The Lloyds TSB Airmiles Duo is the only credit card to offer Airmiles. After Lloyds TSB took over the running of the Airmiles Credit Card from NatWest a few years ago they launched this innovative card which is actually two cards - 1 AMEX and 1 Mastercard on the same account. Whilst you only have a single account the two cards are there as AMEX still isnt accepted in as many places.
There are many reward card on the market at the moment. I have this card as i collect Airmiles through various other brands including Tesco and The Times.
With the AMEX card you earn 1 airmile for every £10 you spend. On the Mastercard you earn 1 airmile for every £50 spent. If you use the cards abroad you will get double airmiles (although be careful of foreign currency transaction fees).
Whilst the rate you earn airmiles seems a little low compared with other reward schemes out there, bear in mind that airmiles are worth considerably more than a BA Mile for example.
The Airmiles are listed on your monthly card statement and are automatically added to your Airmiles account each month.
I have had a problem with earning Airmiles, for some reason i wasnt earning any Airmiles on my card despite spending significant amounts of money, when i called to query this i was told that there was an error on the account. This was put right quickly and on the next statement i had all the backdated airmiles i was due. The call centre staff were very helpful (based in the UK which is good).
Applying for the card:
Check the Lloyds TSB website for the latest eligibility criteria before you go ahead but you can apply for this card through a variety of methods. I applied online via my Internet Banking. As i'm already a Lloyds TSB current account customer i didnt need to provide any physical documentation. The cards arrived within a week or so with the PIN number arriving separately.
You can also apply for this card in a branch or over the telephone.
A small tip...at the time of writing this Lloyds TSB are offering a 1500 airmiles introductory bonus if you apply for the card through the Airmiles website (not Lloyds TSB website).
Using the card:
I've not had any issues using the card. As mentioned earlier AMEX has a much higher rate of earning Airmiles but this isnt always accepted so having the Mastercard as a back up is helpful.
I manage this card through Internet Banking, it appears in my list of accounts and i can make payments from my Lloyds TSB current account. The only downside is that it takes up to 3 days for the payment to clear on the card, which i wouldnt have expected considering its within the same bank.
CREDIT BY DEFAULT
Writing a review of my main credit card provider has never really been high on my list of priorities, but something positive happened recently that prompted me to have a little think about a service that I usually take completely for granted. In fact, now that I think about it, acquiring the Lloyds TSB Airmiles Duo MasterCard and Amex ("the Duo") was something of a fait accompli.
I had been collecting Airmiles for a number of years when I received an offer of an Airmiles MasterCard, which I believe was originally backed by the Royal Bank of Scotland. I used that card successfully for a few years until Airmiles decided to ditch their own-brand service in favour of a tie-up with Lloyds TSB, who became the exclusive and only supplier of credit cards which offered Airmiles as a reward.
Existing Airmiles MasterCard account holders were pre-approved, so I filled in the short-form paperwork without much thought, and my new cards arrived shortly after the service switchover. However, despite such inauspicious beginnings, I have had a pretty good service relationship with Lloyds TSB.
WHY THE AIRMILES DUO?
First things first. Credit cards are great little tools if you are disciplined about how and when you use them and know how to maximise the advantages. There are a few things about credit cards which I am simply not interested in. The first one, surprisingly, is the annual percentage rate (APR) charged by the card.
For the record, the Duo features a variable APR of 15.9% per annum, which is neither the best nor the worst in the business - but it is fairly competitive. The reason for my ambivalence is simple - I always pay off my balance at the end of the month - a discipline instilled in me by my father - which makes the APR entirely redundant.
I am a great believer in what I call "situational spending". To me, this means that when I am at BP and Sainsbury, I will use a Nectar Amex to maximise the number of points I get, and at all other times, I will channel all of my day to day spending through the Duo to maximise my Airmiles. This is especially useful at places like Tesco and Shell, as both already have Airmiles programmes in place, effectively allowing me to double the number of points I can earn. In a typical year, I earn around 1,500 Airmiles by using the Duo.
However, it is important to note that each of the cards offers a different rate of return. The Duo MasterCard gives you a pitiful 1 Airmile for every £50 spent, which is barely worth the bother, but its sister card - the Amex - returns 1 Airmile for every £10 spent. As such, I only use the MasterCard when Amex is not accepted (and given the charges merchants have to put up with from the American giant, there are a fair few places that don't take them).
You get two cards with the Duo, but they have one credit limit between them (the maximum amount of which will be subject to your credit status). You also get one consolidated bill which clearly displays the transactions on each card and enough detail to be able to identify the transaction. However, one slight annoyance is that transactions entered into by any additional cardholders are not separately identified.
The card has no annual fee, but very few do these days, so that's neither here nor there. The balance transfer and interest free purchase promotions change on a regular basis, but you can expect to get three (3) to six (6) months interest free and pay a 3% fee (with no maximum) for any balances that are transferred, but in return, you do get a generous looking bonus of 150 Airmiles for every £1,000 you transfer across.
Sound good? Read on.
Credit card providers are notorious for giving with the right hand and taking with the left, so mind the small print - you lose your promotional rate if you make a single late payment (there is a massive difference between 0% APR on a £5k balance transfer, and the interest generated with the standard 15.9% APR). You also have to make at least £100 of purchases in the first three months for the rate to remain at 0%.
Slowly and carefully read that last sentence again. The alarms should be going off in your head - big time. Credit card providers will always apply your monthly payment to the lowest interest rate item FIRST. In this case, that means one of two things will happen:
(a) if you were to transfer £1,000 to the Duo and you fail to make a purchase in the first three months, you would lose the interest free deal - making the balance transfer period effectively just three months;
but - far more perniciously -
(b) if you make a £100 purchase to keep the interest free deal for another three months, each monthly payment you make will reduce the 0% balance first, leaving the £100 you charged to the card accumulating interest at 15.9% until you clear the less expensive £1000 balance.
Sneaky. Very sneaky - so make absolutely sure you know exactly what will be paid off first and how (the payment hierarchy is, to be fair, clearly set out on the back of each paper statement).
There is one other ongoing offer which doesn't have such strings attached and would suit those who don't need to transfer balances. You will get a time-limited voucher good for 1,500 Airmiles to redeem against travel if you apply and are accepted for the card, spend at least £10 on it, and book one night in an Airmiles hotel when you book your travel. I have just recently redeemed this offer for an overnight in Brussels and it is actually very good value (I stayed at the Jolly Hotels property on the Grand Sablon for £100 a night for two of us, with free travel on EuroStar).
Payment is easy and painless (the method, not the amounts you owe obviously - that's always painful) and can be done by telephone, by direct debit each month, at a bank, by cheque or by direct payment from your on-line bank. In each case, you should make absolutely sure that cleared funds reach Lloyds TSB before the due date if you want to avoid late payment charges and added interest.
I typically pay through my on-line bank at least five working days before the due date. Your bill will helpfully include the due date, the minimum payment amount, your balance and remaining credit limit and an estimate of the following month's interest charges (should you choose to pay the minimum only).
One of the reasons I decided review the Duo was because of some recent fraud protection measures that came to my attention. I tried to book a flight to France and entered my card details on Air France's booking system which was based in the USA (a bit odd given the international relationship is still a bit frosty - but "needs must" in business I suppose).
The payment was declined and seconds later the phone rang. It was Lloyds automated fraud protection system calling to ask me if the transaction, as well as the four previous ones, all of which had happened in my town centre, were legitimate and authorised. Some may find this intrusive and over-fussy, but given my experiences with other providers, I actually welcomed the intervention.
I'd rather be inconvenienced than defrauded any day. Once I confirmed that all was OK, I was allowed to re-process the ticket transaction. This system has kicked in twice now, the previous time being at a petrol station in Cyprus that was on an alert list for suspicious cloning activity.
On the few occasions I have called up to talk to an actual person, I have managed to get through quickly (but only after navigating a slightly painful automated system) with my queries dealt with by English-speaking staff who were both courteous and knowledgeable. I always have time for people who at least make an effort to pronounce my difficult "foreign" surname, and I find that foreign call centres seem to do it better than domestic. In any event, it's ever so nice to know that, while they may be fleecing you blind, at least they are being polite and civilised about it.
THE FINE PRINT
The Interest Free period on purchases, if the balance paid in full, is fifty-six (56) days. There is a three percent (3%) charge for cash withdrawals with a minimum charge of £2.50 per withdrawal. In addition, the APR for cash withdrawals is close to a whopping twenty-eight percent (28%) and given they are the very LAST items to be paid off (after balance transfers and purchases) you will be stung quite badly if you fail to pay off the balance in full at the end of the month.
There is an additional 2.95% charge on the total sterling amount of transactions carried out on a foreign currency, which makes this an expensive card to use on foreign holidays. Once again, Lloyds TSB try and sweeten the deal by offering double Airmiles if you use the cards abroad, ostensibly hoping to catch out those who don't bother with the small print.
For the record, late payment fees are fixed at £12, but that does not include the interest you will be stung for as well. Credit card cheques are available, but also a bad idea given their order of payment and the 3% handling charge.
After all that, you may wonder why I still use the card. Simply put, I am disciplined enough to use it "situationally" to maximise the Airmiles that I earn. This tactical spending - mainly on the Amex card - has earned free flights for my family (previously three, now four with Baby H joining the fold) to Cyprus every summer - flights that would have cost upwards of £750.
In my case, the so-called other "benefits" and features the Duo offers are largely irrelevant, and can be safely ignored. As such, unless you have broadly the same aims and can be disciplined about its use, I would give this card a wide berth. Not recommended for anyone other than avid Airmiles collectors.
The good news for consumers is that the government, in a surprising episode of lucidity and common sense, is considering legislation that would make the so-called "negative payment hierarchy" of payments - i.e. allowing the credit card providers to pay off the cheapest debt first - a thing of the past. However, don't expect changes overnight - the finance industry has one of the most powerful lobbies in the City - so the best protection, as always, is to make sure you know what you are getting yourself into.
© Hishyeness 2010
I have had the lloyds Airmiles Duo for a few months now so I thought it high time to start telling you guys what I think. I got the cards after looking for a credit card online which actually had some benefit, rather than just being a general card (my last one got me £20 quidco cashback but that was over a year ago). I allready bank with lloyds, so decided to go for this one, well this two.
I applied online because apparantly this was the best was for getting more bonus airmiles and I am also most happy applying online so this was great for me. I actually have almost no credit history and very little income as I am a student so I was surprised when they gave me this card with over £1000 limit - in the middle of the credit crunch I tell you! (I know thats not a lot to most people though).
I dont really live at my home address but my mum said that about 10 days later I recieved the envelope with the cards in (both in the same one) and then a few more days for the pin. This was fine by me because I wasn't exactly desperate for them and I just waited until I next went home.
When you get the cards you have to call up to c them, and sign them. The guy on the end of the phone was really annoying. I just wanted to ask a few quick questions and get my cards activated, but he tried to sell me all this other stuff i already said no to online. Ah well. In the envelope you get an Amex card and a master card with the premise being that for every £10 you spend on the Amex, you earn an air mile, and for every £50 you spend on the Mastercard, you earn one airmile. So it is obviously better to spend with the Amex, however it can be a bit hard getting this accepted (e.g. primark doesnt take it) so now I just ask, do you take Amex, and if they say no, offer the mastercard instead.
I got 1500 airmiles for opening this card, which doesnt really sound like loads when you look online. I don't really spend too much on the card, I mainly use it for petrol etc and pay if off every month but I will probably only earn about 8 airmiles a month so this 1500 is really what you're after. Not the poxy amount earnt by spending.
I think 1500 miles is enough to fly return from Manchester to London or something, but you can also use them for hotels and trips out, which is what I may look into using mine for. I haven't actually registed on the airmiles site yet because I can't find the letter, but i will soon!
Paying the card is ok for me as I bank with lloyds. I have them now (took a while and a bit of hoping) set up as a payee on my online banking but the thing is that although there are specific instructions, it still isn't that simple which is really annoying. You don't have to pay online though, you can do other ways instead like in branch or over the phone I think.
I am glad I got this card although it can be a little embarassing being rejected with it when shops don't take it, and the concept was also a little confusing for me!
I have banked with Lloyds TSB for over 20 years as my current account provider. As well as various savings accounts I have always had a credit card with them. In recent years I've had the Airmiles Duo credit card. This is rather a long review but I have detailed two particular issues I've had which are clearly marked with sub-headings if you wish to skip these to the end of the review.
WHAT IS AIRMILES DUO?
With Lloyds TSB's Airmiles Duo you receive 2 credit cards - a Mastercard and an American Express card. Although the cards have different numbers on them (i.e. your actual credit card number - 16 digits for Mastercard and 15 digits for American Express) they are basically the same account. If you have online banking with Lloyds TSB it is very easy to see your transactions listed.
As with other credit cards, you need to make a minimum payment each month - with Airmiles Duo this is £5 each month or 2% of your outstanding balance, whichever is greater. Payment date is usually 25 days after the statement date. You will get charged £12 for late payments or if the minimum payment is not received. There is a 24.9% interest charge for cash withdrawals (correct at July 2009). There is also a charge of 3% charge for cash withdrawals made on these cards with a minimum charge of £2.50 and a 3% or minimum £3 charge for any credit card cheques you use.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?
I really can't say if the interest rates are competitive compared to other financial institutions as I tend to clear my full balance on my cards every month so as to avoid getting into debt and also to avoid paying interest charges. At the time of writing (August 2009) the advertised APR was 15.9% with 0% interest on balance transfers for the first 6 months (but with a 3% fee and a minimum of £100 spend in the first 3 month for this to be effective).
If you use your Mastercard you can get 1 mile for every £50 you spend and if you use the American Express card you will receive 1 mile for every £10 you spend. I understand this is far better than NatWest who give you 1 mile per £20 spent BUT as American Express is not accepted everywhere you're more likely to only build up miles by spending at least £50 a time on your Mastercard which personally I feel is not very much in the way of a reward system when using your card offline.
One might ask why would one need a reward system for using a credit card when one really needs the "credit" aspect of using a credit card? Well personally speaking, I want to be rewarded for being a loyal customer and using one credit card instead of another. I have 5 or 6 credit cards including American Express Blue which gives me cash back for using it. I don't use it so much really as it's just easier to use the cards supplied by my own bank as I can check all my balances and transactions online on one site when I log into internet banking; which is why my Airmiles Duo cards are my credit cards of choice.
The air miles accumulated are a good bonus and you can exchange these for air miles (one would assume that was fairly obvious) but also for other things as well such as days out, cases of wine, etc. I don't want to discuss this aspect too much as airmiles.co.uk is a separate entity and there are reviews online for the site which you can refer to if you wish to.
If you use the airmiles.co.uk website to click through to shopping sites you can often earn more air miles this way, such as 1 mile for every £5 spent at Play.com, 1 mile for every £10 spent at ebay, 1 mile for each £5 at Currys, etc. Note that this is on top of the air miles you accumulate by paying for your purchases with your Airmiles Duo card(s).
You can accumulate double the normal miles when you use your card abroad but obviously you incur charges for using them outside of the UK so for me, it's not worth using them abroad just for the extra miles.
Credit cards cheques are issued from time to time but I've never used these as I don't need them nor do I wish to pay the interest charge for using them.
You get one PIN number to use for both cards which can be changed at any Lloyds TSB cash point machine to a PIN number of your own choice - but each card needs to be changed - changing the PIN for one card will not automatically change it for the other.
Some of the rewards you could get include:
* 750 airmiles for a return flight (including taxes) to Zone 1 including Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels
* 300 airmiles for a photo makeover
* 600 airmiles to go scuba diving
You can also have an additional card holder on your account such as your spouse or one of your children (must be over 18).
There is currently no annual fee for having the Airmiles Duo cards and you're automatically covered against fraud loss including internet fraud loss prevention.
You can read more about the benefits here http://www.lloydstsb.com/credit_cards/airmiles_duo.asp
*Problem Number 1 (Jun 2008 and Jun 2009)*
I tend to use my Airmiles Duo American Express card for business spend which can be anything from £200-£1500 a month. In 2008 I used this card to purchase an annual membership for our business which was approximately £1,200. To my embarrassment, Lloyds TSB Card Services declined this transaction without contacting me and several days later my director advised me that the annual membership for this particular company had expired because of this. I had to then get onto Lloyds TSB Card Services to demand an explanation and to my dismay they said they assumed it was a fraudulent transaction. Would you be surprised to hear that the company they assumed was taking my funds fraudulently was Microsoft? I certainly was. I blasted off complaint letters and said I was not happy that transactions could be declined in this manner without checking with me first. After about 6 weeks I received a letter of apology and a credit of £20 to my account which was not in the least pacifying to me but I took no further action. Lo and behold 12 months later, they did exactly the same thing, but luckily this year I put my card details through several weeks before the annual membership was due to expire, even though I really did not think they would do the same thing twice. What happens? Again they decline the transaction without getting in contact with me. This was 7 weeks ago, at the time I was furious and demanded that they resolve this embarrassing situation yet again which took them about a week. In that same week I had placed an order with Sainsbury's online for over £100 - again this was for the office. Sainsbury's had the good sense to call me as they received notification only 1 hour before they were due to deliver that the credit card payment had been declined. I explained what had happened and they put the transaction through again (the block Lloyds TSB had put on my card having been removed by this time) and it went through. 7 weeks later I still haven't received a response from my complaint bar a letter 6 weeks ago saying they were investigating my complaint.
*Problem Number 2 (Jun - Aug 2009)*
Hands up if you've been the victim of credit card fraud?
It's more common than one would imagine. A couple of months ago I received a call from Lloyds TSB Fraud Services to ask me if certain cash withdrawals made on my Airmiles Duo card were my transactions. I have never withdrawn cash from these cards, having learnt in my late teens that this is a sure-fire way to pay out lots of extra charges to the credit card companies. I only ever withdraw cash with my debit card, so imagine my shock to have a list of 10 or so transactions read out to me over the phone on a Sunday morning totaling about £2,000! All withdrawn from places I've never even been to and at times such as 7am (when I'm always still asleep to be honest).
The fraud team agent I spoke with like sounded like she was 12 years old, very pleasant and very apologetic (obviously they knew it was a cloning incident before they even contacted me). The card had never left my possession and she was very sympathetic and said it was quite a common thing these days, bla bla bla. Oh really, I felt like saying, if it's so common, why haven't you figured out a way to stop it happening yet? (Yes, I know there will always be low-life individuals out there devising new ways to scam banks out of their money, but I'm the mug, in this case, who has all the hassle of being on the receiving end of this particular scam). Anyway the upshot of the phone call was that they were going to send me a declaration form to sign to confirm I had not made those transactions and send me new cards within ONE week or so. I gave the agent my work address and stressed that I wanted the cards delivered to the office as I am not at home during the day to receive cards and know from past experience that the delivery company Lloyds TSB uses (Secure Mail Services) are notoriously bad at delivering.
Two weeks went by and no cards received, in that time I also found that I was unable to see my credit card details online anymore so couldn't even organise to make payment for the transactions that were actually really mine. I made a payment of something I assumed was the amount that was outstanding (and luckily it was just slightly over what I owed) and called Card Services to find out where my cards were. They said this time that it could take up to THREE weeks for cards to arrive. I said I had been previously advised ONE week and was now told this was incorrect. I again gave my work address and stressed that the cards MUST be delivered there.
A week later my husband called me at work and said there was a yellow card on the doormat as he was leaving for work from Secure Mail Services saying that they had tried to deliver my cards. What was interesting here was that the card was just dropped through the letterbox when my husband was at home and could have opened the door to them (never mind signing for them, he could have shown my passport or something as ID). I grimaced when I heard this and did nothing. A few days later, yet another card was popped through the letterbox from Secure Mail Services and this time it was even more galling as I was at home myself at the time and no one had even rung the doorbell or knocked on the door. Still I did not bother calling the bank; I was way too annoyed by now so I continued using my alternate credit cards where needed.
I got a call from Card Services Fraud Department (sounds posh doesn't it? Well it's not)! They asked me if I'd received my new cards yet, I told them I hadn't and that they had attempted to deliver the cards to my home address when I had specifically asked them twice to deliver to my office. They were again very apologetic (they seem to be good at apologising) and said they'd call me back shortly to rearrange delivery. I was called back later that day to say my cards would be delivered to my office the following day before 5pm. My cards were delivered to my office the following day before I even got to the office; luckily someone was there to take delivery. The envelopes clearly state "I.D. REQUIRED" - curious then that they were both left with my colleague with no ID requested.
As of now I have received the PIN numbers for my new cards, and imagine my surprise to have received the same PIN number for my Airmiles Duo Mastercard as I had before but a completely different one for the American Express Card. This makes NO sense to me as the previous cards had the same PIN number - the new cards have completely different card numbers so why not just issue the same NEW PIN number for them? I'm somewhat confused about the rationale behind the 2 different numbers (and the fact that one PIN number is the same as the previous number). I received a letter from my car insurance to say that payment had been declined on my card and I was furious to say the least. I rang up Lloyds TSB yet again and was told that my card hadn't been activated. I told them in no uncertain terms that I thought they were having one big joke with me, the very same day I received the new cards at my office, I called the number on the sticker on the front of my American Express card and gave the card number on the front of THAT card (there was no sticker on the front of the new Mastercard) yet they told me that only the Mastercard had been activated from that phone call. Yet more hassle for me and more time wasted and I'm now hoping that nothing else can go wrong!
I have now also received a copy of the letter responding to my complaint in which I felt the whole tone of the letter was extremely condescending. There was lots of "I understand you are not happy with..." and "I understand you did not...." but no real resolution to my complaint. Basically they've said that it is standard procedure to decline transactions without contacting the customer and I can only assume that it will happen again next year.
*Problem Number 3 (Feb 2010)*
When recently checking my airmiles account I noticed that my airmiles did not seem to be increasing very much at all. I felt that I was missing several hundred airmiles and so checked out the detailed statement of airmiles that had been credited and noted than no airmiles had been credited for the use of my Lloyds TSB Airmiles cards since June 2009. I remembered that this was around the time I had had my card cloned and got new cards so I fired off an enquiry via the online help system on airmiles, they very "helpfully" told me they couldn't do anything about it and advised that I had to call the Lloyds TSB Loyalty Plus team. So I called the 0845 number provided and although I got through to a "human" very quickly as opposed to those very annoying automated "press this" and "press that" facilities and was asked some bizarrre security questions which I couldn't answer without going away and logging into my online account and checking my last few transactions and last payment amount. I called back a few minutes later armed with teh required information only to be asked a completely different set of questions, how annoying! These questions were the regular ones I've come to expect such as random characters from my chosen password! I was advised that generally when replacement cards are sent out they are automatically advised to airmiles so you continue to get airmiles with each relevant transaction but in this case it was an error and they would take 14-21 days to rectify it. One might say it's only airmiles which you're getting for free but as far as I'm concerned, the only reason I use my Lloyds TSB for business transactions if to accumulate airmiles faster and this whole chain of events with the problems I've had over the past year have been farcical. I know I'll be spending over £1200 with Microsoft again in 3 or 4 months time and am fairly sure I'll use a different card this year as I just can't be bothered going through this hassle again.
It's all been rather a shambles and it was extremely annoying that I had to chase a response to my complaint quite a few times. I never received any declaration form to sign to say the fraudulent transactions weren't mine, just advised to cut up the American Express card, but on later conversations with the Fraud Team I was advised to not use the Mastercard either under any circumstances - so it's lucky that I didn't try to use it or it might have been quite embarrassing if the police had been called! I was advised over the phone that I had already been credited with 150 extra air miles in response to my complaint but the complaint didn't explain how a valid transaction was declined 2 years in a row yet it's so easy to clone my card and withdraw up to £2,000 in cash from my card account, transactions which I got charged for cash withdrawals and the interest on those (which have all been put back into my account now).
I find myself not wanting to recommend Lloyds TSB for the customer service aspect of it when things go wrong, although I would admit unreservedly that the staff I have spoken with have always come across as polite and friendly (aside from being somewhat ineffective) but for the rewards side including the fact that you can get air miles on so many different online shopping sites I would recommend the Airmile Duo cards.
Overall 2 out of 5 stars but with a mention that it's quite possible that you're likely to receive similar customer service levels from other credit card companies. For your sake, I sincerely hope not!