loyalty schemes I was already a member of and paid out regularly, rather than an annual cashback as most cards seemed to offer. This would give me tangible results quicker!
The ipoints credit card fitted this bill very well. There were no restrictions on who could apply in regards to income level, it was a VISA card and therefore widely accepted, and the rewards would come in the form of ipoints: 100 for taking out and first using the card, and 1% of my spend (which works out as 1 ipoint per £10 spent on my card) added to my account on a monthly basis. For those of you unfamiliar with ipoints, they are an online currency that can be earned through actions such as shopping online, filling in surveys, clicking advertising links, and signing up for newsletters, which can then be redeemed for rewards. Currently, for example, you can get a pair of UCI cinema tickets for 150 ipoints, a £10 Amazon voucher for 250 ipoints or £25 of high street vouchers for 510 ipoints see www.ipoints.co.uk. I have been a member of ipoints for a long time and the opportunity to top up my account for free on a monthly basis was too good to miss.
The APR on the card has fluctuated over the time I have held it, and currently stands at a typical rate of 17.9%, which is pretty hefty compared to many other cards out there (including Halifaxs other offering of the One Card, which has a current rate of 12.9%). This makes this card quite expensive if you do not pay off your debts each month.
To apply for this particular credit card, you need first to be a member of the ipoints scheme; you can currently apply using either the link on the ipoints site (at www.ipoints.co.uk/services/creditcard/) or by phoning Halifax on the number provided on this page. Back when I signed up, it was online application only. I seem to recall that this was a straightforward process I completed the form on the website with my details and sent it to Halifax over the secure link provided, then waited. A short while afterwards, I had conformation of my acceptance and notification that a credit agreement was to be sent out to me. You need to complete and return this paperwork before you can get your hands on your credit card and PIN (all new cards have the chip and PIN system for added security). As it was 3 years ago when I did all this, Im afraid that I cannot recall exactly how long the entire process took, only that I was getting impatient for my card to arrive, which probably meant it took a few weeks!
So what has my experience with this credit card been like? Well, after 3 years I feel I am in a good position to comment fairly on both the good and bad aspects of this credit card.
The initial application process and linking my credit card to my ipoints account was easy and secure; I have never had any security related problems or issues with this system. My statements have arrived promptly and accurately every month, and if I have ever needed to phone customer services, the response has been far more efficient and polite than Barclaycard ever managed. Equally, the promised ipoints have turned up in my account (usually within 2 weeks of payment being processed) every month with no problems. And I have been able to get more free cinema tickets since I started using this credit card!
I have experienced one problem with the processing of my payment, which occurred last May. On returning from holiday, I found that Halifax had sent my payment slip back to me, with a note saying that a cheque had not been enclosed. Now this was decidedly odd, as I am usually very careful with such matters a quick look at the stubs in my chequebook soon revealed that a cheque had indeed been written to Halifax for the full amount. So what had happened to it? I rang my bank (Nationwide), who calmly took the cheque number, confirmed that it had indeed been cashed the previous week, and promised to send me proof of this transaction. I then rang Halifax, who politely denied every having had the cheque after keeping me on hold for a full 20 minutes. Four days later, the paperwork from Nationwide arrived: a photocopy of my cheque (clearly dated and made out to Halifax PLC), along with detailed proof that Halifax had cashed it. I sent the paperwork on to Halifax, who then took five weeks to sort out the mess, tried to charge me for not paying that months bill, and never so much as apologised at any point.
On top of this, there have been a number of occasions where my ipoints credit card has been rejected by retailers despite there being more than enough credit to complete the transaction. This has mostly been online (Amazon in particular dont seem to like it), although it once happened in Tesco, which was rather embarrassing. I have never been able to get a reason for why this happens and it never was a problem on my old Barclaycard.
**And The Ugly**
This refers to the design of the old ipoints card. Take a look at the picture at the top of this category it is a truly hideous thing with an apparently meaningless image of a rubber duck (!) on it. I got some really funny looks using that card! Fortunately, these are now being replaced with a new and far more stylish white design as Halifax change to the chip and PIN system.
Overall, this card has been pretty good, if less reliable than Barclaycard (though it pains me to say it). Yes, there have been problems, but you must remember these were spread out over 3 years of regular use. So do I recommend the Halifax ipoints credit card?
- You pay off your balance in full every month. 17.9% is a high rate.
- You are an ipoints collector and want a painless way of topping up your account.
- You have a second credit/debit card for those occasions when the Halifax card gets spat out of the computer.
- You have debt to clear on a credit card or only pay the minimum balance each month. Go for a card with a cheaper rate, or you will be paying more than you earn in ipoints.
- You can get accepted for a card than offers a more competitive cashback rate (some American Express cards offer up to 2%).
The Halifax are joined together in wonderful partnership with my favourite reward site to bring the chance of earning ipoints offline. I've had a lot of trouble with geting hold of a credit card from the Halifax in the past but my credit rating has finally improved enough to be accepted! (about time too!). A little intro to ipoints: -------------------------- Ipoints.co.uk are a loyalty programme on the internet, they give away points for using the net to buy from certain sites (eg. BOL.com, 101cd.com) and from signing up for stuff (eg. myoffers, AOL), as you gain more ipoints you get to redeem them for stuff like CDs, Books, vouchers all the way up to flights abroad and hotel breaks. I've had a few things off them already and love the site. Trust me - www.ipoints.co.uk - look out for it! The Card: --------- The card has a competitive rate of interest, nowadays you see a lot of introdustary offers and the Halifax's ipoints card is no different. The first 5 months are fixed at 3.9% rising to 17.9% thereafter. There's no annual fee - always a bonus, compared to such cards as Capital One, easy to be accepted for and easy to get hugely in debt with as the fee of £18 p.a. and larger interest rates the Halifax is much beter. It is a Visa card, choice of 2 designs (both ipoints adverts) - The Duck (as seen at the top of this page!) or the Bubbles - basically an ipoints logo with a lot of bubbles around it. They're quite nice if you ask me, I don't mind a silly looking card if the rates are OK and the REWARDS KEEP COMING! The most exciting thing about the card is the fact that you can earn ipoints for using it - Ipoints.co.uk is a great site and with the use of a visa card you can add to your ipoints total. The ipoints earned for use of the card are broken down as 100 ipoints for activating the card and 1 ipoint fror every £10 spent. I use the card quite a lot, put my subscription
to Sky TV on it and (as I've only just got the card) will be getting 3 ipoints per month for this use. I have not received my ipoints for the activation of the card yet and have emailed the Customer services, apparently they update the ipoints monthly on the 17th and cover the last full month. This means I'll get the points next month for this month's use, this is a bit of a wait I'll admit but the usual ipoints policy applies here, they update once the company reports on the points to be put on. The Halifax apparently report on the 17th of the month. Service: -------- Along with the card you get all the Halifax's support - a 24/7 hotline for lost/stolen cards, automatic insurance of items, internet security and travel insurance. Conclusion: ----------- I've had a lot of bad experiences with credit cards before, introductory offers get you sucked into the contract and my credit rating has never been that good, now I've been accepted for this card I'll use it that bit more sensibly, thankful for the introductory offer and getting it paid ASAP (never my strong point). I'll be getting the ipoints for my normal use of the card each month and I'll get my bonus soon. This card is attractive, convenient and has a good rate of interest, it is a very worthwhile card to get as the ipoints will now be getting accumulated while I spend offline. Great if you ask me.
Are you an ipoints collector. If not then before I go any further I will explain what ipoints are. (Please skip the next paragraph if you already collect ipoints as you already know the next bit) ipoints is a scheme whereby you collect points, ipoints, which can be converted to vouchers for high street shops or can be used online to purchase goods with selected retailers. There are numerous ways of collecting points, by simply visiting sponsored web sites, completing surveys, online purchases with selected retailers etc. It is easy to join up, just visit www.ipoints.co.uk. 150 ipoints = £10. Therefore 1 ipoint is worth 6.7p. The ipoints credit card is very simple. It offers all the usual Visa card guff. Basically there is no annual fee, apr %17.9 and only %3.9 on balance transfers. There are some other benefits though which are quite useful. 24 hour, 7 days a week customer helpline, Online account servicing - you can download and view your statement online, Travel accident insurance - up to £250,000 and ATM access worldwide, accepted at 19 million places worldwide. It is issued by the Halifax. The really good bit is that you get 1% of your spend back in ipoints, which is really as good as getting cash back. You also get a further 100 ipoints back on your anniversary if you have spent £2500 during the year. A really easy way to add to your ipoints collection and it requires no extra effort once you get the card. The only drawback is the geeky plastic ducks which are printed on the card and get you some strange looks when you use it.
By applying online for and using a Visa card issued by Halifax you can also earn free ipoints ( a web loyalty scheme ). A fairly decent return of 100 points is on offer for succesfully applying for this and then you receive 1% of your spending back in points. After a year if you spend £2500 you will get a further free 100 ipoints. This would tend to suggest that either the ipoints business plan is sounder than others or that Halifax is just desparate for business. The credit card is a fairly standard offering with the option to transfer your balance from another credit card ( but no points are awarded for this ). 3.9% APR introductory rate for 5 months on transfered balances, 17.9% APR after that. There is a good addition of free purchase protection to cover some items against theft or damage. Credit card cheques are also issued for purchases that you could not normally use a credit card for. But there is a handling fee of 1.5% up to a maximum of £20. Not quite the bargain you might first think. Because it is issued by Visa it has all the normal Visa advantages -acceptable in thousands of places in the UK & worldwide, cash advances and so on. Ipoints works by giving you ipoints for visiting various web sites each day / week / month, as loyalty points when making a purchase, by registering on various linked sites. Web Sites purchase a supply of ipoints to give you some as an inticement to visit their site. Like other schemes of its type, this is a slow albeit free way of collecting money ( if you were a scrooge and didn’t buy anything ). When redeeming the points, 101cd ( the sole choice for getting DVDs ) doesnt have a wide range, it doesnt yet have X men included in its range and virtually all new releases cost £22.39 when 275 points redeems a DVD up to the cost of £21.59 - handy eh ! ( am I the only cynical one at this point ? ) Relatively speaking, getting high street vouch
ers is expensive as well, costing 80 points for £5.00 At the moment, with other reward schemes going bust or looking as though they will, everyone has to face a choice - save for a big reward ie the formula one experience for 52350 points and run the risk of losing everything or take little and often. Being the realist / pessimist ( delete as you think appropriate ) I will go for the little and often and get my DVDs and books as and when I earn enough points. It would be a shame for ipoints to fail as it does work ( at least for the punters ). As for the credit card, yes it is a good one with a not bad rate of return of points and above average facilities and certainly if you dont mind putting all your eggs into one loyalty scheme then it is one to certainly think seriously about.